Orange County and food trends dance a strange polka. On some trends, we're far ahead of the hipsters—we've been eating at loncheras since forever, for instance, and the first time frozen yogurt became the IN thing back in the 1980s happened within our borders. But on other fads, we're woefully behind. Our bartenders are just catching up to a back-to-basics model, while other rages have yet to come our ways (still don't understand what a bicycle restaurant is . . .) and will hopefully stay away.
One foodie obsession that's coming soon: high-end doughnuts, taking the place of cupcakes. We had a preview of things to come last year with M&M Donuts in Anaheim, a tiny stand that in a previous life was probably a drive-thru keymaker but now makes doughnuts with blueberries: fine, but hardly worthy of the hours-long lines at night found there regularly. I've had those, as well as doughnuts glazed with bacon and other high-falutin' creations, and none of them impresses. How can you improve on the frosted swirls of a cinnamon roll that look like the Andromeda galaxy, the gooey jelly that spurts from a raspberry doughnut, the simple brilliance of a maple bar? Maybe I'm biased because I've been eating the classics almost every weekend of my life at Jax Donuts in Anaheim, not just to get a sugar rush, but also to get a fix of culture and a sense of who I am.
Jax might be the one restaurant I've visited more than any other without ever having reviewed it, probably because it's such a personal tale. It's where my father and his childhood friends from Jerez in Zacatecas have reunited since they were young men in a foreign land during the 1970s, bringing us kids until we became teens who joked about our fathers reuniting daily at a doughnut shop. I've seen Jax get kicked out of its original spot in a shopping plaza across the street from Anaheim City Hall only to pop up a couple of doors down, selling the same great creations as always: cheap, multihued and with more glaze than a bad South County tan job. Old-fashioned, bear claws, sprinkles, chocolate-y—these and other basics are all here, delicious and baked once a tray is gone, which is usually within the hour. The most complicated thing is a French cruller, fried perfectly with just a smear of chocolate. Jax will never pop up on blogs, never create buzz—there's no need to, since it's already packed all of its 24 hours with the people who'll stick with doughnuts long after hipsters ditch them for lollipops or whatever damn trend follows.
This column appeared in print as “Jax to the Max.”