An entire generation has been born and become adults since Allbright’s Donuts began treating the Branciforte neighborhood to an incredible array of pastries and savories. Considered by many to be the best shop in town, donuts, croissants and bagels are still made fresh daily.
Be prepared for a time warp, as swivel chairs fixed to a linoleum-tiled floor and upholstered in retro orange vinyl encircle two U-shaped faux wood counters. Vintage advertising posters depict donuts of yesteryear. Even the proprietors seem not to have aged a day since I enjoyed my first apple fritter, and today these pastries are still the same two-fisted size they were two decades ago.
Every morning, neighbors meet for coffee. A seasoned gentleman waxed nostalgic about donuts as he ate his bran muffin before the discussion turned to gardening.
Parents stop by to fuel their youngsters with bagels ($1.45 to $2.95). Toppings range from peanut butter and jelly to ham, eggs and cheese. Juices and milk are quickly grabbed from the cold beverage case for breakfast on the run.
After school, teenagers inhale energy drinks and tuna-stuffed croissants. The croissants, a perfect example of the soft, flaky French layered pastry, are as big as the fritters, and filled with flavorful, lightly dressed tuna salad.
A dozen freshly made cake donuts will set you back just $6.95. The crisp circumference of glazed Apple Fritters ($1.25) hides a fluffy, moist interior which is laced with cinnamon and diced apples. A star-shaped Old Fashioned ($.75) melts in your mouth. The puffy rectangular Maple Bar ($1.25) is evenly coated with sweet and sticky frosting and filled with custard pastry cream, while cylindrical jelly donuts are sliced and spread generously with raspberry jam.
Allbright’s Donut Shoppe, 1055 Water St., Santa Cruz, 423-1785. Open from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.