Neil’s Donuts serve ‘da best’ pastries in the High Desert: Dining Around

Back in the day, there were two “famous name” doughnut shops in the High Desert.

Fans of each did not fight actual battles over which “famous name” was better, but folks had their favorites, and those pink boxes filled with raised, glazed and cake doughnuts practically flew out of those shops.

People were happy.

The years go by

Then 35 years ago ─ which some folks still consider “back in the day” ─ an enterprising young man named Neil Idris, who worked for and managed one of those “other doughnut companies,” decided to try his hand at the game.

Neil believed he could make a better doughnut, so he mixed and baked, tasted and perfected his recipes.

Based on the comments he received, Neil knew his doughnuts could provide serious competition in the doughnut world. His doughnuts are raised, glazed and cake, each with serious substance and consistent flavor.

When Neil’s Donuts opened in the High Desert 13 years ago, the lines were long and have just kept growing.

Bear claw, apple fritter, puffies, chocolate cake donut and a buttermilk bar make a tasty sample of a few of Neil's Donuts, baked fresh daily.
Bear claw, apple fritter, puffies, chocolate cake donut and a buttermilk bar make a tasty sample of a few of Neil's Donuts, baked fresh daily.

A family affair

Neil’s daughter Norah grew up in the doughnut business.

While in Colorado, Norah met a young man named Jared Bunker, a race car mechanic who had grown up enjoying one of the “other doughnut” brands. He was doing theater rigging for concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

She and Jared married, and a few years later while visiting her family, Jared’s father-in-law suggested he learn the doughnut business by coming to work for him.

Well, why not?

Jared received a “super crash course” from “dough to doughnuts” as well learning all those tiny details involved in running a successful business like ordering ingredients, maintaining quality control and managing the shop.

The most important lesson Jared learned was that customers always come first.

Those early days running the High Desert location were tough. The Bunkers had to drive down the hill every day to make and bake fresh doughnuts for their customers, but their efforts paid off. They made Neil’s Donuts a leader in the game.

Today, the Bunkers live in Hesperia, and Jared is the “mid-day baker,” turning out brownies and muffins. Juan, who has worked for Neil for years, is the overnight baker.

The Hobart Ovens at Neil’s operate 10 to 12 hours most days.

Norah and Jared Bunker of Neil's Donuts show off the display cases filled with trays of donuts and more, fresh baked daily.
Norah and Jared Bunker of Neil's Donuts show off the display cases filled with trays of donuts and more, fresh baked daily.

Speaking of ‘days’ …

A typical “doughnuts day” is not 9 to 5.

Neil’s Donuts is open 20 hours a day, 364 days a year. Their busiest time is 5 a.m. when customers arrive to pick up daily orders, but for any doughnut lover who with “regular hours,” Neil’s always has fresh doughnuts.

Neil’s new math

Buy a single goodie or select several of your favorites.

Neil’s half dozen adds up to seven items or order a Neil’s Dozen and walk out with a box containing 15 items of your choice.

Take a look at those trays

Neil’s Donuts serves a lot more than doughnuts.

Specialty items include doughnut holes and “puffies,” doughnut holes filled with jelly or cream.

Neil’s also bakes “fancies” ─ bear claws, cinnamon rolls, apple and blueberry fritters, in two sizes. You can find crullers, buttermilk bars, twists and jellies, a super doughnuts, devil’s food chocolate cake doughnuts, and others covered with sprinkles at Neil’s.

Plain or filled croissants ─ chocolate, strawberry, cream cheese ─ are perfect for breakfast as are bagels ranging from plain, onion, “everything,” jalapeno to cinnamon raisin, each parboiled before baking, the way authentic bagels are supposed to be prepared.

In addition to doughnuts…

Some folks think doughnuts go even better with hot or cold drinks, and Neil’s beverage selections include coffee or tea, hot chocolate, cappuccino and iced coffee in several flavors.

Bottled drinks are available, as well.

In the mood for something sweet? Check out their smoothies, Thrifty ice cream in a dozen flavors, and banana splits.

Giving back

Jared believes in supporting the community. Neil’s supports sports teams and schools including Encore and other alternative locations.

When you go

Where: Neil’s Donuts, Victor Valley Town Center, 17100 Bear Valley Road, Victorville. 442-242-7794.

Hours: Open 2 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Information: Dine-in, takeout. Menu and more on Yelp! online and Restaurant Guru. Visit Facebook.

Dining Around

If you would like your restaurant profiled in Dining Around or want to tell readers about your favorite eatery, please contact Kathy Young by text/voicemail at 760-953-8682 or email kaynhuey@aol.com.

This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: Neil’s Donuts serve ‘da best’ pastries in the High Desert