Santa Barbara hook and press make donut dreams come true


Four years ago, when John Burnett and Denisse Salinas opened Hook & Press in the Mosaic Locale shared space on State Street, they were constantly selling their gourmet donuts due to high demand and a small kitchen. The demand continues, but now they are now able to cater to even more fans, having moved in April to a much larger location at La Arcada Court on East Figueroa Street. Formerly Jeannine’s home, this new home for Hook & Press helps homeowners realize their sugar-laden dreams, with 3,000 square feet of space that includes a full kitchen, merchandise department, and espresso bar.

John Burnett, co-owner of Hook & Press | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Stepping into the whimsical space, decorated with pastel colors and rainbow murals, flowers on every table, high ceilings, and that unmistakable scent of beautiful, fresh, buttery donuts, one gets the impression that the gates of paradise have opened. And for Burnett and Salinas, in many ways, they did. The couple are boldly expanding their business, offering wine and beer, happy hours with donuts, and an extensive menu of savory breakfast sandwiches, toast, and more. Although the aesthetic is carefully curated for Instagram-worthy shots, there’s nothing superficial about their truly delicious menu.

“It’s about taking what a typical donut shop would do and elevating it,” explained Burnett, a former mortgage broker turned bun baker who prides himself on doing things the old-fashioned way. While many donut shops buy a mass-produced mix and just add water and yeast, Hook & Press uses an overnight bun dough made with European-style butter, eggs, milk whole, sugar and salt.

“I want it to be just honest food,” he said. “No tricks or shortcuts; we just do it the old fashioned way.

Their new “To Eat” menu is filled with savory items to complement the sweet. There are even gluten-free offerings such as a savory potato waffle and potato bun that can be substituted on any breakfast sandwich. The menu changes with the seasons and Burnett is already dreaming of a grilled cheese fritter with tomato soup and the perfect hot chocolate for winter.

Hook & Press Merchandise | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

“This is just the beginning for us,” he promised. “We have recipes and we want to expand this thing.”

The team continues to spin about seven of the donut flavors every two months, but here are some current can’t-miss items from this grown-up Candyland.

Old Fashioned Cake Donut: The key ingredient in their extra-moist, perfectly balanced Old Fashioned Cake Donut? Sour cream. This secret weapon is mixed with eggs, organic flour and a pinch of brown nutmeg and baked in the oven every morning. “It’s tender and crispy, and not too sweet, so it’s a good choice for those looking for a donut but don’t want too much sugar,” Burnett explained. “And it’s excellent dipped in a cappuccino.”

Crochet and Squeeze Donuts| Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Monster Cookie: This bright blue beacon of flavor is sure to transform any customer into its dessert-devouring Sesame Street namesake. A brioche donut is glazed with blue sweet cream and topped with homemade cookies and buttercream. With a bite of the semi-sweet salted brown butter dark chocolate chip cookie filling, I couldn’t believe it was just a filling – it really is one of the best cookies I’ve ever had. had in my life. “We bake them fresh every morning,” Burnett said of the addictive treats concocted by baker Seamus Harrell.

Breakfast sandwich with sausage: One of four breakfast sandwich options currently on the menu, this one satisfies in every way. A buttermilk cookie is filled with a baked egg patty, a house-made Mary’s turkey sausage patty, Jack cheese, and herbed avocado mayonnaise. Every ingredient is meticulously prepared, especially the cookie, which went through many iterations to achieve that buttery yet chewy texture. “It’s about folding and creating layers of dough,” Burnett explained.

Seasonal jam toast: This showstopper is one of three toast offerings, and it stands out from the many others around town. The homemade brioche bread is first garnished with whipped goat cheese. “We stir in some unsweetened whipped cream to give it an airy texture, then we change the jam,” Burnett explained. It is covered with the homemade jam of Salinas, created from all the fruits of the season. The recent combination of the tangy Ojai Pixie marmalade with the rich goat cheese was transportable. Start prepping your taste buds for summer, when the toast will feature strawberry and elderflower jam.

15 E. Figueroa St.; (805) 869-6635;

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