Runner Up: Happy Donuts
I'm not ashamed to say it was one of the best birthday gifts ever. I was turning 30-something, and my wonderful wife sidestepped all the societal pressures pushing her toward cream cheese frosting, layered cakes and highfalutin ganache. Instead, I got a doughnut tower, with three beautiful columns reaching for the sky, glaze and crumbs glistening by candlelight. It was awesome. So, it was with great pleasure that I saw Don's claim the Best Of crown this year. Its buttermilk donut is one of the purest pleasures I've ever known — like a delightfully sweet, glazed biscuit. And Don's deserves an extra nod for business acumen: Its location, just a donut hole's throw from bar row, begins pumping out the unmistakable fragrance of freshly fried doughnuts at about 1:30 a.m., permeating the streets of downtown Arcata just in time to greet drunks on their way home. I'd say it's a deliciously bad decision waiting to happen, but there's really no choice involved.