Leonard’s Bakery: Going the Extra Miles for Malasadas

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A colorful sign has greeted ravenous Leonard’s Bakery regulars since 1952.

Surfing for the first time resulted in tired shoulders, scuffed knees and bloody, rock-raked fingers, but more importantly, some memorable rides and views of Diamond Head. After the final ride, which nearly took to me ashore, my hunger somehow surfaced again. The van that took other writers back to our respective hotels dropped me along a canal, which left me no choice but to walk, in flip flops, to one of Honolulu’s essential eating stops, Leonard’s Bakery.

Leonard DoRego, a descendant of Portuguese immigrants, opened his eponymous bakery with wife Margaret in 1952 and soon after started offering malasadas. The donuts of their motherland proved so popular that they moved to a larger building in 1957. Leonard’s now has a Jr. version at Waimalu Shopping Center, malasadamobiles and a branch in Yokohama, Japan. It may have helped that they created the malasada market in Hawaii, but it probably helps more that their fried dough tastes so good. They now perpetually produce malasadas (and lines).

Leonard’s sells a number of different baked goods, including cakes, pies, creme puffs, Danishes and strudel. Pao doce, Portuguese style sweetbread, is their second most popular specialty, and a small loaf costs only $3. These items may very well have proven to be great (who knows), but for my first visit, it was all about malasadas.

Donut Honolulu

Leonard’s Bakery remains Hawaii’s most famous option for malasadas.

Malasadas cost 90 cents apiece, either original (dusted with white sugar), cinnamon or Li Hing (sweet and sour sugar). The original malasada was warm, sugar dusted, egg rich and almost custardy inside. In the past, flavors of the month have been mango, banana and pineapple. Lucky for me, during my visit, it was oozing guava cream.

My journey ended up being between 4-5 miles in flip flops, but I got to walk along a canal, with views of the green mountains, under a warm blue sky, sated by donuts. The only quintessentially Hawaiian thing missing was a rainbow, and I’m not talking about the drive-in, which was along my route.

Leonard’s Bakery: Going the Extra Miles for Malasadas


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

Malasadas are so much better than regular donuts. When will Leonard’s open a spot in LA??


It would be amazing to have Leonard’s in L.A. Some chefs have tried to serve them over the years, including Rodelio Aglibot, who’s in Chicago now, but Leonard’s sets the bar.

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