Whether its original location on 30th Street, or its larger, newer spot on University, North Park donut purveyor Nomad Donuts has not been one to fuss over design elements. When the latter took over what had previously been a new-age book shop, it pretty much built a kitchen, painted the walls turquoise, and installed a glass counter to show off an array of bagels and donuts. Nothing fancy.
701 B Street, Ste 103, Downtown San Diego
So when I showed up to Nomad’s new downtown location, I was surprised to find it mired in fanciness.
Nomad Coffee Bar sits inside the recently remodeled lobby of office tower 701B, a snazzy atrium sunlit by a massive wall of windows and set with modern designer furniture. Though Nomad’s station bears a few marks of functionality — coffeemaking equipment and a counter display offering grab and go sandwiches and wraps — it mostly fits the high falutin' mold of the lobby. Which is to say, it’s up there with the most beautiful coffee counters you’ll ever see.
I even felt a little out of place, standing there in shorts, t-shirt, and dirty dog-park sneakers, rather than the office-friendly garb most of its customers wear. Turned out, I was a bit out of time as well. Showing up a little after 9 am, I was nearly too late. The pre-work crowd had just about cleaned the place out. Bagels were long gone, and only a handful of donuts remained.
They don’t make either at this affiliated food counter, the baked goods are trucked over from North Park. Fortunately, I was able to snag what is arguably Nomad’s most famous donut: ube taro coconut, with glaze made purple by the Filipino root vegetable, ube, topped with a mix of grated coconut: both fresh and toasted.
The creative combination of ingredients is par for the course at Nomad; I scored an amaretto cherry glaze, topped with vanilla drizzle and candy heart sprinkles. I imagine such colorful donut fare really livens up office spaces upstairs, for a brief moment before they’re devoured. The counter remains open til 2 pm, serving coffee, so those office workers this little shop serves may return for more caffeine when the sugar crash hits.