Voodoo Doughnut is world-famous for its zany, sugary creations. Photo by Holly Hayes/Flickr.
By Jon Shadel
Try and count the cities where a doughnut shop ranks as one of the most-visited attractions, and we bet Portland’s the only one on your list. It’s true: Portlanders go a little cuckoo for fried dough. You’ve likely heard all about Voodoo Doughnut, where zany sweets get covered in everything from Fruit Loops to strips of freshly fried bacon. But let’s be clear, Voodoo’s not the only doughnut shop in town, and you should sniff out some of the others for sticky, cakey, glazed deliciousness sans breakfast cereal.
Where: 1717 N.E. Broadway St., helenbernhardbakery.com
Why it’s tasty: Long before food TV celebrities hyped Portland’s wonkier doughnut creations, bakers at Helen Bernhard Bakery humbly fried up old-fashioned classics. In fact, they’ve been sweating in the kitchen since 1924, when Helen Bernhard herself began perfecting recipes for scratch-made cakes, cookies, pastries and, of course, doughnuts. You won’t find any way-out flavors at this Northeast mainstay, just comforting, jam-filled standards. Trust us: when you taste the glazed goodness, you’ll understand why they’ve been a local hit for more than 90 years.
Must try: Old-timers come here for the classics. Follow their lead and order a dozen of the jam-filled, glazed varieties to share with your pals — or to keep for yourself, no judging here.
Where: Four locations, bluestardonuts.com
Why it’s tasty: Recently, the morning lines at certain Blue Star locations have rivaled those outside of Voodoo. And it’s easy to see why this upstart bakery has garnered praise (and even gone international with a new location in Tokyo). Pastry chefs here craft specialty doughnuts from a classic brioche recipe that originated in southern France, meaning the texture is fine and buttery. You’ll find no breakfast cereal on these subtly sweet treats, just an artisanal twist on simple classics.
Must try: The signature blueberry bourbon basil has hints of basil and a lightly fruity frosting.
Where: 4759 N.E. Fremont St., facebook.com/PipsOriginal
Why it’s tasty: Doughnutshops typically overwhelm you with options — even deceptively simple glazed ones come filled with a myriad of jellies and creams. But Pip’s has earned a cult following by doing one thing really well: fried-to-order mini-doughnuts drizzled with honey and sea salt. As you walk into their mom-and-pop style cafe, you’ll smell the subtly sweet aroma of the darling, little treats sizzling in hot oil — perhaps the freshest doughy treats you’ll find in the city.
Must try: Pip’s dresses their mini doughnuts in seasonal ingredients, so grab a dozen and pair them with their house-made chai tea.
Where: Three locations, cocodonuts.com
Why it’s tasty: In a food city dominated by fad-following and trendy gimmicks, Coco Donuts stands out for its refreshingly traditional approach to their business — they don’t aim to make the kind of doughnuts you loved growing up, and then take them to the next level. These aren’t novelty treats; they’re the kind you crave everyday, on your way to school or work. Their donut case reflects this mission — it’s filled with classis like the cakey Old Fashioned or sweet chocolate-iced with sprinkles.
Must try: The lavender glazed, which is made with lavender from a local farm, has a buttery texture that pairs perfectly with their house-roasted, sustainably sourced coffee.
Where: 2805 N.E. Alberta St.
Why it’s tasty: When everything else on Alberta Street increasingly becomes shinier and newer with the influx of young professionals, Tonalli’s feels unchanged, and when you sink your teeth into their no-frills, no-gimmicks, what-you-see-is-what-you-get doughnuts, you’ll hope they never change. Added bonus: they pair doughnuts with ice cream, so why not skip your calorie counting and indulge in a couple scoops with a house-made treat of your choice.
Must try: The crispy-on-the-outside, a-little-raw-in-the-middle Old Fashioned with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Where: Two locations, voodoodoughnut.com
Why it’s tasty: Yes, this may seem an obvious choice, but no doughnut tour of Portland would be complete without a stop at this wonky sugar shack. Locals like to poke fun at the lines that form outside of the original Voodoo shop in Old Town. But look beyond the hype, and you’ll see there’s a good reason that tourists prance around the city with pink boxes in tow — the irresistible creations are loaded with sugar and taste sweet like your favorite childhood treats. Think about it like this: there’s a reason you still keep a box of Cap’n Crunch in the cupboard, and that’s why Voodoo thought to pile it on one of their marquee doughnuts, the Captain My Captain.
Must try: The rich chocolate cake doughnut skips the funky combinations in favor of indulgent, I-can’t-believe-it’s-vegan decadence.
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