- Annie’s Donuts
- Blue Star Doughnuts
- Bowery Bagels
- Coco Donuts
- Coco Donuts Downtown
- Coco Donuts Eastside
- Delicious Donuts
- Helen Bernhard Bakery
- Kenny & Zuke’s Bagelworks
- Pip’s Original
- Rocking Frog Cafe
- Staccato Gelato
- Sweetpea Baking Company
- Tonalli’s Donuts & Cream
- Voodoo Doughnut
- Voodoo Doughnut Too
I’m not sure what it is about food with a hole that so titillates us. All I know is that when I catch sight of a plain glazed raised doughnut or fresh cinnamon raisin bagel, my heartrate skips three gears. I never met a fudge bagel I didn’t feel the need to slather in bourbon cream cheese and stuff practically whole into my mouth. What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of fudge bagels and bourbon cream cheese? Well someone should definitely invent that, along with the cognac maple bar. In the meantime, I’ll just have to be content with blueberry buttermilk doughnuts and a wood-fired bagel with dill cream cheese. Here are a few great places to satisfy your unholy holey foods cravings.
Sometimes it’s kind of refreshing to walk into a place and revel in their complete refusal to update, innovate, or coddle patrons’ sense of aesthetics, and that’s what you’ll find at no-nonsense Annie’s–a small narrow Northeast donut shop with an old-fashioned black and white menu board above the counter, a long case of good fresh donuts, some untrendy coffee, cold milk (regular and chocolate) and two rows of canary-yellow hard plastic booths, at least one of which holds a couple of elderly fellows reminiscing about the Cold War. I brush the crumbs off my booth, browse the newspaper, eat a buttermilk bar with a carton of whole milk, and stare up at the fluorescent lights until the sugar rush kicks in, hoping nothing here ever changes.
Blue Star Doughnuts
In a surprising twist of food events, Portland’s king of little burgers opened a beautiful glass-walled downtown corner shop slinging very BIG doughnuts. Clearly thinking outside the ‘ol pink bakery box of yore when gilding his massive from-scratch brioche doughnut lilies, founder Micah Camden’s glazes include blueberry bourbon basil and horchata. Fillings feature Meyer lemon curd, Swiss chocolate mousse, Cointreau cream and the gut-busting doughnut ring to rule them, a masterpiece buried in chunks of homemade fried chicken and honey butter.
Being a born and bred West Coaster, I’ve never known those simplest of East Coast joys, like lobster boils, living in a “walk-up”, spontaneous picnics in Central Park, cab drivers who actually know how to drive, and authentic New York City bagels. I can’t do much about the first few, but Bowery Bagels has the last one covered, serving authentic hand-rolled kosher-certified New York-style bagels from their trim, tile-lined little Old Town shop. Get your poppyseed, pumpernickel, or miso-soy-ginger bagel plain, with butter, with schmears both “classic and creative” (e.g., kimchi), or piled with housemade whitefish salad. Come lunch, opt for a hearty bagel sandwich like the Meatballialy, a collaboration with 24th & Meatballs, or the roast pork loin, gouda and apple celeriac slaw-stacked Francis Pettygrove. And if your bike or car’s in the shop, no need to risk a bumbling Portland cab ride–Bowery delivers via Portland Pedal Power.
Judging from Coco Donuts’ stylish logo and hip decor, I expected to find donuts with clean, contemporary lines and sophisticated touches, like maybe little cashmere throws carefully placed across them. With its cool concrete floors, exposed ducts, trendy furniture, and avant garde napkin holder, Coco is more of a West Elm meets Winchell’s experience, its sleek trappings gilding a delightfully old-school donut experience, its case piled with fresh, soft cake donuts and feather-light raised glazeds that taste like the ones you used to happily munch while watching Saturday morning cartoons.
Coco Donuts Downtown
Small but mighty, Coco’s downtown annex challenges Voodoo’s downtown sovereignty; sure, you won’t find flashy toppings and you can’t get married here, but you also won’t have to wait in stomach-curdling lines for your doughnut fix. If you’re a fan of lavender, oh what luck–try the lavender-glazed raised and their signature lavender latte.
Coco Donuts Eastside
Good for a quick coffee and doughnut pick me up after a depleting Lloyd Center shopping excursion—there’s something inherently restorative about Coco’s cocoa-dusted, chocolate covered espresso bean-sprinkled doughnut and a cappuccino, made with inner Southeast’s Water Avenue Coffee. Should such a craving hit you while you’re westside, you’re in luck–they’ve got downtown and Goose Hollow locations.
Unlike Magic Gardens, which was neither magic nor a garden, Delicious Donuts is not lying to you, they’ve got donuts and they really are delicious. Squeezed into the corner of the Plaid Pantry strip mall at E. Burnside and SE Grand, this neat and tidy no-frills donuteria churns out tray upon tray of scrumptious plumptious fried doughballs, from gloriously thick apple fritters to light as air maple bars to irresistible blueberry cake donuts. The staff is as warm and friendly as your donut, and whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, they’re there for you–the doors open at 5am and close at midnight.
Helen Bernhard Bakery
When I was little, once in a while my mom would be in a particularly benevolent mood on Sunday morning, usually because she’d managed to wrangle us all into church with a minimum of bloodshed, and we’d get to visit Pollyanna bakery, the embodiment of every gloriously homey old-fashioned small town bakery, where we could choose a cookie or, if we’d been really good, a fresh doughnut. Stepping into this neatly kept little bungalow bakery, I get happy flashbacks to when life was simpler, and a sugar cookie or lemon danish was the highlight of my day. (Okay, so maybe it still is sometimes.) You can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy when you take in the hanging flowerpots,homemade curtains, onslaught of good smells, packed pastry case, and kindly crew in neat aprons, ready to take your order. They’ve got all the necessities–raised, glazed, cake, old-fashioneds, bismarcks, fritters…sensibly adorned, never greasy, and fresh as just-mowed grass. And you don’t even have to squash yourself into too-small patent leather shoes and pretend to read scriptures for two long hours to get one.
Kenny & Zuke’s Bagelworks
Kenny & Zuke’s Bagelworks is like a big boisterous indoor picnic, complete with picnic tables, cool retro sodas, and big fat sandwiches served up with crunchy potato chips and a pickle spear. As carbs go, in addition to the bagels, you’ve got a few categories of sandwiches to pull from–the Classic Subs (Meatball Hero, French Dip, Cubano); the Carving Board (kosher salami, egg salad, grilled cheese), the Double Deckers (where resides the mighty Megashuletta), and the just plain Our Pastrami (enough said). If you aren’t feeling picnicky enough already clutching your hot dog or tuna salad, order up a side–one bite of Kenny and Zuke’s potato salad, macaroni salad, or slaw, and you’ll be feeling imaginary colonies of ants crawling up your legs.
You’ve tried all the diets—grapefruit, caveman, raspberry ketone, water and tissue paper (very popular during Fashion Week), and never have been able to stick to one. Enter the doughnut diet. It might not incur weight loss, but for those who just want to experience long term diet loyalty for once, it’s failproof—who couldn’t adhere to eating this hip Beaumont bakery’s hot, pillowy mini doughnuts, made to order and rolled in cinnamon sugar or raw honey and sea salt? While there, celebrate your newfound staying power with a signature chai latte, “dirtied” up with an Extracto espresso shot.
Rocking Frog Cafe
Sometimes, you find a dollar in the gutter and you use it to buy a bar of candy that ultimately wins you and your Grandpa Joe a trip to the Wonka Factory, or, you just use it to stuff your face with a big fat fresh doughnut. Either way works. Using the Moody’s Doughnuts recipe (for those of you who don’t remember, the mythical Moody’s was a small red doughnut shack that used to set up shop in Rocking Frog’s backyard on weekends), this homey Belmont cafe’s baristas transform your dollar into a just-fried, piping hot, freshly-glazed doughnut so good, you won’t mind your missed chance at a golden ticket one bit.
Staccato Gelato is a childhood fantasy come to life–a gelato and doughnut shop that looks like a Nickelodeon set, with bright orange and blue walls festooned with cheerful bubbles, a massive mural of a Bernstein Bears-esque treehouse, lemon yellow plastic couch (great for spills), a kids play area with tiny purple plastic chairs and toys, and a fat striped neighborhood cat who strolls in now and then and lays in the afternoon sunbeams that cross the wood floors. Eighteen flavors of homemade gelato fill the cases daily, ranging from classics like peach, lemon, and coconut to more experimental blends like raspberry pomegranate lime and The Pope Says Hi (meringue & chocolate). Staccato makes their own doughnuts too–the lemon ginger and pink-iced sprinkle-adorned Fairy Princesses are sure to please your aspiring Fairy Princess.
Sweetpea Baking Company
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went into this vegan bakery for the first time. A group of PETA members wearing lettuce leaf bikinis sitting in the corner drinking lattes and eating sawdust muffins? Maybe. But that just shows my vegnorance, because what I actually found was a lovely little bakery with a case full of tasty pastries like raspberry almond linzer bars, snickerdoodles, chocolate chip scones, cupcakes and cakes–all of which appeared to be sawdust free, and many of which are gluten free too. They’ve also got sandwiches, soups and bowls, if you need a meal to go with your dessert. The coffee part of my erroneous fantasy was true enough, Stumptown is served here, and since coffee loves doughnuts, check out the homemade vegan doughnuts, Saturday mornings only.
There are certain things I’ve come to expect when visiting the PSU Portland Farmer’s Market. 1. I will be bowled over by the sheer beauty and bounty of the market, every single time. 2. My foot will be trampled on at least twice and I’ll catch an elbow to the ribs at least once, usually while picking out mushrooms. 3. I’ll end up on a bench in the plaza watching a bluegrass band, sinking my teeth into a chewy, slightly smoky wood-fired Tastebud bagel. 4. I will spend the rest of the morning unwittingly beaming at cute farmers with poppyseeds in my teeth. Oh well, it’s always worth it. Although the farmers’ market is my favorite spot to get a Tastebud bagel, nowadays there are lots of places to find them, like New Seasons, Pastaworks, and the Woodsman Market.
Tonalli’s Donuts & Cream
When visiting Portland doughnut shops to write this section of the website, I learned a lot about doughnut shop culture. For one thing, very old men love doughnut shops. With only a few exceptions, most every doughnut shop had a cheerful resident octogenarian or two. Tonalli’s, an old school doughnut and ice cream shop on NE Alberta, was no exception. Their octogenarian should have been on the payroll, because he greeted us, told us the best doughnuts to get (apple fritter, bearclaw, old-fashioned), and directed us towards the milk. But then, with 12 feet of three-tiered packed-to-the-gills doughnut cases filled with every sort of doughnut you could ever need or want, hot Portland Roasting Company coffee on tap, both chocolate and 2% milk in the fridge, and free wireless so you can play online Bingo, there are probably worse places to spend your golden doughnut-eating years.
There are a lot of things you can do in downtown’s legendary and eccentric Voodoo Doughnut store. You can learn Swahili, you can buy a pair of underpants emblazoned with the shop’s tagline “The Magic is in the Hole,” you can get married for fake or for real under a velvet painting of Isaac Hayes, you can enter a cockfest, and eventually, after waiting in an extraordinarily long line, you can even buy a doughnut. Of course, with such an unorthodox home life, you could hardly expect these doughnuts to be normal or well-adjusted. Try the Grape Ape–a raised doughnut with vanilla frosting and grape powder, Dirty Snowball–chocolate cake doughnut covered with pink marshmallow glaze; infamous Bacon Maple Bar, and Portland Creme, which was named the Official Doughnut of Portland by Mayor Tom Potter in 2008. Yes, Voodoo Doughnuts are doughnuts of distinction, however you feel about their morals (Butter Fingering, Cock-n-Balls, and Triple Chocolate Penetration, I’m talking about you.)
Voodoo Doughnut Too
Voodoo Doughnut Too has all the culinary appeal of the downtown Voodoo mothership, except it’s roomier and pinker, and has a jukebox, pinball, Super Chexx foosball, and an obvious crush on Kenny Rogers. Not to mention Voodoo Too gets to park the Pepto-pink Voodoo doughnut truck in their parking lot. Open 24 hours a day, Voodoo Too has all the same weird and wild and sometimes obscene doughnut choices you’ve come to expect, from French Cruelers and buttermilk bars to Dirty Snowballs and Tangfastics. Milk comes in 2%, whole, and chocolate, Stumptown coffee is served black and hot, and you can relax in their eclectic dining room, at an old school desk or on a coffin couch. Don’t forget to pack cash–like the original Voodoo, Voodoo Too does not suffer fools or credit lightly.