Portland Donuts: Need I Say More? (Part 1)
My fellow Portlanders, we need to have a talk. It seems that we have a bit of an addiction to donuts. I get it, dessert for breakfast, how can you resist. But never have I seen such a crazy array of shops with distinct flavors and styles all in one city.
Of course, no matter what your opinion on the matter is, Voodoo is considered king. Now, before you sharpen your pitchforks and brandish your torches let me explain what I mean. They are a Portland staple. Nearly every friend I have visit Portland wants to go to pick out a dozen crazy flavors so that they can get their hands on an iconic pink box. It can be a fun experience to go to and the brand is extremely well-crafted, but personally I am not a fan.
Maybe it’s the millennial hipster in me that wants to fight against the mainstream, or maybe it’s the fact that their donuts, while inventive in nature, just aren't the best you can get in Portland.
Well upon mentioning my view on PDX’s donut fascination with the team, I was sent on a journey to gather up “test subjects” to be brought back to our “lab” so we could eat, I mean, run tests on them. The spoils of my sacrificial journey (besides a now much needed gym membership) include donuts from the following list: Blue Star, Coco’s, Pips, and Delicious Donuts. For our first round* of testing we tried the obvious big players (minus Voodoo) in the Portland donut scene.
*A second round of testing is being proposed and will focus on classic donut shops in Portland.
To my surprise, Blue Star was one of the most polarizing donuts of the group. Maybe it was the flavors I chose, Hard Apple Cider Fritter, Buttermilk Old Fashioned, and Blueberry Basil, or maybe it was the brioche dough that each Blue Star donut is made with, but the office was perfectly split on these.
Personally, I love Blue Star. So much so that it has found a coveted spot on my list of places to take visitors to PDX. I think the thicker, cake like brioche dough combined with flavors that feel like they were invented in a Michelin awarded kitchen make for an experience you don’t get many places; especially when you remember that we are talking about donut shops.
Chances are, you have a Blue Star in a neighborhood near you since they have a slew of locations. If you haven’t tried this shop, I highly recommend giving it a shot!
Ah Coco’s. They have been an office favorite for a while. We have been able to build a fun relationship with the ownership that has allowed us in the past to offer our clients special deals. They really are a joy to work with. But, relationships aside, let’s talk donuts.
The donuts we tried were the maple bar, cinnamon twist, and classic glazed. Everyone in the office liked the donuts, but no one raved about them and I this I think sums up Coco’s well. The donuts are good, but they are unassuming. In a market like Portland’s, I think it is refreshing to have a shop that is top quality, but simple.
Similar to Blue Star, Coco’s Donuts has a multitude of locations all over Portland, so you should be able to find one that is convenient for you.
Pips is the most unique spot on our list. What sets Pips apart from the other shops, well… is pretty much everything. They have one location in NE that serves made to order deep fried mini donuts, coffee, and chai. They only offer 6 delicious yet simple flavors for their donuts, and we tried them all.
Pips was the unanimous favorite of our office. What set them apart from the others was the freshness of our dozen little mini donuts. The fact that they are made to order means you always get warm donuts with a crunchy outside and a light airy inside. Add to that toppings such as Nutella, bacon, honey, and sea salt and you have one delectable treat.
I think it is good I don’t live near Pips, otherwise I would be found there far too often.
We highly recommend you check out Pips next time you are on NE Fremont St. or happen upon their Pips Mobile food truck. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Delicious Donuts is definitely the dark horse of this grouping. I had honestly completely forgot about this shop until my roommate reminded me of it; and I'm glad he did! Upon doing my research, it turns out the Oregonian voted Delicious Donuts the top donut shop in Portland of 2018. I had to check it out.
In a humble space nestled between a Plaid Pantry and O'Reilly's Auto Parts is this gem of a donut shop. Their selection of flavors is vast, yet simple. I didn’t see many "adventurous" flavors, but rather a slew of classics and favorites. I ended up with an apple fritter and a chocolate cake donut; both were superb!
This shop is not the fanciest in Portland, and honestly, I won't be taking my out-of-town visitors there, but I will for sure be back. If I needed to bring a dozen donuts somewhere to share, this is where I would go. They are affordable, no frills donuts, that are simply delicious.
Next time you find yourself on SE Grand, it would worth stopping in for a donut or two from this shop.