Where do you find the best donuts in Portland? It depends on who you ask. Before I ventured to Portland everyone mentioned Voodoo donuts, whether to say I had to try them or that I should give them a try but they were overhyped.
Then in Portland I started to discover that the locals seems to each have their own opinion on who does donuts best. So I followed their recommendations on a mission to find the best donuts. Tough life, right? But somebody’s gotta live it.
Part of it simply boils down to what you like in a donut. I think a bite of cake donut is yummy, but it’s way too dense for me to eat the whole thing. Which is why when a man wandered over to ask me for a donut (during my ridiculous donut photoshoot) I handed over the maple cake donut without hesitation. So there you have it, maple cake from Tonalli’s in last place. To their credit it smelled delicious.
Two Donuts Tied for Fourth
Then things get hazy. Both donuts from Blue Star were pretty dense as well but the flavors were better. The lemon poppy seed buttercream donut from Blue Star did make me want to go back for another bite but then it got a little too sweet for me to keep eating. (I guess that’s not a bad thing if you ask some people.)
I wanted to love the fruit loop donut from Voodoo. It had a big fluffy donut base, a yummy vanilla icing and rainbow colored cereal on top (making it hysterically tall to try to bite)! Overall taste was good and more what I’d expect when I’m craving a donut but I couldn’t get past the fact that the fruit loops felt stale. When I mentioned this to the lady sitting next to me she crinkled her nose and chimed in stating fruit loops always tasted stale to her. So maybe the fault lies with the cereal makers not the donut makers here.
The lady who recommended Tonalli’s said they makes the best donuts because they stick to the classics and they do it well. In terms of the chocolate glazed buttermilk donut she was absolutely right. It was definitely fried, and had a slight crunch that gave way to a doughy inside. The only thing that made it not for me was the dough to icing ratio – a little too bready for me.
The matcha green tea donut from Blue Star had an interesting flavor but didn’t make me want to go back for another bite at first. Probably because it was so subtle compared to everything else I was trying. But then I did go back for another bite… and another and another. It’s just good.
I’m shocked. Really I am. The winner for me is the vegan Peanut Butter Oreo donut from Voodoo. The funniest part is I forgot I had ordered a vegan donut (per the register girl’s suggestion). But then I was sitting there trying to figure out why the Fruit Loop donut’s dough looked so different from the Oreo donut and remembered the Oreo donut was vegan!!
It was my hands down favorite because it was light and fluffy and had plenty of frosting but wasn’t too sweet. Not to mention the flavor was just on point. While most of the other donuts only got a few bites from me, I kept sneaking the box open as I carried it home to steal another bite out of the Oreo donut.
While my favorite came from Voodoo, it’s hard to say which brand is the best. As one local shop owner put it best, it’s comparing apples to oranges… Tonalli’s (her favorite) creates a classic lineup of donuts, Blue Star is the fancy and artisanal option, and Voodoo makes the crazy/fun donuts (that also happen to be Instagram fodder). My advice: go and try them all for yourself!
P.S. Fun fact – did you know Oreos are naturally vegan? Actually I shouldn’t say that. There’s nothing natural about them. But they are always vegan.