If there are two things Tyler and I love, it's travel and food. We're constantly looking for the best restaurants and desserts everywhere we go, and our list of dream destinations never stops growing! When it came time to plan Tyler's birthday gift this year, I wanted to be a little more creative than usual, so combining those two things seemed like the natural choice.
The result was a donut tasting adventure in Portland! I set a challenge to rank our favorites, and did a little research about which we would try. The "rules" were simple: spend a weekend in Portland exploring the city and its popular spots together, but be sure to visit the 3 most talked about donut shops to determine a winner.
Pip's Original Donuts and Chai
Our first stop was Pip's, which had a long line but plenty of seats. I grabbed a table while Ty ordered us a variety dozen and a cup of their famous tea to share. Pip's makes mini donuts and our flavors included Nutella & Sea Salt, Cinnamon & Sugar, Honey & Sea Salt, "The Dirty Wu" (all of the above flavors combined), and Candied Bacon.
My favorite was definitely the Dirty Wu, followed by the more classic Cinnamon & Sugar. They were the perfect bite-sized samples, which made it easy to form a full opinion of what Pip's had to offer. Crispy and flavorful, I thoroughly enjoyed each bite - plus a dozen of mini donuts is the perfect dessert to share after window shopping!
Tyler's favorite was the Candied Bacon, which came as no surprise to me. He even says he would have swapped some of our Cinnamon & Sugar for more bacon, which safe to say would not have gone over well with me.
And while accompanying drinks aren't part of our overall evaluation, I still think it's fair to include our thoughts on the chai, seeing as how it's a part of their claim to fame! As a big fan of spiced chai lattes, I was super excited to try one at Pip's. Unfortunately I was disappointed with my choice, the "Smoky Robinson". Smokey was definitely the right name for it, and we both felt it tasted more like smoke water than a tea drink - however I totally blame myself for choosing something that wasn't a good fit for my taste. Since we didn't have the opportunity to try other chais I hope to go back again in the future and give them a second chance!
Blue Star Donuts & Coffee
The next day we swung by Blue Star, which is a popular local chain. Finding a location was super easy, and when our plans for the day changed a couple times it was still convenient to stop by for a taste. Out of our 3 destinations, Blue Star made the most "typical" donuts. While they did have some more gourmet/adventurous options, they also had many old favorites.
I decided to go for a more unique flavor, and chose the Cointreau Crème Brûlée. It was crunchy on the outside from the torch fired sugar, and filled with custard on the inside! Overall the flavor and texture was good, but I was surprised to find I wasn't a big fan of the citrus liqueur in the dropper. I probably would have enjoyed the donut more had I not squeezed the orangey flavoring all over it, but otherwise I can't complain.
Tyler on the other hand went the classic route with the Hard Apple Cider Fritter. He says it was "very tasty", soft and chewy but still had a crunchy outside like he likes. "A very high quality apple fritter".
And finally, our very last stop before getting on the freeway to head home was the Portland celebrity, Voodoo Doughnut. At this point in the trip we were starting to get sugared out (if you watch my instagram stories you saw that doughnuts were not the only desserts we ate during our 48 hours in the city), and we had tried Voodoo on a previous trip so we decided to just choose one flavor each.
While I love the craziness of Voodoo flavors like the "Old Dirty Bastard" (oreo with peanut butter) or "Oh Captain, My Captain" (Cap'n Crunch), I can't resist the cute little voodoo doll. Looking back I probably should have gone for one of their more loaded flavors, but like I said I was full from all the sweets and couldn't imagine eating something like that! Either way I enjoyed my last donut.
Tyler decided to continue his lucky streak with bacon after enjoying the Pip's so much, and went with the Bacon Maple Bar. He said it was good, but now that the crazier donut flavors have gained popularity you can find a bacon donut almost anywhere. Not a disappointment, but not a stand out either.
And the winner is..... Pip's!
We both really loved Pip's and it was a unanimous decision. The wait was worth it, and I usually prefer mini donuts anyway. Tyler usually opts for a standard sized donut whenever possible, but said Pip's were the best minis he had ever tried.
Overall we had a great time, and plan to keep trying more donut shops in future trips to Portland. They have so many to choose from beyond these 3, and since Portland is only a few hours away we will definitely be back!
24 | Seattle, Wa