The Portland Donut Crawl continues! As you may remember, last week, Eric and I launched a quest for the best donut in Portland. We checked out Tonalli’s Donuts, Pip’s Original, and Blue Star. This week, we’ll hit 3 more, all in hopes of finding the best this city has to offer.
Donut Byte Labs
12 SW 4th Ave
What we spent: $6
What we got: Cinnamon Sugar (2), Creme Brulee, Maple Bacon, Peanut Butter Cup, Chocolate Sprinkle, Salted Caramel, and White Chocolate with Pink Peppercorn and Lemon Zest (this was their special donut that they threw in for free)
Best of the bunch: Unfortunately, no winners here.
I had pretty high hopes for this one. Donut Byte Labs is a food truck in downtown Portland that makes mini donuts. They are open on weekday mornings, and then again on Friday and Saturday nights. We walked down on a Friday night and picked up 8 mini donuts. The flavors seemed pretty interesting (creme brulee, peanut butter cup, etc), but they turned out to be pretty darn disappointing. The basic donut is kind of oily, crispy, and bland. And the toppings just couldn’t add much to the game. I took one bite of each and refused to eat any more of them.
Aside from the lackluster donuts, I should point out that this food truck is in a slightly sketchy area of town, and probably capitalizes on the late night drunk crowd, so the atmosphere isn’t particularly enjoyable.
3449 NE 72nd Ave
What we spent: $5.22
What we got: Chocolate Iced Caked with Sprinkles, Applesauce Cake with Applesauce Crumbs, Old Fashioned, Buttermilk Bar, Cinnamon Twist, and Maple Crueler
Best of the bunch: My favorite was the Applesauce Cake with Applesauce Crumbs (but it was Eric’s least favorite), and Eric loved the Cinnamon Twist (my second least favorite of the bunch). We were a little all over the board on this one.
In my donut shop research, Annie’s Donuts didn’t really catch my attention in the beginning. I’m not sure why I was ignoring it, but the owner of Pip’s Original instagrammed some donuts from Annie’s, and said they were wonderful. So we took his word for it, and I’m really glad we did.
Annie’s is another old-fashioned diner-looking donut shop. It’s pretty old school, with plastic yellow booths, and a giant smiling donut on the window. But the donuts were really good. We went relatively early in the morning, so they had a full stock of fresh donuts. We were limiting ourselves by getting only 6, as there were so many that looked really, really good. I loved the Applesauce Cake with Applesauce Crumbs. It was cakey, appley (spell check tells me these aren’t words, but they are real enough for us, yes?), and crumbly. The Chocolate Iced Cake with Sprinkles was a close second for me. Just a good, quality cake donut covered in chocolate. Yes. Eric really liked the Cinnamon Twist, which we both thought tasted kind of like a Krispy Kreme. His second favorite was the Maple Crueler, which I thought was nice, but nothing out of this world.
Overall, I was willing to eat all of these donuts, and I’d definitely go back.
232 NE 28th Ave
What we spent: $9.75
What we got: Cardamom, Honey Glazed, Maple, Chocolate and Marionberry, Chocolate Glazed, French Crueler
Best of the bunch: Chocolate and Marionberry, and Honey Glazed
Staccato Gelato was not even on our donut radar until a friend recommended it on a Saturday night. And since everyone needs donuts on a Saturday night, we drove right over to try it. As you can probably guess by the name, this is primarily a gelato shop that happens to sell donuts on the weekends. They had a pretty good selection for a Saturday evening, and honestly, every flavor they offered sounded good. I had read good reviews of the Cardamom donut, so we got one of those, along with some other more basic varieties.
We both really hated the Cardamom donut. To quote Eric, “It tastes like a plant.” So, there’s that.
The Maple was nothing special (it seems like every donut shop does something maple, and it never really excites me), and the Chocolate Glazed was also nothing to write home about. After multiple tastes, neither of us could put our finger on the super weird taste of the French Crueler. There was something undecipherable there, and it was not appreciated. But the Honey Glazed and Chocolate and Marionberry donuts were both really delightful. The marionberry frosting was really spectacular (as everything marionberry is), and it added a lot to a basic chocolate cake.
Overall, I’d try Staccato Gelato again, mostly so I could taste the S’mores donut, and get my hands on that marionberry frosting again. Plus, they are open late, unlike most of the other donut shops in town. And since my donut craving is almost a constant in life, it’s good to have a donut provider available after 4 pm.
The winner of this round of donut tasting was Annie’s Donuts. Classic, inexpensive donuts that didn’t make either of us wrinkle up our noses in disgust. Huzzah!
We have a few more donut shops to test out before we declare the best donut in Portland. Until then, we’ll be dreaming about marionberry frosting and crumbly cake sweet treats.