Voodoo Doughnuts and Blue Star Donuts: Both monsters in the Portland breakfast pastry scene, with diametrically opposed positions on just about everything, including how to spell the product they sell. My initial idea for this doughnut challenge was to buy an asston of doughnuts from both, bring them back to a secure location (also known as the hotel room) and compare them head to head, bite for bite. This plan failed for a number of different reasons. First and foremost, while I don’t doubt that a person exists who can eat bites of twenty different doughnuts and not feel horrifically, violently ill for the rest of the day, that person is not me. Second, while I may not always want to wear pants, I would like for them to continue to be an option.
Here’s the breakdown: Voodoo Doughnut specializes in raised yeast doughnuts with quirky toppings (think cereal), unusual shapes (think cock and balls), and punn-y names. They’re expensive, there’s almost always a line, and they’re cash only. They’ve got a huge variety of doughnuts on their menu, including a maple bacon doughnut in a bar style with entire strips of bacon on top. You’re going to see a lot of people carrying their distinctive pink box throughout the streets of Portland. Blue Star Donuts specializes in brioche donuts featuring local, sustainable toppings and flavors, traditional shapes, and basic, descriptive names. They’re expensive (even a little moreso than Voodoo), there’s almost always a line, and they take cards. They’ve got a much smaller variety of doughnuts on their menu, including a maple bacon donut in a circle style with crumbled bacon on top. You’re going to see a lot of people carrying their distinctive white box throughout the streets of Portland.
I went to Blue Star Donuts first because I’d never been there before, and I’ve been to Voodoo several times (I’ve even tried their voodoo wedding!). The shop was packed to the gills, but the line moved relatively quickly, and we bought and tried six different varieties: classic buttermilk, vanilla and cinnamon sugar, maple bacon, blueberry bourbon basil, key lime lemon curd, and a still-warm hard apple cider fritter. Holy shit. Holy shit holy shit holy shit. I want to say that it took more than one bite to determine that I didn’t need to go back to Voodoo to declare a victor, but that isn’t true. One bite of the blueberry bourbon basil was all it took, and the bites I took of each of the others only confirmed it. Blue Star Donuts sells the superior donut by a landslide. While both shops sell perfectly fluffy pastries, the natural flavors and gourmet pairings Blue Star uses makes all the difference. Granted, I still felt ill after eating bites of everything, but I regret nothing. Sorry, Voodoo. You and Kenny Rogers will always have a place in my heart, but Blue Star has claimed my waistline.