On a recent trip to Portland, I crowd-sourced friends before heading to “beervana” for suggestions on where to eat and drink. Everyone agreed – VooDoo Donuts was a must visit.
As a travel writer, that meant just one thing. Though VooDoo received all the accolades from tourists, I would bet dollars to well, donuts, that Portland would have an even better donut shop than the much touted VooDoo. After all, once tourists adopt a shop, the locals will seek a new favourite.
That somewhere else was Blue Star Donuts. Blue Star’s thick, brioche-style donuts are made fresh daily and glazed to order. Fruit glazes (like that on the Blueberry, Basil & Bourbon donut) are made with fresh fruit and powdered sugar, not processed syrups. Each day the shop produces 15 to 20 different flavours, with popular glazes like the Cointreau Crème Brûlée, Maple Bacon and Pistachio Cheesecake often on the menu. These donuts were pure artisanal bliss, and when I did succumb to peer pressure and visit VooDoo – well, they sure don’t do what Blue Star do when it comes to incredible donuts.
Check out the rest of the best donut shops in North America; these really rise above!
Canada’s original gourmet donut bakery café, these doughnuts are pretty damn delicious, though they haven’t taken their donuts to the art-house level of some of the other shops on our list. The dipped by hand Nenshi’s Salted Caramel, named after the city’s popular mayor, and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla are two familiar flavours, and the Jelly Bear is a novelty flavour worth sharing with your kids.
The play on names with one of my favourite movies intrigued me, and Glazed & Confused did not disappoint. Try the Confuzed Car Bomb (Baileys custard filling, Guinness glaze, sprinkles), Peach Caramel Corn (peach caramel glaze, white cheddar popcorn topping) and Oh my pecan pie (pecan pie glaze topped with sweet salty crunchy pecans). They really get into their names at this shop – be sure to bite into their Breaking Banana Bread (banana bread donut with a sea salted caramel glaze).
Everything is bigger in Texas, and the fried sugar monsters on display at Gourdough’s are no exception. You’ll forgive them for beginning their business serving out of a clichéd renovated Airstream when you bite into a donut-bunned burger in their pub, or try a (traditional?) doughnut on the bakery side. I recommend the Mother Clucker, a donut piled with fried chicken strips and drizzled with honey butter or the Dirty Berry, slathered with fudge frosting and grilled strawberries.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Of course they serve the Fat Elvis (peanut butter-banana filling, chocolate icing, caramelized banana), and of course they’re open 24 hours. Don’t be silly. Opened by a former Krispy Kreme franchise owner, Pink Box Doughnuts has four locations serving traditional glazed and sugared treats as well as sinful indulgences like the marshmallow, chocolate and graham wafer S’mores doughnut.
Brooklyn, New York
One of my favourite New York memories was spending hours wandering around the Brooklyn Flea Market and eating food cart fare. When I heard Dough got its start at the market before it turned into the city’s fan favourite, I knew I had to try these donuts. Dough distills natural flavours such as blood orange and hibiscus to create an incredible icing. The decadent Dulce de Leche doughnut is a must-try.