Date of Visit: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 6:00 pm
IMPRESSIONS: Voodoo Doughnuts is a Portland institution, and you’d better not mess with it. With two locations in town (and a third down in Eugene), Voodoo is synonymous with Portland’s downtown and nightlife. Their donuts, some of which trend toward the ridiculous, have landed the shop on the Food Network and other national stages. Taking the advice of our Portland friends and other trusted sources like reader and Twitter-friend John, we visited the original location downtown. I’m told the new locations are nice, but nothing compares to the “character” of the original. Such is true for many things in life.
ATMOSPHERE: Voodoo is to donut places what Yesterdog is to hot dog joints. It’s old, beaten up, a little dirty (in more way than one), they only take cash, the servers are kinda gruff, and there’s nothing you can do about any of it. For those who don’t know Yesterdog, it’s a hot dog place in my hometown of Grand Rapids. It’s cheap, beloved of native Grand Rapidians, the wooden booths are carved with graffiti, and the dirty tattooed guys behind the counter will yell at you if you order incorrectly. That was our experience at Voodoo.
The space is super small and cramped. Maybe ten customers can fit inside at once. Everything’s pink and a little dark. The only lighting is a giant chandelier hanging overhead.
They’re aggressively cash only, but provide an ATM for your convenience, whether that means getting some cash or carving a tribute to your one true love.
There’s a huge menu, which you can also peruse online. Donuts range from simple cake and custard varieties (at about .95/donut) to wacky specialties that cost $5-6.
Standing at the counter lets you see shelves and shelves of donuts.
There’s also a rotating glass display case with their more creative fare. A glimpse at this case is worth the visit alone. I ordered The Loop, covered in Fruit Loops.
Plenty of seasonally-themed donuts, too.
Many of these donuts feature funky designs or kooky add-ons like cereal, coconut, sprinkles, marshmallows, cookies, or candy.
Their signature Voodoo Doll: a man stabbed with a pretzel stick, filled with jelly.
There’s plenty of dirty bumper stickers and signs plastered around the space. Thank goodness our kids can’t read yet…
Read through their menu for some of the more scandalous names, too.
FOOD: Our group loaded some of their signature pink boxes with a variety and took them home. All in all: very good donuts. A couple of the toppings were a little dried out, but they certainly all tasted good.
The specialty donuts are big, so they’re great for sharing.
The famous Bacon Maple Bar. A great blend of flavors. Sweet and salty all in one. Our sample was a little dry, but I liked it. Even more so if it was filled with cream.
Another signature, the Old Dirty Bastard, covered with peanut butter and crumbled Oreo cookies. A ridiculous wallop of sugar. My favorite of the mix.
SERVICE: Don’t expect any smiles from the Voodoo crew. They’ll take your money and serve you great donuts, but don’t expect them to like it. If being coddled by a customer service representative is your thing, don’t come here. If you don’t care, you’ll be fine.
OVERALL: Later in our visit to Portland, after a fancy Peruvian diner at Andina, we stopped by Voodoo Doughnut for a second dessert. It’s a fun, guilty pleasure. While Voodoo isn’t the most magnificent donut shop I’ve ever visited, there really is something to all the hype. The whole experience is fun, and you can’t argue with a big box of crazy donuts. If you’re ever in Portland, go hang out downtown and pick some up.
FUN NOTE: If you love Voodoo Doughnuts that much, why don’t you get married there? You can.
-> Gimme Doughnut, short documentary on Voodoo Doughnut