Donuts/Doughnuts, Portland Style

Contributed by: Amber D’Ambrosio is Processing Archivist & Records Manager at Willamette University, a small, urban liberal arts college in Salem, Oregon, where she manages the collections and wrangles ArchivesSpace and Archivematica. In her spare time she writes, reads about early modern London, hikes, travels, and obsessively visits the Oregon Coast.

You’ve probably heard rumors about the Portland donut scene, and I’m just scratching the surface with the those most accessible to the conference venues. I’ve also included mention of shops for those with dietary restrictions (unfortunately, less accessible from the conference locations) so be sure to keep reading if you’re looking for vegan or gluten-free donut options.


Let’s get Voodoo Doughnuts out of the way. Voodoo Doughnuts is for tourists, and it serves its role well. On my very first trip to Portland for ACRL, I did my due diligence and stood in line (fortunately, not for very long) to glimpse the weird and wonderful concoctions with creative names. You will most likely stand in line, especially outside the downtown location, which is walking distance from the conference. Voodoo Doughnuts is known for its weird toppings (Captain Crunch on your doughnut, anyone?) and weird shapes (yes, that is exactly what you think it is). However, you quickly discover that the base doughnut under the quirky gimmicks is average. You can also purchase plain, tame doughnuts here if all of the wacky toppings and shapes are ultimately unappealing once you reach the counter. Voodoo Doughnuts is an experience, and it’s worth a visit, especially with a friend.


For those more interested in the gourmet doughnuts of Portland, there are other options. You will probably still have to stand in line unless you get there very early in the morning on a weekend. Blue Star Donuts is walkable from the downtown conference hotel (you do have to walk uphill on the way there) but might require use of public transit for those with weary feet. Blue Star is known for donuts like Blueberry Bourbon Basil and Buttermilk Lemon Poppyseed. These are decadent and well worth the wait in line. They serve Coava Coffee to accompany their rich donuts.


Another local favorite is Coco Donuts, which walks the line between classic and gourmet quite nicely. They also roast their own coffee and make craft coffee beverages to accompany their classic donut selection. The best part is that Coco Donuts is within a block of the downtown Hilton. For those of you staying across the river, it’s still a reasonable walk or there’s always the MAX light rail.


For those wanting to indulge in small, fancy donuts and Portland food cart culture, there’s also Donut Byte Labs. This cool blue food cart specializes in bite-size donuts in three tiers of flavors: simple, mid-tier, and advanced. Simple and mid-tier more closely resemble classic donuts while the advanced have the gourmet quality of Blue Star but often paired with pastry cream and other complementary toppings. Donut Byte Labs resides on a corner not far from Voodoo Doughnuts and is within walking distance of the conference venues.


Vegans, don’t despair! Portland recently gained a dedicated vegan donut shop called Doe Donuts. They specialize in artisanal vegan donuts, but the downside is that you’ll need either a car or to take the bus to reach it.


For something closer to the conference venues for both vegans and those on gluten-free diets, there’s Gluten Free Gem, which doesn’t specialize in donuts but does carry them among its other pastries.




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