The Best Doughnut in Portland Comes from a Van
Portland is, no doubt, a doughnut mecca. Most have probably heard of Voodoo Donuts, the famous candy-coated treat maker whose motto is “good things come in pink boxes.” The bakery celebrates its Portland heritage and employs a number of local talented artists. You may have seen some of their specialty creations go viral here and there. Because they are a company of creatives, their Instagram game alone is worth a follow. Voodoo has made its name in trading novelty doughnuts coated in kids’ cereal like Fruit Loops and Cocoa Puffs, but in true Pacific Northwest form, they also make having vegan offerings a priority.
In 2012, another great doughnut maker came onto the scene in the form of Blue Star, who boasts “quality over quantity.” The bakery notes that their dough takes 18 hours to prep by hand every day. While they may have fewer options than their pink counterpart, they pride themselves on inventive flavor combinations. For example, their blueberry bourbon basil might sound out there, but trust me, they make it work. Be sure to get a cup of Stumptown Coffee, brewed on site, to go with it. Blue Star has seen enough success to justify recently opening locations in L.A. and Tokyo.
However, as much as I love the chocolate, peanut butter and rice crispie creation that is Voodoo’s “no name doughnut” and Blue Star’s classic lemon poppy buttermilk, there is but one Portland doughnut company that has my heart: Pip’s Original Doughnuts, the doughnut van. Owned by adorable marrieds Nate and Jamie Snell, this mobile hand-painted and lettered classic Chevy P-10 van can be found at local events like Pickathon, Wordstock, and the Portland Night Market. You can even hire them to be at your wedding. While they do have a brick-and-mortar storefront on Fremont, there’s nothing like getting a piping hot half-dozen handed to you from the back of a van, right?
Pip’s specializes in mini doughnuts by the half dozen, which they make to order on the spot. Get six tiny Nutella and sea salt doughnuts, or honey and salt salt, or cinnamon sugar. If you’re looking for all of the above, order their everything doughnut: The Dirty Wu. They’ve got some delicious seasonal offerings too, like their current cranberry pomegranate and clove. Pip’s Chai is nothing to sneeze at, either—they make a variety of them.
Even with their doughnuts as good as they are, I’m especially pleased with Pip’s customer service. Last year at a holiday craft fair, my friend and I were starving and each ordered a half-dozen from the Pip’s van. We waited a while, but our order never came up. When we went back to the van to ask about it, we realized we just hadn’t heard our name be called. Instead of giving us our original order, they made us each a fresh batch on the spot, and handed both of us a Chai on the house. You can’t go wrong with getting a great doughnut in Portland, but Pip’s is where it’s at. Follow the van on Instagram @pipsmobile to find out where it’s headed next.