Joe’s Donuts, Sandy, OR

It is a truth universally* acknowledged that Voodoo makes sort of crappy doughnuts. Which is fine, actually. People go to Voodoo because they want to buy a doughnut shaped like Ammon Bundy. If you were after stellar taste and texture, why would you be at a place that puts Froot Loops on a doughnut?

The question is where to go if you are looking for a doughnut notable for its more food-like qualities. Blue Star is a frequently cited competitor. They use a “classic French brioche recipe” that takes 18 hours to make. This seems like a step too far in the opposite direction. They’re good, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that doughnuts, for me, are best as a hastily-consumed Sunday morning calorie bomb, and a tiny plastic syringe of Grand Marnier is a lot to be confronted with when you’re groggy and hungover.

Is there a middle path? Yes, there is, and it’s called Joe’s Donuts. Yeah, that link is broken. No frills, no passionfruit, no U, G, or H. Joe’s is the real deal, not least because they open at four in the goddamn morning.

Joe’s is unfortunately in Sandy, a 40-minute drive even from my neighborhood in Southeast Portland. It is, however, halfway to Mount Hood right off the 26, so I argue this actually recommends it location-wise. Carb-loading before you hit the slopes? Heading back home, exhausted, damp, and concussed? Joe’s is there for you.

The maple bars and jam donuts are their best selves and highly recommended, but you really want an old fashioned (pictured). It’s just a good-ass donut: a craggy, crispy outer shell, generously glazed, dense fried cake in the middle. One of those and a coffee will run you under $2.


*OK, acknowledged among the doughnut-likers of Portland, Oregon.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. A compromise I probably won’t compromise on: Tonailli’s Donuts, Alberta. They’re old school Alberta, pre-gentrification Alberta. The kind of place where local teens get summer jobs and grumble hot days away, that serves a strange melange of other foods no one really orders. It has fluorescent lighting and wood paneling – already so much of what I want from my donut experience.

    They do bear claws and cake donuts that are both light and rich. They have the Homer Simpson sprinkle. They are also not 40+ minutes away. But it’s really their old-fashioned, with a buttercream base and crackling crunch, that crowns the establishment. I will go to fisticuffs for this: Tonalli’s is the best donut in Portland.


    1. The remoteness is part of the charm, Rennie! 🙂

      I’ve never been there! What does a buttercream base entail in a donut?


      1. it entails deliciousness.


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