Illustration of a glazed donut with rainbow sprinkles. Illustration by Oscar Oeding.

In order to answer this age-old question, you must embark on a journey. A journey of driving all over the city, toting around your most trusted advisors, requesting funding from your overlords, and having a concrete list of your destinations so as to not overwhelm yourself. When I began this journey, I had a full tank of gas, three of my friends, some money loaded on my debit card and a list of all the donut shops I hoped to try. During the drive to our first stop, we brainstormed the criteria we had for our ideal and perfect donut. We wanted the body of the donut to be fluffy yet dense, the glaze to be sweet but not overwhelmingly so, the flavors had to be a perfect balance. Now we had our goal and we began our journey.

We began at Annie’s Donut Shop, located on Northeast 72nd Ave. This donut shop is the epitome of the donut shop you picture cops walking into. With glass shelving to easily see the donut selection, a vast drink menu complete with, of course, coffee and bright yellow benches that give the shop a more retro feel, the ambiance in Annie’s is a mix of chaotic and calming. We tried both a classic glazed and a maple bar from each donut establishment we went to. “I can taste the oil [in the glazed donut]” said Elliot Nopp (11). “It needs a better balance of sweetness and oil.” The maple bar from Annie’s was a hit, with Oliver Fox (10) describing the glaze as “tasting real.” Nopp was slightly disappointed with the thin layer of frosting provided but Liv Lufkin (11) believed it was enough and was still satisfying.

Next, we drove up to Angel’s Donuts and Ice Cream, formally known as Tonalli’s, located on Northeast Alberta and 28th. The women working here are extremely kind and when it was my turn to order, both exclaimed their excitement for the cold weather as it meant people wanted donuts. The selection of donuts at Angel’s is vast and the way they shelve them in the glass display cases is very pretty. At Angel’s, the glazed donut was a lot fluffier than the one at Annie’s and we noticed that the sugar and dough were more separate. The maple glaze on the maple bar was described as “wet cardboard” by Nopp, who also noted that it “doesn’t taste real.”

Against every single bone in my body, I begrudgingly drove the four of us to Voodoo Donuts. As a Portlander and someone who enjoys donuts occasionally, I try to stay away from Voodoo as I believe there are better ways to waste your calories on sweet treats. I also despise having our city known as the place where Voodoo was founded and watching tourists carry around pink boxes whenever I’m in downtown Portland or in the PDX airport. If I had a choice between a foofy Voodoo donut and a simple yet fantastic homemade chocolate chip cookie I would, of course, pick the chocolate chip cookie, duh. When we walked into the Voodoo Donuts located on Northeast Davis and 15th, there was lots of noise, people trying to figure out what to get and impatient cashiers who yelled every few seconds “NEXT CUSTOMER!” After paying for our donuts, and forcing Lufkin to walk out with me, abandoning the boys who were playing a video game, I felt like I was able to breathe peacefully. If you don’t understand my opinion of the ambiance from this description then please re-read it. As for the donuts, I was angrily surprised by their quality. The glazed donut was dense and wasn’t overly sweet like the other ones we had tried. The maple bar was actually really good and consisted of real honey and brown sugar flavors. My mom, who is a maple bar connoisseur, thought this one to be the best.

Lastly, we went to Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai located on Northeast 48th and Fremont. Pip’s doesn’t fit into the donuts we were trying from all the other establishments as they are known for their mini-donuts and fun toppings. The aesthetic of Pip’s is perfect for an Instagram picture and although there is usually a wait, it’s all worth it when they call your name over the loud-speaker and you get to chow down on mini-donuts that don’t have the residual fried food taste of normal donuts. We enjoyed all the flavors and our favorite was the Dirty Wu which is a cinnamon sugar donut drizzled with raw honey, Nutella and dusted with sea salt. When trying these donuts Nopp noted, “the crunch is unmatched by your classic donut.”

Now, I know you’re reaching the end of my article and you’re probably thinking “which one is the best donut? I read your whole article and I’m impatient.” When we finished trying all the donuts and were comparing them on a whiteboard attached to my kitchen wall, it was a split decision between all of us. While there was a unanimous decision that Voodoo had the best-glazed donut, Fox and Lufkin believed Annie’s maple bar to be the best while Nopp and I preferred Voodoo due to its distinct, delicious flavors. Next time you have a day to kill and want to go pay for a stomach ache, I recommend grabbing some friends, like twenty dollars, knowing where you’re going and embarking on this donut tasting journey.

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