We spent our first day in Portland just roaming around various neighborhoods on bikes borrowed from our hotel. We were lucky to have beautiful weather complete with sunshine, a rarity in the Pacific Northwest–or so I am told. After checking out downtown, the pearl district, and 23rd street with our tour guides–my friends Derek and Emily who live down the river in Williamette–we needed to rest. We were lucky enough to happen to pass by a Mexican restaurant with a giant bar just in time for happy hour. Normally I wouldn’t bother blogging about a plain old margarita, but the tamarind margarita I had at Casa del Matador was otherworldly! Made with top shelf tequila, tamarind puree, and garnished with a cinnamon sugar rim…let’s just say it was love at first sip. I had three of these, so by the time we made it to our next stop, I was feeling pretty loosey goosey.
We asked our tour guides to drop us at a bar of their choice on their way out of town…which is how we ended up at Ground Kontrol, my new favorite bar on the planet. Ground Kontrol is a bar with a full on arcade. No, not like Dave ‘N’ Busters. This place has every retro arcade game you remember from the old days plus an entire second floor full of just pinball machines PLUS old school video game consoles right at the actual bar.
Have you ever been to Barcade in Koreatown? It’s the same basic idea as Ground Kontrol except Barcade has just a handful of arcade games and is somewhat depressing. (Post script! Having just googled Barcade it appears they may have closed? Anyone have the deets? I guess they were a little too depressing) After ordering beer after beer after beer while playing a marathon Mario game, I was in serious need of some sustenance. Luckily, Voodoo Doughnut was mere blocks away.
The infamous Voodoo was close to our hotel, so we would pass it often and each time we did the line was insanely long. When we rolled up around 2 AM it was no different, but we passed the time by chatting it up with the people around us in line and before we knew it we were inside the teeny tiny retail space. Unfortunately, they were out of vegan yeast doughnuts at the time, but they had plenty of cake doughnuts. We ordered toasted coconut, chocolate with peanuts, plain glazed, and chic-o-stick flavor. I have always heard mixed reviews about Voodoo, but after one bite I knew the dissenters must obviously be kookoo-for-Cocoa Puffs, because these donuts were incredible. No one would ever be able to distinguish them from non-vegan donuts. And where the hell have Chick-o-sticks been my whole life?! How have I gone almost 27 years not knowing that there is a candy out there that is essentially a Butterfinger without the chocolate? When Voodoo crumbles the candy over a donut, well, that is one heavenly combo.
The next morning, I was feeling pretty craptastic, having hit the bottle and the donut shop too hard the night before. I ambled over to one of many little areas Portland has set aside for food carts to round up something healthful. I found the perfect place in The Portland Smoothie Company. They made me a fresh batch of apple juice using my choice of different varieties of apples. It really hit the spot.
It just so happened that The Flavour Spot, another establishment on my list of places to try in Portland, was right by the smoothie Co. I’ve been wanting to try their vegan waffle sandwich since reading about it on To Live and Eat in LA eons ago. Even though I wasn’t feeling too hot, I had to order one. Unfortunately, the sandwich didn’t live up to the hype. The waffle itself was nothing special and the “meat” was just your basic frozen vegan sausage patty. The vegan maple butter was barely detectable. I took a few bites and pawned the rest off on my boyfriend later at the hotel.
While I was waiting for my waffle order to come up, I couldn’t help but notice the complete lack of a line at Voodoo Doughnut which happened to be directly across the street. Even though I was feeling pretty horrible from the doughnut extravaganza the night before, I couldn’t possibly pass up the chance to go to Voodoo when there was no line whatsoever! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity! And plus–I rationalized–I hadn’t gotten a chance to try any of the yeast donuts. Let’s just say, my boyfriend was pretty surprised when I left the hotel in search of a smoothie and came back with a big pink box of baked goods.
Like the cake donuts, Voodoo’s yeast doughnuts were phenomenal. The flavors you can see here are Oreo peanut butter (!!!) and a McMinnville Cream which is custard-filled and topped with maple icing. I don’t know how Voodoo makes such a perfect vegan custard, but I’d be willing to shell out more than a couple shillings for the recipe. Again, I really want to know what kind of crack the Voodoo haters are smoking. These are definitely on par with Mighty-O in Seattle, if not better!
My Great Doughnut Binge: Portland 2010 resulted in extreme stomach pain the whole rest of the day–especially because I generally eschew fat and refined sugar these days so my body was not used to the rich food. But it was totally worth it.