Empanada Boy and I flew into Portland on Friday night. We were supposed to get in at 10:30 pm. To make a long and familiar story short, we ended up getting in at 1:45 am. Luckily, the devoted Flava Flav was there to meet us. I was ready to climb into bed and sleep for a long, long time, but true to form, Empanada Boy was hungry for a past midnight snack. And there are few better places for that than Voodoo Doughnut.
Since opening in 2003, Voodoo Doughnut has achieved cult status, attracting late-night revelers in all states of inebriation. There is often live music in the tiny loft inside the tiny restaurant space. The owners have been licensed to marry people in the shop, and they offer Swahili lessons there every Monday night. Ever the socialite, Flava Flav has been there many a time. Thanks to his own Portland relatives, EB has eaten there on all of his previous visits. I, however, had never been, so I volunteered to forsake another hour of sleep for some caloric indulgence.
The line was out the door when we arrived at around 2:15 am. Empanada Boy ordered a messy-looking concoction known as the “Old Dirty Bastard.” It’s a regular doughnut topped with chocolate, Oreo cookie crumbs and a peanut butter glaze. Flava Flav is not much of a doughnut adventurist. She ordered a regular glazed doughnut. Not bad, but nothing special.
My selection was called “The Blunt” because it’s supposed to look like a lit cigarette— made of tobacco, of course… It was a cinnamon sugar-coated wedge dipped in maple and red sprinkles. I thought it could just as easily be a French fry dipped in ketchup. Other menu items include such selections like “Grape Ape,” a raised doughnut with vanilla frosting and grape powder; the “Arnold Palmer,” a cake doughnut covered with lemon and tea powder; and the “Cock-n-Balls” a triple cream filled selection shaped like you know what. It comes in a pink box with your favorite saying written on it.
Voodoo Doughnuts is a clever idea, and I’m sure its innovative owners deserve a lot of credit for coming up with it. Still, I have to say that I didn’t think the doughnuts were anything special. Apart from the silly toppings, they tasted much like other doughnuts I’ve had. Maybe I need to try more of them, or maybe I’m just not sufficiently appreciative. Or maybe it’s just the high percentage of drunk people assembled in a relatively small space that turns me off. In short, I’m glad Voodoo exists and has brought Portland much-deserved fame and glory, but I think I could wait a few years before I feel the need to go back again.
22 SW 3rd Ave.
Portland, OR 97204