As the school year wraps up for colleges around the country, students are creating travel itineraries and squeezing road trips between internships and family vacations (and even half-marathons!). Few destinations are hotter (not literally, I promise!) than Portland, Oregon. Not only does my hometown of Portland possess gorgeous rolling hills of green nature and friendly folk, it even has its own TV show: Portlandia. However, the true strength of Portland is derived from its incredible food scene.
Portland was recently named the best food city in America by the Washington Post. But to cover Portland’s food scene in an article would be akin to eating the infamous Mancakes (featured in Man vs. Food) at Stepping Stone Cafe in Northeast Portland. And that is no small feat, as the Mancakes measure 13 inches in diameter. Translation: we can’t cover all of Portland in an article. Too bad, right?
Nope, because, rather than focusing on Portland’s countless great pizza places, this gives us a chance to dive exclusively into Portland’s dessert scene. Who doesn’t like a delicious dessert? Here’s a rundown of my favorite 7 must-try Portland treats.
1. Bacon Maple Bar at Voodoo Doughnuts
Voodoo Doughnuts is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Portland and located in the heart of downtown. Try and go early in the morning or basically any time that the line doesn’t wind into the streets. Once at the shop, try the Bacon Maple Bar, the famous Voodoo jelly donut, or one of the other donuts with a raunchier name.
2. Marionberry Pepper Jam Donut with Peanut Butter Dusting at Blue Star Donuts
Once you check off your tourist destination, go to Blue Star for some less flashy but even more delicious donuts. Made from a classic brioche recipe from France, the donuts are sustainably made and deliciously consumable. The Marionberry Pepper Jam and Peanut Butter Donut provide a sweet twist to the classic sandwich combination, adding a slightly spicy kick at the end.
3. Dirty Wu at Pip’s Original Donuts
Are you noticing a theme yet? Pip’s rounds out the trifecta of delicious Portland donut shops. Don’t forget to take an Instagram with their hip wall as the background. Their specialty is the “Dirty Wu,” essentially a cinnamon sugar and Nutella combination.
4. Peanut Butter and Guittard Chocolate Waffle at Waffle Window
With two locations, there’s no excuse for not making the trip. The savory waffles are plenty, but the sweet waffles are the true stars. Peanut butter fan? The peanut butter and warm Guittard chocolate waffle tops the list for me.
5. Almond Brittle and Salted Ganache at Salt & Straw
Salt & Straw is an ice cream shop known for its eccentric flavors. It’s now slowly taking over Los Angeles, but has its roots in Portland, with several shops sprinkled across the city. Almond Brittle and Salted Ganache is my personal favorite, but feel free to be more adventurous with choices like Pear & Blue Cheese. Want to make your own weird ice cream? (I promise that’s a good thing.)
6. Peter’s Chocolate Mint Cupcake at Cupcake Jones
Devil’s food cake filled with chocolate mint ganache topped by a thick fudge frosting, chocolate mint frosting and an Andes mint. It’s devilishly good.
7. Fat Elvis at Saint Cupcake
One of several competent breakfast places, Saint Cupcake boasts the Fat Elvis, a rich banana cake studded by chocolate chips and smeared with a thick peanut butter frosting, topped by banana chips. Confused by the differences between cupcakes and muffins? No fear, we’ve got your back.
If you’re able to hit all seven of these dessert spots in your trip to Portland, consider it your first bite into the dessert culture of Portland. More traditional spots like Papa Haydn or intensely flavorful joints like Cupcake Jones await you on your next trip.