Two weeks of camping has a way of simplifying one’s needs. Or, at least, it should. I must admit that I was rather taken with a supply run at REI’s flagship store in Seattle. Amazing what we can schlep along with us as essential gear, but gone are the days — thank goodness! — of wet wool, freeze-dried food and heavy tents. And remember the taste of water after sloshing around in one of those metal canteens?

I was more than happy to wander back into civilization as we made our way home. If you’re planning a trip yourself to the Pacific Northwest, here are two places worth visiting. I’ll post more once I get back to San Francisco, but for now, a taste of my travels….


It’s only natural that a city obsessive about its coffee would develop a gourmet doughnut chain. Top Pot Doughnut already has three shops scattered in Seattle, and a few more will likely pop up soon. Known for their sleek modern take on the donut stop, Top Pot is a place for lounging as much as dunking.

Their downtown location on 5th Avenue has a spacious mezzanine, outdoor seating and an onsite coffee roasting facility. You’ll need to get there early in the day for a taste of their famous pumpkin doughnuts and their much-loved, fast-moving apple fritters.

Top Pot leans toward classic interpretations of cake and old-fashioned doughnuts. I ordered a dozen and managed to take two bites of every single one in the box. I loved the chocolate topped with raspberry icing and the old-fashioned frosted, but the good, ol’ jelly doughnut sprinkled with powdered sugar won my heart. And yes, the apple fritter deserves all that fuss. Selling out of their “hand-forged” doughnuts isn’t a hard thing to do when they taste as good as these.

Top Pot Doughnuts
2124 5th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 728-1966


Just down the skid from my favorite bookstore in the world, Powell’s “City of Books” in Portland, is my new favorite doughnut shop. If you’re in the neighborhood of Burnside and 3rd Avenue, then be sure to stop in at Voodoo Doughnut for the pure glee and fun of it. Where else could you get a massive 10-inch, chocolate-covered Cock & Balls? Or a Captain Crunch Doughnut? Or the incredibly impressive Maple Bacon Bar? The decor is cheeky-grunge, the hours are 24/7, and the revolving donut display will hypnotize you with its colorful promises.

If you have time, you can get married in their wedding chapel or, like me, just settle for a soothing voodoo doll pierced through the belly with a pretzel stick. I can now assure you that biting off the head of your ex-boss is even more satisfying than sticking it with straight pins.

A special shout-out to their collection of vegan doughnuts. Honestly, the only vegan baked good I’ve ever recommended. As someone who’s always trying to figure out how to slip an egg yolk and/or butter into my recipes, this is not a frivolous compliment.

Voodoo Doughnut
22 SW 3rd Avenue
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 241-4704

I’ll be back in San Francisco in a few days. It’d be great to hear from all of you about your own favorite local sources for dunkers and sinkers. Any suggestions?

Voodoo and the Top Pot: Doughnuts Galore 9 April,2008Thy Tran

  • Marc

    The “Good things come in pink boxes” from Voodoo reminds me of a culinary mystery: why is it that when I see a pink box I immediately think “doughnuts” or “pastry”?

    Does the pink box have an interesting story behind it?

  • j.elliot

    one starving musician (and former Portlander) came by to say: O how I loved me some Voodoo. Dangerous passing there on your way home from the bar when you’re a bit tipsy with a bad case of the munchies.


  • Anonymous

    rolling pin donuts in san bruno are hard to beat.

  • Cindy

    Locals on Oahu like the Portugese malasadas from Leonard’s, but I found myself really enjoying the also freshly made ones from a truck in one of the market parking lots made by a nice Korean couple. They’re best fresh out of the oil, of course! I was definitely thinking of you when I had them a few weeks ago.

  • Michael

    Top Pot, old fashioned chocolate covered doughnuts sound really good. The last time I was in San Francisco I stopped into a place called Shaws on West Portal Avenue. They had some of the best tasting candy I’d had in a long time.

    I read something the other day in an article about a site that has some fudge that’s an old fashioned favorite and definitely chocolate. A real comfort food, as are the doughnuts. The site is hard to remember, so I included a link to it.

    My all time favorite place is in Grand Junction, Colorado. Home Town Bakery has a little something called a Long John. It’s a pastry filled with a cream filling that’s out of this world. Lots of places have similar items, but in my opinion, none compare to this one. I haven’t been there I a while, but the next time I’m there, I’m definitely stopping in.


Thy Tran

Thy Tran writes literary nonfiction about food, the rituals of the kitchen, and the many ways eating and cooking both connect and separate communities around the world. She co-authored the award-winning guide, Kitchen Companion, and her work has appeared in numerous other books, including Asia in the San Francisco Bay Area: A Cultural Travel Guide and Cooking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Fine Cooking and Saveur. A recipient of a literary grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, Thy is currently working on a collection of essays about how food changes in families across time and place.

Though trained as a professional chef, she works on cookbooks by day, then creates literary chapbooks by night. An old letterpress and two cabinets of wood and lead type occupy a corner of her writing studio, for she is as committed to the art and craft of bookmaking as she is to the power of words themselves. In addition to writing, editing, teaching and printing, Thy remains active in local food justice and global food sovereignty movements. Visit her website,, to learn more about her culinary adventures.

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