The Pacific Northwest is heavy. Such things I forget.
Having no appetite (!) I barely nibbled on the Mighty Mofo at Chaco Canyon Cafe, A vegan Reuben sandwich with housemade seitan, sauerkraut, mustard, cucumbers & sprouts, served on a soft sourdough. And sprouts.
In Seattle, wherever you are, it’s grey. Except when it’s glorious. But not today.
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The West Coast Donut Showdown:
The West Coast of the USA consists of 3 states: Washington, Oregon and California. In the past few couple of days, I’ve had vegan donuts in all of them. Here is a comparison:
Mighty O in Seattle has long been etched in my mind as the first all-vegan donut operation. Not those O-shaped packaged treats that I would see in the early health food stores that were dense, dry cakes sharing no characteristics with true donuts. These were real-deal from the start and they blew the vegan option doors wide open. They opened in 2003, though I didn’t try them until 2008. I watched from afar, hoping someone was paying attention on the East Coast. Mighty O gets mad cred for their fantastic donuts… and they get my business every time I’m in Seattle.
So the West Coast contender is the Raspberry Riot, to the left. This is their delectable vanilla cake donut with a raspberry glaze. The cake donut is perfect at Mighty O. And the glaze, simple with real berry flavor. These are dignified donuts that check all the boxes. (On the right, a mini cinnamon sugar, because they remind me of childhood.)
Voodoo Doughnuts opened up around the same time, but I am not sure if they offered vegan donuts from the start. I mentioned “dignified” in my Mighty O rundown… These donuts are not about dignity; they’re about wackiness. They’re a “thing.” Inventive and silly flavor combinations have created quite the allure. I wasn’t the only airline passenger carrying on a pink box from Voodoo. During peak times there are massive line-ups at their stores in Portland, so much that there are weaving gates to contain order. I have only ever gone at the crack of dawn, as I did today on the way to PDX.
And Voodoo’s berry contender: The Grape Ape doughnut, a raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting, grape dust and lavender sprinkles. This grape is all artificial, so take that real berries! Though it was a whimsical few bites, I couldn’t have much more than that. But its kitsch value certainly counts for something.
Now, did you feel a pain in your heart today? (evil laughter)
Donut Friend is in Los Angeles. They’re the new kid on the block. And they’re the new kid with a huge selection of mostly vegan flavors all named for punk and “alternative” (Is this still a word?) bands that reinforce the notion of their good taste. They take the best of donut innovators before them to create the best donut on the West Coast. That’s right, Donut Friend, you win the prize of my esteem.
What was the reason for the win? Well, this beautiful berry donut Polar Berry Club, named for a post-hardcore band from New York, which couples delicious real berries and a lemon glaze on top of their sticky glazed donut. As heavenly as the toppings are, they do not hide a dryish, bland donut base (I’m talking to you Voodoo.)… the donut alone without its headdress would kick butt. I savored every bite like those suggestive Ferero Rocher commercials. Admittedly, they swayed the win by merit of their expansive and scrumptious inventory.
Other Donut Friends I bought are included below. Do you recognize all the bands? X-RAY SPECULOOS: a salty cookie butter inside a traditional donut, with chocolate glaze and sea salt on top.
S’MORRISSEY: A heavenly chocolate cake donut filled with toasted marshmallows and topped with chocolate glaze and graham cracker crumbs. (Ok, that one was easy!)
ANGRY SAMOA: A vanilla cake donut dipped in chocolate, and topped with caramel, toasted coconut, and chocolate stripes.
This one was a Sufjan Stevens one that isn’t on their website. Otherwise known as a “jelly donut.”
RITES OF SPRINKLES: A moist cake donut with your choice of glaze and sprinkles.
Ok, no more donuts for awhile!