You’re welcome, world. Here’s my guide to the best Portland ice cream, cupcakes and desserts in general. Get your stomach ready!
It’s no secret that I am obsessed with Portland. I have written about my love for the city before, and one of the things I love most is its food scene. There are so many fantastic (and local) places to visit for all kinds of dessert, including donuts, cupcakes, and ice cream! So I thought I would share my favourite sweet treats in Portland.
PORTLAND’S BEST DESSERTS
SALT + STRAW
I actually tried Salt + Straw in LA, but the business began in Portland before expanding down the West Coast. No matter where you visit, you can expect some crazy lines, as this is probably the most popular Portland ice cream stop. They have shops on NW 23rd, SE Division, and NE Alberta. They also recently opened the Wiz Bang Bar, which is a soft serve dessert bar.
Some of their crazy classic flavours include cinnamon snickerdoodle, strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper, pear and blue cheese, and honey lavender. I tried their almond brittle with salted ganache, which was good but the ganache was hella salty (obviously, cos it’s all about the salt!). They also have rotating monthly flavours, depending on what’s in season. Your tastebuds need to try Salt + Straw at least once.
These guys state they have the world’s largest selection of cupcakes, with over 40 flavours available daily. The reason behind the name Toadstool Cupcakes is that their cupcakes resemble toadstools. There’s the moist cake bottom, the creamy filling on top, and a chocolate ganache icing (some of the time). The flavours are broken down into categories, including classic cakes (red velvet is one of the best sellers), cheesecakes, candy bars, cookies, fruit, ice cream, coffee, seasonal, and toadally unique. The Snickers and hazelnut sound right up my alley!
BLUE STAR DONUTS
So from experience, most people are either Voodoo or Blue Star Donut fans. I did try and sample a Blue Star on my last visit, but the cafe I visited was waiting on a delivery. They have six locations across Portland, so you will undoubtedly stumble across a couple when adventuring around the city. Blue Star says their creative flavours have earned them the nickname of “Donuts for Grownups.” Those flavours include maple bacon, raspberry and rosemary, matcha green tea, and cointreau creme brulee. Their dough takes 18 hours to make, and is made by hand every day!
My friends raved about this place, which offers both sweet and savoury waffle options. But I was unfortunately so full from Voodoo that I couldn’t fit in a waffle. But if I was to visit Waffle Window, I would get the Hot Fudge Sundae Waffle: complete with vanilla ice cream, housemade hot fudge sauce, and fresh whipped cream.
I LOVE Voodoo Doughnuts. I have visited them every time I’ve been to Portland, and they never disappoint. For my first visit, my friends and I got the baker’s dozen box, where the staff pick 13 donuts for you (it’s a steal). The other two times I didn’t have enough people to share with, so I just ordered a couple of favourites. My personal top two are the M&M and Froot Loop ones. They are a total sugar overload, but for a treat I say it’s okay 😉
Ruby Jewel is another popular Portland ice cream store. It’s family owned and operated, has three stores, and they use local ingredients too. Ruby Jewel is known for its ice cream sandwiches, which come in flavours like double chocolate and caramelised coffee, brown sugar and oregon strawberry, dark chocolate and fresh mint, and lemon and honey lavender. Some of their current ice cream flavours include brown sugar sour cream and peach jam, caramel and salted chocolate, and sprinkles and cream. Man do I want an ice cream right now after reading their website!
Located in both the Pearl District and Alberta Arts District, I loved my mini cupcakes from Cupcake Jones. Portland has a strong cupcake game, but I tried these on my walk to the weekend markets. They only used locally sourced ingredients, and they have monthly specials. One of the specials in April was the Turtle cheesecake, but I liked the chocolate chip cookie one more, which is an everyday flavour. The team here were also super friendly, but what’s new in Portland. I swear it’s the nicest city in America.
This place is on my wishlist if/when I return to Portland. Pix Pâtisserie is home to some insane desserts, like delicious cakes, macarons, macaronuts (oh yeah, a macaron inside a fried donut), eclairs, and all the chocolate. You can enjoy your dessert with a glass of champagne, as the range at Pix has been awarded the World’s Best Champagne and Sparkling Wine List four years in a row by The World of Fine Wine. The owner has an amazing collection.
WHAT’S THE SCOOP?
During my first visit to Portland in 2014, I ended up getting my friends and I lost on our way to Hawthorne Boulevard. But what we found instead was the cool neighbourhood around What’s the Scoop?, which included some awesome street art. So not all hope was lost when we tried a sample plate here and devoured it while watching Frozen on the shop’s projection screen. Definitely recommend it for the unique toppings and flavours I haven’t seen anywhere else (and I’ve eaten a lot of ice cream).
According to Yelp, this is the most popular dessert spot in Portland. Papa Haydn is a restaurant with two different Portland locations, but both have amazing dessert cases. Some of the offerings include a white chocolate mint torte, Georgian peanut butter mousse torte, NY cheesecake, Boccone Dolce (a meringue-based dish), and Rhubarbarella, which includes a pistachio cake!
There you are, 10 places you need to visit for the best Portland desserts. Although ice cream is my favourite dessert, the cupcakes and macaronuts on this list may change my mind!