Review: Blue Star Donuts

When I was in college, I had a passion for bear claws. Working nights, I had an hour to kill before my next job, which happened to take me past Venice Beach and its line of donut shops. Over the course of a year, I tried every bear claw in the area, and got to know exactly what time they would be coming out of the fryer at each shop. I was cooking at the time and made friends with most of the owners, and we’d debate subtleties as they experimented with recipes and oil temperatures. Actually, that passion almost got me killed when, after dawdling too long over a maple bar, I took a short cut through a bad part of town and, though a regrettable turn of events, ended up in the hospital – but that’s a story for another day.

Eventually I burned out, and I haven’t had a bear claw since,  but still have good memories of those warm pillows of dough keeping my lap warm as I drove through the city and up 101 to Pepperdine University.

To me, donuts are more about the experience than the treat. They are about getting up before dawn when the city is still sleeping. They are about the childlike grin one gets as they bite into a favorite for the first time in years, and the memories of grandmother making them in hot oil on the stove.

I thought about these things as I pulled up to Blue Star this morning. Oddly enough, my car doors refused to lock (seriously – see previous post), but since the new donut shop is getting so much interest,  I threw caution to the wind and left it open. Here are a few first impressions.


Blue Star Donuts Valhorona Chocolate


First up, Valhorona chocolate (which, interestingly, Google spell-checks to “hormonal”). Really deep, dark chocolate flavor. I’m not a huge chocolate fan, but I’m pretty sure the eyes rolled back in my companions head. She called me an hour later saying she was still thinking about it. Those ‘pearls’ on top are Valhorona. A creamy, not too sweet filling awaits inside.

Blue Star blueberry-bourbon-basil donut


Next, blueberry, bourbon and basil. I’ve had a lot of bad blueberry toppings in the past, and didn’t expect much from this, but the strength of the blueberry flavor was quite a surprise. Even better, we could pick out all of the other components; a match made in heaven. Pretty darn good.


Blue Star Donuts dulche de leche


Above, dulce de leche & almonds. I got some of this topping on my fingers as I was taking the photos. It was the best thing to happen to me all day. Damn! I don’t think it could be any better.

Blue Star Donuts - Lemon/Key Lime

Finally, Meyer lemon and key lime curd.

Now then. I’m sure you are wanting to know about the texture of the donuts. They are of the yeast variety, but don’t immediately jump to “oh, these are like Krispy Kreme”, the vapid blonds of the donut world. No, these are a classic brioche, and have a bit more weight and texture to them, giving with a slight crunch. Flour is organic Shepard’s Grain, cage free eggs, all organic, etc.

They are best eaten at the shop; between the two of us we couldn’t finish more than two. The leftover wasn’t as good later. One thing to be aware of is the price; you’ve probably never spent $3 on a donut, but they all run between $2.50 – $3 here.

Donuts are a personal thing, built on memories of childhood, rainy morning coffees, and for me, watching the sun rise. Everyone has their own idea of what characteristics make the best ones. I’ll only say that, for a shop that has only been open for two days, these have my vote.

1236 SW Washington St
Portland, OR 97205. Map

Mon-Fri 7 am – 7 pm, Sat-Sun 8 am – 7 pm

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. says

    I have to agree with you here. I recently started working right around the corner from the shop and one of my coworkers went and grabbed a really good sampler of at least a dozen different varieties. I don’t think I’ve had a doughnut in Portland that compares to these. They are seriously hefty, and in a strange way do not at all make me miss the weightless airy raised glazed I might have found at any other shop. My blue collar stand-by shop has long been Tonalli’s on Alberta, but this place seems hell-bent on making me crave that yeasty goodness.

  2. ann says

    so worth the price. each donut is hand dipped per order! only samples are in a case for prototypes. all the ingredients are top notch. . they are made from a brioche dough.the creme brulee donut includes a pipette of countreau that you can squirt into the donut or drink (21 & over only).i think all the flavors are perfectly balanced…none too sweet/cloying.the space is light & welcoming. there are a few 15 min meters in front.finger licking delicious.

  3. Susan Frenz says

    Tell your friend that she can buy those chocolate pearls (Valrhona Perles Craquant) at Whole Foods. I use them on ice cream and on cupcakes. They are fabulous!

  4. pdxyogi says

    I work a block away, and will need to seriously step up my exercise regimen in order to enjoy these on a regular basis. Well worth the extra sweat!

  5. says

    I am not a big fan of donuts, so I thought it would be no big deal they ended up in my building. I was wrong. Excellent donuts – none were too sweet and I also enjoyed the slight crunch to them. It’s a good thing the lease is up in Feb. :)

  6. Nicole says

    I just tried this place out on Saturday. OMG!!!! The BEST doughnut I have EVER had!!!!!! Truly! They are absolutely incredible. The dough is amazing….such fluffy goodness. I had the the dulce de leche and man, I just didn’t want it to end…I was literally licking the paper it was on to get every last morsel. Then I tried a bit of my husbands, which he had the blueberry bourbon and basil, was quite apprehensive about that, but again…wowed!!! Loved that too! Will definitely be getting that one next time along with the dulce! These doughnuts are absolute heaven. And I agree with what someone above said, they are not too sweet, I don’t care for a doughnut so sweet it makes my teeth ache. These are the perfect sweetness. Not only was the food amazing but the ingredients are top notch and fresh and the staff is very friendly and helpful. I highly recommend this place.

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