140 NE 28th Ave., 517-0262, almachocolate.com.
Nestled between well-known eateries along bustling Northeast 28th Avenue, this charming little chocolatier’s boutique is your palate’s sensual delight and dentist’s worst nightmare: ginger-almond toffee, Mexican truffles, Thai peanut butter cups and Thai coconut drinking chocolate, as well as a thick habanero-caramel drinking chocolate that will banish those rainy day blues. Proprietor Sarah Hart started out by creating gold-painted chocolate molds of spiritual icons, and you can still find a shelf dedicated to edible renditions of La Virgen de Guadalupe, Shakyamuni Buddha and sheela na gigs in a corner of the shop. This year, the shop has also started making its own ice cream: pints and half pints ($6/$4) of chocolate, vanilla or sorbet are spruced up with a rotating cast of delectables from the shop-—whether truffle or toffee or what-have-you. NB.
Shopping list: Hazelnut and dried cherry toffees, salted lavender or rosewater caramels, vegan coffee truffles, chocolate cake.
414 SW 13th Ave., 241-0656; 712 SW Salmon St., 274-9510, cacaodrinkchocolate.com.
One sip of Cacao’s spicy dark drinking chocolate is enough to erase that awful Portlandia skit from your memory. It bathes your tongue in velvety chocolate richness with a tiny cayenne kick. But don’t stop at drinking your chocolate when you head into Jesse Manis’ and Aubrey Lindley’s mocha-toned storefront. They carry an enticing collection of bars, drops and more from global and local chocolatiers. Local confectioner Cocanu’s Moonwalk bar features cacao nibs and Pop Rocks. A Byrne & Carlson bar is beautifully jeweled with slices of fruit. A truffle from Central Point’s Lillie Belle spread combines smoky blue cheese and milk chocolate. Behind the glass case, try a Batch PDX Joyful Almond square—a top-dollar version of the similarly named candy bar. Or sample the rich, buttery and slightly spicy ghost-chili caramel from Seattle’s Theo Chocolate. DC.
Shopping list: Drinking chocolate; top-quality baking chocolate; organic, stone-ground Taza Chocolate; Askinosie dark chocolate bars.
1237 NE Alberta St., 867-0591, candybabel.com.
Still craving European sweets after returning from several years abroad, Amani Greer decided to remedy Portland’s lack of shops selling hard candy. Jars of gummies and jawbreakers line the walls, and sampling is encouraged. Don’t forget to try the latest cotton-candy offering—the heavenly confection is made fresh daily in funky or classic flavors including chai, lychee and butterscotch. Mix and match treats to your heart’s content, as most everything is sold by the pound. Note: The shop also serves up organic, kosher, vegan, fair-trade (no kiddin’) cotton candy and custom-concocted cotton candy until Dec. 1. MHW.
Shopping list: Rhubarb sours, gummy fighter jets, lemon sugar skulls.
12 SE Grand Ave., 233-1833, deliciousdonutspdx.com. Closed Sunday.
There’s a good reason the trashy Plaid Pantry strip mall near the east end of the Burnside Bridge is swamped with cop cars every morning. That’s when Portland’s finest grab their daily fix of Boun Saribout’s truly perfect doughnuts. “It’s a sketchy corner. Nobody thought we’d make it more than three months in this location,” admits the Laotian native, who opened his shop in 2005 with his bubbly wife, Penny Nguyen. “But the neighborhood kept us alive.” That’s an understatement. The doughnuts are usually all gone by 10 am. You won’t find off-the-wall or fancy flavors here, just consistently great, crisp, fresh, sugary standards. Much of the shop’s business comes from special orders that worker bees pick up from counter master Nguyen on their way to their downtown offices ($4.95 half dozen, $9.45 baker’s dozen), or boxes of huge “Bad Boy”-sized apple fritters and fruity bear claws for the neighborhood construction workers ($7.95 half, $13.45 baker’s dozen). New Seasons Market sells Delicious Donuts, too. KC.
Shopping list: Crunchy apple fritters, fragrant blueberry doughnuts and the best plain-cake doughnut in the universe. If you want a dozen or more, place your order the day before, unless you enjoy disappointment.
Annie’s Donut Shop
3449 NE 72nd Ave., 284-2752.
If I crave one thing in Portland, it’s a moist, cake-y, nutmeg-gy glazed applesauce cake doughnut from Annie’s. Although it has changed owners, the nondescript shop at the junction of Northeast Sandy Boulevard and Fremont Street hasn’t redecorated for three decades—and, really, why bother? All the goods are front and center in two bakery cases: tangy buttermilk bars, craggy apple and raspberry fritters, cinnamon twists, devil’s food cake rounds and the mysterious “peanut butter butterfly,” which tastes like a Reese’s peanut butter cup mated with a doughnut. KC.
Shopping list: All of the above ($7.50 small, $8.99 medium, $10.79 large dozen). Plus two more of those applesauce doughnuts.
Blue Star Donuts
1237 SW Washington St., 265-8410, bluestardonuts.com.
Fried chicken with fancy doughnuts is, apparently, a thing. But no one else is combining wings ’n’ rings quite like Little Big Burger boss Micah Camden. Blue Star Donuts’ standout doughnut in its stylishly minimalist shop is a glazed brioche ring with chunks of moist chicken breast in a dark bronze batter and a squeeze packet of Frank’s RedHot ($4.75). There’s more novelty, but no equal satisfaction, elsewhere on the constantly shifting (and, at about $30 a dozen, expensive) menu. The brioche works well with dulce de leche ($2.50) and a smoke-kissed bacon maple made with real syrup ($2.75), but not so well with sharply acidic passion fruit, overly bitter chocolate ganache or cloying blueberry, bourbon and basil. MC.
Shopping list: That doughnut with the chicken on it.
1105 NW Johnson St., 224-2021, coolmoonicecream.com.
The first thing that stands out about Cool Moon is the little plank in front of the ice cream freezers. It’s designed so that the little ones—who swarm the pocket-sized ice cream shop like killer bees—can rise up over their parental oppressors and order exactly the flavor they want. Kids rule! There are Moon Pops and Choco ’Nanas (their name, not mine), sundaes and splits. But there is also ice cream available for home consumption—in particular, elaborate custom ice cream cakes that could grace a wedding ceremony held in an icebox. During a 4-6 pm “happy hour” (that’s right, start them young!), one can buy a pre-packed pint of some exotic flavor, like the excellent Horchata Cookie, for the Ben & Jerry’s-style price of $4. CJ.
Shopping list: Oakshire espresso stout, hibiscus sorbet, fig and goat cheese...what, you think Salt & Straw cornered the market on this shizz?
3713 N Mississippi Ave., 505-9314; 428 SW 12th Ave., 971-271-8895, rubyjewel.net.
Ruby Jewel’s ambience sort of exemplifies the recent Pearlification of Mississippi—but not so much as, say, a Cold Stone, so I’ll count my blessings. Besides, the company’s small-batch, locally made ice cream, which founder Lisa Herlinger-Esco has been selling in ice-cream sandwich form since 2004, is inarguably good. Ruby Jewel’s best-loved flavor, caramel with salted dark chocolate, features an exquisitely unresolved tension twixt salty and sweet, relieved only by cacao-rich chunks of dark chocolate with the density of fudge. Sure, I could leave the cutesy-poo store. But the rich, genuine-tasting and just plain tasty ice cream? I’ll take that—a double scoop, please. JF.
Shopping list: Take home one of Ruby’s signature ice cream sandwiches; in particular, chocolate with salted caramel or the autumn-only ginger cookie and pumpkin.
3402 SE Division St., 235-3119, laurettajean.com.
Pie: to my mind, the perfect dessert. Available in varied degrees of sweetness, fruitiness, creaminess and chocolaty-ness, pie can sit for a few hours before it loses its charm. It’s also a loyal companion to coffee that’s handily shareable and easily upgraded with ice cream. Lauretta Jean’s: a perfect pie shop. Classy but casual, laid out like a coffee shop with low light, a simple wood-and-glass counter and a poster advocating weed and Neil Young. Blackberry raspberry ($4): the perfect slice. The tart and pulpy filling is lick-your-fork good, with berries crushed so they offer up their nectar without losing their personality. The flaky crust, made with careful attention to an old family recipe, has the soft crunch of high-desert snow. MC.
Shopping list: Pie!
817 SE 34th Ave., 894-8980, fizzportland.com.
For only 25 cents, Belmont’s idyllic retro soda shop, Cosmic, will add one-fourth of a teaspoon of “phosphates” to one of its many uniquely flavored sodas. The addition turns up the sour on an already delicious drink, magically enhancing all that it touches—everything on the menu, from a black cherry soda to a sarsaparilla float, tastes better. Despite the name, Cosmic uses citric acid (that’s the stuff coating the outside of Sour Patch Kids) rather than the phosphoric acid used in phosphate drinks when they were popular at soda fountains in the 1950s; though, as your dentist will tell you, both are pretty terrible for your teeth. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I swear I can feel the enamel being stripped from my white-and-pearlies when I suck down a phosphate soda here. But let’s be honest: There isn’t a single sugar-loaded item in this shop that won’t lead to denture cream. Some just lead there faster than others. KH.
Shopping list: Blenheim Ginger Ale, Mason’s Root Beer, Moxie, bulk candy ($6.99 per pound).
VEGAN JUNK FOOD
1217 SE Stark St., 233-3910, foodfightgrocery.com.
The vegan stalwart of Southeast Stark Street’s vegan mini-mall calls itself a grocery but, with its small produce case and immense selection of cruelty-free junk food, more resembles a 7-Eleven run by PETA. A selection: vegan nougat, Inka Plantain Chips, Ricemellow Creme, vegan hot-cocoa mix, vegan brownie mix and vegan haggis. Beyond the racks of bags and boxes of things that are good for your karma but probably bad for your waistband is a deli case with plenty of faux cheese and meat products, and big cans of “complete whole food health optimizer.” BW.
Shopping list: Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, Tofurky jerky, Bob’s Red Mill textured vegetable protein.