Doughnuts and Chai at Pip’s Original

A new neighborhood stronghold fries up tiny, irresistible doughnuts and blends custom chai.

By Benjamin Tepler December 4, 2013

Cinnamon sugar and honey sea salt doughnuts at Pip's Original.

In a city of doughnuts pipetted with Cointreau and larded with strips of bacon, simplicity is a welcome respite. At Pip’s Original, there are only three flavors, each miniature “O” fried to order, served alongside creamy mugs of house-blended chai. Tiny but mighty, Pip’s deep-fried wonders are a serious contender in Portland’s battle for the best doughnut.

Perched on busy strip of Northeast Fremont, Pip’s is the quintessential neighborhood spot: Walls are painted sky blue with wispy clouds (in keeping with a high desert theme), vintage Life magazines from the 1940’s are clipped to the wall, and a communal guitar sits in the corner, waiting to be played.

Owners Nate and Jamie Snell fashioned their miniature doughnuts after Pike Place’s Daily Dozen in Seattle, but with an eye for healthy frying methods and hyper-local flavors (curated salts and spices from The Meadow and community honey harvested from the surrounding neighborhood). To avoid the typical grease-sponge scenario, the Snells dunk their tiny life preservers into super-heated organic soy shortening. When the dough hits the deep-fry vat, the sugary exterior caramelizes, creating a crispy layer that protects the fluffy insides. The result is one of the best doughnuts in town: crunchy and golden brown with a light, warm, cakey interior.

The tiny blackboard menu offers a basic cinnamon sugar, an indulgent Nutella-drizzled number, and a standout Himalayan sea salt and honey version. Savory-sweet bites laced with floral honey are hard to beat—though rotating quarterly flavors like tart, spice-steeped apple cider glaze are reason enough to come back.

Pip’s hawks excellent Extracto coffee, but the real find is their chai tea, which Jamie mixes herself, steeping flavors like the Emmy Lou, a silky smooth, herbal chamomile infused with Sauvie Island lavender and the King and I, stained orange from Thai black tea and nutty, botanical pandan. If there is a better place to hole up for winter, I haven’t found it. 

Pip’s Original
4759 NE Fremont St
Tues-Sun, 8am-4pm
Monday, 8am-1pm

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