Voodoo Doughnuts: An Authentic Austin Experience

Review

By Mary Miller , Executive Editor

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Voodoo Doughnuts, located on 6th Street, was founded by Kenneth Pogson and Tres Shannon in 2003. Though the first location opened up in Portland, Oregon, the quirky artwork, loud music, and eccentric flavor choices scream “Keep Austin Weird.”

When I arrived on a Sunday at around 10:30 a.m., the line had already snaked out the door, and it extended past nearby establishments rapidly after I staked my spot. However, with the door propped open for easy traffic flow and the line clearly separated from the dining portion of the restaurant, we maneuvered our way to the front in only 15 minutes. The open door did allow external fumes to enter, with the smell of car exhaust and cigarette smoke lingering in the entryway, and the indoor fans didn’t do much to combat the Texas heat. But once you step a few feet away from the door, the ambience neutralizes. While chatting with our server, she said that traffic is heavy during the summer and on weekends with waits resembling our own or longer, but weekdays during the school year are often slower.

The inside is spacious, with ample seating available in the form of barstools and traditional tables. The exposed brick walls combined with the bright pink, yellow, and green accents create a funky, modern atmosphere that fuses many wacky elements into a cohesive whole. When you enter Voodoo, you walk past a duct-taped mural depicting two astronauts riding horses, columns that boast fake trees bursting with doughnut-covered branches, and a corner stage allowing for performances from local artists. The decorations will appeal to children and adults alike, and there is so much to look at that returning customers will always be able to point out something new.

The menu was featured on a large chalkboard that hung directly over the counter, and seemed quite daunting as a new customer. However, once I reached the staff to place my order I saw a laminated paper depicting each doughnut and its name that simplified the process. The staff were more than willing to recommend their favorites or share more information on the cult classics, and were patient with me throughout my order. I decided on ten doughnuts to split with my family, including the Voodoo Doll, Cinnamon Sugar Cake, Sprinkle Cake, the Marshall Mathers, the Dirt, the Loop, the Homer, Vicious Hibiscus, and two Plain Cake. My entire order cost about $17, which is very reasonable for the number of doughnuts that we purchased.

I began by sampling arguably the most renowned doughnut, the Voodoo Doll. Its classic doll shape, raspberry jelly, and pretzel stake take chocolate-iced doughnuts to the next level. When ordering, you never know what yours will look like since each Voodoo Doll is unique. Mine showcased a hypnotizing blue swirl on the stomach and a large pink frown, but as I walked through the restaurant I saw features that ranged from a mouth filled with teeth to a single, cyclops-like eye. I was skeptical of this doughnut, as chocolate icing typically overpowers my palate within a few bites, however the fluffy base, creamy icing, and hint of salt from the pretzel won me over. This ended up being one of my favorite doughnuts of the batch, and is definitely worth a trip to try.

Next up was the Vicious Hibiscus, which fell flat from the very first bite. While visually stunning, with its magenta icing and jet black sprinkles on one side, the tart, artificial aftertaste left much to be desired. Similarly, the Loop also failed to leave a positive impression. This doughnut resembles the viral Froot Loop doughnut from California Donuts, and I had high hopes, but the cereal on top tasted a bit dry, the icing was lackluster, and the cake itself was missing the cloud-like texture that the Voodoo Doll had perfected. If you are looking for a sweet treat, but are not willing to step way out of the box, these two doughnuts are not for you.

For the less adventurous customer, some of the more basic cakes may be right up your alley. The Homer, a strawberry-iced ring dipped in rainbow sprinkles, is ideal for fans of strawberry ice cream. The Cinnamon Sugar Cake and Plain Cake are difficult to differentiate, both comparable to cake doughnuts from chains such as Shipley Do-Nuts or Dunkin’ Donuts. If you are going to Voodoo Doughnuts for their exotic flavors, these two may not be your top choice, but if you need a simple treat, you can’t go wrong with either of them. In my opinion, the Plain Cake tasted just as strongly of cinnamon as the Cinnamon Sugar Cake, the only true difference being the cinnamon coating on the outside of the latter. Rounding out the cake doughnut family, the Sprinkle Cake is a mediocre, vanilla-frosted doughnut covered with rainbow sprinkles. Its flavor is decent, and it brings the correct amount of sweetness, but nothing about the doughnut screams “specialty.” If it had been raised yeast instead of cake, the frosting would have made more of an impact, but sandwiched between the dry base and bland sprinkles, it failed to stand out.

The final two doughnuts that I tried were the Marshall Mathers and the Dirt. The Marshall Mathers is a cake doughnut topped with vanilla frosting and mini M&M’s, and while it is relatively simple compared to some of the others, it has the perfect balance of toppings to cake. As an avid lover of M&M’s, I really appreciated how the icing let the candy’s flavor shine all while still adding its own subtle sweetness. The Dirt is a raised yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting and Oreo crumbles and, like the Marshall Mathers, also manages to master the topping to doughnut ratio. The frosting mixes with the cream from the Oreos to create a vanilla paradise for your tastebuds. If you are someone who isn’t quite ready for something as adventurous as a Voodoo Doll, but wants a step up from a simple cake donut, these two fit the bill. Both the Marshall Mathers and the Dirt earned a spot in my top three doughnuts, along with the Voodoo Doll, and I would definitely recommend them to friends.

Overall, Voodoo Doughnuts is an experience unlike any other in Austin, and is worth visiting at least once while traveling downtown. I really enjoyed the out-there decor and original flavors, and if you are looking for a food experience that you can’t get anywhere else, Voodoo Doughnuts is the place for you.

Overall Rating: three out of five stars

Voodoo Doughnuts

212 East 6th St. | Austin, TX

(512) 215-8586

Open 24/7

https://www.voodoodoughnut.com/

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