Portland, Oregon: Moody's Donuts
2511 SE Belmont Street, Portland OR 97214 (at 25th Avenue; map)
Hours: Sunday, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
A persistent whir comes from the small red-and-white shed in the back garden of the Rocking Horse Cafe. Every 30 seconds (yes, I timed it) there's a small, squeaky groan.
You walk up to place your order at Moody's Donuts and—genius!—you see what's been whining away. On the back counter, one leg balanced on paperback book, a small automatic donut fryer is churning out sweet, hot rounds of deliciousness. Its funnel-like reservoir drops batter (a rice- and wheat-flour blend) into a narrow channel of oil, and, like clockwork, little flippers rise from the oil, turning the cake donuts and sending them on their way.
Eventually they land in a bowl. Eventually they're topped with your choice of cinnamon-sugar or powdered sugar or vanilla or chocolate glaze. Or you could, you know, just leave them plain. At $1 a pop or six for $5, it's not too spendy to try all five variations. Moody's goes for simplicity (no bacon-maple, no crazy-ass cereal toppings), and it pays off.
I sampled a vanilla glaze, a cinnamon-sugar, and a plain. The crisp surface with the hot, moist, cakey interior; the gooey glaze; the hot, sandy sugar; and the fact that they're not super greasy—it's all well worth the short wait (about seven minutes). I'm not even a big donut-eater, and these had me hooked. If I lived near Moody's I'd be there every Sunday, which is the only day it's open (despite what the sign says)—from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.—and which explains why it's also known as "the Donut Church."
Donuts are made fresh to order, dipped in glaze or sugar, and placed in a bag to-go or in a little plastic basket for eating in the Rocking Frog garden.
I arrived around 10:30 a.m., and the crowd wasn't that bad (above). Word is that if you wait till around noon, you're hosed.
This is the house/coffee shop you're looking for—the Rocking Frog Cafe. Either walk through the shop or go around the driveway (on the left) to get to Moody's. And you should grab some coffee there to go with your donuts.