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39230 Pioneer Blvd, Sandy 668-7215

We Portlanders should never take life for granted. We're home of the world's biggest and most progressive book store; the breathtaking Columbia Gorge is a mere hour away; and we live within 50 miles of the world's best donut shop, Joe's Donuts. Joe's secret is simple: They bake everything in their own kitchen. But if your knowledge of donuts comes from eating them at the Plaid Pantry while stoned, you'll swear they powder them with cocaine.

At Joe's, no donut suffers from the chronic, too-much-crappy-Crisco syndrome. These babies are what a donut should be: incredibly dense, but not too heavy. Since they're more like a homemade pastry--tons of real butter and brown sugar--you won't leave with the feeling you just ate a few choice bits of granite.

Especially fantastic is the applesauce donut with real applesauce: Think of apple crisp, except fried. Or have the traditional frosted chocolate donut, which actually involves real cocoa, melted together with a little flour and fried to a rich cocoa bliss.

After 15 years of serving the best donuts in the world, you might think Joe's would get a big head. Nope. Martha Stewart could probably sell these donuts in Paris for $15 a piece, but nothing at Joe's is over $1 ($7.50 for one dozen). True, he doesn't have a ton of variety, but who cares since there's no way to eat more than one in a 24 hour period. Plus, who needs tasteless sprinkles when you've got real maple flavoring?

It's a drive--40 minutes if you live close-in, so the absolute best time to visit Joe is on a ski trip to Mt. Hood. Since the slopes are just beginning to open, you should read this in time to ensure a full ski-season of sticky, extra-caloric enjoyment. But it's also well worth it for a Sunday adventure; if not for the company of the extra grumpy old men in blue sweaters who seem to live at the place, then go if you need a hangover remedy. (Though be especially careful that you're only slightly hung over--there's a lot of curves on the way up.)


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