We arrive in Austin just after daybreak and immediately make our way to 6th Street, the wild, wild west of central Texas.
Are we willing to get shot, stabbed or strangled in the interest of penning an article on donuts? We are.
Voodoo Doughnuts opened in Portland in 2003 and quickly ran afoul of the Food and Drug Administration. They had a great gimmick: glaze the tops of donuts with Nyquil and Pepto Bismol and let the chips fall where they may. The attendant crush of free publicity and business was a boon for the young upstarts and shops have since opened in Eugene, Denver and Austin.Voodoo counter-people are tasked with upselling each customer that walks in their shops. If you don’t hit the ‘numbers’ you’re terminated and shown the door. Fortunately, our countergirl is still half-asleep and doesn’t employ a hard-sell in the least. We ask after a plain glazed, and a chocolate ring and make our way to the nearest table.
Do these upstarts have what it takes to dethrone the long time queen of Austin’s donut scene: Mrs Johnson’s.
They do not.
Looking around the shop we vaguely recall this being the old Spill, the infamous power-base for Yassine Enterprises, the Lebanese coke-dealing, tax-dodging gang that got sent up the river by the feds back in 2013.
Since then the building briefly housed Bourbon Girl, one of the few missteps from local power-players the Womack brothers.Hundreds of donuts are on big metal sheet pans riding a speed rack just behind the cashier.
The glazed donut is a sad affair. It’s enormous, has little flavor and is refrigerator-cold. The chocolate offers similar appeal which is to say none. These are the soft, sponge-like donuts that are regularly on offer from Kroger and Winn-Dixie for a pittance. There is no crackle, there is no warmth, none of the signatures of top shelf donuts is evident in these pitiable creations.
It’s just after dawn but these donuts are stale as Ray Romano’s old everyman schtick.
Voodoo is not expensive, we spent roughly $2 but there is no value as the donuts are borderline inedible. We’ve read rhapsodies on Voodoo Doughnuts for years. Critics whom we know and trust have long claimed that the company puts out some of the finest fried dough in all of USA.Perhaps the mothership in Portland does but the Austin shop has little appeal.
On our infrequent visits to Austin we’ll consign our donut money to the old cash tills at Mrs Johnson’s Bakery, she’s been the queen since the 1940s and has suffered many fools who’ve entered her market over the decades. Voodoo is simply the latest.
212 E 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Hours of Operation
24 hours a day
7 days a week