30 City Center, Portland
By this point in the pandemic, I’ve long since given up on in-person dining. If I see one more person wearing a mask pulled down around his chin, I’m going to scream. And with takeout so readily available, it’s just not worth putting my family or the restaurant’s staff at risk.
Takeout breakfast isn’t quite as easy to find as lunch or dinner takeout, but there are still lots of good choices out there. Some even come with dessert, which is another thing I’ve begun to indulge in more frequently during these dark times.
It was that combination of factors that led me to call in an order to HiFi Donuts the other morning. They offer a variety of creative breakfast sandwiches that provide a convenient excuse to pig out on some of the best donuts in town.
I parked illegally on Federal Street, near the Monument Square parking garage, turned on my hazards and sprinted across the bricks to HiFi. My order was ready and waiting, and I was back in my car before you could say “parking violation.” Back at home, I divvied up three sandwiches and a half dozen donuts, and my family sat down to eat.
The breakfast sandwiches are all $5.50, and come on a choice of breads (gluten-free options are $1.50 more). We started with the New Jersey Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese on an English muffin — a classic combination featuring the delicious, salty breakfast meat that reminds me of the fried bologna sandwiches I made late at night when I was in high school.
I chose thick-cut, crusty Italian bread as the vehicle for the Brisket, Egg and Swiss with Spicy Mustard. The meat itself was flavorful and not too fatty. The funky Swiss cheese and sharp mustard balanced the richness of the beef nicely, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
HiFi’s menu also includes several vegetarian options. We opted for Ricotta, Egg and Roasted Vegetables on ciabatta bread. The unusual combination of tender, smoky veggies and warm, creamy ricotta cheese was a welcome departure from the standard breakfast sandwich template.
That said, it was no surprise that the donuts (seven for $11) were the true stars of this meal. HiFi offers a wide selection of the sugary treats in four primary styles: vanilla cake, chocolate cake, yeast and cruller.
Both types of cake donut were slightly dense, with a nice crusty exterior, especially on the chocolate variety. Lemon poppy seed and Mexican hot chocolate were both big hits with the family, although the latter could have been a bit more chocolaty.
The yeast donuts were lighter and fluffier than the cake style, but not quite as airy as the puffy versions you find at Tony’s or Dunkin’. The frosted varieties, including blueberry crisp and a limited-edition Thai tea flavor, were intensely sweet. I’d go for a straight-up honey dip next time around.
I’ve long been a huge fan of a good cruller, and HiFi’s totally hit the mark. Its exterior was more delicate than the other styles’, and the interior was moist, yet airy; almost custard-like. Both the maple- and blueberry-frosted varieties were absolutely delicious, and slightly less sweet than the yeast donuts.
HiFi’s off-street location, on the plaza next to Longfellow Books, can make curbside pickup an adventure. But if you order ahead and keep an eye out for Parking Enforcement, chances are good you can make the run without having to find or feed a meter. Just be sure to leave room for dessert!