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We take our donuts seriously here in Arkansas. Don’t believe me? Then you have obviously never been to Mark’s and Spudnuts, institutions in North Little Rock and El Dorado, respectively. Ask anyone from Benton, however, and they will tell you Dales Donuts belongs on that list. And much like Mark’s and Spudnuts, do not expect to see any fancy, designer donuts at Dales. The beauty is in the simplicity, and at Dales that includes a small selection of nine donuts, ranging in cost from 20 cents for a hole to the $2.49 for an apple fritter, the crown jewel of their donut collection.
The apple fritter is what originally brought me to Dales several years ago and is what also got me back to the donut shop off Military Road a few weeks ago. It is a flat, fried concoction, about a ¼-inch thick and the size and circumference of a small face. The fritter is a tad firmer to the bite than you might imagine with a slight tartness from apple chunks scattered throughout. Truth be told, at first glance, it almost resembles an icing-drenched brain.
Still hungry? Good.
Dales’ old-fashioned cake donuts are every bit as good as the fritter, especially the blueberry and strawberry offerings. Rustic in shape and thick in texture, these donuts exude the flavors of their fruits. I imagine if you were a donut-coffee-dunker, unlike me, you would be hard-pressed to beat the combination of java and a hunk of the blueberry cake donut.
Was I tempted to get a Long John, cinnamon roll, and maple nut roll? Yes, but instead I opted for a cinnamon twist and jalapeno and cheese sausage roll. As a boy, I was particularly fond of cinnamon twists, so still tend to order them for sentimental reasons. The ability to pull apart the twist and eat in stages always appealed to me, and Dales’ version of a donut classic harkened me back to childhood memories. The sausage roll, although extremely “rustic” in appearance, was just as impressive. Expect a little heat, no shortage of sausage, and a doughy exterior from this breakfast-on-the-go.
As you might imagine, Dales’ setting is just as simple and delightful as the donuts. Folks are scrambling in and out, so do not be alarmed by a full parking lot. A spot tends to open-up within a minute or two. Once inside, the decades-old checkerboard blue and white flooring and wood-paneled walls make time stand still. Regulars are chatting with the ladies behind the donut case, making small talk, joking, and laughing. It is small-town Arkansas just 25 minutes from the biggest city in the state. Everything feels so completely comfortable that it is almost difficult to leave this shop.
With a box of donuts in tow, I return to my car and devour a few. Quickly.
Looks like someone needs my parking spot.
919 Military Rd (Benton)
Phone: (501) 776–2710
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 5:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; Closed Monday
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