I’ve strayed outside of Pulaski County merely three times since arriving in Little Rock. Two of the three times has been for donuts. I’m a certified donut-aholic. It’s probably clear to anyone also similarly enamored by fried rings of dough that when it comes to donuts, Shipley’s owns this town. I imagine this makes it somewhat difficult for smaller, individually owned donut shops to thrive in such a donut monopoly. I’ve had mixed experiences with Shipley’s. At times, when their merchandise is sold at the peak of freshness, Shipley’s perfectly fills that hole in my soul that yearns for deep-fried delights. At other times, Shipley’s is overwhelmingly sweet, and if left to rest for too long, the potato flour-based pastries become unappetizingly stale. So, I continue to hunt down the mom-and-pop donut shops that seem to be altogether too rare in central Arkansas, even if that means delving into the uncharted waters of Saline County.
Strawn’s Donuts is a family-owned business that has been in operation for 17 years. Owners, Danny and Freida Strawn, have a deep love for the subtle art of donut making and are incredibly fond of the customers they serve in Bryant. A number of years ago, they sold the donut shop (which was subsequently renamed to Morning Glory Donuts) and entered retirement. But retirement was not all it’s cracked up to be (at least for the Strawn family) and they bought back the donut shop, determined to rekindle their passion for all things glazed. Now, the couple have thrown themselves back into the donut world, waking up before many people go to bed, to dole out their donuts hot for their customers before the coming of the morning light.
Strawn’s well-lit display cases are filled with the usual suspects. Plain glazed, plain cake, blueberry cake, strawberry glazed, chocolate iced, apple fritters, and sour cream. (Still no maple-bacon donut
I’ll just say this: the principal reason you should make a trip to Strawn’s is to get your hands on their fritters and cinnamon rolls. While the other donuts were pleasant, they were not particularly exceptional. But the aforementioned fritters were a stunning rendition of this donut shop classic. The warm, soft interior was laced with ribbons of sweet apple filling and cinnamon. The exterior was crisped to a deep reddish-brown, enveloped by a thin sheet of sweet glaze. After a well-made fritter in the morning, there is practically no way to have a disappointing day, and Strawn’s is doing a gorgeous job with them.
I’m often hesitant to order cinnamon rolls at donut shops as they typically represent nothing more than a glazed donut worked into spiral form. However, Strawn’s cinnamon rolls are a cut above the rest. They proof until they rise tall and proud, towering over their standard donut cohorts. Their interior is generously rubbed with a cinnamon-sugar mixture; the outer layers are draped in the same velvety frosting. I’ll admit, it’s sweetness almost reached the point of excess, even pushing the limits of my massive sweet tooth, but when paired with the cold milk, everything went down smoothly and delightfully. The jalapeño sausage rolls are also worth sampling and made for a nice detour onto the savory side. The spicy, tender sausage managed to maintain a snappy casing when bitten into. The buttery, soft yellow dough wrapping each link soaked up the gentle seep of sausage grease.
Strawn’s is worth a visit for any donut lover aching for reprieve from the stranglehold Shipley’s maintains on this town. It’s conveniently located off I-40 in Bryant, so travelers can easily pop in for a hot, speedy breakfast; they’ve even got a drive-thru window. The Strawn family will be sure to greet you with bright smiles and delicious donuts…they simply want you to fall in love with their donuts as much as they have.
4430 Hwy 5 Ste. 8