It’s a little highway stop off the beaten path in rural Florida, and Donutland Express, also called “Charlie’s Donuts” does not in any way stand on ceremony. Step into the unassuming little stop near the border town of Bonifay and you’ll find a simple menu, a friendly group of local folk running the place and altogether an interesting experience in how small-town dining works in the south. Whether you want donuts, which the spots makes its own daily, or barbecue, for which it offers specials, you’ll find something to fill your belly at Charlies.
The spot is a walk-in only stand that specializes in donuts, cinnamon rolls and other pastries. Donuts themselves are pretty simple, the dough is on the lighter side and it’s not extremely sweet, which helps keep the toppings at the front of the taste. They’re delicious, and though the spot runs out of some of the more popular ones quickly, the fact is that it draws a regular crowd of locals for food, which says a lot considering there are other chains close by.
The barbecue is also great, the spot offers a half-pound pulled pork sandwich with sauce, as well as a drink and a bag of chips for $6. The sandwich there is huge, so it ends up as a pretty good deal. The pulled pork is fall-apart soft with both light and dark meat, and the sauces come in a few options, including sweet, smoky and spicy. It will fill you up by itself, and that sauce adds a little bit of tang that is perfectly satisfied by the lemonade, or even better, the sweet tea.
The bakery and barbecue combination of a restaurant is sort of funny, but it seems to work just fine for this spot. It’s a no-frills location to be sure; and in fact if you want to eat at the stand, your only option is a little yellow table just outside the restaurant, so I would recommend taking it to go in the Florida heat. But still, the friendly staff and the simple nature of the restaurant make it a pleasant example of small town dining. This is the polar opposite of the world-class restaurants and famous chefs I’ve written about in cities like Chicago and Atlanta. But it has a charm of its own to be spoken for.
- Take your food to go. There is one option for dining, and that would be a table outside the restaurant, which doesn’t work well if it’s hot or rainy.
- The $6 lunch special is a giant barbecue sandwich, a bag of chips and a tall drink which is a pretty good deal.
- The spot sells donuts, but it sells out of some of the kinds quick, so the sooner you show up, the better.