For whatever reason, whether it’s small size, an out-of-the-way location, or just a lack of publicity, some restaurants tend to fall under the radar with a larger audience. This series takes a look at these Underrated Places.
Where: Mark’s Donut Shop (4014 Camp Robinson Rd., North Little Rock)
The Restaurant: Mark’s is a small, family-run establishment parked along Camp Robinson Rd. in the Levy neighborhood of North Little Rock. Their red-and-white sign, faded by time, announces their existence, but it’s easy to miss unless you’re looking for it. The folks running Mark’s have been serving their signature donuts since 1978.
The Atmosphere: You’ll be greeted by the same faces any morning you visit. The staff are friendly, appreciative, and nearly always smiling…no matter how early you arrive. A few wooden tables and benches sit in one corner of the shop for those who prefer to sit down and enjoy their morning eats, but there’s also a drive-thru window for those on the go.
The Service: Though the place is often busy, especially in the early hours before work, the line for donuts moves quickly and efficiently. And if they’re sold out of something you like, they’ll happily get your request in the fryer if you’re willing to wait.
The Food: Donuts, and not much more, are all that Mark’s offers…but that’s definitely enough reason to visit. First-timers should initiate themselves by sampling their classic plain glazed…it big, fluffy, and surprisingly soft, coated with a thin glaze of hot sugar. From there, I’d recommend any of their fabulous fruit-filled donuts which come in blueberry (my personal favorite), strawberry, or lemon cream and more. These perfectly blend fruit, sugar, and dough…clearly of a higher quality than your average chain-store options. I’m also partial to the shredded coconut-coated donut…which provides a bit of crunch from the snow white coconut shavings resting over a pillowy glazed yeast donut. And regulars will often steer you toward their Bavarian cream filled, which are especially good when hot…providing a warm, sugary outside and cool, creamy center. There’s a pot of coffee always waiting for customers and a refrigerator full of cold drinks (filled with milk, juices, and sodas).
The Price: It’s inexpensive…donuts run anywhere from $0.75 to $1.25 based on size. But be aware that Mark’s is CASH ONLY (and without an ATM)…so be sure to plan ahead and grab some green before you head over.
The Verdict: Whether you eat donuts only occasionally or often…Mark’s Donut Shop is a “must try” for any with an early morning sweet tooth. It’ll mean a trip across the river for Little Rock residents, but I assure you it’s worth the visit. I’ve not found a finer donut in all of central Arkansas. Go early…the donuts are fresher, and you run the risk of them selling out otherwise.
The Info: Mon-Sat from 5:30-11AM. Cash only. (501) 753-2017