Photo Credit: Jessica Silverman
ADVENTURES: I promise y’all that, even if you don’t believe me, a good story can start out with “In a gas station in Winder.” A couple of years ago, that meant Pho & Deli, a Hmong restaurant attached to a Valero station. This time, it refers to Doughnut World (235 N. Broad St., in Winder, 404-839-6818), a wonderful little doughnut retailer next to a Shell station near the middle of Winder that appears to be run by a Cambodian family.
A friend of mine who works in Winder told me it’s the talk of the town there, and that’s totally fair. Whether or not you’d drive to Winder for the doughnuts depends on A: where you live, B: how much you like driving and C: how much you like doughnuts. Your mileage may vary, but the answer is not a hard no, and it seems that the store has recently come to an agreement with Savvy Cakes, in Statham (which is a little bit closer to Athens), to carry its wares.
Doughnut World is fairly sizable, considering its location, with plenty of open floor space and several arcade games against the wall. A sign on the window reads, “You can't buy happiness, but you can buy donuts and that's kind of the same thing.” Rather than specializing in crazy toppings, it goes for mostly classic preparations, with both cake and yeast-raised doughnuts. The former edge out the latter, as is the case at most bakeries, because it’s hard to keep a yeast-raised doughnut light when it’s sitting around for a while, unless you’re Krispy Kreme. You can get blueberry, red velvet, chocolate or sour cream cake doughnuts, as well as other flavors, depending on the day, all of which are tasty. Better still are the fritters, including one labeled as “Hawaiian” that seems to include pineapple and pecans. If you’re going yeast-raised, you will be impressed with the glazes, including a maple-bacon that tastes like actual bacon (not sad stuff from a jar) and actual maple syrup. Doughnut World also has kolaches, a Czech-via-Texas sweet-and-savory combination that wraps your choice of cheese, sausage and/or jalapeno in a puffy, slightly sweet doughnut, making it a rarity in the area. If you’re lucky, you may also be handed a complimentary bag of doughnut holes.
Want bubble tea or a smoothie with your doughnuts, in flavors from pumpkin spice to red bean? It has those, too, plus biscuits, croissandwiches, coffee, a wide selection of energy drinks, both Coke and Pepsi, bear claws, ice cream, cream horns, occasional breakfast burritos and probably some other things I missed. It is, in short, a gem, and its prices are low and its staff super nice. Doughnut World is open from 5 a.m. until at least early evening every day (although it appears to extend its hours to 10 p.m. sometimes).
IT’S FINE, REALLY: When Koyla, next to the Islamic Center, closed, the space wasn’t vacant for long. A new business called Athens Pizza (2024 S. Milledge Ave., 706-850-9292, athenspizzas.com), which is damn near un-googleable, moved in quickly, despite the fact that it’s mere feet from Bulldawg Pizza. It’s an improvement on its predecessor in the space in that it appears to know how a restaurant should work, but it’s also not nearly as interesting.
The pizza is totally fine, available with a wide variety of toppings and in specialty combinations including gyro (lamb, feta, tomato), Levanzo (anchovies, tomatoes, red onions) and shrimp alfredo. It’s of the Little Caesars/Hungry Howie’s genre rather than being New York style, with a thicker, seasoned crust and smaller slices, which is to say it sort of tastes like chain pizza. The interior of the place is still fairly spartan, but the owners have built a pretty decent website that allows you to order online for pick-up or delivery.
Don’t like pizza? You can also get a fairly substantial baked ziti as well as some other pasta dishes, wings, calzones, salads, subs, breadsticks, fried mushrooms, french fries, calamari (because why not?), meatballs, chicken tenders, tiramisu, baklava, cheesecake and chocolate cake. Is it exciting? Not really, but it’s also not bad. Athens Pizza is open from 11 a.m. every day. The earliest it stops doing business is at 11:45 p.m. on Sundays.