WATCH: Tallahassee, Florida, Has a Delicious Secret That Everyone Needs to Try
Take a trip back in time for some of north Florida’s most famous fare.
You’ll know the moment you turn onto Centreville Road that you’re about to experience something quite special. As one of nine canopy roads in Tallahassee, this one, 12 miles northeast of the city proper, is lined with centuries-old oak trees and verdant Spanish moss dripping from on high. The drive alone is worth the trip outside the city limits, but what waits for you at the end of the lane is the real reward: Bradley’s Country Store.
The building, which looks just as it did when it was erected in 1927, has not yielded to the pressure of modern dogma. You’ll see no flashy signs, no oversized vending machines, no splashy celebrity advertisements. What you’ll find instead is a three-aisle-wide country store still lined with the wooden shelves the Bradley family, who has been running the store for four generations, have lovingly built and rearranged for decades on end as their business—and their popularity—has risen. On the walls, wooden tools, harnesses, and washboards, remembrances of folks just a generation or two ago and their simpler way of life. You’ll notice photos, too, of the Bradley family and the rural farmers of north Florida and south Georgia this country store has served for nearly 100 years.
But while the trip down memory lane is a delight, you’re really here for the smoked sausage, a truly special food that is prepared today just as it was in 1910 when Mary Bradley made it out of her own kitchen to sell or trade with neighbors in the rural Tallahassee community. The pork is picked and harvested from prized hogs and nearby hog farms. It’s seasoned with black pepper, red pepper, sage, and salt. Then it’s formed into natural casings to make links, hung in a smokehouse and cured with the smoke of smoldering oak and green hickory.
You can buy it by the pound—they also ship within the U.S.—or you can have a link right there under the immense oaks that have seen customers come and go for a decade or more. Their lunch special—a six-inch sausage dog, small drink, and a bag of chips, is just $6. As a bonus, this “Lunch on the Front Porch” comes with a free spot in the front porch’s rocking chairs (if you can sang one before another customer). The view from the porch is by far the best seat in the house, as it overlooks open fields and magnificent trees, and whisks you away into a time and place where cell phones were sci-fi speak.
Out back, just feet from the end of the country store, you can visit the still-operating grist mill. In the 1920s, Mr. L.E. Bradley bought the mill, which would become the machine that makes the family’s second most famous product still today: country-milled grits. While he originally purchased the machine to make his own cornmeal and grits, the products became such a hit that local neighbors and farmers asked Mr. Bradley to make some for them. The popularity soared, so he began bagging and selling it to his store’s customer.
Bradley’s Country Store was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Whether by choice or by chance, the enduring legacy of old country stores lives proud in this north Florida shop.