At the corner of Lamar Street on Carrollton Avenue, halfway between the plush Alluvian Hotel and the great old restaurant Lusco’s, is a Greenwood cafe that has been around for over a century. Originally a small diner called the Elite catering to C&G Railroad men who’d stop their train on the tracks just across the street for late-night supper, the Crystal Grill used to be open from 4am until midnight. It’s now a lunch-and-supper spot, and a favorite among folks from every walk of life.
We were originally clued into this Roadfood gem by a barber up in Clarksdale who said that Crystal Grill pies were the best in the Delta. Coconut and chocolate pies are lofty meringue monuments, and the lemon ice box pie is an only-in-the-South delight.
The pre-pie menu is an eccentric spectrum of traditional Dixie vegetables, excellent hot tamales, Gulf seafood, and a few kitschy diner delights such as pink velvet frozen salad, which is crushed pineapple, Cool Whip, cherry pie filling, and condensed milk. You also can get a pear salad, which is canned pear halves topped with mayonnaise and grated yellow cheese.
Remodeled and expanded many times over the years, the Crystal Grill today is a cozy maze of small dining rooms that are near enough together that the tone at lunch is noisy and boisterous, like a town birthday party to which everyone is invited.