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Crystal Grill

423 Carrollton Ave , Greenwood, MS - (662) 453-6530
Posted By Michael Stern on 10/2/2005 2:07:00 PM
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 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 Cafe 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 find by a barber up in Clarksdale who said that Crystal Grill pies were the best in the Delta. The baker is Annie Johnson, who has made pies her specialty here for the last fifteen years. Her 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, and a canned pear half 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.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

If you sit in the front dining room, you will likely have a view of the pie case, to which whole pies are brought throughout the lunch hour and severed into slices, ready to serve. Here at the two house specialties: coconut and chocolate meringue.
"If you sit in the front dining room, you will likely have a view of the pie case, to which whole pies are brought throughout the lunch hour and severed into slices, ready to serve. Here at the two house specialties: coconut and chocolate meringue."
Michael Stern





The Crystal Grill is a favorite place for citizens of Greenwood to meet and greet one another, especially at lunchtime.
"The Crystal Grill is a favorite place for citizens of Greenwood to meet and greet one another, especially at lunchtime."
Michael Stern


Shrimp and Crab Newberg Casserole is cheese-rich and creamy. Behind it is a side dish of yams.
"Shrimp and Crab Newberg Casserole is cheese-rich and creamy. Behind it is a side dish of yams."
Michael Stern


Throughout the Mississippi Delta, tamales are a popular snack, appetizer, and meal. The Crystal Grill serves some very good ones: moist, spicy, and nicely balanced between meatiness and earthy corn flavor.
"Throughout the Mississippi Delta, tamales are a popular snack, appetizer, and meal. The Crystal Grill serves some very good ones: moist, spicy, and nicely balanced between meatiness and earthy corn flavor."
Michael Stern


A close view of the lofty coconut pie. Dessert is included in the price of a Crystal Grill meal.
"A close view of the lofty coconut pie. Dessert is included in the price of a Crystal Grill meal."
Michael Stern


Although it lacks the high-rise awe of the meringue pies, lemon icebox pie at the Crystal Grill is not to be missed. Sweet, tart, cool, and cream-smooth, it is an exclamation mark to a fine meal.
"Although it lacks the high-rise awe of the meringue pies, lemon icebox pie at the Crystal Grill is not to be missed. Sweet, tart, cool, and cream-smooth, it is an exclamation mark to a fine meal."
Michael Stern


The list of side dishes changes with every meal. One lunchtime, we could not resist this fine and funny offering: pear halves, topped with shredded cheese. (Jane asked them to hold the mayo that normally comes atop the pears, too.)
"The list of side dishes changes with every meal. One lunchtime, we could not resist this fine and funny offering: pear halves, topped with shredded cheese. (Jane asked them to hold the mayo that normally comes atop the pears, too.)"
Michael Stern


Years ago when it was open twenty hours a day, the Crystal Grill had a neon sign that said
"Years ago when it was open twenty hours a day, the Crystal Grill had a neon sign that said "NEVER SLEEP.""
Michael Stern


The menu bills this jolly lunch as
"The menu bills this jolly lunch as "Gulf Shrimp Creole over Hot Fluffy Rice." It's a gentle-flavored dish, here shown with fried okra and creamed corn in the background."
Michael Stern


Four Vegetable Plate: Pinto Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Fried Okra, and Greens
"Four Vegetable Plate: Pinto Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Fried Okra, and Greens"
B. C. Crawford



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