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Family Pie Shop

Route 70, DeValls Bluff, AR - (870) 998-2279
Posted By Michael Stern on 11/25/2008 11:00:00 PM
The Pie Shop is not really a restaurant. It is more an annex of Mary Thomas's home, built out of a former bicycle shed, now filled with tools of the baker's art. Mrs. Thomas starts making pies in the morning, and by lunchtime there might be half a dozen varieties available, the favorites including pineapple, apple, lemon, cream, coconut, and sweet potato, all laid out in gorgeous golden brown crusts that rise up like fragile pastry haloes around their fillings. Her Karo nut pie (the Southern cook's name for what the rest of the world knows as pecan pie) is a tawny temptress packed with halves of nuts in a profoundly sweet suspension. The meringues on her cream pies are snow white, decorated with tiny grid mark swirls at their cloudy peaks. Fried pies -- individual-serving half-moon pockets filled with apples or peaches -- shatter into ethereal fragments as soon as they are hit by fork or teeth.

Mrs. Thomas has been selling pies to the public since 1977. Her customers include pie hounds from all the nearby towns as well as devotees who drive from as far away as Little Rock (or in some cases send their chauffeurs) for whole pies to take home. Others wander over from Craig's Barbecue across the street in search of something sweet and soothing (such as the sublime sweet potato pie or chocolate pan pie) after a bout with fiery barbecue. She used to sell every kind of pie she made by the slice, but now she obliges those of us without a nearby dinner table by selling mini-pies, about two slices' worth, to passers-by. If you will be traveling through DeValls Bluff and crave pie, be sure to call ahead and make sure Mary is baking that day. Her usual days are Wednesday through Saturday, but that can vary.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Pie and Nothing But Pie
Fried Pie
Small Pie
Whole Pie
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Smooth, custardy filling loaded with slivers of coconut, this is yet another great pie.
"Smooth, custardy filling loaded with slivers of coconut, this is yet another great pie."
Cliff Strutz





Apricot Fried Pie
"Apricot Fried Pie"
BSamuelson


Fried pie is especially popular in Arkansas. There are none better than Mary's. No fork required: you can break it in two and eat it out of hand.
"Fried pie is especially popular in Arkansas. There are none better than Mary's. No fork required: you can break it in two and eat it out of hand."
Michael Stern


Some sweet potato pies cool on the counter.
"Some sweet potato pies cool on the counter."
Cliff Strutz


Mary Thomas, Pie Queen of Arkansas. Directly behind her are some hot fried pies. On the shelf below are full-size pies as well as pies-for-two ... or for one.
"Mary Thomas, Pie Queen of Arkansas. Directly behind her are some hot fried pies. On the shelf below are full-size pies as well as pies-for-two ... or for one."
Michael Stern


This 'small' sweet potato pie was actually two slices worth, or a 1/4-pie.
"This 'small' sweet potato pie was actually two slices worth, or a 1/4-pie. "
Cliff Strutz


The filling of Mary Thomas's egg custard pie is shockingly delicate, both in weight and taste.
"The filling of Mary Thomas's egg custard pie is shockingly delicate, both in weight and taste."
Michael Stern


Chocolate Cream Pie
"Chocolate Cream Pie"
BSamuelson


Light-as-air meringue, with incredibly dense fudgy filling; this is world-class pie!
"Light-as-air meringue, with incredibly dense fudgy filling; this is world-class pie!"
Cliff Strutz


Mary Thomas at work forming the crust of a pie
"Mary Thomas at work forming the crust of a pie"
Michael Stern


Roadfood history:  this is a picture of Mary Thomas and her daughter and a table of pies we took in 1982, just five years after the Family Pie Shop opened.
"Roadfood history: this is a picture of Mary Thomas and her daughter and a table of pies we took in 1982, just five years after the Family Pie Shop opened."
Michael Stern


Here's an individual lemon meringue pie. It's enough for two modest appetites or one Roadfood appetite.
"Here's an individual lemon meringue pie. It's enough for two modest appetites or one Roadfood appetite."
Michael Stern


Here, inscribed on a piece of butcher paper, was the list of pies Mary Thomas was making when we stopped in early in 2004.
"Here, inscribed on a piece of butcher paper, was the list of pies Mary Thomas was making when we stopped in early in 2004."
Michael Stern


Don't miss the shop from U.S. 70. It's easier seen from the westbound side.
"Don't miss the shop from U.S. 70. It's easier seen from the westbound side."
Paul Swan


Formally named the Family Pie Shop, this humble roadside bakery is known to fans as Mary's.
"Formally named the Family Pie Shop, this humble roadside bakery is known to fans as Mary's."
Michael Stern


This image of the Family Pie Shop, captured in 2010, might just as well have been taken in 1980. Nothing has changed!
"This image of the Family Pie Shop, captured in 2010, might just as well have been taken in 1980. Nothing has changed!"
Michael Stern



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