>> The Crystal Grill is an iconic restaurant nestled in Greenwood, Mississippi, a culinary getaway in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.
The sign above the doors advertises “air conditioning” and for the better part of the hot southern summer, that’s all you need to know. Never mind that the Crystal Grill has been a Greenwood, Mississippi landmark for over a century or that the meringue-topped pies may be the most famous dessert in the entire Mississippi Delta. No, the sign tells you what you need to know. You come here to relax, to sip sweet tea and enjoy a place where time moves at a slower pace and where air-conditioning should never be taken for granted.
The dining room tells a lot about the evolution of the restaurant. Originally a 60-seat club open practically all day, the modern dining space has evolved into a winding, intimate, 250-seat restaurant serving lunch and dinner. You can see the evolution and success of the place as you wander from one crowded dining room to the next, going from a diner-style room to one with 13-foot ceilings. Each expansion and remodel kept the look and feel of the added space, resulting in a motley collection of rooms, each with its own distinct feel.
The menu here is a mix of traditional Delta offering and cuisine inspired by the Gulf Coast with a big selection of steaks, fish and even pasta thrown in. From the Delta you get hot tamales and fresh catfish, cooked any way you like it. From the coast, you get oysters, seafood gumbo and several shrimp dishes. There is an array of southern vegetables and sides, from fried okra to creamed corn. You can also get a uniquely Southern treat in “Pink Velvet,” a summertime ‘salad’ combining cool whip, sweetened condensed milk, cherry pie filling and crushed pineapples. Trust me, it works.
And oh my, the pie! These pies are legendary for their ‘mile-high meringue,’ and they don’t disappoint. Typical flavors are chocolate and coconut and each is topped with a perfectly whipped and lightly browned meringue, each higher than you knew meringue could go. They do offer several other desserts, including a southern lemon icebox pie with high marks around town, but the meringue is the main draw here. You can even purchase whole pies from the case near the register.
The Crystal Grill is a must stop for trips through the Delta. It adds to the distinctive history of Mississippi dining and joins places like Giardinia’s and Lusco’s that put Greenwood on the culinary map. Here, you can trust the food to be filling, the meringue peaks to be high and, especially in the summertime, the air-conditioning to cool you down.
You can visit them at 423 Carrollton Ave in Greenwood between 11:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Tuesday thru Sunday. You can find out more information, including links to their menu and social media pages, online at http://crystalgrillms.com/.
Editor’s Note: A special thanks to Matt Goff who wrote this article on a recent adventure thru the Mississippi Delta.