(Cover image: Sandy's Homeplace Cafe. All images courtesy of Kat Robinson and Grav Weldon.)
Pecan trees are indigenous to Arkansas. Native Americans utilized the protein-packed nuts in their cuisine, and settlers here incorporated them into their diet. While pecans appear in cookbooks through the 19th century, and pecan pies made with molasses can be referenced shortly after the Civil War, it’s the introduction of Karo corn syrup in 1902 that really boosted the popularity of pecan pies.
Little Rock is home to many great places that offer pecan pies. For this National Pecan Pie Day, or any other for that matter, here are some of the best.
Sandy's Homeplace Café. Don’t bother looking at the menu first – there isn’t one. Every day, there’s a buffet for folks who stop in at this eastside house for a bite. The only pie is pecan, made on a scratch crust.
Delicious Temptations. The pie at this long-running breakfast and brunch joint in west Little Rock is potent with bourbon and a thick syrupy filling. Extraordinarily rich.
Honey Pies. Local pecans are treasured each year, and turned into these homestyle, hearty pies and mini-pies, delightfully counterpointed with hand-whipped cream.
Terri-Lynn's BBQ. Locals keep this joint to themselves, not just for the excellent ‘cue and tamales, but for the slices of light yet substantial pecan pie you can choose to enjoy with a real Coca-Cola after lunch.
Milford Track. This secret lunchroom always has a couple of pies to slice and share, and when it’s pecan, you’ll want seconds. Call ahead to reserve your slice.
Capital Bar and Grill. Southern-style charm meets your sweet tooth after a Cuban or a Reuben at lunch. Thick and rich, this bourbon-laced pie will seal the deal with whomever you bring to your business gathering.
Bobby's Country Cookin'. Brave the line at this West Little Rock cafeteria and hope to find a slice of pecan pie waiting in the final case to wrap up your delectable meal.
Community Bakery. The whole pecan pies are the traditional favorite you’ll want to take home – but if you’re dining in, try a Flywheel fried pecan pie, glazed and slathered in — what else — more pecans!
Kat Robinson is the author of Another Slice of Arkansas Pie: A Guide to the Best Restaurants, Bakeries, Truck Stops and Food Trucks for Delectable Bites in The Natural State, which features information about 475 places to find pie in Arkansas (dozens of which are in Little Rock). Look for her latest book, 101 Things To Eat in Arkansas Before You Die, in August.