The 2013 Roadfood tour of Memphis and Arkansas cruised into De Valls Bluff on a Saturday, which is definitely the right day. Saturday (and, often, Friday) is when Ms. Lena's offers fried pies. Other days of the week, you might be able to stop in this tiny roadside bakery for chocolate pie, lemon ice box pie, coconut cream pie, sour cream apple pie, egg custard pie, etc.; and what we have sampled from the regular-pie repertoire is four-star, world-class excellent. But the fried pies are even better than that -- the best fried pies we've ever had.
Their foremost virtue is crust: nearly parchment-thin and yet savory and rich, brittle and falling into luxurious shards when bitten but substantial enough to offer a dreamy chew at the gnarled cord of dough around the crescent edge. Inside this golden crust are out-of-this-world fillings. All made from scratch, of course: apricot that is sunny and tart; apple that tastes like … apples, but soft and buttery; chocolate that is like the best chocolate pudding you've ever had; a curious autumn specialty called hunter's pie that is chocolate and cherries blended with marshmallows that melt and give the chocolate a dreamy, creamy nature. Coconut, pecan, pumpkin-pecan (around Halloween) are some of the others we found when we stopped in the third week of October.
There is no indoor seating at Ms. Lena's, but we do highly recommend enjoying one of these fried pies when still warm, if possible. The Roadfood tour stood out in front by the side of the road and ate standing up. Fried pies are a natural for plate-free, utensil-free enjoyment.
If you find yourself between Memphis and Little Rock and you like pie, this place needs to be #1 on the itinerary. It is an Arkansas treasure, and an American great. To find out if and when it is open and which pies are available, check out Ms. Lena's Facebook page, which is scrupulously kept up to date. Within an hour of our visit, Ms. Lena's posted pictures of the Roadfood group oo-ing and ah-ing as we ate our pies under a bright blue sky.