Charlotte’s Eats and SweetsBy: Kevin Shalin
On most days, you’ll find a handful of folks milling around Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets about 15 minutes before the cafe’s 11 a.m. opening. Make no mistake, the menu of this Keo, Arkansas, eatery is filled with plentiful options, but the main draw for the past 30 years has been dessert—specifically, pie. Arkansans have been known to travel from far and wide to partake, the cafe is a manageable 30-minute drive from Little Rock, the state’s capital and largest city.
Charlotte’s bakes what it bakes each morning, so when a dessert sells out, that’s it for the day. The fear of a server crossing out your favorite confection on the dry erase board that sits front and center is just too much for most to bear. Delve a little deeper into why the pies at Charlotte’s are so special, and ownership will tell you how staff does not take shortcuts. Dough is rolled out by hand each morning, and everything is fresh. In addition, bakers have tricks and techniques incorporated into tried-and-true recipes they were taught throughout the years.
To no one’s surprise, coconut pie is the top seller. Arrive at Charlotte’s before noon, and the custardy filling might still hit the table slightly warm, a nice perk for early goers. But it’s really the thin, buttery crust and eye-popping, mile-high meringue with bits of dried coconut scattered about that separates this pie from many of the other versions throughout the state. Chocolate is also wildly popular, as are caramel and lemon. Pecan, cherry, and lemon icebox pies also make an appearance from time to time. During strawberry season, expect that option to fly off the board.
In Arkansas, pie is king, which means Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets is royalty.