Queen Wilhelmina State Park's lodge, so we weren't looking for a huge meal, just a snack.
The Rock Cafe has stood the test of time. As I wrote in Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley:
Every day at 5:00 a.m., the lights are on and the doors are unlocked for a traditional diner breakfast. Every day at 2:00 p.m. after the lunch buffet, the restaurant is closed, except on Fridays when it stays open until six. Every day, you go in and sit below ancient yellowed photographs of stars, from Elvis Presley to John Wayne, and order a meal that’s served under wood-paneled walls that have changed little with time.
Each day, the buffet is different. The fried chicken is excellent, and the chicken and dumplings are some of the best you will ever find. Thursday is Mexican fare; Friday is catfish. And little changes from year to year. There’s something wonderful to be said about that. Don’t get there at 1:55 p.m. and demand lunch, but do get a homemade dessert when you go—and if strawberry cobbler’s the offering, you are truly blessed.
While we waited, we watched others take their turns at the lunch buffet and heard conversations
What made it, and my apple pie, so good was the crust. It's the closest you'll get to Ms. Lena's famed crust, but not quite the same. The buttery, flaky deep golden crust is hand-crimped over the fruit fillings, and they were piping hot and had that nice slightly floury flavor of a freshly made pastry.
It was also not a regular lunch. But heck, life is short, eat dessert first, right?
Those pies all but disappeared in two minutes. Our waitress, who was probably pretty amused by us, came back and asked if we wanted more pies. We settled on sharing a single peach pie. After all, can't be really gluttonous about things, right?
Facebook rating page for it, too.
Share our experiences - click here to see whee else we went on our epic road trip along US Highway 71 from the Louisiana border to the Missouri state line.