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The Cliff House Inn is one of those Arkansas bucket list destinations.
Overlooking the beautiful Arkansas Grand Canyon, it is the perfect place to stop for a good meal or to take in the views. The Cliff House Inn first opened in 1967, but Kenneth Carter first had the vision for the restaurant in 1960 while enjoying a leisurely drive along Highway 7. Stopping on the side of the road to admire the scenery of the beautiful Arkansas valley, he informed his wife that he was going to build a restaurant right there, on the side of that mountain. And that is exactly what he did.
Carter resorted to using dynamite to blast holes in the side of the mountain to bring his vision to fruition, and visitors to the restaurant and hotel can still see several unused drill holes in the side of the mountain.
Over the last 50 years, the restaurant has changed hands several times, but each owner has added their own flair and personality and contributed to the character it has today.
The McNutts, the second owners, owned the property for a short time before selling to Bob and Francis McDaniel who added a house, kitchen and dining room. Wanting to add a signature pie to the restaurant’s menu as great Arkansas restaurants are want to do, Mrs. McDaniel introduced the Inn’s “Company’s Comin’ Pie” which is still served at the Cliff House Inn today.
Photo Credit: Cliff House Inn
Jim Berry, a New York native who bought the Cliff House Inn from the McDaniels, actually lobbied the Arkansas legislature to make the “Company’s Comin’ Pie” the official state pie and succeeded. Check below for the recipe!
Berry sold the Cliff House Inn to Neal and Karen Heath who rebuilt the dining room after it was destroyed by a tornado in 2001.
The current owners bought the restaurant 13 years ago. Mike and Becky McLaurin were on a road trip, enjoying some time together when they stopped in at the Cliff House Inn to have a slice of pie on the advice from a friend.
As they sat, enjoying their pie, Mike daydreamed about owning a small restaurant like the Cliff House Inn. When the owner checked on Mike and Becky to make sure they were enjoying the scenery and pie, he not only complimented the great views, food, and service but also mentioned that he would be interested in owning a similar restaurant someday.
The owner quickly informed him that the Cliff House Inn was for sale. Mike told Becky that he wanted to buy the restaurant, and true to his word, the couple bought the restaurant the very next year. They relocated from Louisiana to live his dream in Jasper, AR, as proud owners of the Cliff House Inn. Now, whenever customers say they are just stopping in for pie on the advice of a friend, Mike and Becky both chuckle. It was the pie that changed their lives.
Loving their life overlooking the Arkansas Grand Canyon, Mike and Becky tell me they enjoy meeting all the people who come in. A destination spot for travelers, Becky says she usually asks people where they are headed when they come in to eat. Most of their answers are, “HERE.” Patrons make the trip up Highway 7 to the Cliff House Inn to enjoy the food, atmosphere, and view, making the inn more than just a stop along the way. It’s a true destination in and of itself.
Photo Credit: Cliff House Inn
Though you won’t want to miss the pie, you can do more than just eat at Cliff House Inn. There are five units for rent, and Mike and Becky have made improvements to the sitting area and added a lower redwood deck so guests can enjoy the view from right outside their rooms. The deck overlooks the Arkansas Grand Canyon and is a perfect spot to sit, relax, and enjoy the gorgeous valley any time of the day.
Mike and Becky consider it a privilege to share their beautiful views with their guests, but along with the welcoming atmosphere and friendly service, the Cliff House Inn also prides itself on their food.
The prime rib and catfish are crowd favorites, and on a recent trip, I ordered the Cliff House Inn special Fried Catfish Po-Boy sandwich. Without a second thought, I can assure you it is the best catfish sandwich I have ever eaten. The bread was soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. And the huge catfish fillets were tender and perfectly cooked. They didn’t skimp on the dressings, either, as the sandwich was overflowing with homemade Arcadian salad, tartar sauce and vine-ripe tomatoes.
A two-napkin sandwich, one for your neck and one for your lap, it was perfect!
If you have yet to discover the Cliff House Inn, let me be one of those friends who advise you not to miss the experience, the view, the atmosphere or the food. You won’t be disappointed. Oh, and be sure you save some room for the pie!
Photo Credit: Cliff House Inn
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 small container whipped topping
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons crushed pineapple
Beat egg whites until fluffy.
Add cream of tartar and sugar and beat 2-5 minutes or until stiff.
Stir in vanilla, crackers and pecans by hand.
Spray two pie pans with nonstick spray.
Divide mixture evenly between pans.
Spread mixture in pan, forming a crust.
Bake at 285 degrees for 25 minutes or until done.
Combine topping ingredients.
Spread topping on top of cooked pie crust.
Serve and Enjoy!
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