If you ever go to Crater Lake you must promise me you’ll stop by Beckie’s and have a slice of pie.
Beckie’s is tucked away among the weathered pines of the Rogue River National Forest. You’ll find it just before Highway 230 departs from Highway 62 if you’re traveling eastbound to Crater Lake.
For me it’s nostalgic, comforting and delicious.
When I was growing up we visited this little restaurant almost every year. We’d camp at Union Creek, a tradition that extends five generations now that my niece has gone. What I looked forward to most on our trips to Union Creek — besides the s’mores, games and hikes — was blackberry pie at Beckie’s. We’d stop by at least once. Sometimes we had lunch or dinner, but we always had pie. What I remember is looking at the white writing on the wooden board an imagining all the flavors. I don’t think I strayed much from my favorite but I do know that for many years I have believed it’s some of the best pie I’ve ever had.
Earlier this month I returned to Beckie’s. A few friends had asked me to travel to Crater Lake. I told them I’d be happy to go, but I’d only go if we stopped by Beckie’s. It’d been years since I’d been, and I’d been thinking about it for just as long. The friends liked Beckie’s so much that we returned the next day to buy a whole pie.
Inside this Cabin-like diner the food is simply home-style cooking. It’s back to the basics — burgers and chicken strips, salads and soups — and it’s done well. None of it will explode into euphoric fireworks, but it will remind you of grandma standing in the doorway, mixing butter into the potatoes while you sit at the wooden table, impatient for dinner to start.
For example, you can tell that the chicken strips actually came from a chicken. If you peel back the breading you’ll discover a chicken breast that was always a chicken breast. It wasn’t ground, mixed with mysterious chemicals and plopped into some breading.
The burgers tower with goodies like the Fire on the Mountain burger that comes piled with pickled jalapenos, cheese, pickles, onions, tomatoes and lettuce. They even have vegetarian-friendly options (that’s going to come up later).
You get more than enough food to fill you for more than fair prices. Plan on spending about $10 (including drink and tip) unless you really, really want the New York steak and five appetizers.
And if you feel so inclined, they have a PB&J. You might have to convince them you’re under 12 or over 62 though, so don’t forget to pack your granny cloths.
Another way to east PB&J as my companions quickly realized was to order a piece of rich, peanut butter pie and combine it with a piece of oh-so-sweet huckleberry pie. Ta da! You have the adult version of a quintessential dish.
The blackberry pie comes as a glorious heaping mess. So many blackberries have been stuffed inside the crust that the seeded insides ooze out of the crust. Imagine a size 48 woman trying to fit into a size 0 dress. That’s pretty much what’s happening on the plate (and how you’re going to fill when you’re done) except, there’s also a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The crust is thin, buttery-looking and has a dark-golden color around the rim. It’s perfectly moist, it won’t crumble when you poke it but it’s a supporting actor, fulfilling it’s duty while pointing to the star — the filling. What’s most distinct about this mixture is that it’s thick. Liquid doesn’t pool at the bottom of the plate, spilling every which-way, soaking into the crust. Instead, it’s eerily thick. Like a custard. I say eerily, because I have absolutely love it but they won’t tell me how they do it (and I don’t blame them).
The waitress did divulge the secret about the crust though: lard.
The idea of it grosses me out, perhaps not as bad as the vegetarian we took who ate a whole piece before she learned it was lard, but I can’t knock it, because it was darn good pie. The vegetarian also admitted she was happy no one told her until after she ate the pie because she very much liked it.
Beckie’s has about 13 different kind of pies. The pies change with the seasons, thus sometimes there’s more, sometimes there’s less. But I ask you, how many other restaurant have you been to with 13 different choices of pie? It’s pretty much my dream-land.
The story of Beckie’s is a little peculiar. You’re thinking there’s a woman named Beckie, right? Well there was, but there was a man named Beckie first. In 1938, Ed Becklehymer, known as “Beckie,” opened the restaurant. After he passed away, his wife Cecil ran the place. She became know as Beckie as well and ran the place well into the 60s.
Now Kent and Sandy Watson own Beckie’s and keep the recipes a secret.
For many, Beckie’s is a stop along the way. For me, it’s a destination.
Beckie’s| 56484 Oregon 62 Prospect, OR 97536|(541) 560-3563|Winter hours: Sun.-Thur. 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 8 a.m.-8 p.m.|Cost for a piece of pie with ice cream $3-$4|Whole pie $16-$18 (handmade in-house by a baker)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5
College student friendly? YES.| Food 5 out of 5| Prices: 5 out of 5| Environment: 5 out of 5.