Save Room for Pie
At the new Elisa's House of Pies and Restaurant in Deming,
the southern-style fare is a savory prelude to 35 flavors of pie.
Elisa and Curtis Jackson discovered Deming when they were on vacation in 2008. "We were RV-ing, headed toward South Carolina," says Elisa. "We stopped here to rest and never left. There was something about the atmosphere and the people that we loved."
Elisa and Curtis started a pie business soon after they arrived.
"We were doing great," she says. "I went from business to business — the employees were the ones that bought our pies. We had a customer base of over 800. They called me the Pie Lady of Deming."
For a while they sold pies at Peppers Supermarket in town.
In early February this year, the Jacksons started their own eating establishment — Elisa's House of Pies and Restaurant, featuring pies and "southern cooking." It's a change of pace among the large array of excellent Mexican restaurants and others in Deming.
The restaurant is in a little brick building just north of the Wells Fargo Bank, off the parking lot. The atmosphere inside is what you'd call cozy, with red-and-white checked tablecloths and exposed brick walls.
The quality was recognized so quickly that KRWG (both FM and TV) is making one of its small-town visits to Elisa's on Wednesday, April 4, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Pies are the headliners of the restaurant. Elisa (pronounced Ee-LEE-sa) says they make 35 flavors and can "throw together" any of them upon request.
"I've been cooking since I was eight years old," says Elisa of her childhood in San Diego. "I was the baker in the family. I started learning to take mixes and mix them. I'd watch my grandmother, mom and aunties. I have a super-big extended family.
"I have always cooked for others," she says. "I would have block parties all at my own expenses. I've fed homeless people. I've even gotten involved with Friends of Palomas, donating pies in Palomas."
I sink my teeth into one slice of her Strawberry Bottom Cheesecake, and it's as silky as whipped cream — like biting into a cloud in heaven. "It was made from scratch," Elisa tells me.
I buy one slice for $2.75, but the House of Pies also sells whole pies. The cream pies go for $11 and the regular ones are $8, plus tax.
All pies are "freshly made, home-made," says Elisa, and are prepared with no preservatives. The restaurant can even make sugar-free pies upon request.
Some of the flavors are Carmel Pecan, Coconut Crème, Old Fashioned Coconut, Apple, Cherry, Key Lime, Lemon Meringue, Peach, Shoo-fly Pie (like molasses pie), Strawberry Cream Cheese Mousse, Peanut Butter Ice Cream, and "Millionaire."
The Millionaire Pie has coconut, pineapple and pecans folded into cream cheese and whipped cream. "It's considered gourmet," says Elisa.
"A lot of the recipes we've made up," she adds. "I also have good friends who have given me recipes."
It's obvious Elisa makes all the flavors with care. Even her apple pie has a "special filling," she claims.
But this place is not all pies. The entrée part of the menu is lengthy. You'll find fish ("cornmeal dusted"), skillet-fried chicken, ribeye steak, meat loaf ("Elisa's secret recipe"), stuffed bell peppers, croquets ("best with Louisiana hot sauce," advises Elisa), stuffed cabbage, and a BBQ Beef Rib Dinner ("smoked with Curtis' special sauce").
Curtis' sauce manages to be very tangy and very spicy at the same time. It has to be the best for miles around.
Side orders include fried cabbage, collard greens, mac and cheese, and red beans and rice, among others. There is a homey taste in all these dishes that is very rich in flavor.
Each entrée comes with magnanimous extras — three of the "sides" plus a choice of a biscuit, cornbread (I can testify this is soft and sweet), hot-water cornbread, or jalapeño cornbread. All entrees are $8.95, except for the BBQ Beef Rib Dinner, which is $10.95.
As for sandwiches, the restaurant offers BBQ shredded beef (again with Curtis' sauce), BBQ beef hotlinks, and hamburgers. These cost between $5.50 and $7.25.
I ask Elisa how she makes the fried cabbage, thinking I could make it at home, and she clams up completely. She never breathes a word about the ingredients of anything. They're secrets zealously guarded.
Elisa's has a charming backyard with a wrought-iron fence and pomegranate trees. "We will be having meals outdoors once the winds die," says Elisa.
Free wi-fi is offered with the purchase of a beverage.
Parking is a little tricky. You can either park on the streets bordering the Wells Fargo parking lot, or you can go around the block to Silver Street and enter a parking lot to the right of the old State Engineers Office at 216 Silver.
The restaurant is at 208 1/2 South Silver Alley and is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., closed Sunday. Call (575) 494-4639 for more information.
Marjorie Lilly writes the Borderlines column.