Miss Moon Pie dines in Pheba
Story Cherri Golden | Photograph Luisa Porter
Miss Moon Pie has long been a fan of fried catfish, so when I heard about the Pheba’s Diner dinner specials, I knew a road trip was in order. Sister Crab Puff and I Googled, MapQuested, primped and headed out for an early Saturday supper.
Pheba is a tiny community in western Clay County and the quaint admonition, “If you blink, you’ll miss it,” certainly applies. Our daddy, Bob Golden, graduated from Pheba High School in the late ’30s and purportedly sang and played guitar in a juke joint near the railroad crossing when he was in his early 20s.
Pheba’s Diner is virtually at the intersection of state highways 389 and 50 and is owned by Linda and Darren Wade. Linda told me that she has a pair of hair clippers that belonged to Daddy’s cousin, Joe Golden, a well-known barber in Pheba “back in the day.”
We pulled into the parking lot just before 6 p.m. and were greeted by four young women sitting on the porch of the diner, all laughing and talking. These were our cooks and wait staff, and we all trouped inside together to attend to the business of ordering our meals. Arriving at almost the same time was Mr. Leon Walker, a regular customer who was returning for the second night in a row for a catfish plate.
Now, Sister does not care for any kind of fish and opted for the hamburger steak smothered in gravy and grilled onions, French fries and a small green salad.
Naturally, I ordered the fried catfish and chose coleslaw and fried okra as my two sides. While waiting for our food we chatted with personable waitresses Audrey Ellison and Subrina Oswalt. It wasn’t long before other customers began arriving and taking seats at the tables inside and on the porch while the phone rang repeatedly for “to go” orders — most of them for the catfish.
Since I insist on sampling everything that we order, I can attest that the hamburger steak and fries were quite tasty, but My-Oh-My, the catfish was scrumptious! Coated with a perfectly-seasoned cornmeal breading, it was crispy on the outside and moist, sweet and flaky on the inside. Audrey and Subrina told me that the breading for the catfish, shrimp, chicken and okra is made there at the diner — nothing is bought pre-breaded. The okra was fresh and the coleslaw, also made on-site, creamy and crisp.
The diner also has a varied short-order menu of burgers, po-boys, patty melts and salads, as well as a daily Blue Plate Lunch Special: Monday is beef tips and rice, Tuesday is chicken and dumplings, Wednesday is meatloaf, Thursday is hamburger steak and Friday is catfish.
This meatloaf maniac made a mental note to find her way back for lunch one Wednesday very soon.
When you have a hankering for home-cooking, take a drive to Pheba’s Diner — 21781 Hwy 50 West, Pheba • 662-418-7300 for hours and specials • closed Sundays.