Great Pies from Coast to Coast
Whether they're loaded with fresh cream, seasonal fruit or savory meat, we're willing to bet you'll go the distance for these 10 tasty takes on pie across the nation.
Photo By: Jeff Sacks for Magpie
Photo By: John Towner
Photo By: Mette Neilson
Photo By: Jeff Sacks
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Photo By: Ed Anderson
Photo By: Rachel Sale of RAS Photography
The Pie's the Limit
Pie is the very symbol of all things American, homemade and nostalgic. It's a metaphor for financial success — not to mention a common prop in slapstick comedy. Most importantly, it's so delicious that we crave it. There are all kinds of pie: seasonal fruit pies, cream filled pies, savory meat pies, and even little hand pies and mini pies. True pie lovers will travel the distance for it.
Chicago: Pleasant House Bakery
Not all pies are sweet. Pleasant House Bakery specializes in British meat pies, which they call Royal Pies, and is revered for its amazingly buttery crusts. Located on the South Side of Chicago in Bridgeport, the bakery serves savory pies that run the gamut from an outstanding steak and ale version to mushroom and kale, as well as balti chicken served with a side of mint chutney. The compact pies are very filling, and many of the ingredients come from the bakery's sustainable and mostly organic family farm.
Estes Park, Colo.: You Need Pie!
You Need Pie!, which originally was known as the Estes Park Pie Shop & Bakery, is run by owners Val and Rick Thompson, who divide baking duties. Rick makes the breads and cookies; Val makes the pies and cinnamon rolls. Her cherry peach is one of their best-sellers. The crust recipe is from a family recipe from the proprietor's grandmother, and it is topped with the bakery's signature sweet crumb topping. Like all of Val's pies, it's made with fresh fruit, all-natural ingredients and no preservatives, and it contains a full six cups of fruit, which is twice what is in most pies.
NYC: Petee's Pie Company
Petra "Petee" Paredez hails from a pie-baking dynasty: Her parents own the revered Mom's Apple Pie Company in Leesburg, Va. Petee takes the classic chess pie made with butter, eggs, buttermilk and sugar, and puts her own spin on it, flavoring it with bittersweet chocolate, cocoa and sea salt. All it needs is whipped cream and you'll be in pie heaven. Other pie flavors include Hudson Valley apple, wild blueberry and brown butter honey pecan, made with no corn syrup. The shop uses locally sourced fruit and butter, as well as organic flour. Petee's Pie Company is located on the Lower East Side.
Osseo, Wis.: Norske Nook
Keeping track of all the awards bakery and restaurant Norske Nook has won for its pies would be a full-time job. In 2014 alone the Wisconsin stalwart won blue ribbons for lemon cream cheese, peaches and cream, and jamberry pies. Norske Nook originally opened in 1973, and there are now five shops, with several more planned in the works. Craveworthy pies include apple or blackberry creamy cheese, lingonberry sour cream, kaffee mocha and a mile-high sour cream raisin meringue pie. They ship many of their fruit double-crust pies across the country.
The signature pie at Magpie is the butterscotch bourbon, available whole or by the slice. It is made with eggs, butter, dark brown sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, lemon juice, evaporated milk and Jim Beam bourbon whiskey. According to Magpie owner Holly Ricciardi, the magic happens when a thick custard sets on the bottom and a little layer of soft sponge cake sets on top. Her recipe is loosely based on her great-grandmother's butterscotch pie recipe, which hangs in a frame in the shop.
Princeton, N.J.: Lillipies
What's better than one big pie? Many little pies. Lillipies is a bake-to-order shop that makes 2-inch bite-size pies, 3-inch single-serving pies and 4-inch tartlets, all handcrafted from local New Jersey farm-fresh fruit. The flavors depend upon what’s in season and include lemon curd, apple, apple blueberry and apple crumb. Baker and culinary school instructor Jen Carson bakes to order in small batches, and her pies are hand delivered locally in the Princeton area. She also sells at the local farmers markets and cafes.
Round Top, Texas: Royers Roundtop Cafe
Who says you have to choose between pecan and apple pie? The Not My Mother's Apple Pie is based on a family recipe with heavy cream and brown sugar — and a brown sugar pecan topping. Based on the owner's mother's recipe, it's not been "improved." Another favorite is the junkberry, with blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches and apples, finished with a sour cream-sugar topping. The cafe, set in a tiny town of just 90 people, sells up to 300 pies per weekend. Good news: The cafe does ship some pies.
Seattle: Dahlia Bakery
The triple coconut cream pie from Dahlia Lounge is so loved by diners that it inspired James Beard award winning restaurateur Tom Douglas to open a bakery next door to the restaurant, where you can buy a whole 9-inch pie, a baby pie, a slice of pie or a coco pie "bite." The pie has coconut in the crust, shredded coconut and coconut milk in the creamy filling, and toasted coconut on top, along with curls of white chocolate.
Traverse City, Mich.: Grand Traverse Pie Company
The Grand Traverse Pie Company uses Montmorency sour cherries from Northern Michigan in no fewer than eight different cherry pies, but it’s the classic cherry pie and the cherry crumb pie that are the top sellers. They both get rave reviews from the likes of Mario Batali, Rachael Ray and Oprah magazine. The original shop opened in the mid-1990s; today there are 14 pie shops in Michigan and one in Indiana. The Grand Traverse Pie Company is a purpose-driven organization that believes in spreading "the power of pie" and supports charities and the community. The Grand Traverse Pie Company's pies are available online, and there's even a pie-of-the-month club to satisfy your ongoing need for pie.
Washington, D.C. and Baltimore: Dangerously Delicious
Dangerously Delicious is a rock 'n' roll pie shop with an actual rehearsal studio available for rent in back. The best-selling pie is the Baltimore Bomb, loaded with Berger cookies (a Baltimore specialty) combined with a sweet vanilla chess pie filling. But for something not quite as sweet, check out the tangy and fluffy lemon meringue pie. If you can't make it to one of the two shops in D.C. or another in Baltimore, follow the Twitter feed @ThePieTruckDC for the mobile version. If you’re lucky, perhaps a pie will come to you.