On the Road Eats: All-American Pie

Find the best pies in America, from a classic Southern pecan to a funky pie fit for a king.

Categories:
American, Pie

Finish off any feast with an irresistible piece of pie. Something about the buttery crust and rich filling brings comfort and nostalgia to the table, and we've rounded up plenty of restaurants dishing out just-like-mama-made pecan, pumpkin and apple pies. There are also outside-the-crust options (could you turn down something called the Fat Elvis Pie?), so check out our coast-to-coast pie guide and grab a slice (or two)!

Dangerously Delicious Pies — Baltimore

With a full roster of sweet and savory pies and quiches, this pie palace knows how to fill a crust or two. The top-selling slice is the Baltimore Bomb Pie, which Duff Goldman deemed "the best of the best" on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. It's loaded with crushed Berger cookies (local specialties that are smothered in chocolate frosting), which melt down into a sweet vanilla chess filling. Chess is a transparent custard, and the Baltimore Bomb's chess filling is eggy, smooth and lush, with a hint of cornmeal and vinegar to cut the rich sweetness. According to Duff, "you lose consciousness for a few minutes after eating this pie," but chances are that you won't mind.

The Apple Barn & Country Bake Shop — Bennington, Vt.
What began as a small roadside stand in 1910 branched into a 300-acre orchard in the Vermont hillside, where The Apple Barn grows high-quality apple varieties and hosts family-friendly fall activities like a corn maze and pumpkin-picking. The bake shop turns out racks upon racks of golden brown fruit pies each day, but for a taste of classic comfort food, Rachael Ray chose the apple pie a la mode when she visited on $40 a Day. After tasting its crisp, faintly tart apples and warming blend of spices, Rachael called this apple pie "a slice of country life on a plate," and a scoop of creamy vanilla topped off the perfect autumn treat.

Omni Parker House — Boston
All diets are off at the Omni Parker House, where two famous regional favorites, Parker House Rolls and Boston Cream Pie, were invented. The cream pie alone is worth the trip to Beantown. It's called a pie because it was originally baked in a pie tin, but it's actually two layers of supple sponge cake that are slathered with a silky custard pastry cream and dressed in dark chocolate ganache. Toasted almonds coat the towering sides, making for a sleek slice that sings "like the Boston Pops Orchestra in your mouth," as Beau MacMillan described on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Fortunately, this elegant specialty is also available to those outside of Boston proper, since Parker House ships miniature versions of the cream pies all across the country.

Baked — Brooklyn
Nestled in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, this off-the-beaten-path bakery defines itself with classic American desserts. A couple of "dessert archaeologists," the owners love to take old-fashioned recipes and breathe new life into them, which led to the invention of their Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie. This reimagined pie is so popular that Bobby Flay challenged it to a Throwdown against his own take on banana cream. Baked starts the pie with a "toothsome" vanilla wafer cookie crust that's layered with sliced bananas slaked with orange juice. A "liquid gold" vanilla bean pudding is poured over the bananas and topped with a whipped peanut butter cream that's sprinkled with chocolate-covered peanuts. Not only did this nutty banana cream pie win Bobby's vote, but it keeps the locals lining up for Baked's crave-worthy creations on a regular basis.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds — Brooklyn
Nothing's more American than traditional apple pie, but this Brooklyn-based bakery manages to improve on the classic with a mouthwatering salted caramel version. Inspired by the caramel-coated apples found at carnivals, the ladies at Four and Twenty Blackbirds went above and beyond to replicate the hand-held treat in a pie shell. They sprinkle their homemade caramel with flecks of sea salt and dust Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apple slices with a warm spice mixture of allspice, nutmeg and black pepper, plus a few dashes of angostura bitters for an herbal edge. The salty-sweet finished slice is a "taste bud waker-upper" and was praised by Bobby as "what apple pie would look like if your grandma had game" on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

Linn's of Cambria — Cambria, Calif.
Leave it to California to turn out a hybrid berry that's perfectly primed for pie-making. Linn's uses the olallieberry, a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, to fill a juicy purple pie that Marc Summers just couldn't stop scooping on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. "Like floating on a cloud," the first forkful of this unusual wedge delivers familiar raspberry tang inside a flaky double crust. The secret behind the exceptional crust is good old-fashioned lard, which yields a crisp yet tender texture that melts when it hits your tongue. Plump olallieberries are tumbled with sugar and a pinch of salt to create the sweet-tart filling that's so good Marc was "tempted to lick the plate" clean. Splurge further with a dip of ice cream on the side and you'll have olallieberries on the brain all the way home.

Dixie Supply Bakery & Cafe — Charleston, S.C.
This hidden gem near Charleston's Central Market sports a cozy atmosphere that's distinctly "Southern, from top to bottom," as Guy Fieri observed on Triple D. Known as a breakfast spot that serves the "bounty of the county," like fluffy biscuits and shrimp and grits, Dixie Supply also deals out Southern-style desserts, like Charleston chess pie and bourbon bacon pecan pie. Sweet, salty and over-the-top, the Bacon Bourbon Pecan slice is "as good as it sounds," with meaty strips of bacon folded into the gooey pecan filling and lined along the outer crust. With a tipple of bourbon lending deep caramel flavor, the pie is so satisfying that you'll be tempted to order it for breakfast; since the bakery's motto is "eat dessert first!" they'd surely let it slide.

Berghoff's Restaurant — Chicago
Part of the Chicago landscape since 1898, Berghoff's has more than 100 years of experience making its specialty apple strudel, the flaky German pastry with a sweet cinnamon filling. This old-school strudel starts with a fragrant Granny Smith apple, golden raisin, pecan and cinnamon mixture that reminded Duff during his Sugar High visit of his great-grandmother's kitchen. Once sautéed, the filling is rolled inside delicate paper-thin layers of phyllo dough, which are brushed with melted butter and dusted with cake crumbs for added crunch. Baked until golden and buttery, the warm strudel is served with ice cream and caramel sauce and best washed down with a stein of Berghoff's ice-cold root beer. As the locals will tell you, this time-honored treat "tastes like home and happiness."

Hoosier Mama Pie Company — Chicago
This Windy City house of pie is best known for its sweet slice inspired by "The King of Rock 'n' Roll." As a tribute to Elvis and his favorite peanut butter-banana sandwich, Hoosier Mama created the Fat Elvis: an incredibly indulgent layered pie of dark chocolate pastry cream, thick citrus-spiked banana slices and peanut butter cream cheese filling, all housed inside a crust of crushed graham crackers, peanuts and pretzels. Sprinkled with a topping of pretzel bits and banana chips, this creamy confection is certainly fit for a king. After sneaking a sliver for himself on Sugar High, Duff described it as "a peanut butter slap in the face," and he was sure Elvis would've written a song about this dreamy, soul-satisfying pie.

Paris Coffee Shop — Fort Worth, Texas
Open for nearly a century, this coffee shop is so renowned for its homemade pies that the recipes are kept under lock and key. Most beloved of all is the coconut meringue, described as "the craziest coconut pie on the planet" and so alluring that Duff woke up at the crack of dawn to snag a slice on Sugar High. The neatly pressed dough is made with a special shortening created just for pie crust, which cradles a dense coconut filling that's chock-full of sweetened coconut flakes. A mountain of meringue hovers over top and is baked to a puffy browned peak, with even more coconut sprinkled on for good measure. With its mix of light meringue and rich coconut custard, this tantalizing pie proved to Duff that it's worth waking up early in Fort Worth.

Blue Springs Cafe — Highland, Ill.

Wedding cake expert Kerry Vincent knows her way around pleasing pastries, and she admitted to being a sucker for lemon meringue pie on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. She found her ultimate favorite at Blue Springs Cafe, where the meringue climbs so high that it's appropriate to call it "pie in the sky." Famous for these "foot-high" pies, the Blue Springs pastry chef achieves the sky-scraping cloud of meringue by whipping up a full carton of egg whites. This frothy heap practically floats above a pleasantly tangy lemon filling made with plenty of lemon juice and grated zest. Savor each forkful as the meringue "explodes and disappears in your mouth," then hurry back for another sunny slice — if you can handle the height.

Harriett's Cheesecakes — Inglewood, Calif.
Harriet's has the dessert course covered with more than 50 kinds of cheesecake available at this specialty bakery. The flavors range from Key lime to Black Forest, but the sweet potato cheesecake is the quintessential choice for a fall feast. The closely guarded family recipe begins with a dark graham cracker crust that's covered with vanilla cream cheese filling and a smooth sweet potato layer and finished with a sour cream topping and candied pecan garnish. It's surprisingly light and airy, and it's so delicious that on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Jeff Henderson from The Chef Jeff Project insisted, "you don't even need a fork" to eat it. With its sweet and richly flavored layers, this cheesecake makes Jeff's table at every holiday dinner because "at the end of the day, Harriet's is best."

The Farmer's Shed — Lexington, S.C.
With more than 70 years of experience in the farming business, the family behind this farmers' market, garden center and restaurant has been "cooking Southern classics straight from the farm" since the very beginning. With a rotating menu of local favorites, the kitchen cranks out cast-iron cornbread and classic shrimp and grits, but it's the long list of country pies that keeps customers (and Guy) coming back for their sweet fill. The farm's springtime strawberry patch turns out a ripe and ruby-hued berry pie, while pumpkins fill the fields in autumn, waiting to be picked and whisked into a velvety smooth fall favorite. Creamy farm-fresh pumpkin is simply prepared in the locally beloved pumpkin pie, which is perfectly paired with the farm's roster of fall activities like marshmallow roasts and hayrides.

Happily Ever After Confectionery — Los Angeles
The team behind this fairytale confectionery competed on Cupcake Wars with their innovative Apple Pie Cupcake. Challenged to incorporate Wisconsin cheese in the recipe, their cupcake featured a classic apple spice cake base, spiked with sharp cheddar and an apple, rosemary and maple pie filling. Topped with maple syrup and a cheddar cheese crisp, the pie-inspired cupcake gained earthy tang from the rosemary and a savory-sweet edge from the cheddar-laced cake playing against apple pie filling. No strangers to unique flavor combinations, Happily Ever After encourages cupcake customization, so swing by and try their famous apple pie filling with any combination of cupcake and frosting.

Brigtsen's Restaurant — New Orleans
Overlooking the banks of the Mississippi River, Brigtsen's boasts some of the best pecan pie you can find in the South. As Southern food writer John T. Edge put it on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, "when all the good pecans go to heaven, this is where they go." Though pecan pie is a common dessert across the region, Brigtsen's pie brings out the depth of local Louisiana pecans by roasting and grinding them so that every bite bursts with true pecan flavor. This simple and honest approach to baking results in a pie that makes you want to sit back, relax and enjoy the moment. You may even ask for a second slice and extra time to linger at the table, since it's "so rich that you'll want a cup of coffee."

Mahony's Po-Boy Shop — New Orleans

While it's famous for signature po' boys stuffed with fried fixins, this Big Easy sandwich stop also bakes up a mean Southern pie. Inspired by the traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole, the Sweet Potato Crunch Pie is filled with hearty hunks of potatoes that are sweetened and roasted in the oven. Bolstered with heavy cream and lightly smashed, the sweet potatoes take a seat in a tender crust that's laced with orange zest and then covered in a thick brown sugar-pecan crumble that's similar to coffee cake. The final touch is a handful of torched mini marshmallows, forming a sort of "crème brulee on top." The pie was Guy-approved during his Triple D visit, further proof that the "creative, quality scratch-made" menu at Mahony's is best when served with a sweet ending.

Billy's Bakery — New York

This charming Chelsea bakery is "taking steps back in time" with its 1940s-era decor and nostalgic sweet treats. With enticing pies, cookies and layer cakes lining the windows and countertops, it's clear why Bobby stopped by to pick up a traditional pecan pie on Boy Meets Grill. A sticky Southern classic, this pecan pie contains a full-bodied brown sugar-bourbon custard and loads of toasted pecans that form a crackly, caramelized top layer. Bobby appropriately paired his pie with a bourbon mint julep during a day of watching horse races.

The Little Pie Company — New York

With three retail locations in New York City, this pie-centric company isn't so little anymore, though it originated in the owner's tiny apartment about 20 years ago. While its reputation was built on the Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie, it's the "all-American" Mississippi Mud Pie that keeps chocolate cravings in check around the Big Apple and beyond. A "truly chocoholic pie," the Mississippi Mud Pie was featured on Food Finds for its double-fudge decadence that begins with a chocolate sandwich cookie crust. The fudgy inner custard is made with fine-quality Belgian chocolate and topped with a layer of house-made brownies that are mixed with even more melted chocolate. With shipping available all over the world, it's now possible for chocoholics anywhere to get a taste of this rich American classic at home.

Smokey Valley Truck Stop — Olive Hill, Ken.
Next time you're rolling down Interstate 64, stop off at this former gas station and fuel up on "good country food in a good country atmosphere," with some of the best pie around these parts. Order up a wedge of the coconut cream pie and you'll realize why they make it two to three times each day to meet the demand. The secret ingredient is a splash of vodka inside the coconut custard, which is topped with a frothy meringue of epic proportions. Flecked with toasted coconut flakes, this dense pie is served in hefty slices and is so addictive that Guy declared "it's Christmas in Flavortown" during his visit on Triple D. Locals say the pie is "spoon-lickin' good" and a perfect roadside pick-me-up on a drive through the Bluegrass State.

Pie Town Cafe — Pie Town, N.M.
Considering its dessert-centric location, it makes perfect sense that this cowboy country cafe is known for serving up seriously good pie. Duff raved about the New Mexican Apple Pie on The Best Thing I Ever Ate after taking a long "journey across the high desert" to seek it out. By outward appearances it might look like a straightforward apple pie, but locally grown pine nuts and hot green chiles lurk within the gooey layers and give the filling an unexpected kick. Those New Mexican specialties blend with sugar-spiked Granny Smith apples to create a sweet and spicy slice that's definitely worth the drive to this "middle of nowhere" pie haven.

Two Fat Cats Bakery — Portland, Maine
Is it a cookie, pie or cake? These are the common questions surrounding the the whoopie pie. No matter what you call it, Chuck Hughes is sure it's delicious, as evidenced by his enthusiasm for the fudgy treats on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. While you could easily find pre-packaged pies at gas stations across New England, you'll want to splurge on the "real deal" whoopie at Two Fat Cats, instead. There, two thick rounds of moist Belgian chocolate cake sandwich a marshmallow buttercream filling that's reminiscent of sticky meringue. Chuck claims that eating one is "like biting into a cloud," which makes this sweet hand-held hybrid something to look forward to on your next trip north.

Pie Moms at The Berry Manor Inn — Rockland, Maine
The Pie Moms are two local celebrities in the world of homemade pie. Having staked their claim as the best pie-bakers in Maine, it came as no surprise when Bobby challenged them to a proper fruit pie Throwdown. With 100 years of combined baking know-how between them, the Pie Moms felt confident they could go dough-to-dough against Bobby. The flour started flying when the lively twosome took on Bobby's peach pie with their famed four-berry creation that stuffed wild Maine blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries into a thick double-crusted dough. With a pie featuring a golden-brown, sugar-crackled upper crust and juicy fruit filling, the Pie Moms produced "a little slice of heaven" that proved their worth as the two grand dames of New England's best pie town.

For more FN-approved restaurants, check out Food Network On the Road.