Life of Pie
Forget March 14: Every day is Pi(e) Day if you put some effort into it. This time around, we asked for your input, and nearly 1,000 people chimed in to share local beloved bakeries, innovate flavors and diners that truly know pie. Here's where to find the best pie in every state, because everything in life is better when it's wrapped inside of pastry.
Alabama: GainesRidge Dinner Club
It may not be solely a bakery, but loyal Southerners from all over will gladly make the trek to this 100-year-old home-turned-restaurant for its famous black bottom pie. Named one of the state's specialties you have to eat before you die, the dessert cradles layers of both chocolate and bourbon-spiked custards in a gingersnap crust, all concealed in a mountain of fluffy whipped cream.
Alaska: A Pie Stop
A rotating selection of savory potpies (ranging from bacon mac and cheese to Mexican chicken) and a whole directory of sweet slices means, yes, it's possible to have a multicourse meal of just pie in Anchorage. When it comes down to your final course, it's hard to go wrong with either the triple berry or Bavarian pear.
Arizona: Rock Springs Cafe
This has become a necessary pit stop for anyone driving along Interstate 17, in part because of its easy-to-spot giant pie painted on the face of the building. The other part of its magnetism comes from its spin on pecan pie, with a crust of caramelized nuts and filling that never crosses into toothache territory thanks to a healthy shot of Jack Daniel's.
Arkansas: Fork & Crust
"I wasn't looking for pies; instead, they found me," owner Lori Rae says. The former stay-at-home mom never had formal training, but that hasn't stopped her from churning out a cherry crumb pie that's amassed an enthusiastic following. Another favorite: a chocolate oatmeal creation with chocolate ganache that cushions a thick topping of oats, maple syrup, cinnamon and coconut.
California: Duarte's Tavern
You head to this off-the-beaten-path institution for two things: the artichoke soup and, more importantly, the olallieberry pie Emma Duarte first started making in the 1930s. The recipe is still the same as it was almost 90 years ago: A tender crust holds local olallieberries mixed with nothing else but a bit of flour and just the right amount of sugar.
Colorado: The Long I Pie Shop
Photo: Caitlin Ahlenius
Each variety, whether it's eggnog crème brûlée or savory apple, Brie and prosciutto, gets baked in deep-sided cast-iron skillets for an extra-golden, flaky crust. And while we can't help but adore the gingered sweet potato pie (lovingly nicknamed the Redhead's Revenge), it's this Denver shop's seasonal salted honey lavender that has customers returning time and again.
Connecticut: Lyman Orchards
Connecticut locals eagerly await the time of year when the apples from this eighth-generation farm go straight from tree to crust. Filled and crimped by hand, it's an old-fashioned, towering pastry that rises well above the confines of the tin.
Delaware: Sweet Somethings
Photo: Sweet Somethings Desserts
Consider owner Lee Slaninko the triple threat of pastries: equally skilled at baking award-winning cakes, cookies and, yes, pies. Here, the always crowd-pleasing banana cream is improved with white chocolate pastry cream, but if you can't decide on a single flavor, just follow the bakery's motto, "A balanced diet is a dessert in each hand." In our case, banana's foil is a slice of the peanut butter tart.
Florida: The Yearling
Plot twist: Florida's best pie isn't Key lime, but the sour orange one served at this 65-year-old Hawthorne restaurant. Lip-puckering citrus native to the Everglades is used in a refreshing filling that finds a home in a graham cracker shell—the perfect ending to a highly Floridian meal of catfish and fried frog's legs.
Georgia: The Yesterday Cafe
While it's all too easy to stuff yourself with this Greensboro joint's country fried steak and shrimp and grits, you can't actually say you've been there unless you finish your meal with its famous buttermilk pie. Just ask Carrie Underwood, who ordered 300 of them for her wedding.
Hawaii: Ted's Bakery
There's a universal love among islanders—and flip-flopped tourists—at this Oahu bakery and café, and it's all thanks to the chocolate haupia cream pie. Velvety dark chocolate custard meets haupia (a creamy coconut pudding) and fluffy whipped topping for the perfect way to wrap up a beach day.
Idaho: Pie Hut
Idaho might be synonymous with potatoes, but it's the state fruit, the huckleberry, that has made this place so well loved. Trust us: There's no going back to blueberry once you've had a bite of this Sandpoint spot's huckleberry filling.
Illinois: Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits
Treat a meal here like you're carbo-loading for life. Start with Bang Bang's buttery bacon biscuit topped with collard greens and a poached egg before moving on to a hunk of chocolate chess pie.
Indiana: Wick's Pies
It's not often you get a dessert named after your state. And for Indiana natives, there's no doubt who makes the best Hoosier pie, a charmingly sweet and lightly spiced custard pastry. Even if you live outside the state, Wick's will ship any of its various flavors straight to your door via next-day shipping.
Iowa: Crouse Cafe
Though the plates may be bigger than the bills (as one local puts it), it'd be a moral sin not to leave room for a slice of the legendary cherry pie. It doesn't even need a dollop of whipped cream to shine.
Kansas: Ladybird Diner
Owner Meg Heriford's grandma-centric cooking has won her legions of faithful customers, thanks in part to a daily selection of rotating pies. Cap off your buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with a serving of the London Fog or blueberry peach rhubarb.
Kentucky: Homemade Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen
What started as a lunch counter quickly turned into a full-service bakery once the demand for homemade ice cream and scratch-baked desserts took over. The cinnamon ice cream is still freshly churned using local Kentucky cream and tastes best when perched atop an award-winning Dutch apple pie that's been frosted with caramel.
Louisiana: Strawn's Eat Shop
It's a Shreveport tradition to visit this 73-year-old diner for a blue plate lunch special, followed by a serving of one of its famous icebox pies, which have been featured by Southern Living numerous times. On the rare occasion you don't crave the fresh strawberry, go for the chocolate cream.
Maine: Helen's Restaurant
You haven't had a real blueberry until you've tried a wild-grown orb from Maine, and natives know the best way to eat them is via pie at this local favorite. Try the fruit in classic double-crusted form, in addition to the fresh blueberry cream pie.
Maryland: Dangerously Delicious Pies
Owner Rodney Henry's Baltimore Bomb creation is as iconic as it gets: fudge-topped Berger Cookies folded into a vanilla chess pie. There's also the date-night deal, which is a surefire way to make someone love you: two slices each of savory and sweet pies, plus a pair of drinks, for $22.
Massachusetts: Marion's Pie Shop
This Chatham shop has been open for 70 years, but the pies are as fresh as they've ever been, and you'll still find crowds even after the vacationers have left for the winter. Don't skimp on the savory options: The place was originally launched for namesake Marion's beloved chicken potpies. Try the regionally appropriate seafood pie; though if you're a sweet lover, any berry permutation is the way to go.
Michigan: Sister Pie
Yes, you absolutely must eat cherry pie if you're in Michigan. But you should also familiarize yourself with the seasonal offerings at this Detroit shop, which could mean blueberry lemon thyme in the summer or sweet potato marshmallow in the fall.
Minnesota: Betty's Pies
The five-layer chocolate pie is the one that started it all for this "world famous" spot, and it's easy to see why. Crust, meringue and melted chocolate make up the core of this crowd-pleaser, while two layers of silky whipped cream give it height and chocolaty glory.
Mississippi: Rowdy's Family Restaurant
If you're going to jump on the mud pie bandwagon, this is the place to do it. And just because it's not triangular doesn't mean it's not pie: The heaping pile of chocolate sauce, brownie layer, marshmallow, chocolate frosting and whipped cream is as classic as this old-school dessert gets.
Missouri: Town Topic
Town Topic's blueberry pie | Photo: Town Topic
It might be the burgers that get you in the door, but it's the pie that'll have you rolling out. Daily offerings vary, but cross your fingers that it's lemon meringue day. Bonus: The downtown Kansas City location on Broadway is open 24/7, because pie hankerings never sleep.
Montana: Loula's Cafe
You surely won't miss this bustling restaurant's location, set right downtown inside a historic Masonic temple in the popular ski town of Whitefish. Your best bet is anything with huckleberry, the darling late-summer fruit of the Northwest.
Nebraska: Modern Love
At this Omaha café—which has a second location in Brooklyn—the modern refers to the all-vegan menu, and love is what you feel after you try this season's blood orange coconut cream pie, complete with snickerdoodle crust and coconut whip.
Nevada: Southwest Diner
All that Hoover Dam sightseeing is enough to make anyone hungry. Drive 15 minutes down the main road, and you'll end up at this Boulder City classic, where the pies are not to be missed no matter which seasonal variety it has in store.
New Hampshire: Lou's Restaurant & Bakery
"Mile-high apple pie" isn't just fun to say; it's also a joy to take down—especially at this reliable college town staple, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. It's fueled generations of Dartmouth students to college degrees, so consider it brain food.
New Jersey: Delicious Orchards
All of the baked goods are made on-site at this massive food market, which sells everything from Jersey tomatoes and homemade salsas to freshly ground nut butter. But it's the pies you're here for, notably the crumb-topped apple—best paired with its fresh-pressed apple cider.
New Mexico: Pie-O-Neer Pies
It's extremely important you know this: There is an entire town named after pie, and you can pay homage with a signature slice of New Mexico apple with green chiles and pine nuts. Pie Town still celebrates its namesake with a yearly festival, but it's a party every day at this spirited shop, located on Pieway 60. You just can't make this stuff up.
New York: Petee's Pie Company
The almond chess pie at Petee's | Photo: Donny Tsang
It's been only two years since New Yorkers have been blessed with this Lower East Side gem and its amaretto-laced almond chess pie, but we've done our fair share to make up for lost time. Owner Petra Paredez was raised in a pie shop, uses New York State ingredients and has a way of brightening your days with her baked goods.
North Carolina: Fayetteville Pie Company
When we asked our Facebook audience to share their favorite pies, no flag waved as freely as the one for this veteran-owned and -operated shop. And it's the savory ones that North Carolinians loved most, especially the pulled pork and sweet potato pie, a six-inch-deep combo of smoked pork, BBQ sauce, corn and a maple-infused sweet potato crust.
North Dakota: Lund's Landing
This peaceful lakeside resort is known for two things: panfried walleye and homemade Juneberry pie. Think blueberry, but more Canadian and more magenta. (And, no, it's not available only in June.)
Ohio: Simply Delicious Pies
While it's hard to resist the allure of a pumpkin pie showered in a sugar and pecan crumble, it's the caramel apple that's turned owner Brittany Reeves into a local celebrity. The secret is in the slow-cooked caramel that pools into little puddles among the crumb topping's crevices.
Oklahoma: Pie Junkie
What began as a side hobby quickly turned into a bustling full-fledged business. Though we won't turn down a classic pecan for the holidays, it's the Drunken Turtle—graham cracker crust, fudge filling and bourbon-spiked caramel sauce—that has everyone patiently lined up outside. Be warned: They sell out quickly.
Everyone from Food & Wine to The New York Times has been singing the praises of Random Order's scratch-made pastries, especially its fancified take on American apple pie. Head baker Kim Bahraoui nestles Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples in caramel, before sprinkling the top crust with salt and sugar scented with Tahitian vanilla.
Pennsylvania: Magpie Artisan Pies
Photo: Tasting Table
The state is known for its molasses-forward shoofly pie, but Philadelphia dwellers are graced with this shop's chocolate coffee cinnamon pecan, a happy mouthful in more ways than one. Those who prefer to drink their pie can get it spun into a vanilla milkshake, while the indecisive can partake in Friday Night Flights: three slices, just $14.
Rhode Island: Gregg's
Five pounds of apples brought in from Upstate New York go into each imposing pie at Gregg's, though if you need an equally towering dessert, the six-layer chocolate cake is a delight approved by Obama himself.
South Carolina: Carolina Cider Company
You can get a lot of good things at this Yemassee store: jalapeño honey mustard, hot dill pickles and, naturally, jugs of cider. But for true greatness, make your way to the baked goods counter, where you'll want to nab a whole pecan pie before they're sold out.
South Dakota: Purple Pie Place
Only three people know the recipe to the magical crust at this (literally) vibrant restaurant. However, with a yearly season of only summer to fall, locals and visitors alike know they have a brief timeframe to eat as many flaky slices of raspberry rhubarb jalapeño as possible.
Tennessee: Dandgure's Cafeteria
The classic meat-and-three concept here is really meat and four, as you won't be leaving without a slice of pie: Just see the iconic mural outside the Nashville resto as proof. Chess pie is the move, with pecan close behind in second.
Texas: Blue Bonnet Cafe
Stop in for pie happy hour, which is every weekday from 3 to 5 p.m. You'll find lemon meringue pie with a filling-to-fluff ratio that had us at meringue. It also claims to have been recognized in Antarctica, which is saying something for a family business out of Marble Falls, Texas.
Utah: Penny Ann's Cafe
Do as the seasoned pros do when they head to this homey haunt: Start with ethereal sour cream hotcakes as your main course and finish strong with a slice of cream pie, whether it's the exemplary Key lime or the coconut cream.
Vermont: Poorhouse Pies
At most, one person at a time can fit into Poorhouse's self-serve pie shed, where you can choose from a variety of slices, including a very Vermont maple cream flavor. Payment is done on the honor system via a deposit box, and you should also stop by on Sunday mornings when owners Jamie and Paula Eisenberg are frying up their other specialty: maple bacon doughnuts.
Virginia: Proper Pie Co.
This Richmond bakery is showing Americans the light in regards to New Zealand-style savory meat-vegetable pies, which you can pair with a flat white for the full Kiwi effect. Check its Facebook page for that day's offerings, which hopefully include the one with smoked salmon, leeks and potatoes, all baked in a butter, flaky crust.
Washington: Dahlia Bakery
Everything is excellent, but if you don't have at least one slice of triple coconut cream pie—a trifecta of coconut crust, filling and toasted flakes—on your table, you're doing something wrong. You can even get it in bite-size portions, should you be in the mood for a whole pie to yourself.
West Virginia: Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House
For one week in May, this humble Huntington diner takes on an extra 15 to 20 employees just to help slice berries for its annual Strawberry Pie Week. Devoted residents line up well before opening time to consume nearly 13,000 wedges during this sweet tradition.
Wisconsin: Stockholm Pie & General Store
If our grandmas decided to open a bakery, we can't imagine it not looking like Stockholm Pie & General Store, which has nailed every detail right down to the gingham tablecloths. It's hard to go wrong with any of the oversize wedges from the chalkboard menu, whether it's the seasonal rhubarb custard or double lemon pie.
Wyoming: Pie Lady
Plan a trip around the $11 all-you-can-eat brunch on Sundays, which, if you're lucky, will include the highly comforting chicken potpie. But even if you end up having to go sweet—take a chance on the old-fashioned sour cream raisin pie. It's far from settling.
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