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LA Pumpkin Pie Pursuit Report -- 2012

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I've been reading all the reviews on various pumpkin pies on this site. This year, we are having Thanksgiving, and I have determined to have the best pumpkin pie served to our family. I had my share of pumpkin pies, and in the past we always had either Marie Calendars or Pollys. They are not bad, but they didn't knock my socks off either. So after reading all the posts about the great pumpkin pies around town, I tried a few of them myself, and here is my report.

Grocery Store pie -- standard filling made from generic can stuff, generic "pumpkin pie" flavor (kind of bland). Crust is dry and no flavor, the edge is especially dry, hard, super bland.

Costco -- The filing is moist, but little sweeter. Still had that "generic out of the can" flavor and texture. Crust is a standard pie crust, soggy in the middle (due to the size of the pie) and way too thick and dry at the edge. I can't make myself eat the edge crust, it is waaay too thick and dry.

Euro Pane pumpkin bar -- Pretty dissappointing. Maybe ok as a bar, but definitely not a good replacement for a pumpkin pie. The filling to crust ratio is wrong. The filling is sweeter than other pies, and while the crust is absolutely yummy as a bar (shortbread crust) it overpowered the whole bar. I also didn't like the texture of the filling, which was similar to a lemon bar.

Pie and Burger -- Pretty good. It is a notch above grocery store and costco as well as Pollys / MC. The filling is creamy, good distinct spice flavoring, slightly burnt filling at the edge which gave that beautiful brown color, great buttery pie crust, not too thick, not too thin, not soggy at the middle, almost a perfect simple pumpkin pie.

Suzie Cakes -- Very light. Both filling and crust were very light. Crust had a subtle gingery aftertaste, the filling is creamy yet not too sweet, perfect filling to crust ratio, and I usually don't eat the crust edge but this one pie I ate every single bite. It was so light and refreshing.

Urth Cafe -- OMG. This is definitely an experience of a lifetime. This pie is not in the same category as any other pie. First of all, it is intimidating, this is a deep dish pumpkin pie. Grahm cracker crust. The filling is creamy, dense, very flavorful spice that lingers. Perfect harmony with the crust and whipped cream. I am in full agreement that this might be the best pumpkin pie in LA.

So..... I ended up getting the Suzie Cakes pumpkin pie. After thoughtful consideration, Urth Cafe pumpkin pie might be a little too heavy after a full Turkey Mashed Potato Stuffing dinner, my family might appreciate the lightness of Suzie Cake pie better.

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  1. Susiecakes makes great pie. I especially love their apple. I liked Urth... but it didn't blow my socks off like I had hoped. Two other recommendations...

    Homeboy Bakery -- Sometimes they bring these pies to their farmers markets, but its best to call and order and pick up. REALLY great pie for a good price.

    Ugo in Culver City -- Everything there is Meh. Well, 99.9% of things because they make a truly OUTSTANDING pumpkin pie. Seriously, everytime I walk past it this time of year, I have to force myself NOT to walk in and buy a slice...

    --Dommy!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dommy

      Having so many slivers if bad pie today made me realize of my other two favorite pumpkin pies, although they are cheese cakes...

      Surfas Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cranberries -- Great light texture, strong spice level and that hit of cranberries keeps it from becoming too heavy.

      Harriet Pumpklin Praline Cheesecake -- The Ultimate in Pumpkin indulence. You seriously have to prepare yourself for the bliss of having a slice of this cake...

      --Dommy!

    2. The Pie Hole in DTLA makes a good pumpkin pie.

      I'm still partial to Costco, however. It's the everyman pumpkin pie ... The Wrangler Jeans of pumpkin pies, if you will.

      8 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Just having re-freshed my taste on the Costco Pie (Gotta love work pot lucks...)... It definately had a better taste than any of the supermarket pies (This sample included Ralphs and Trader Joes as well). The filling is well spiced and the texture very creamy and light. The only reason why it's not my favorite and I don't bring it to my dinner is the crust is horrible. It's HUGE and the crust, especially the bottom crust just SOGS under all that filling. It has no clear butter flavor or flavor of anything for that matter (which I guess is better than that burnt shorting taste I got from the Ralphs pie... UGH!). I would rather scoop out the filling and then put it in my own mini pie shell.

        --Dommy!

        1. re: Dommy

          I second that crust comment about Costco pie. There are only two things on a pumpkin pie, the filling and the crust. Therefore how good a pumpkin pie is should be 50% determined by the crust. It is hard to make that big of a pie, with good tasty crust, though.

          1. re: NerdyEater

            In an ordinary pumpkin pie, you have the filling and the crust.

            With The Filling Station pumpkin pie, you have this ethereal layer between the crust and filling (what is that? marzipan?) which is one of several elements that kicks the pie to another level.

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              Just googled and found out ownership changed two years ago!! Where exactly have I been?

              http://www.professorsalt.com/index.ph...

              Has anyone tasted the pumpkin pie since the ownership changed hands? The last time I made it was before the handover.

              Mr Taster

              1. re: Mr Taster

                The Filling station has a graham crack crust... a SUPER hard one which is absolutely bullet proof.

                I haven't had it since the change of ownership,, it's not a cheap pie and also HUGE. I had so much left over the one year I got it, I have been afraid to buy it again... & I don't do desserts for pot lucks...

                --Dommy!

                1. re: Dommy

                  The great thing about The Filling Station pie is that it impresses non-chowhounds and chowhoundly coworkers alike (especially if you work next to Marie Callander's!) The sheer massive size impresses the rank and file while the chowhoundly types will appreciate the quality, flavor and construction of the thing.

                  I don't know how much they charge for it now, but when I first started buying it, it was only $20. It went up in price later to $25. But considering the sheer massiveness:quality, it always struck me as an incredibly good value.

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    Really... I remember paying something like $45 for that thing... Hmmm... Maybe my memory is failing...

                    My CW are more impressed that I can cook vegetables and quinoa properly at home. I leave the extravagant dessert buying to them...

                    --Dommy!

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      i still have yet to try filling station's but i did make a call a week prior to turkeyday this year. according to the one i spoke with the recipe remains unchanged, price is $25.

          2. Frozen pie: My pick goes to Trader Joe's.

            1. I know Hof's Hut makes some amazing boysenberry pie, fresh peach, fresh strawberry, banana cream etc., never had the pumpkin but you should check them out.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Burger Boy

                I had the most perfect pumpkin pie at Porto's last week. If I have ever had a better one I sure don't remember it. (BTW they are closed the day after Thanksgiving)

                1. re: SIMIHOUND

                  I second that...Porto's pie is terrific...the crust is actually crisp, not soggy. And a bargain, as is most stuff at Porto's, at $9.00.

                  1. re: manku

                    BTW. I called them and they said the pumpkin and apple are seasonal pies and will be available until the end of December. I am getting both for a family meal on Saturday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

                    1. re: SIMIHOUND

                      Followup-They were sold out of pie at 2pm on Saturday after we waited in very long lines. They said to come back in a few hours which was not possible for us. I still hope to get my pie before Xmas though. I will go back mid week.

              2. Why no mention of The Filling Station in old town Orange?

                Mr Taster

                2 Replies
                1. re: Mr Taster

                  We heard about the filling station's pies. The in laws are bringing their apple pie for Thanksgiving. I heard its gigantic.... Will update the report after the dinner!

                  1. re: NerdyEater

                    We pick up our pumpkin pie every year from Filling Station. I am not allowed to Thanksgiving without this pie. Mind you Thanksgiving is at my house and I also do the vast majority of the cooking.

                2. Clementine's is very good.

                  1. Ok, I'm a weirdo, but I've always been disappointed by pumpkin pie. To me they all taste like like a big gooey spice bomb in my mouth.
                    Is there possibly a pumpkin pie out there that where you can actually taste any pumpkin flavor instead of just allspice and nutmeg?
                    I think the closest I've come is a pumpkin mousse pie from...Marie Callendars..I think.
                    Ok, rant over.

                    1. I agree about Urth Caffe (although it's been a few years since I've had it).

                      1. Has anyone tried the seasonal Pumpkin Pie at Bea's Bakery in Tarzana? Any other suggestions for us Valley folk that can't get over the hill to the Westside before Thursday? I know of 4 N 20 and Marie's of course, but looking for something better this year. Had enough of Costco. Thanks!

                        1. I still like Coco's and Marie Calendar's. Maybe it is nostalgia, but we used to always get pumpkin pie from the Snack Shop Bakery (Coco's forefather) after all the women in my family (mother, grandmother, great aunts, etc) stopped baking in the late 60's.

                          Graham cracker crust doesn't seem right, just a nice lard based crust is the way to go.

                          Besides Costco we've also like Gelson's and Bristol Farms. We had Sprouts last year and it was great too.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: scottca075

                            I agree that graham cracker crust does not seem like it would be good with pumpkin pie, but my wife and I made a point of trying it a couple Thanksgiving's ago after we read another list of best pumpkin pies in the L.A. area. It was truly amazing. By far the best pumpkin pie I have had in years - and pumpkin has been my favorite pie since I was a kid.

                            I have never been all that found of white flour pie crusts - some of them are so tasteless, dry and awful I am forced to leave it on my plate. But not with the Urth Cafe pie. You could it just the crust by itself. It's so good it reminds me of some fancy pie crusts in expensive restaurants which are made with ground nuts instead of just flour.

                            We loved their pumpkin pie so much that one day when we were near their Santa Monica location we decided to go in for another slice. At first we were disappointed to find out that they were out of their regular pumpkin, but we noticed they had a pumpkin pie cheesecake. We decided to give it a try and it is now my wife's favorite pumpkin ANYTHING. I'm not a cheesecake fan, per se, but this was delicious. So now we just get a piece of whichever one they have.

                            I'm not sure when they have either of these seasonal pies, so I would call ahead at whichever location is near you - there are currently four - and check before you go.

                          2. The pumpkin cream pie at Philippe's in DTLA is excellent. Best I have had. Great filling and nice crust. Martino's Bakery in Burbank supplies the pies.

                            1. We had lunch at the Apple Pan on Wednesday and watched dozens of delicious-looking whole pumpkin pies go out the door. Since we knew we'd be eating a different pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving (which unfortunately turned out to be just ordinary), we ourselves opted for other flavors for our Weds. dessert (notably an even-better-than-usual slice of boysenberry cream).

                              So I can't comment directly on Apple Pan's pumpkin pie, but it certainly looked good. Can anyone else opine?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: PayOrPlay

                                I really like there pie at the Pan, but then again I always just have it as a slice, and I always get it with a cloud of that whipped cream. If they ask you with or without the whipped cream, you have to get it with. In fact, I generally love all their cream pies here, especially the coconut and chocolate.

                                1. re: kevin

                                  I do have to say that i was a little dissappointed at their apple pie, though. It looked so good! it had a nice flaky (looking, anyway) pie crust on the top, the pie itself was sitting in a pool of gooey apple juice sauce. It really looked yummy. But it just didn't taste as good as it looked (still not bad, though).

                                  1. re: NerdyEater

                                    My sentiments exactly the first time I tried the apple pie, or rather the first few times. The key is to order it with the rich danish vanilla ice cream and the cheddar cheese as a buffer between the crust and the ice cream. 'Nuff said.

                              2. So we had the Suzie Cake pumpkin pie and Filling Station Walnut caramel apple pie for Thanksgiving. Suzie Cake pie was a great call, it was tasty without overpowering (especially after all that turkey and stuffing), buttery crust good till the last crumb on the plate. The apple pie from Filling Stattion is also pretty good, kind of unexpected: it was huge, and had a big thick crust on the top. It was a little too heavy for post Thanksgiving dinner, i think. I wonder how their pumpkin pie is

                                1. The pumpkin pie at The Apple pan is great. Not too much spice. Creamy. Perfect crust. And that great cream, just like their other cream pies. At least to me.