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Pie - SF Dish of the Month October 2013

The SF Bay Area Dish of the Month for October 2013 is Pie!

There are tons of previous pie reports, so now is your chance to return to long-time favorite places and also try some new pies that you haven't tasted before. Some discussion on the voting thread leaned toward focussing on sweet pies focus this month.

Let's collectively try as many versions of pies as possible during the month of October! Report back with reviews and photos.

Here's a link to the this month's vote: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9186...

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  1. Pie Fridays, the street pie cart found on Friday nights, just off Valencia, has been some of the best pie I've had in SF. Comes with fresh whipped cream, and there's usually around 5 different pies to pick through, with a lot of real interesting variations of the norm. Caramel Banana, Pumpkin with a Ginger Cookie Crust and Chocolate Maple Pecan. and Blueberry Nectarine, were last weeks options. http://www.piefridays.com/tonightspie... The cream pies sound a little too Bakers Square in concept, but they've been some of my favorite. I like getting 2 half slices.

    The Berry Cobbler ice cream at Smitten, with crumbles from Batter Bakery is a non-traditional way to get some pie. It could use more crumble though, in my opinion, and the berry flavor is fresh but light.

    1. My favorite Bay Area pies are two: the pumpkin pie and the apple pie @ Crixa Cakes in Berkeley.

      Perfectly done fillings, great crusts--really the best of those two types of pie I've had.

      If I really want a fall/winter treat, I get a slice (sometimes w/ whipped cream, sometimes no) and a cup of their terrific decaf (they have great teas as well, but this is my routine) and sit with a novel or old New Yorker--and I'm beyond happy.

      p.s. What's curious is that I haven't had a spring/summer fruit pie from Crixa that I've loved as much. Some (apricot) get gummy. Others (berry) don't sing w/ brilliant fruit flavor. And the pies that are on offer sometimes stray beyond seasonal, such that I wonder whence the fruit comes.

      17 Replies
      1. re: sundeck sue

        Hey sue, would you be kind enough to elaborate a bit on the apple pie from Crixa, specifically the crust? Is it a short crust or are they using butter? Thick or thin? White flour or brown? My auxiliary stomach loves a good apple pie and I like to keep him happy :-).

        1. re: grayelf

          This is going to be a little challenging, since I've not had either of the pies I adore (apple or pumpkin) since last year. When I was there last week, no apple (only one pie left--it was late in the afternoon--and I think it was one of the sketchy ones, like cherry). So I settled for a piece of poppyseed rugelach (delicious).

          She does an all butter crust; and it's definitely thick--pretty sure, white flour. It's not overly sweet (crust and fruit both), piled high w/ apples (don't know which types she uses). If and when you go, eager to hear if it makes your auxiliary stomach happy!

          1. re: sundeck sue

            I wish Crixa didn't always seem to be sold out of over half their offerings.

            1. re: sugartoof

              Funny, I realized, reading your post, something I felt but hadn't consciously thought--that I kind of like the fact that they're often sold out of some items.

              They are clearly making a choice to put a line through items no longer available rather than erasing them on their blackboard. I assume that that in part conveys a sense of demand and bounty.

              With the open kitchen, you see them baking throughout the day, so that there are additions, as well as subtractions (an item is crossed off--they bake another batch--it's back on). And everything that IS available is practically still warm.

              I like that they're not over-stocking--which you'd have to do to keep everything on offer til closing time--with the inevitable (relative) staleness of pastries sitting around through the day and overnight.

              It's all part of their being small and homey, in my mind.

              And I guess I even like it that, in this instant-gratification century, "you can't always get what you want."

              Especially when what you DO get, chosen from the items not crossed-off on the board, is gonna be delicious!

              1. re: sundeck sue

                Today's is pumpkin or peach and blueberry. And it is so much better when they don't have stuff left-over.

                1. re: wally

                  It turned out to just be peach rather than peach and blueberry. Both white and yellow peaches. Flavorful peaches. Good crust as always.Deep dish with a galette type top. Bottom still crisp at 9 tonight.

                2. re: sundeck sue

                  I normally appreciate a place that makes a limited quality batch of something, and once they sell out, they sell out. In this case, knowing they bake through the day just makes it frustrating, and impossible to justify going out of the way for them. It also makes me wish they limited what they do to keeping the stuff that routinely sells out, more stocked.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    Definitely annoying when you drive 45 minutes to make a special visit and they've sold out of all the items you wanted to try that day.

                    1. re: emily

                      I usually buy something I wouldn't normally want, simply because it's all they have, and I went out of my way.

              2. re: sundeck sue

                Just got a Facebook status update from Crixa:

                pumpkin pie back on the October menu!

                Happy days....

                1. re: sundeck sue

                  crap. they have FB updates? this could be my demise.

              3. re: grayelf

                yo GE, the apple pie at Crixa is definitely all butter. And a thick crust.
                And it's white flour, but it's a beautiful deep color.

              4. re: sundeck sue

                Stopped by Crixa this morning at 9:15 to pick up some pie for the office, and do some "research" for pie month.

                So saddened to see it has new hours: Doesn't open until 10:00am.


                1. re: escargot3

                  Oh wow, that is sad that they are no longer open at 9. However, they almost never have pie before 11...

                2. re: sundeck sue

                  had a slice of the double apple pie at Crixa today.
                  simply put: perfection in every regard --spicing, texture, flavor.

                  1. re: sundeck sue

                    Just saw the Crixa is taking orders for Thanksgiving pies, to be picked up the Tuesday or Wednesday before T-day.

                  2. I have to say I'm partial to the lemon meringue pie at Nation's, although nothing else there has captured my fancy. Since it's October hopefully there will be some good pumpkin pie reports.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      We recently had Nation's banana cream pie and enjoyed the short crust, the whipped topping, sliced bananas and cream filling. This pie from Vacaville was superior to the same pie at the Nation's at Westlake Shopping Center/Daly City.

                      1. re: Cynsa

                        i have always loved the banana cream pie there (El Cerrito location), and the lemon cream pie, too. and chocolate cream pie, now that i think of it.

                        1. re: Cynsa

                          Had to go to AAA last to get some maps and the closest lunch place was Nations. For dessert I had a slice of boysenberry pie that was surprisingly good. The filling was flavorful and the crust on the mealy side but passable.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          this is revelatory to me! never would have occurred to me to stop off @ a Nation's. next time I'm in El Cerrito, I'm there!

                        3. Today's pie selections at Fillmore Bakeshop are apple, cherry, and apricot. $3.75/slice $30/whole pie w/$10 deposit

                          Apricot Pie has filling of apricot halves baked in a flaky crust. I like that the bottom crust is browned and crisp. It's an old-fashioned kind of pie like the pie you'd find cooling on Gramma's windowsill on a summer's day in Ohio.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Cynsa

                            When are you coming by my office to drop one off, Cynsa? I love apricot pie, and it's hard to find one that isn't over-thickened.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              I'd rather bake one just for you! but then we'd post on Home Cooking. lol, it's true that the Fillmore Bakeshop pie had just a tad too much thickening for my tastes, too.

                          2. Do only sweet pies count, or can some savories be included?

                            1 Reply
                            1. Berry Pie $5.50 at Chili Pies and Ice Cream
                              Bold berry flavor, not sweet, jelled; crust is solid, hearty, yet flakey and warmed to serve.

                              1. Chestnut Bakery makes a dandy little (about 5"" sour cherry tartlet on Fridays and Saturdays for about $6.00 It serves two generously (with a little a la mode) and has what I would call the perfect crust, flakey with some "al dente" to it. I haven't tried their other pies, but their white bread makes great toast. They also make a multi-grain bread that I found too wet, and (at $9.00)too expensive, but that cherry pie gets me in every time.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: little big al

                                  2359 Chestnut St San Francisco, CA 94123
                                  thanks, lba - I think I can find my way to Chestnut Bakery by next Friday/Saturday for that sour cherry tartlet.

                                  1. re: little big al

                                    Macadamia Nut tart $3.75 is rich and not too sweet on a short crust/pate brisee, perfect with my morning coffee.
                                    It's not sour cherry pie but it is almost as good as I think the pie will be on Friday/Saturday.
                                    This month marks the 11th year for The Chestnut Bakery.

                                    1. re: little big al

                                      no sour cherries this week = no pie
                                      call late on Wednesday to confirm if they're baking sour cherry pie for Friday/Saturday next week...

                                    2. A link to the current thread re Golden Gate Bakery (and their storied--but maybe less so--custard tarts [little pies...]) seemed relevant here:


                                      1. Went to Mission Pie on Friday night. It was packed at 8 pm, very few places to sit. So pie's on lots of minds, apparently. Shared the banana cream and the pear ginger. Both good but the pear won out despite the ginger being almost undetectable. Crust was crumbly and just sweet enough. Filling was all fruit, nice tender pears. A perfect autumn pie.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Frosty Melon

                                          My favorite Mission Pie is their classic walnut pie, which works perfectly with the whip cream. Least favorite would be their lemon pie, using whole lemon slices, bitter rind and all. Supposedly it's popular. The original Chili Pies location used to serve a pie with a full lemon slice on top, with rind, but only as an accent.

                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                            Count me as one...It's called Shaker Lemon...and it's my favorite pie there...nice and tart, perfect with tea...but then again I also like the Lemon Buttermilk Pie at Chili Pies...(I guess I love citrus!) I have a jar of lemon curd in the fridge..had some this morning on the Swedish pancakes I got at Ikea

                                            1. re: ChowFun_derek

                                              I can relate to the lemon buttermilk at least, and the curd even sounds pretty tasty, but it's the raw rind that throws me off.

                                        2. I had some of a small apple pie from Pie Hole at the Out and About Rockridge Street Fair. Crust was decent. Filling was nicely done. A little sweet for me.

                                          1. This a slight shift: anyone know where to get a decent frozen or decent grocery store apple pie? A long time ago Trader Joe's use to sell a very nice (and inexpensive) apple pie, made in Canada.

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: ML8000

                                              I've tried several frozen fruit pies that I've seen at Grocery Outlet. The ones I have tried (Mrs. Smiths and one other?) are mediocre as one might expect. Not a lot of fruit and a lot of jelly and nondescript crust. I did think that Peppridge Farm Blueberry was a bit better. Haven't tried the Apple, assuming there is one.

                                              The only one that I actually have bought more than once was Mrs. Smiths berry cobbler. Crust was not bad at all and with berry the fruit might have cooked down anyway.

                                              Bread Workshop was the bakery that made my favorite pies but they are closed.

                                              1. re: ML8000

                                                Always wondered about the Duarte's frozen pies, but at that price, you might as well buy a fresh one.

                                                1. re: ML8000

                                                  I was in Costco (Richmond) today.

                                                  They had pumpkin pies--huge, goes w/out saying.

                                                  I couldn't justify (even in the service of the DOTM) buying one, not because of the price (something crazy-cheap like $5.95), but because it's just the two of us; and my husband doesn't even like pumpkin.

                                                  But someone with a bigger household or a less picky partner should give it a try this month and report back!

                                                  1. re: sundeck sue

                                                    Thanks SS, I'll check them out Costco next trip. I forgot about them but I have seen those pies and they are ginormus...but really, only $5.95? Definitely worth the risk for the price but maybe only when people are over, or give half away right away. Same issue here...not enough eaters.

                                                    1. re: sundeck sue

                                                      As sad as it is that we're talking about a factory made pie, those things caught my eye this time last year. They look to have a nice amount of seasonings, and they are as big as the steering wheel of a bus for $6. Considering so many places use canned or taste like canned, these are a great bargain, and I wouldn't be shocked to hear they're better than most.

                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                        I'm actually looking for a reasonable factory pie for my 87 y.o. dad since that's his preferred breakfast. I'd like to consider nice handmade, artisan-esque pies but it just doesn't make sense in this case.

                                                        It's really too bad TJ's stopped stocking those Canadian pies because they would have worked...not pricey, very tasty but not overdone and not a lot of junk added.

                                                        1. re: ML8000

                                                          Trader Joe's non-frozen pies are usually pretty good without being loaded with preservatives.

                                                          Safeway on Market Street does a lot of baking in house, and their pies and cakes aren't half bad for Safeway.

                                                          Sunset Bakery bakes fresh, and their pies are about $6 or $7, so there's a cheap option that's not factory made.

                                                          I'd also throw in a good pie now and again, and consider the expense medicine essential to keeping a loved one going strong, but that's just me.

                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                            +1 on TJ's non-frozen pies. I actually do buy those and they're reasonable in price. Just looking for other options. I just buy them and don't eat them but figure some variety is good.

                                                            BTW, if I bought a nice handmade pie my dad likely wouldn't notice that much. Also if I told him I bought a $20 pie, he'd go ballistic. You know, the Greatest Generation can be cheap and frugal having grown up during the Depression. They also seem to have a lot of fight left in them...so why push it over pie.

                                                            1. re: ML8000

                                                              so agree, ML8000. taking care of my Oldster, you cannot push him into liking "good" things, and he's pleased as punch if you tell him something cost a dollar. what's good to him is what's good to him, not me.

                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                Thanks MC and you're right, what's good to him is what's good to him. At this point in the cycle my attitude is give them what they really want. It's pointless not to...and everyone is a little happier.

                                                    2. re: ML8000

                                                      My go-to frozen store pie is the Claim Jumper series. I'm a berry person, so I've only had their Blackberry and Razzleberry (which, as far as we are able to determine is a berry with style), but they are surprisingly good, for a mass produced pie.

                                                    3. On a related tangent has anyone seen any freshly made fried pies around?

                                                      Years ago there was a Safeway in Lafayette? that made them. More recently they were on the original menu of Looney's BBQ, but they never actually had them.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                                        You're probably asking for something more along the lines of this apple jack from Edenton, NC.

                                                        But yesterday I stopped by Jollibee in Union City to revisit the fried pie to see if it was as I remembered from 2001.

                                                        Served hot in a cardboard jacket, the thin, bubbled crust is still crackly and lightly sweetened. The mango/peach filling has some chunks in a thick puree and no cornstarch goo. While it is still a fast food pie, it does taste like real fruit. One is $1.99 and two/$3. The other flavor available is banana/jackfruit.


                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                          The apple jack sounds about right.

                                                          I should confess that my personal experience with fried pies is restricted to Hostess, fast food restaurants and the "real" Safeway bakery made ones. In a previous post, some (you?) mentioned that Memphis Minnie's has peach fried pies. Next time I am in the Lower Haight ...

                                                          Did you ever make your own apple jack? I too have apples still hanging on the tree and some wormy ones sitting in the frig.

                                                          1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                                            Oh my, you made me look at MM's menu and drool over the day of the week specials. I am so behind the times.

                                                            Anyway, yes, fried peach pie is on the dessert menu.

                                                            I have not made apple jacks. Traditionally, they're made with dried apples. So now you have me thinking about drying the apples still hanging on the tree.

                                                      2. Pig and pie in the Mission sells slices of pie for $5. Last week they had apple, pear and plum, lemon shaker, and pear and grape. The pear an grape threw me for a loop--- unlike the grape pies made in upstate NY, in which grapes are mashed and reduced, this one contained only whole grapes, and two in the slice I got. They still had structure and were juicy. The rest of the pie was essentially a pear pie. Filling was pretty good and the crust had a good flavor, but the outer parts were too hard to be cut with a fork.

                                                        This was an improvement since my last experience there and deserves another revisit.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: hyperbowler

                                                          The dense, overbaked crust is sounding like an on-going problem there that's been discussed on CH on the past.

                                                        2. Today's National Dessert Day, so I decided it was high time for me to find some unknown pie to report on.

                                                          Calling around to see who might have pie on hand on a Monday, I hit the jackpot with Hamburger Ranch & Bar-b-que (fka World Famous Hamburger Ranch & Pasta Farm). The woman on the phone recited a litany of pies and desserts.

                                                          I picked the butterscotch cream pie. The cream pies have a graham cracker crust and are served in Mason jars. I liked the crust very much, firmly packed, tasting of brown sugar and butter, and baked to a solid crunchy texture. This is real butterscotch, not the fake orange-colored stuff. I was also relieved that the soft silky filling was the polar opposite of boxed pudding. The whipped cream came out of a can, albeit a Clover dairy can, but still not the real deal. For $6.50, I was satisfied. Make that happy. This made me happy.

                                                          World Famous Hamburger Ranch & Bar-b-que
                                                          31195 N Redwood Hwy
                                                          Cloverdale, CA 95425
                                                          (707) 894-5616

                                                          10 Replies
                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                            Hmmm... I wouldn't consider a dessert in a Mason jar to be "pie" no matter how delicious this one sounds.

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                Same ingredients and process as a cream pie with graham cracker crust baked in a mini pie tin. Actually better because the superior heat retention of glass baked a harder crust with no burnt spots. And reusable vessel instead of throwing away a paper or aluminum baking plate. I applaud the baker.

                                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                  In honor of SF Dish of the Month and Dessert Day I bought two slices of pie (and a slice of quiche) from the Heidi's pie stand at the 50 Fremont farmers' market.

                                                                  The lemon meringue pie was okay -- the filling could have been a bit tarter and the crust is mediocre: very soft (although not soggy).

                                                                  The pecan pie I thought was better. I expect pecan pie to be sweet, but this one is a little less toothachingly sweet than some. The color of the filling suggests it's made with dark corn syrup and/or that there might be some molasses.

                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                    I've bought Heidi Pies twice at the Sunset Farmer's Market near Irving and 9th. I did like the boysenberry, although it was a touch bitter. Their crust may be homemade, but as you said it was soft and not that great. The 1st time I selected what was marked as boysenberry, it was something else (cherry?). I didn't care for it so I put it out at work and the wolves at work dispatched it.

                                                                    I had lunch today at Smoke and was wondering about the chocolate pecan pie. Walker's Pie Shop used to make that. If my memory serves me well Walker's pies were about as good as most mentioned here.

                                                                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                    You do get around! Have you ever encountered sugar cream pie in these parts?

                                                                    1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                                                      No, but here's a link to Indiana's Hoosier Pie Trail (aka Sugar Cream).

                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                        I enjoyed the link although they didn't mention Shapiro's Deli in Indianapolis where I had my sugar cream pie encounter.

                                                                        Shapiro's makes a large array of pies and come to think of it, do we have locally any cafeteria type restaurants that might bake their own pies. What about Sears Fine Foods?

                                                                      2. re: chocolatetartguy

                                                                        That's my dad's favorite pie (he's from Wisconsin). Easier to make too. Would love to find it somewhere out here.

                                                                    2. I feel like pies can transport you deep into your past (I have it on my list to treat myself to that perfect apple pie @ Crixa this month--reminiscent of my grandmother's transcendent apple turnovers or the pie from Mann's Apple Orchard in Methuen MA where my mother would shop for fall celebrations).

                                                                      But pies can surely take you to new places (new restaurants/shops and new representations of a dish--the goal of DOTM).

                                                                      I would love to hear about the best places in the Bay Area to try sweet pies from different regional and national cuisines--eg. the best Chinese Egg Custard Tarts or the best Southern pie in a place that does great 'cue or the best pie in a Mexican restaurant (do Mexican restaurants do pie? I know Rick Bayless does @ Topalabampo/Frontera Grill in Chicago, but not sure if that's a Mexican-Oklahoman hybrid).

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                          La Corneta in the Mission or Glen Park?

                                                                          1. re: hhc

                                                                            I've seen it at both.

                                                                            Glen Park carries the Flan pie (conceptually like a softer cheesecake, sliced), two different kinds of churros, and a Dolce cookie. It's usually got an oreo type crust, which is what separates it from being just a wedge off a giant flan.You'll see them closer to the checkout unless it's sold out.

                                                                            Similar in idea, Sunset Bakery carries Egg Custard tarts as a full size Egg Custard pie, and a slice is about $1.

                                                                      1. I saw an interesting pie at Feel Good Bakery. It was some sort of tart but the sign hand printed was a little difficult for me to read and I thought it said with seconal fruits. It would be perfect for a late night snack.

                                                                        1. Mixed Berry Pie $2.75 - simple straightforward berry mix, good flavor, not overly thickened; pastry crust is short and one-dimensional at Royal Sweet Bakery in San Anselmo.

                                                                          1. After an unplanned dinner stop (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8754...) and traffic delays last night, it took me till after 11pm to get to Dry Creek Rd in Healdsburg. Filling the tank at the gas station, I stared at the late night diner, Adel's, across the parking lot. In my many years up here, I'd never looked inside. Now I thought it might be a pie target.

                                                                            Yes, the manager said, we bake our own pies. He rattled off the types still available in the case, most of what's shown on this counter top menu. I ordered the mixed berry, not ala mode, and yes, I'd like that warmed up.

                                                                            It came with some non-dairy kreem on the side and a squiggle of sauce. The slice was warm on the outside and chilled inside . . . at least it hadn't been microwaved. The crust was very flaky and also very rancid with a bitter aftertaste. The mixed berry filling was heavily thickened, not oversweetened, and seemed to have more seeds than berry flesh.

                                                                            $4.25, not recommended.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                              Oh dear! Just goes to show that house-made in a local diner doesn't mean good!

                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                To parse more carefully, the verb used by Adel's manager was "bake". I suspect that the pies might be "made" somewhere else, possibly frozen, and then baked on site.

                                                                                The place was pretty busy at that hour (it closes at midnight) with take-out and folks eating in. Lots of giant platters of food all round. I sat at the counter and could see the three cooks through the pass. They were whirling dervishes.

                                                                            2. I know it is not really a pie, but I had the Baked Apple Tarte from La Farina for the first time this weekend and it was excellent. Nice carmelized granny smith apples and light pastry cream. Definitely a new apple favorite.

                                                                              Also had the peanut butter pie recently at Homeroom. I am a sucker for real southern-style peanut butter pie and, eh, this was not it. The graham cracker crust was soggy and it lacked flavor.

                                                                              1. Searching for Three Babes Bakeshop - they're at the Saturday Farmers Market at the Ferry Building from 8 am to 2 pm.

                                                                                This Saturday they'll be judging CUESA’s pie making contest – Bring your pie to the CUESA kitchen from 8am-10:30am this Saturday, October 26th. Prizes include gift certificates and merchandise from Heath Ceramics, Sur La Table, Good Eggs, Knead Patisserie and more! Aaaaand, if your pie isn’t in the top three, you get entered in a consolation drawing for our Custard and Nut pie class on November 2nd.
                                                                                Go to Off the Grid’s Picnic at the Presidio this Sunday (it’s the last one of the year) or order on Good Eggs for pie pick up/delivery any day of the week.
                                                                                - See more at: http://threebabesbakeshop.com

                                                                                1. Passing through Hayward a couple weeks ago, I stopped at Emil Villa's for a piece of pie. Too late in the year for peach or strawberry cream pies, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/40480 . But 'tis the season for pumpkin, and it had a pumpkin cream pie, $3.59 per slice. I bought a piece to go and tucked it into the cooler for later.

                                                                                  After sitting for a few hours, some liquid had seeped to the bottom of the box wetting the crust. But while wet, the thick blonde crust was not waterlogged and stayed intact. The pumpkin filling seemed a little bit lighter/fluffier than the typical custard and less spiced. And when Emil Villa's says cream pie, it give you REAL whipped cream. Softly folded, sweetened whipped cream in all its lusciousness. I had noticed a mixing bowl full of whipped cream in the refrigerator case, so it can probably be added to other pies too.

                                                                                  The crust had little flavor, so this pie is about the pumpkin filling and lofty layer of whipped cream. Recommended for the whipped cream-aholics.

                                                                                  1. Pie Fridays is super yummy! I stopped by yesterday and brought home a slice of the apple pear crumble, it was amazing. If you are in the Mission on a friday, it is well worth waiting in line.

                                                                                    1. Sweet potato pie, BBQ Smokehouse in Sebastopol

                                                                                      A big piece for $5. Unlike most, this seems to be made from fresh sweet potatoes rather than canned, judging from the texture, color and fuller flavor. Not that sweet nor spiced, letting more of the vegetable's natural flavor come through. Firm buttery crust was damp on the bottom, but quite delectable on the fluted edge. Fine job.

                                                                                      1. Pecan pie by Beth's Community Kitchen in Mill Valley

                                                                                        Passing through Marin last week, I finally took the time to check out Beth's Community Kitchen. It's a light-filled space with the happy feeling of an old-fashioned bakery despite its youth. The fruit pies were already sold out at this time of the day with a pecan pie perched on a pedestal the only pie offering left.

                                                                                        I got a slice for $5 to go. This was more like praline pie than the soft texture of pecan pie's custard. I suspect that something went wrong and the filling crystalized into a hard, candy-like cake. No layer of nuts on top, just the crunchy sugary layer. Not much nuts, but good flavor if weird texture. The butter crust was very good, and I'd buy another pie here.

                                                                                        More about Beth's Community Kitchen,

                                                                                        1. Finally! Cherry Pie at Mission Beach Cafe has hit the mark. It's a solid crust-worthy delight. Cherries pop in your mouth and the crust is flaky.
                                                                                          Chocolate Pecan Pie is not-too-sweet with the richness and best of two world's pecan + chocolate; crust is dark-baked but not distracting. $14 for 2 slices of pie-to-go.
                                                                                          198 Guerrero Street at 14th Street/SF

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Cynsa

                                                                                            $7 per slice? That's 27% more than Chile Pie over on Church Street ($5.50 per slice). Is the price the same if you eat in?

                                                                                            1. re: Frosty Melon

                                                                                              Mission Beach Cafe pie has always been outrageously expensive. Considering a whole pie is something like $30-34, it just doesn't make sense.

                                                                                            2. re: Cynsa

                                                                                              Cherry pie in late October?!? Horreur....

                                                                                            3. Pies from the supermarket . . . to fulfill Cynsa's idea of previewing possibilities for the T-day table.

                                                                                              Blueberry pie by Gianna Baking Co. of Castroville and available at grocers throughout the state - $9.99 for 6" pie. About an equal amount of whole blueberries and cornstarch goo holding the filling together. Not oversweetened. Nice light crust, made with shortening and a little butter, very tender and flakey, decent flavor and slightly sweetened, and not soggy on the bottom. Price is on the high side for two to three servings.

                                                                                              Frozen apple pie by Duarte's in Pescadero - $15.99 for 32 oz. pie. Baked according to package instructions for 60 minutes then allowed to cool for 30 minute. While vents were pre-cut into the raw top crust, they sealed on baking and the pie inflated. On the positive side, the apple filling tasted like fresh. Great texture, not mushy and some semi-cooked pieces stayed near-crunchy. Modest thickening, barely sweet with a zesty tang, and scant cinnamon. On the negative side, the shortening crust was hard and flavorless. Using the bottom rack rather than the center rack specified in the instructions, the bottom crust browned nicely and cooked through but the thick curve of the crust stayed doughy. I might buy this pie again, but I would add an egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar to give the crust more taste.

                                                                                              1. Destination bakery in Glen Park has delicious apple tartlets. The size allows the crunchy but delicate crust to shine. Nice tart apples.

                                                                                                1. Trader joe's : pumpkin pie : surprisingly gross. There was 1-2" central ring of filling that was a few shades darker than the outer filling. Filling was flavorless.

                                                                                                  La Farine: Pumpkin pie. Nice filling-- a bit airy and not overpowered with spice. Crust wasn't great--- bottom crust was solid and glossy, like a tannish marble, and very thin.

                                                                                                  Eastern Bakery: custard egg tart (dan tat). Not usually a fan of dan tat, I followed up a previous thread that sounded promising http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8245... . It wound up being awesome--- layered and flaky crust, especially for a small tart. Sweet filling and not overly eggy.

                                                                                                  1. Mercury News Taste-Off: The Bay Area's best pumpkin pies:


                                                                                                    Sort of surprising results, although the sample is limited, all on the mainstream side Top 3: Buttercup Grill, The Prolific Oven, Whole Foods. Never had pie at Buttercup.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                      I had Whole Foods pumpkin pie the day after Thanksgiving. It reeks of cloves. And the bottom crust was underbaked, white and wet, and tasted like raw flour.

                                                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                        Was the Whole Foods pie baked in store, with the bakers name written on the box? I noticed at least one store had handmade pies.

                                                                                                        Raw flour taste can come from a lack of integrated ingredients, or not enough butter in a very dry dough that stayed dry. Some recipes, like the Mission Beach Cafe crust, can have that problem.

                                                                                                    2. I foolishly failed to order ahead for Thanksgiving. After a fruitless stop at Crixa looking for a pear rose pie, I ended up at Sweet Adeline where I bought what turned out to be one of the best pecan pies I have ever had.

                                                                                                      It had a lighter sweetness that the traditonal molassasy filling. It was cleaner, maybe honeyed. The crust was crispy and flaky. I am not a pecan pie person, but this pie was outstanding. I also recently had a slice of their quince pie and didn't care for it as the filling was not sweet enough.