The holiday season is high time for pie. Sure berry pies in the summer are all well and good, but let's not pretend that pie doesn't comprise the crux of most food pyramids during the colder months. It's how we cope. Comfort food at its finest. Thanksgiving of course usurps most pie-eating rituals, but I say any fall day is primed for pie. When that craving strikes, here's where to go.
For a homey slice of diner nostalgia, West Town Bakery & Diner is aone. The diner recently underwent a menu overhaul to give it more soulful diner oomph, concentrating more on items that accentuate Americana wistfulness. This of course includes pie, available in a rotating array of flavors and served à la mode as desired (spoiler alert: you desire this). Just for Thanksgiving, though, the restaurant is baking up a variety of pies for pre-order and takeaway, including apple pie, pumpkin pie, maple-pecan pie, vegan apple and cranberry crumple pie, and vegan pumpkin pie. Place your oder by November 23 and pick up your wares between November 25 and Thanksgiving to reap the pie rewards.
Since pie is so rooted in classic Americana, it's hard to beat a bakery as nostalgic and classic as Dinkel's Bakery & Cafe. The longstanding bakeshop is precisely the type of place where you'd want to feast on pies, what with its old-school pastry counter and kitschy confines. And they've got plenty of pie to satiate your sugar tooth, from deep-dish Dutch apple to chocolate silk, Bavarian banana, and classic pumpkin pie with optional whipped cream. But really, eschewing whipped cream would be tantamount to eating french fries sans ketchup.
Pie doesn't come any cuter or any chicer than those at Magnolia Bakery, the adorable sugar wonderland in Block 37. The New York City-based bakery is perhaps most renowned for its buttercreamy cupcakes, but don't overlook the decadent pies, available by the slice, the mini pie, or the whole pie. Most flavors are as vintage as the Americana motif, including pumpkin pie, double-crust apple pie, and pecan pie. One surprising novelty is the black bottom pecan pie. It starts off pretty traditional, but as you dig deeper you'll discover a rich chocolatey surprise just atop the handmade crust.
One of Chicago's preeminent pie shops is Hoosier Mama Pie Company. It originated as a farmers' market fixture and grew to its own pint-sized standalone shop in West Town. Owner Paula Haney is renowned for her wide gamut of comforting pies, from classics such as pumpkin and apple to more outre fare like funeral pie (not as morbid as it sounds, unless you think raisins are morbid) and orange cream pie. The pie shop just expanded to another location in Evanston as part of a collaboration with Dollop Coffee Company, featuring much larger digs than the original space and outfitted with a larger roster of menu options.
What started as a humble pie and coffee truck has blossomed to become one of the coolest, cutest, tastiest pie shops around. Bang Bang Pie Shop is much more than your cookie-cutter pie cafe. Rather, they peddle unique riffs on traditional pies, roast killer coffee, bake some of the best biscuits in existence, and house one of the most charming cafe settings in Chicago. They routinely feature three rotating flavors each day, one fruit pie, one chocolate pie, and one cream pie. You never know what's in store (unless you cheat and check out their website), but flavors might include anything from blueberry and chocolate chess to coconut cream or roasted pumpkin cream.
Classic American desserts are the order of the day at Bake, Bucktown's most precious and aromatic nook. The space feels like a kindergarten classroom in the best way possible, chock full of youthful nostalgia and cozy seats. The colorful pastry case beckons with its miscellany of luscious delicacies, and you can bet that pie is among them. Flavors rotate regularly, but include the likes of double-crust apple pie, brownie nut pie, and banana cream pie. Simple, comforting, and satisfying.
Photos: Dinkel's Bakery & Cafe, Magnolia Bakery, West Town Bakery & Diner, Hoosier Mama Pie Company, Bang Bang Pie Shop