As you can tell from the onslaught of gift wrap and tree-shaped chocolates, we are deep in the trenches of holiday season. Or better yet, pie season. While apple pie is evergreen year round and fruitier versions like blueberry and key lime are summer favorites, let's be honest with ourselves that pie belongs to autumn. Need to satiate your craving? Here are some top spots for pie in Chicago.
Hoosier Mama Pie Co. (1618 W. Chicago Ave.)
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 passion fruit meringue pie. The pie shop has 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.
Rustic Tart (find at Bow Truss Coffee Roasters at 2934 N. Broadway, 406 N Wells St., and 1841 W. 18th St., pictured above)
OK, so this is technically not pie, but unless you're the pie police you won't take issue with making a little leeway for Rustic Tart. What began as an "underground" tart subscription service and pop-up bakery of sorts has evolved into a tart company with a sweet-toothed cult following, and it's all thanks to owner Stephanie Lock. Under the recipe ethos of scratch-made dough, pristine ingredients, and local farmers' market fruits, Lock has risen from underground to the top. And you can taste her seasonal wares at any of the Bow Truss Coffee Roasters locations. Her Ready-to-Roll Dough disks, ideal for pie- and tart-lovers looking to try their hand at home, is available for purchase throughout speciality grocery stores in Chicagoland and Michigan.
Bang Bang Pie Shop (2051 N. California Ave.)
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 the universe, 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, plus other offerings like PB&J cinnamon rolls and egg biscuit sandwiches. 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.
Jimmy Jamm Sweet Potato Pies (1844 W. 95th St.)
If there's one thing more heartwarming than a homey slice of pie, it's pie derived from family recipes. Such is the case at this tuber-riffic South Side pie shop named for proprietor Jimmy Ferguson's father, James Jackson, whose inspiration leant the recipe for the shop's signature sweet potato pies. These custard-y, luscious pies, layered into butter-rich crust, make treacly sweet potato-marshmallow casseroles seem like an embarrassment by comparison.
Bake (2246 W. North Ave.)
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.
Beatrix (519 N. Clark St.)
Pie is at the forefront of the eclectic dessert menu at Beatrix, one of the most exciting and dynamic restaurants to emerge in restaurant-saturated River North. Although seasonal desserts rotate on and off steadily - keep an eye out for pumpkin chiffon pie and pounce on it when available - it's their mainstay "Oh My! Caramel Pie" that steals hearts. Maybe it's the shortbread cookie crust. Maybe it's the silky-smooth, salty-sweet caramel custard. Maybe it's the bracingly fresh dollop of whipped cream. Maybe it's Maybelline.
Grange Hall Burger Bar (844 W. Randolph St.)
What does a farm-inspired burger restaurant know about pie? Plenty apparently. The casual, adorable West Loop restaurant has developed as much renown for their seasonal pies as their namesake burgers, and rightfully so. It's all thanks to that farm-to-table philosophy permeating its way through their entire menu, culminating with some of the sweetest, most wholesome pies in town. From pecan pie to banana cream to a blueberry pie so lustrous it belongs on a museum wall, Grange Hall peddles fresh dessert goodness all year round. So make sure you save room.
Photos: Hoosier Mama Pie Co., Rustic Tart, Bang Bang Pie Shop, Jimmy Jamm Sweet Potato Pies, Bake, Beatrix, Grange Hall Burger Bar