Although the Bay Area has been enjoying a renaissance of fancy pastry classics like croissants, macarons, and kouign amann, it also has a soft spot for the simpler sweets, like pie. Pie San Francisco style usually means handcrafted with the the best, locally sourced ingredients, original takes on traditional flavors, and, of course, a killer, perfectly flaky crust. I was invited by Expedia’s Viewfinder travel blog to collaborate on this article exploring my favorite places in the city to satiate my pie cravings, whether sweet or savory, fruity or nutty. Follow along for my grand pie crawl.
Whenever a list of best bakeries in San Francisco appears, Tartine never fails to make the cut, and for good reason – or rather, numerous good reasons. There is almost always a line of customers out the door waiting for their morning buns, croissants, and cakes, but my favorite item is their banana cream pie. It’s a cross between the refined composition of a French tart and the more voluptuous abandon of a pie, made of slices of banana sandwiched between billows of whipped cream and pastry cream. What really elevates it all is the layer of chocolate and caramel at the bottom. Everything comes together, from the flaky pastry to the silky cream to the sweet caramel, to perfection. So don’t be afraid of the long line – it moves faster than you think, and it’s worth the wait.
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Three Babes Bakeshop has rapidly gained a devoted following for their impeccably crafted pies that combine classic piemaking techniques with a modern sensibility. Their pies are all organic, the flavors influenced by local, seasonal ingredients: Fig and Plum, Gravenstein Apple Sour Cream, Salty Honey Walnut. I prefer their Bourbon Pecan Pie, a boozy-sweet mix of brown sugar, butter, pecans, and bourbon in a flaky crust that’s the stuff of pie heaven. Three Babes Bakeshop currently appear at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market every Saturday, or you can order off their website as well. They even sell their pie dough, if you’re making your pie at home and looking for an ace up your sleeve.
Three Babes Bakeshop
At the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market on Saturdays
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
The prize for cleverest name goes to PieTisserie. The story behind it is so perfectly sweet: Jaynelle St. Jean recreated a country home window in her mother’s San Francisco home, placing pies to cool on the windowsill and giving slices to passerby. She realized pies were her calling, moved across the bay to Oakland and started PieTisserie; this summer she announced will be opening her own retail shop in the Lake Merritt district. Now her classics, like Blackbottom Walnut and Chocolate Cream Pretzel will have a permanent home, and she has a killer holiday pie lineup: my favorite is the sweet yam with homemade marshmallow fluff, nestled in a golden all-butter crust. Until her shop opens, you can order from her site, and few would blame you if you can’t wait.
I love the double entendre in the name Mission Pie: it’s located on Mission Street, in the Mission District, and their single mission is to serve some very fine pie. This homey cafe offers pie in all its forms, from tarts to quiches to savory pot pies to sweet pies. I’ve made a meal of their Potato Gratin Tart with Goat Cheese and Peppers and Slaw with Lentils, Fennel, and Satsumas. For dessert, my preference leans towards the crisp-like Pear Cranberry Pie, filled with juicy chunks of pear in an all-butter crust and topped with streusel. Their menu is constantly changing to reflect the seasons, though, so you best strategy is to just walk in and see what’s available – or what everyone else is eating.
2901 Mission St at 25th
San Francisco, CA 94110
Chile Pies is the offshoot of Green Chile Kitchen, a restaurant devoted to the bold spiciness of New Mexican cuisine. Fittingly, their signature pie is an apple pie spiced with green chiles, layered in a cheddar cheese crust, topped with walnuts and and red chile honey. It’s highly recommended that you have this with a scoop of ice cream. Equally adventurous are the pie shakes: a slice of pie blended with ice cream into one deliciously decadent indulgence. Originally pies were part of the menu at Green Chile Kitchen, but they became so popular Chile Pies was opened to focus on the pastries. There are now two locations, both offering a range of pies and select dishes from Green Chile Kitchen. Get spicy for dinner – and dessert.
Chile Pies (& Ice Cream)
601 Baker St
San Francisco, CA 94117
Chile Pies (Sweet & Savory)
314 Church Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
To see what else you can do in San Francisco after eating all that pie, check out these great images of the city on Expedia’s Viewfinder Image Gallery. What pie are you eating this Thanksgiving?