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.
Tartine’s cream pies, big and small
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.
Tartine’s banana cream pie
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Three Babes Bakeshop pecan pie. Photo courtesy of Colin Price.
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.
Mission Pie’s pear cranberry pie
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’ signature apple green chile pie
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?
Cara of Stylish+Geek Blog says
I never say no to pie! Love the SF selections you made and I will definitely check them out…not just one but all of them! As I said…I never say no to pie! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Rachel @ Bakerita says
Drooling! Those pies are gorgeous and look amazing. I love pecan pie! We’ll be having apple and pecan at my Thanksgiving 🙂
Om.nom.nom. I think I’ll bring my fat pants and be right over to eat all the pie possible! Yum! <3
Brooke @ You're In Brookelynn says
Man, these all look so delicious! My favorite pies are definitely pumpkin and french silk 🙂
Those all look so good, if I’m ever in SF I will make sure to try one of those places!
Drooling. This looks amazing especially the pecan one. Thanks
Love the pies! And I love San Fran. Going to save this for my next trip! thanks!
Looks like it is time for a SF trip!!
Oh my god, so many delicious-looking pies. *___*
Oh Yum, I love pie. Can’t wait till Thanksgiving, my mom makes pies.
WOW! These look way too yummy.
I LOVE that first picture of the dessert, I think from Tartine Bakery? You got (photography) talent, lady!
You just talked about all my absolute favorite pie places in town! I love using good eggs to get them when I needed a bit of a sweet snack.
Amanda Love says
Now I know where to go if I’m ever in San Francisco. I’m a big pie lover but have never been to SF.
Oh, those all look delicious! Pie is one of my favorite desserts!
I miss SF so much this hurt me to read. Oh SF bakeries! So wonderful.
Dang– I was just in sf last week! The pear cranberry sounds amazing.
What the Bride Wore says
YUM! Those look delicious!
Oh my gosh that banana cream pie looks amazing!
What a perfect looking pie 🙂
Jenn @ EngineerMommy says
I love pies, and these look so delicious! Thanks for sharing!
What a bad time to read this post. I am starving and those pies are to die for. Most especially the pecan, my fave!