A Resource Guide to Pie in the Bay Area
It's been declared pie season at SFoodie HQ, although we certainly don't mind celebrating it all year round. There seems to be a new enthusiasm for pie in the air right now. Even Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer recently wondered in his blog Between Meals why it doesn't appear in local restaurants as much as we might seem to want.
Tamara Palmer Chile Pies' green chile apple cheddar pie.
We've spent a good solid lifetime researching this subject locally, and will even put that database of knowledge to practice as a judge for the upcoming Pie or Die battle from SF Food Wars. We also enjoy anticipating your questions about pie; here are some answers. Any more burning questions on the topic? Leave 'em in the comments below and we'll try to oblige.
Where can I get a weird flavor of pie I've never tried before? Dude, you totally need to go to Chile Pies (& Ice Cream) and try the green chile apple pie, covered in walnut streusel and with cheddar baked into the crust. They'll whirl it into a milkshake for you if you're in the mood for a good heart-stopper, and they've even got Frito pie.
What's a good example of local pie? Mission Pie makes walnut pie from local California walnuts rather than importing pecans from the South. If you want a taste of home, this is it.
Where's a good place to go for dinner that serves great pie? Mission Beach Cafe, homie. Pastry chef Alan Carter is a serious genius of the flaky crust variety, and you can't go wrong choosing any of his flavors, which include huckleberry, lemon velvet, and chocolate cream. Or have another double-pie meal and go for the pot pie as your main, too.
How about in the East Bay? After tasting the pies at Buttercup Grill and Bar in Jack London Square recently, we begged the owner to consider entering the Pie or Die competition. She's friendlier than that, so we'll all just have to go to one of five East Bay locations (Concord, Walnut Creek, Vallejo, and two in Oakland) to try what we think would be award-winning blueberry crumble pie and upside-down apple walnut pie.
Tamara Palmer Jaynelle St. Jean's pieTISSERIE "provincial pie window."
How can I get pies on the street? Bike Basket Pies will deliver to your doorstep or office if you live or work in one of her delivery zones, and if you don't spend time in those areas, you should make a friend who does. Proprietor Natalie Galatzer can also occasionally be found at various one-off street food parties and special events with her sweet, savory, and vegan offerings. A newcomer we're also excited about is the "provincial pie window" of Jaynelle St. Jean's pieTISSERIE, which has so far made appearances in San Francisco and Oakland. Look for surprising flavors like borscht and grapefruit custard.
Is 24-hour pie a possibility? Indeed it is. All-night Castro eateries Sparky's 24 Hour Diner and Baghdad Cafe both have much better pie than main courses. If you're on the Peninsula, Heidi Pies in San Mateo is a fine choice at any time of day, but becomes much more hallowed during those late night hours cruising the El.