There’s something about pie. It doesn’t matter if it’s sweet or savory; filled with fruit or custard or steak and ale; conventionally round or half-moon-shaped; store-bought or baked at home. Whatever the particulars, pie is somehow accessible and comforting and irresistible in a way that, say, muffins, cake, or doughnuts can never be.
“Never say ‘no’ to pie,” counsels “Today Show” personality Al Roker. “No matter what, wherever you are, diet-wise or whatever, you know what? You can always have a small piece of pie….” Or a big piece.
Pie has a long history in America. We’ve been eating it ever since the Pilgrims brought the idea of enclosing things in dough across the Atlantic. What they ate was probably mostly meat pies, though a recipe for pumpkin pie did first appear as early as 1675. (We can only imagine what early American pumpkin pie-eaters would have thought of all those pumpkin spice things we don’t need this fall.)
Regional pie styles developed over the years, reflecting locally available ingredients — pecans in Texas, Key limes in Florida, peaches in Georgia, blueberries in Maine, apples almost everywhere — and more elaborate confections like lemon meringue, banana cream, and black bottom pies attained classic status.
Many American cities boast pie shops today — dessert emporiums that make a specialty of pies. Then there are bakeries with a wider repertoire which nonetheless turn out a variety of first-rate pies. And some places known primarily as diners or even full-scale restaurants make pies of some distinction, too, selling them to take out as well as to enjoy in situ. A number of purveyors offer both sweet and savory examples, and some of the signature items singled out below are dinner rather than dessert.
All those kinds of places are included in this list of top-notch places to find pie. Whatever the particulars, all of them will delight the pie-lover, and many of them are among the 40 best pie shops in America.