No, not pizza: We’re talking pie, the dessert kind, fruit-fresh in summer but even better in winter, over good coffee and a long afternoon. Seattle defines dessert most prolifically through ice cream and doughnuts—but pie is the rarer pleasure, done well at these fine bakeries.
My God, man, the pie! There’s a piemobile and a Fremont shop no bigger than a minute, so lucky for you these minis are handheld and portable, and filled with goodness from cinnamon apple to savory chicken to a legendary Key lime. Crusts are fine but the fillings really are the headliner here; every day you’ll find the same handful of sweet and savory classics—including the three mentioned above—but dozens of others rotate through. French toast cream, anyone?
Thank you, T Doug, for the pie that proves that some clichés get there by earning it. Tom’s Famous Triple Coconut Cream Pie really is a careful wonderment—from the coconut in its crust to the toasted coconut on top—and rich as the Presidential administration. And although rumor has it slices are always orderable in the Douglas restaurants, even when unbilled on the menu—you can get the Triple Coconut by the pie, slice, baby (6 inch), or $2.75 bite at Dahlia Bakery.
Down in Georgetown, on a quiet street off Sixth Ave, lies this cafe that, ever so briefly, transports you to a warmer and decidedly laid-back place. Hawaiian reggae music gently booms out of the speakers inside its recently expanded space, where a case full of cakes and pies of all sorts, both whole and by the slice, make you think dessert for lunch is gravely underrated. Nab something like a slice of their passion fruit cake or coconut cream pie, or go the full-on pastry route with custard-filled Long Johns, aka America’s eclairs, and a lineup of malasadas. Malasadas, a holeless, Portuguese-style yeasted doughnut, will come coated in sugar, dusted in cinnamon sugar, or filled with various custards. And one is rarely, if ever, enough.
This tucked-away gem in Madison Valley just serves up plain good soul food—the crowning glory of which is its individual pies, a crust lover’s dream for the resulting ratio of crust to filling. Pecan and sweet potato are the crowd favorites, and we like the latter, a lot, for its sweet, smooth filling (think Thanksgiving yam side-dish) and its crackle-flaky savory counterpoint of a crust. One craveable pie.
Pie plus booze, served up on the Olive Way walk from downtown to Capitol Hill—how was this going to do anything but succeed? It’s charmingly tiny (with a takeout window for minors and/or sidewalk snackers), aiming those charms at everyone from pedestrian commuters to after-last-call revelers (it’s open till 2am). You buy slices, like peanut butter chocolate or cherry crumble, which each have a suggested drink pairing.
Okay, so weird: One of the two identical twin sisters who opened the above Pie Bar splintered off to open this one in Ballard—which is about three times bigger and able to sell whole pies. They have the same name, use the same recipes—but run them as separate businesses. (FYI: the baker sister stayed at Capitol Hill.) Candidly, I don't discern any meaningful differences; neither makes the best pie in town but damn, they're good enough. (And when they serve ‘em with booze, nobody’s complaining.)
Around the corner from and sharing a kitchen with John Sundstrom’s magnificent Lark is its daytime takeout sibling, dedicated to the reinvention of sandwiches and pie. About a half dozen of the former are on hand any given day, including things like short rib meat pies and English muffin breakfast sandwiches and gluten-free flatbread. Pies are equally various and sure handed, with offerings like caramel apple pie between slabs of biscuity pie crust that exist at the corner of divine inspiration and butter.
Okay, Jack Timmons does a lot of things well—central Texas barbecue, most notably—but the best-kept secret at his SoDo ‘cue house is the pecan pie, served in $7 slices with or without salted caramel ice cream. Its ratio of sugars to corn syrup makes for a more liquid filling than standard, which gets studded with a mess of good pecans. Helpful tip: Start with this, have the brisket for dessert.
Deep loveliness defines this winner, from its aesthetic flair with the ribbon-tied to-go boxes to the consistent quality of the butter crusts, which we’ll go out on a limb to call the best piecrusts in town. The Phinney location is mostly for to-go orders; West Seattle has seats and ice cream and bona-fide food—including savory pies like a fine leek-gruyere tart, with a rustic crostata crust. Both have the mile-high Mexican chocolate mousse pie, which we’re pretty sure contains the secrets of the universe.
In a self-consciously new Rainier Beach strip mall dwells an eclectic, buttery array of baked goods, from cheddar basil muffins to sticky toffee pudding, canelés to tahini pistachio bars. In summer, berries fill lattice-crusted pies. In the fall, find spiced pumpkin. Service is patient as you ogle the myriad choices, and there are plenty of tables.