Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
No matter how hard you try, Thanksgiving is not going to be a healthy meal (if you prepare it so it's enjoyable anyway). If you want to mash your potatoes with fake butter, serve your skinless turkey breast without gravy and have a tiny sliver of non-whipped-cream topped pie, that's your prerogative.
The other option is to just go for it: butter in the mashers, gravy on the turkey and a super insane piece of pie on Thanksgiving. And then wake up on Friday and go to the gym. I vote plan B. here are some suggestions on where to find that insane pie.
Fat Elvis Pie at Hoosier Mama Pie Company - Chicago, Illinois
This little bakery is the place to find the Fat Elvis pie, a stellar combination of chocolate, peanut butter and banana in a mash-up crust of graham cracker/peanut/pretzel. Another Hoosier Mama specialty is persimmon pie (they say it’s a southern Indiana favorite), and orange cream pie (orange cream in a pecan graham cracker crust, topped with whipped cream). What’s also terrific about Hoosier Mama is its support for out-of-town pie makers. Here’s why they won’t ship their pies:
“It would be very difficult to ensure that our customers received a great pie in the mail. If it were possible, it would likely be very expensive. Rather than spending $50 or more getting one of our pies shipped to you, we suggest you might be able to find a great local baker, professional or not, that can make you a great pie. Perhaps it’s a friend’s aunt, a neighbor or the lady whose pies win every year at the county fair. Instead of giving money to a shipping company use it to become the patron of a local pie maker!”
Grateful Gobbler Pie at Fork & Pie Bar - Chattanooga, Tennessee
Fork & Pie sells a few things besides deep-dish pie, though not many. Of course, they have sweet options like banana pies—their take on the classic pudding generously layered with banana slices. But they have even more savory pies, from traditional chicken potpie to less traditional Pulled Pork B-B-Q Pie (pulled pork topped with house brown sugar barbecue sauce in a sweet cornbread crust).
And then there’s the outright unconventional Grateful Gobbler, a combination of oven-roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce and turkey gravy in individual pie tins. No, this doesn’t classify as a holiday dessert but here’s something great about the Grateful Gobbler: Fork & Pie is donating the proceeds for each one sold through Thanksgiving to the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition.
Pineapple & Coconut Cream Fried Pie at the Original Fried Pie Shop - Davis, Oklahoma, plus multiple locations in several states
Nancy Fulton is the Fried Pie Lady; her business is a tribute to her grandmother, who made hand pies for ranchers in Oklahoma’s Arbuckle Mountains in the late 1800s. There are plenty of savory pies here, too, but the focus is on fruit pies, including blackberry, pineapple, peach and apricot, which can be mixed and matched with cream choices (chocolate, coconut, lemon or vanilla) to create something that feels downright tropical. like chunks of pineapple in sweet coconut cream.
Bud’s Chocolate Chip OMG! Pie at Royers Pie Haven - Round Top, Texas
Located in the “golden triangle” between Austin, Houston and Dallas, Round Top is a town best known for its antiques shopping (it’s home to new HGTV stars Junk Gypsies; also to one of Texas’s largest antiques fairs). Royers offers several OMG pies, notably Not My Mom’s Apple Pie OMGX6. They also feature Bud’s Chocolate Chip, which they describe as “Like a big Chocolate Chip Cookie with tiny bits of pecans—only better!”
Royers has strong feelings about topping your pie with Amy’s ice cream: Specifically, they charge 50 cents extra if customers don’t have the ice cream with their slice. “It is so wrong to not top your pie with Amy’s Ice Cream!!” they explain.
Caramel Pumpkin Pecan Pie at the Choc’late Mousse Pie Bar - Lubbock, Texas
Is there a more ambitious pie destination in the country? Owner Carson McCabe’s repertoire includes almost 30 pie fillings, based on recipes from his grandmother. For the holidays, Pie Bar offers choices like Eggnog and White Choc’late Cherry Cordial—white chocolate mousse with crushed up chocolate-covered cherry cordials.
The current favorite is Caramel Pumpkin Pecan, made with pumpkin pie filling, caramel pecan sauce, whipped cream and your choice of crust (Nilla Wafer & pecan is one option, pretzel is another and thin mint is yet another, although that might not be the move with pumpkin pie). Choc’late Mousse Pie Bar also offers several ways to enjoy your pie, including Piefaits—two layers of crust and two layers of pie filling layered in a glass, topped with homemade whipped cream.
Cider-Roasted Brown-Butter Apple Pie in a Double Cheddar Crust at Cake Monkey Bakery - Los Angeles, California
Despite its name, Cake Monkey has a stellar reputation for pies in Los Angeles (it recently won Critic’s Choice for pie from the L.A. Times’ S. Irene Virbila). They like to take classics and trick them out in super-delicious, smart ways. For instance, the Cider Roasted Apple Pie boasts Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples, roasted in Vermont cider jelly and brown butter with vanilla bean, then baked in a double cheddar crust. The Honey Braised Pumpkin Tart is an heirloom pumpkin custard in a house-made graham cracker crust, topped with toasted marshmallow.
If you’re hitting Umami Burger for the holidays, you can also find Cake Monkey pies there. The original bakery ships overnight nationwide, plus delivers in the local L.A. area.
More from Food & Wine:
America’s Best Pie Spots
America’s Best New Cupcakes
America’s Best Doughnuts
Holiday Pies and Tarts
Ultimate Thanksgiving Recipes
All our best Thanksgiving advice and recipes
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Never liked Pumpkin Pie.
DING! Fries are done!
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