Best pies in Austin
When a bakeshop wins “Weird” Al’s affection on Cupcake Wars, focusing its business solely on cupcakes would be understandable. But South 1st mainstay Sugar Mama’s also serves a world-beating chocolate bourbon pecan pie that often sells out in advance, along with several other traditional favorites like triple berry. This year’s newest offerings also include a lemon curd buttermilk pie. Fun facts: Earlier this year, rapper Flo Rida was spotted filming a promo for single “Cake” at Sugar Mama’s with the bakers, and in 2014, the shop was commissioned to create Kanye West’s “Yeezus” birthday cake.
Tiny Pies has made big waves despite their compact size. The hand-held pies are perfect for single-serving indulgence and come in a dozen different flavors; easy choices are the sweet potato pecan (with marshmallow meringue) and the mocha chess (topped with espresso whipped cream.) Half-dozen samplers are available for take-out, as are larger nine-inch pies. In addition to the standards, more out-there choices like pear cranberry and pumpkin chai are here for the nonconformist. Savory choices like spinach empanadas and pot pies are also sold.
Farmer’s market favorite Cake & Spoon takes great care to get the details right. Their dessert pies mix high-butterfat Plugra butter with egg yolks and cream for a truly rich pastry crust. The popular apple pie uses butter-sautéed and caramelized Jazz, Granny Smith and McIntosh apples for a sweet and tart balance of bright fruit flavor. Other favorites include the browned butter pecan and a coconut cream pie utilizing coconut milk. Check their website for the week’s featured flavors, and note that Cake & Spoon baked goods are also available at Franklin Barbecue and Legend Coffee on East 11th Street.
Lucy’s already has quite a bit going for it: multiple locations, dependable fried chicken, a playground for kids (South Lamar location) and a solid beer list. Yet there’s also an array of traditional pies on the menu, ranging from the buttery southern lemon sweet tea chess pie to the pure youthful indulgence of a s’mores pie with housemade marshmallow and a graham cracker crust. There’s also lime pie for a tart finish, and even a moon pie with brown sugar cookies in a hard chocolate shell. Fried chicken and pie? Start that diet next week.
This quaint and tiny adjunct of Eastside Cafe is a great stop for pie, but be prompt: the Manor Road shop is only open during lunch hours. As the name implies, most diners grab a slice here after sampling Elaine’s pulled pork dishes, but pie is equally important to this shop’s reputation. Five varieties are in regular rotation, ranging from a spicy ancho chili fudge to classics like key lime and bourbon buttermilk. Take-away pies are available, and a small selection of soup and salad rounds out the cafe’s lunch menu.
Many UT students know Quack’s as a classic university coffeehouse, but the bakery’s mixture of coffee, baked goods and deli items (from Fricano’s) make it a daily stop for many in Hyde Park. Quack’s signature pie is a key lime tart made with a graham meal crust. Other popular pies include the apple cinnamon and a sweet potato chiffon with toasted marshmallow. The bakery’s “no additives, no corn syrup” mantra shines through in the quality of the food, and a coffee program featuring Wild Gift espresso is top notch. The bakery also recently debuted housemade ice cream.
Austin’s longtime ice cream queen expanded to baked goods with the help of partner Erin Stanley, serving a broad mix of cookies, cakes, pies and macarons. Pies here evoke some of Amy’s Ice Creams' signature flavors: the bestselling Mexican vanilla s’mores pie blends a chocolate ganache center with a Mexican vanilla meringue topping. Another favorite is the salted caramel pecan, a mostly traditional pie that adds a salted caramel drizzle. Baked By Amy’s sells whole pies only, and while a few are usually in the bakery case, ordering in advance is recommended.
Sure, Micklethwait is a Texas Monthly Top 10 barbecue spot, but the pie is a secret star of the menu. The tiny trailer imports their desserts from I Knead That, a local baking company helmed by Lenoir and Vespaio veteran Jasmine Jones. (Worth noting: Jones also makes the kolaches at Batch.) The peanut butter chess pie is the menu fixture, with occasional specials like pecan and pumpkin popping up seasonally. If braving the Micklethwait line isn’t an option, I Knead That also accepts holiday preorders for $25/pie.
McGuire Moorman’s luxe barbecue palace is always bustling with happy hour revelry and upscale tourists, but it’s worth braving the crowds for one of the most clever pies in the city. The blueberry fried pie tops a hand pie with candied lemon wheels, thyme and a scoop of sweet cream ice cream for a balanced plate of fruit, cream and pastry. Those opting for a traditional pie can also usually find a coconut cream version with chocolate shavings. Make reservations during dinnertime hours, and stick around for live music upstairs afterwards.
Bartlett’s has been a business lunch and date night favorite for years, largely because they’ve chosen to focus on scratch cooking and a streamlined menu of classics. This approach extends to dessert, where you’ll find one pie only: a classic key lime. Surviving trend after trend, the pie remains a bestseller after years on the menu, and makes for a perfect finish after a lunch of the restaurant’s top-flight burgers. A pot de creme and a seasonal cobbler are also available for those who aren’t fans of key lime.
This East Austin newcomer’s entire menu of Hill Country fare has drawn numerous accolades, and the restaurant’s lemon ice box pie is one reason why. The kitchen describes it as a riff on the key lime recipe, with ingredients including lemon juice, sugar, graham crackers, egg yolks and cream. The zesty pie is accompanied by a bright kiwi and fig leaf salad. Note the restaurant’s unconventional opening structure: they serve breakfast, dinner and weekend brunch, but are closed during the weekday lunch hour.
Nearly three decades in, Burnet Road’s Upper Crust remains a neighborhood favorite. The popular choice here is the coconut cream, which is brushed with Callebaut chocolate and topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut. The Dutch apple runs a close second: the pie uses Granny Smith apples and has accents of nutmeg and a crumb topping. Guatemalan and French coffee blends from Anderson's Coffee Co. and an assortment of soups, salads and sandwiches complement the baked goods here.
Mueller’s new hotspot for fried chicken is serious about their pie program—a bright graphic above the order line implores guests to leave room for some. There are milkshakes here, too, but pie is the move: Youngblood’s Jeff Haber cites the key lime and pecan pies as the current bestsellers, but also flags the new sweet potato pie as his personal favorite. All pies are available to go—they also ship them nationwide in shiny decorative tins. Youngblood’s pie even has a charitable component this fall: $3 from every whole pecan pie goes to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
The perennially packed Oak Hill favorite has a menu focused on Texan and Southern classics, so it’s no surprise to find pie as an anchor of the dessert menu. Pastry chef Dee Dee Sanchez serves a brownie blondie pie here, a mix of white chocolate chunks and walnuts with accents of brown sugar and vanilla. The flaky pie is delivered warm and a la mode with a scoop of Amy’s Mexican Vanilla and both caramel and chocolate drizzles. Expect waits during peak hours.