Everyone’s talking pie. Southern California food writers call it “the new cupcake,” now that so many bakeries are offering minipies, turnovers, even pie-on-a-stick. But here in Orange County, we’ve always loved our pie—and not just for the holidays. With summer comes tender pastry filled with thick peach slices, pyramids of ripe strawberries, bananas and cream, or luscious chocolate custard. It’s comfort food for sharing over conversation and coffee. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Bonert’s Slice of Pie
This “outlet store,” a tiny shop tucked into a sea of warehouses, isn’t exactly homey, but the pies inside sure are: Classic buttery crusts envelop traditional fillings, such as blackberries, above, apples, and coconut cream. And the prices are so low—$3 to $4 for 8- and 9-inch pies—you can afford all the flavors you want. 2727 S. Susan St., Santa Ana, 714-540-3535, bonertspies.com
2. The Filling Station
This time of year, everyone’s touting fresh fruit pies. But if you’re hankering for fall flavors, head here and order a slice of pumpkin, or try the caramel apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. ($4.25 per slice; $18 for an apple pie, $20 for pumpkin). The flaky crust and hearty fillings, a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy, will tide you over till November. 201 N. Glassell St., Orange, 714-289-9714, fillingstationcafe.com
Sure, it’s hard to skip the fresh churros when it’s time for dessert at this Mexican restaurant, but order the Mayan tart ($9) instead: dark chocolate truffles, spread into a sweet, crumbly graham cracker shell, and topped with dots of dense dark chocolate, strawberry-passion fruit sauce, candied orange peel, and crème fraîche ice cream. The slice may be small, but it’s rich enough for two to share. 141 S. Glassell St., Orange, 714-633-3038, gabbimex.com
4. Knott’s Berry Farm Bakery
Before there were thrill rides on this spot, there was a 1920s farm stand selling homemade preserves and pies. You can get a taste of those old-fashioned double-crust apple pies, and pumpkin when it’s in season. But don’t miss the boysenberry, a house specialty with a thick double crust and abundant tart-sweet berry filling ($4 per slice, $11 for a whole pie). Knott’s California Marketplace, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, 714-220-5094, knotts.com
5. Red Table
This neighborhood restaurant is known for its novel takes on comfort food, and the “broken” banana cream pie ($5) is no exception. It’s not a traditional slice of pie, but rather a dish of thick, rich custard and caramelized bananas topped with pieces of crust and caramel sauce. Split it with one—or two—of your dining companions. 16821 Algonquin St., Huntington Beach, 714-846-4700, redtablerestaurants.com
6. True Food Kitchen
The banana-chocolate tart ($7) on the dessert menu may be the healthiest pie in O.C., but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. Thin-sliced bananas, arranged in a swirl atop a chewy cookielike crust, are perfectly caramelized and just sweet enough to balance the thin layer of rich dark chocolate between the crust and bananas. A dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of chopped Brazil nuts add equal measures of sweetness and crunch. Fashion Island, 451 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949-644-2400, truefoodkitchen.com
7. Zov’s Café and Bakery
The tiny pies and tarts in the bakery case here aren’t as showy as the mini chocolate cakes, but don’t overlook them—they’re just as delicious. If you see the Key lime pie ($7) topped with perfectly toasted meringue, or the almond plum tart layered with fresh, tangy fruit and slivered nuts ($7.50), snap them up. 17440 E. 17th St., Tustin, 714-838-8855, zovs.com
photography by Priscilla Iezzi
This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Orange Coast magazine.