Austin is more than just the capital city of Texas; it’s a kind of standard bearer for the state’s various contributions to art, music, politics, technology and, of course, cuisine. On the one hand, Austin does represent a lot of stereotypes of Texan food culture, with plenty of barbecue joints and taco stands. Yet, there are foods that Austin has championed that might not seem immediately in line with the perceived wild west vibe of the state. Case in point: pie. Austin is home to a number of exciting and innovative pie shops, some of which are owned by or employ various Austin culinary graduates.
So whether you’re a resident or just visiting, here are the Austin pie places worth a visit – or maybe two:
1. Royers Pie Haven: Chef Tara Royer Steele dreamt of becoming a baker and owning her own shop starting when she was just eight-years-old. That dream finally came true back in September 2011, and since that time, Royers Pie Haven has become a staple of Austin’s growing baking scene. That’s thanks in part to Steele’s slightly whimsical approach to her pies. On the one hand, that means slight variations on traditional offerings, like vegan blueberry and cherry, or an apple pie loaded with six whole Granny Smith apples. The bakery’s signature pies are as sweet as they are delightful. There is the Junkberry Pie, which features apples, peaches, strawberries, raspberries and peaches topped with rich sour cream. Or, try the Texas Trash Pie, which features a medley of sweets like pretzels, caramel, fresh coconut, graham crackers and chocolate chips.
2. Pie Plante: As far as accessibility is concerned, Pie Plante isn’t like its competitors. For one, it’s only open a few hours per day, usually in the evening. It’s also located in a tiny trailer on Oltorf, meaning that most of the pies are to-go. Despite all those perceived limitations, Pie Plante is a favorite among locals for its amazing selection of pies. For those with a pronounced sweet tooth, there is chocolaty goodness in the form of the several mousse pies. The Plante also serves up seasonal pies almost all year round, like the oh-so fluffy pumpkin or strawberry apple, a rather tasty spin on a classic summer standby. Or, go for one of the Plante’s more traditional Southern offerings, namely the honey, lemon chess or bourbon sour cherry pies.
3. Tiny Pies: Mother and daughter duo Kit Seay and Amanda Bates have been making pies since Amanda was just a child. In recent years, though, they’ve been running Tiny Pies, taking classic recipes from Kit’s mother and giving them a unique spin by miniaturizing them. The resulting tiny pies – ergo the shop’s name – have kicked off a nationwide trend of adorable, personal-sized treats. Popular flavors include bourbon pecan, creme brulee, mocha chess, banana cream, pear ginger and chocolate peanut butter. Tiny Pies also offers a lineup of savory pies, like chicken and beef. Can’t make it into the actual store? You can order variety packs and other goodies – like pie pops and mason jar pies – online.
4. Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop: As far as pie shops are concerned, Sugar Mama’s has become something of a big business in Austin, with a rather impressive roster of 10 full-time employees. Yet despite impressive growth over the last decade or so, founders Olivia and Steve O’Neal still approach baking pies with a homegrown flair, which means no preservatives and no pre-made mixes. That kind of quality shows in Sugar Mama’s lineup of pies, which includes a triple berry pie – raspberries, blueberries and blackberries – the poteet strawberry and peach pie, and the lush chocolate cream pie. Or try some of Sugar Mama’s signature pie bars, like bourbon chocolate or key lime. Sugar Mama’s not only has great pie but a wide array of cupcakes, scones and cakes.