Philly’s Best Pies
I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. But if I did, I would only go for the selfish ones. Travel more, see more, take more time to relax–that kind of thing. And also, the gluttonous ones. Eat more tacos. Drink more fine whiskey. Spend more time at the bar and less time at the desk. I once drove all the way across the country looking for a great fish taco and, at the time, this seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I regularly crossed state lines for the world’s best green chile cheesesburger when I lived in Colorado (because said cheeseburger is found at the Owl Bar in San Antonio, New Mexico). And maybe this year I’ll get back to doing more of that, too. Maybe 2017 is going to be the year of ridiculous things.
But in the meantime, I’m just going to try to eat more pie. Why? Because pie is awesome. Because pie > cake in every respect. And because I’m not generally a dessert kind of guy (especially when eating out for work), and I feel like that is just stupid because when you have an expense account like I do, that essentially means that someone else is buying the pie for you–and anyone who turns down free pie is just a damn fool.
So I’m going to eat more pie. Sweet and savory both. And here are some of the places I intend to do it.
Want a pie with some history? Bredenbeck’s has been churning out homemade desserts and pastries at its Chestnut Hill location since 1889. That’s over a century of pastry-making skills, all concentrated in one place. And while Bredenbeck’s is well known for its artisan ice creams, wedding cakes and holiday cookies, it’s also a place that churns out an ever-changing menu of tarts (which, let’s be honest, are just tiny pies). Right now, they’ve got a full-size pear frangipane tart with almond paste, sliced pears and powdered sugar that I want to eat for breakfast, and a whole spread of mini-tarts (like strawberry almond with almond cream, lemon curd with Italian meringue and miniature Key lime pies) that are calling to me.
8126 Germantown Avenue
Magpie Artisan Pie Boutique
Yes, Magpie is a place best known its sweet pies, pie-studded milkshakes and genius “pie fries,” but do you know what else Holly Riccardi does? Excellent savory pies in interesting variations that are ideal lunches or dinners when the weather turns gray. The gouda mac and cheese pot pie comes with parmesan breadcrumbs and sundried tomatoes. The beef stew pot pie has a gruyere crostini for soaking up the gravy. And the plain old chicken pot pie is elevated Thanksgiving-style with stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Magpie Artisan Pie Boutique
1622 South Street
Jones specializes in comfort food–meatloaf, mashed potatoes, chicken and waffles, that kind of thing. So obviously, you’re going to come here if you’re looking for a classic, like their double-crust apple pie a la mode. Also, there’s a coconut cream pie that’s supposed to be pretty good, if you’re into that kind of thing.
700 Chestnut Street
Chicken pot pies from a French rotisserie joint? Awesome. Ones that are topped with delicious, flaky biscuit dough? Even better. They also do shepherd’s pie and some pretty excellent (and pie-adjacent) desserts, like fruit turnovers dusted with powdered sugar.
248 South 11th Street
Yes, the lines are long. Yes, most of those people are there for the amazing donuts. But you know what else Beiler’s does? Pies. Really good, really fresh pies that maybe aren’t as creative as a donut topped with Fruity Pebbles, but are absolutely just as good.
Beiler’s Amish Bakery
Reading Terminal Market
There is no better winter day to have in Philly than one that involves dropping by Sam Jacobson’s East Passyunk British pie shop, sitting by the steamy windows while you relax over a cup of tea, waiting for your order to be prepared, and then walking back out again into the weather with a paper sack full of Cornish pasties, his delicious (and traditionally British) steak-and-kidney pie or meat pie and mash, a banoffee tart for later and a hot sausage roll to sustain you during the long walk back to wherever you came from.
1838 East Passyunk Avenue
Flying Monkey Bakery
Elizabeth Halen opened up Flying Monkey Bakery in Reading Terminal Market and made a name for herself with her mini-pies. But guess what? She does big pies, too. Apple crumb and pecan are currently on the menu, but if you call ahead, she and her team will also make any of the mini-pies (including, but not limited to, banana cream, lemon-coconut and Key lime) in large format. Bonus: Flying Monkey also does a spread of whoopie pies, which are a kind of pie, so they count, too.
Flying Monkey Bakery
51 N. 12th Street, Reading Terminal Market
One of the big problems with pie consumption? Pie-eating contests aside, you kind of have to do it sitting down and with utensils in hand. But not here. Pie Stand is all about hand pies–pan-fried and done in both sweet and savory versions. Last time we saw them, they were staking out their traditional turf in Fishtown, but you can keep track of both their location and their ever-changing menu by following them on twitter @PieStand314. on twitter to find out if they’re at their typical location in Fishtown, or if they’ve moved for the night.