Celebrate Pi Day By Eating A Few Of LA's Best Pies
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It's time for the flakiest, crustiest food holiday of the year: Pi Day. In 1988, physicist Larry Shaw decided to honor the endless mathematical constant. Since then, mathematicians have celebrated π, which rounds to 3.14, on March 14, a date that also happens to be Albert Einstein's birthday. For everyone who's not a mathematician, it's a(nother) excuse to eat pie.
If you head to Marie Callender's on Pi Day, you can get a free slice of pie by flashing your coupon. Want something that's more uniquely local? A myriad of Los Angeles pie purveyors are ready to sate your sweet tooth. We've divided them into four categories:
- The Standards
- Pie and a Meal
- Outside-the-Box Pies
- Just Desserts
As for savory pies, you'll have to wait for a separate roundup. Research, people. Research.
27th Street Bakery
This 63-year-old bakery, owned by the third generation of the same family, is best known for its sweet potato pies, which they make in a regular and a sugar free version. They also make a mean pecan pie. Can't decide? You're in luck. 27th Street Bakery makes a sweet potato pecan pie. You also won't go wrong with their pumpkin pie and their peach cobbler. Everything comes in both full-size and miniature pies.
2700 S. Central Ave., south of downtown L.A. 323-233-3469.
Last month, the West L.A. treasure, which opened in 1947, was quietly sold. Fortunately, the new owners -- entertainment mogul Irving Azoff and his wife, Shelli -- have vowed to keep the counter-service spot the same. That means Apple Pan regulars can rest assured that nothing about their beloved banana cream pie will change. Along with the apple, pecan and other cream pies, it'll hopefully stay on the menu for another 70 years.
10801 Pico Blvd., West LA. 310-475-3585
Every morning, after Cole's bakes its bread, roasts bones for its au jus and pickles its veggies, their cooks roll out the pie crusts and fill them with the necessary ingredients to make banana cream, chocolate cream and seasonal fruit pie. Our favorite is the stunning bourbon pecan pie.
118 E. 6th St., downtown L.A. 213-622-4090.
Four 'n 20
The restaurant opened in 1969 as a pie shop, which is probably why it has nearly 30 pies on the menu every day. The seasonal strawberry and peach pies are winners but the big show is their banana fudge pie. Four 'n 20 has a homey, communal feel thanks to small touches like daily newspapers and a basket of paperback books.
4723 Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood. 818-761-5128.
5530 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks. 818-988-1152.
The first Du-par's was founded in 1938 at the Los Angeles Farmers Market. There's now a second location in Pasadena. At both, they serve reliable diner eats and a variety of pies including their two signatures, green apple and southern pecan. Be sure to ask your server about the pie of the month.
6333 W. 3rd St., Beverly Grove. 323-933-8446.
214 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena. 626-405-8820.
House of Pies
2019 marks half a century of success for House of Pies, which continues to produce fresh pies, seven days a week, in the heart of Hipsterville. Fruit pies, cream pies, specialty pies -- they do it all. And not a single slice costs more than $5.
1869 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz. 323-666-9961.
The Original Pantry Cafe
One of the last bastions of 24-hour dining in Los Angeles, the Pantry, is so old school it only takes cash. It's also the kind of joint where the servers have worked there for decades. If you're there before or after any major sporting event in downtown, or on a busy weekend, it's worth the wait in line for their amazing apple pie à la mode.
877 S. Figueroa St., downtown L.A. 213-972-9279.
Philippe The Original
After you've scarfed down Philippe's famous French dip, treat yourself to one of the fruit or cream pies. They have apple, peach, coconut cream, lemon meringue and others, and they're all made by Martino's Bakery in Burbank and delivered daily. The heaping portions are perfect to share.
1001 N. Alameda, downtown L.A. 213-628-3781.
PIE AND A MEAL
Baby Blues BBQ
Baby Blues BBQ is the brainchild of two Southerners who moved west and found themselves missing barbecue. After some smoked chicken, beef links, baby back ribs and pulled pork, the hardest decision you'll have make is whether to order a slice of the buttermilk pie or the key lime.
444 Lincoln Blvd., Venice. 310-396-7675.
1901 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. 213-529-4062.
Open since 1949, the Brite Spot recently got a new owner who spiffed up its midcentury interior. Choosing between the whiskey buttermilk, bourbon pecan and chocolate peanut butter cream pies is hard. Throw in the salted honey pie with a brown custard core that oozes like honey onto the plate and it's damn near impossible.
1918 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. 213-674-7780.
Cassell's makes a great burger and its old school vibe is so charming, you might get hypnotized by the shiny, spinning pie case. It often contains banana, apple, chessman and even vegan peanut butter pie. Maybe they're worth $9.50 for a slice à la mode.
3600 W. 6th St., Koreatown. 213-387-5502.
This Googie diner has been operating since 1948 but underwent a revamp -- of both its interior and its menu -- in 2016. Before you get to dessert, start with the creamy shrimp and grits, the smoked brisket ruben or the burger topped with smoky cheddar and housemade candied jalapeno. Now, you're ready for one of pastry chef Gian Trinidad's pies. Cindy's offers approximately nine pies each day. The southern lemon custard pie comes on a Saltine crust, a throwback to post-WWII rationing, and the derby pie might be the best chocolate bourbon pecan concoction you ever try.
1500 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock. 323-257-7375.
Gjusta, the cafe and bakery spinoff of nearby Gjelina, sources almost all of its produce from SoCal farmers, making this the place to order a slice of fruit pie. Some of their best flavors include strawberry rhubarb, apple, blueberry chess and banana cream. Located at the end of a row of industrial buildings in a residential neighborhood, you enter enter through an unmarked screen door. Inside the sprawling, warehouse-like space, you'll find soups, salads, sandwiches, smoothies, freshly baked breads and pastries. It's part bakery, part deli, part adventure.
320 Sunset Ave., Venice. 310-314-0320.
Gus's Fried Chicken
Gus's Fried Chicken is famous, and rightly so, for its namesake dish but be sure to save room for a slice of chess pie, a midwest and southern staple that's hard to find in SoCal. Made with the most basic ingredients -- butter, sugar, flour, vanilla and eggs -- it tastes like a million bucks. Other pie options include pecan, chocolate, sweet potato and coconut.
1262 Crenshaw Blvd., Crenshaw. 323-402-0232.
509 S. Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank. 747-231-3990.
Boasting they'll "put a little south in your mouth," this roadhouse-esque diner offers several classic pies. We recommend the fried apple pie. Johnny Rebs puts its spin on the classic pie by transforming it into a personal-size calzone. The self-contained creation features apples in a deep-fried biscuit crust that's smothered in vanilla ice cream then dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
6929, 4663 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach. 562-423-7327.
3704, 2940 E. Chapman Ave., Orange. 714-633-3369.
16639 Bellflower Blvd., Bellflower. 562-866-6455.
Jones is best known as a WeHo nightspot with classic cocktails, dim lighting and a throwback vibe but don't ignore its "Apple Pie for Two." For $10, you get a sizzling platter with a large slice of pie drizzled with brown sugar sauce and topped with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream. There five other dessert items on the menu; they don't matter.
7205 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. 323-850-1726.
Odys + Penelope
There's only one piece of pie on the dessert menu but it's so special it deserves a shout out. This is no ordinary chocolate pie. Odys + Penelope adds rye and a bit of caramel to the pie's fudgy filling then tops it with a cocoa crumble and serves it with a scoop of fresh-mint ice cream. It doesn't hurt that it pairs well with their craft cocktails. That may be be cause regular rye itself, is a grain often used for beer, some whiskeys and some vodkas.
127 S. La Brea Ave., Beverly Grove. 323-939-1033.
Pie n' Burger
What its name promises, its menu delivers. This small joint with an old school counter has been around since 1963, serving the basics. Those include Dutch apple, rhubarb, butterscotch meringue and, for part of the summer, olallieberry, along with many other pies. Pro Tip: An adult can order any kid's meal at Pie n' Burger for a $1.50 upcharge. Smaller main courses mean more room for dessert!
913 E. California Blvd., Pasadena. 626-795-1123.
The name Polly was chosen, in part, because the front doors of their first restaurant had handles shaped like the letter "P." Also, the newborn daughter of the restaurant's first manager was named Polly. Thus, in 1968, the first Polly's opened, paving the way for the family-owned business to expand. The banberry pie, a combo of banana and strawberry, is a customer favorite. So is the tangy rhubarb. Ready for the plot twist? It's only $1.99 to turn any pie to a "pie shake," which is exactly what it sounds like -- a milkshake with a piece of pie blended in.
Polly's has 15 locations in Southern California.
Salads, sandwiches, soups and sides (we're looking at you, mac and cheese) lay the foundation for dessert and when it comes to their pies, you have a lot to choose from. Simplethings makes 10 varieties, offering six each day. You'll find a key to each day's offerings on the menu. Choose from a whole pie, a regular slice or one of their "cutie pies," small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and only $2.75.
8310 W. 3rd St., Beverly Grove. 323-592-3390.
10874 Kinross Ave., Westwood. 310-824-2000.
4013 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank. 818-562-9619.
Sweet Lady Jane
Jane Lockhart began her business by baking desserts at home and selling them to local restaurants. Her reputation grew and she opened her first bakery in 1988. With three locales in SoCal and national recognition, Sweet Lady Jane is now a full cafe with apple, blueberry, cherry or mixed berry pies available on their dessert menu. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can also enjoy breakfast pastries, soups, salads and sandwiches.
8360 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. 323-653-7145.
16403 Ventura Blvd., Suite C, Encino. 818-783-8188.
1631 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. 310-254-9499.
Launched more than 25 years ago as an organic, heirloom coffee company, Urth Caffe appeals to... well, earthy types. The health-conscious chain prides itself on sourcing local, sustainable and, whenever possible, organic ingredients. That's also true for its pies, which come in flavors like pecan, pumpkin, apple and banana cream.
Urth has eight locations in L.A. and Orange counties.
Atticus Creamery & Pies
Atticus is known for two things. They make pies in unusual flavors like lemon lavender, strawberry pistachio and Nutella Reese's peanut butter chocolate. They also make cheesecake pies -- a flaky pie crust with cheesecake on the bottom, pie filling in the middle and fluffy whipped cream on top. All of the pies ar smallish, four inches, so you don't have to limit yourself to one. A four-pack costs $20.95.
10893 Pico Blvd., West L.A. 310-474-7464.
With flavors like triple berry cabernet, maple espresso bourbon sweet potato and espresso butterscotch pecan, this little Eagle Rock shop has won many awards. Knowrealitypie is normally closed on Thursdays but on March 14, they'll open from noon to 6 p.m. to serve "pie ravioli," a pie crust dumpling with pie filling. You can get them in a variety of flavors for $3.14 per pair, while supplies last. They'll also have their personal pies and pies by the slice, and all customers can enter a drawing for a free whole pie.
5106 Townsend Ave., Eagle Rock. 916-799-5772.
The Pie Bar
Typically, you can pop in to the Pie Bar to grab a cutie pie jar (Mexican chocolate, anyone?), order a whole pie, like cherry amaretto, or stick around to enjoy a flight of pie shots, but things are going to get crazy for Pi Day. The first 50 guests who say "pie is the answer" will receive a complementary key lime pie shot with a souvenir shot glass. To sweeten the deal, key lime slices and sangria will be available all day for $3.14 each. On the patio, you can watch 10 contestants partake in a pie-eating contest. Winner gets free pie for a year.
450 Pine Ave., Long Beach. 562-444-8743.
The Pie Hole
"Pie hole" isn't just slang for your mouth, this local chain actually serves pie holes. Think donut holes but, ya know, pie. You can get them in a myriad of flavors including raspberry cream cheese and strawberry lavender. The unique menu doesn't end there. The Pie Hole is also home to the famous "cereal killer" pie made with Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes or Lucky Charms.
The Pie Hole has eight locations in Southern California.
Republic of Pie
In this quirky spot you'll find a pie menu that pairs well with teas, coffees and sandwiches. Among the traditional choices at Republic of Pie are less common variations like Earl Grey cream, espresso chocolate cream and marionberry.
11118 W. Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. 818-308-7990.
Cake Monkey's pies are no joke. Many consider them among the best in the city, in part because of the crisp buttery crust on their brown butter pecan and chocolate cake pudding pies or the double cheddar crust on their cider roasted apple and blueberry lemon frangipane pies. Consider getting a "pop pie," the bakery's fancified take on the Pop-Tart.
7807 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove. 323-932-1142.
2805 Agoura Rd., Westlake Village. 805-230-2552.
Cobblers Cakes and Kream
Their chief baker, Pam the Cobbler Lady, makes a mouthwatering array of desserts, including three kinds of pie: pecan, key lime and sweet potato, which you can get with a side of Fosselman's ice cream.
2323 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood. 323-455-1224.
Hotcakes Bakes is known for its cupcakes, with more than 20 kinds on the menu. Don't overlook their pies, especially the decadent banana cream. Other traditional choices include apple, cherry, blueberry, pecan and pumpkin. Want to combine your love of cupcakes and pie? Try one of their key lime bites -- cupcake on the bottom, key lime custard on top. You can get a dozen for $24.
4119 S. Centinela Ave., Culver City. 310-397-2324.
New York-based Magnolia Bakery, famous for its cupcakes and banana pudding, opened its Los Angeles location in 2011. Their blueberry, apple, peach and pecan pies have delicious buttery crusts.
8389 W. 3rd St., Beverly Grove. 323-951-0636.
Since opening her Los Angeles outpost of Milk Bar in the fall of 2018, Christina Tosi has been wowing fans with her crack pie, a variation on a chess pie. The story goes that she was trying to make a chess pie and messed it up but liked it so much, she kept making it that way. On March 14, you'll be able to get a crack pie a la mode, a slice of crack pie next to a serving of cereal milk soft serve, on top of a mound of cornflake crunch. The bakery is also known for its whimsical desserts, like its chocolate malt cake, its confetti cake and its cake truffles.
7150 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. 347-577-9504.
Southern Girl Desserts
As the name implies, the sweet potato and pecan pies from Southern Girl Desserts aim to transport you to the South. If you stop in on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you can also get a slice of lemon icebox pie. Additional flavors pop up spontaneously. Go at the right time and you might spot Magic Johnson, Denzel Washington or Misty Copeland, who are all fans of these Southern dessert divas.
3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 100, Crenshaw. 323-293-2253.
Winston makes five to ten pies each day in flavors like cranberry chess, dixie cherry and blue ridge blueberry. You can get them in multiple sizes or as a single slice. For Pi Day, Winston has teamed up with local olive oil brand Brightland to create a golden state olive oil and winter citrus pie. It'll be available at both locations through the end of this month. On March 14 only, their PieBites will be 3.14" and cost $3.14 each.
8366 W. Third St., Beverly Grove. 323-925-4743.
11678 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood. 310-207-5743.
Correction: A previous version of this story described the Pantry as no cash instead of cash-only. LAist regrets the error.