Ahhh, pie. Sweet slices of heaven. By combining filling and fine crust, and maybe a bonus crumble or lattice topper, pies offer up flavor, flake, and layers of depth. One bite might be all luscious filling, the next mostly buttery crust. Or combine the two for a texture party, a marriage of sweet and slightly salty. In short, a good slice is piefection — and should never just be reserved for holidays. Here’s some of our favorite in Phoenix.
Pecan pie on crack.
Salted Bourbon Caramel Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie
929 East Pierce Street
We’d stuff our pie hole with anything from Welcome Diner — bomb-ass burgers, crazy-good fried chicken biscuit sandwiches, unforgettable jackfruit fries — so we’re going to tell you to save room for dessert. But one look at this glorious pie and your taste buds will tell you what to do: Order it! And while your mouth is Mmmming over the crunchy-meets-gooey insides, your brain will be wondering why flaky sea salt and jumbo chocolate chips aren’t always invited to the pecan party. Consider this a standing invitation.
So much apple, so much butter in the crust.
Apple Crumb Pie
3630 East Indian School Road
Apple crumb … more like apple yum. This pie is better than your mom’s pie, or even Grandma’s (yes, we went there). Owner Traci Wilbur, who sold pies out of her house for eight years before opening this Arcadia storefront, has earned her Pie Snob moniker. When you make pie this good, with cinnamon’d-to-perfection chunky apple slices and a buttery crust so flaky Grandma would be jealous (sorry again, Grandma), you can brag all you want. Wilbur also serves up key lime, chocolate cream, blueberry, cherry, and caramel apple.
Key lime, where have you been all my life?
Key Lime Pie
The Bakery PHX
1528 Bethany Home Road
If key lime pie — that not-so-subtle combination of subtly tart citrus, decadently buttery graham cracker crust, and clouds of fluffy whipped cream — has a special place in your heart (and mouth), then The Bakery PHX is for you. Here, instead of just a slice, you get the whole kit and caboodle: a five-inch circle of fluffy delight that zings your taste buds with each bite. Owner Lisa Levinson puts that same love and magic in her from-scratch cookies, cupcakes, croissants, and carrot cake. In other words, bring your sweet tooth.
She came in like a wrecking ball …
Sugar Jam Bake Shop & Bistro
7950 East Redfield Road, #100, Scottsdale
There’s something decadent about having a personal mini pie, an all-for-you circle of yumminess topped with an expertly woven golden brown crust singing with crystals of sugar and splatters of cherry. Forget moving it to a plate. Just dig right in, through the flaky butter crust and into the eye of the storm, a syrupy wonderland of anti-gravity cherries suspended in a lava-like syrup. Cold butter is a yes and imitation flavors are a no for owner and head baker Dana Dumas. Get to Sugar Jam Bake Shop & Bistro early or cherry might be long gone.
Chocolate and meringue madness.
Kiss the Cook
4915 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale
Steep golden peaks dance over the dense chocolate base of this chocolate meringue delectation, a rich filling that might be too sweet on its own, but with the airy meringue is a match made in pie heaven. The crust is more chalky that flaky, but the texture works and keeps the whole gravity-defying slice from toppling over. A Glendale breakfast and lunch fixture since 1982, Kiss the Cook closely guards this pie recipe (Hagadorn will divulge only that she uses butter in the crust), but some mysteries are better eaten than solved.
Naughty never tasted so good.
MacAlpine’s Diner and Soda Fountain
2303 North Seventh Street
There’s plenty of nostalgia at MacAlpine’s, from the old-school counter to the wait staff, who’re clad in pink diner shirts and bright lipstick. While the stacked sundaes and ice cream floats might hog the spotlight, the pie is where it’s at. Take the Naughty Pecan and its tappable layer of dense caramel atop plump whole pecans, which gives way to a gooey caramel finish, all held together by a combo Crisco-butter crust. Warm it up for maximum ooze. Not that there’s a wrong pie move at this throwback diner in the Coronado district. The stacked apple more than stands up and the berry is practically bursting.
The mother of all slices.
My Mother’s Restaurant
4130 North 19th Avenue
This is a smothered-in-gravy kind of place, with paper place mats, gargantuan portions, servers who have worked here for decades, and decor so wrong it almost looks right (see: the indoor pergola accented with plastic vines). Take a seat in a vinyl booth of My Mother’s Restaurant, open since 1977, order up a slice of pie — strawberry, banana cream, cherry, peach, you can’t go wrong — and out will come not a sliver but a wedge. A quarter of a pie, to be precise. Size matters, but so does taste … and filling-to-crust ratio … and flavors that speak for themselves … and home-baked goodness. Well, yes, yes, yes, and oh, yes.
A slice of Fig & Pecan Pie from Beckett’s Table.
Fig & Pecan Pie
3717 East Indian School Road
Plain old pecan pie and ice cream has some stiff competition in this elevated pie that invites some unlikely, and much needed, players to the party. In the pie portion at Beckett’s Table, figs add structure and sweetness to the pecans for a slice that somehow bakes up with a densely nutty top and liquefied bottom glistening in sugary delight. The ice cream, made of cream cheese and citrus, adds a zingy punch to a personality you thought you knew, but is actually infinitely better than you previously thought. And don’t think the crust is some ordinary character — ground pecans and extra butter take this to the next level.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on July 12, 2018. It was updated on January 23, 2020.