If you are spending Thanksgiving in the Bay Area, bring something wonderful to the table to share with family and friends. How about one or two of the very best, affordable pies for dessert to share with friends and family? Here are five suggestions on where you will find some scrumptious pies in the Bay Area made with plenty of tender, loving care that will get rave reviews.
Blissful Bites Bakery
Inner Richmond, San Francisco, is a land of reasonably priced discovery when it comes to old fashioned ma-and-pa shops found up, down, and around cozy Clement Street. Blissful Bites Bakery at 397 Arguello Blvd. (between Cornwall Street and Euclid Avenue) belongs on your sweet tooth remedy list if you don't already know pastry chef and owner Seungho Yoo. Supplementing his early home training in Korea with professional training in California and a passionate belief in butter, Yoo's rich offerings at Blissful Bites are both mouth-watering and beautifully presented. Yummy holiday pies on the menu, priced at $15.95 for take-out, include an old fashioned apple pie, a traditional pecan pie, a decadent chocolate cream pie, and the harder-to-find banana cream pie. Allow 48 hours for orders by phone or in person. Closed Sundays. Call 415-750-9460. There are parking meters in front or take MUNI 1, 2, or 38 lines with stops nearby.
Two choices in one location: Sweet Things at Cal-Mart
Fresh cherry-topped pie with a cheese filling and a black Oreo cookie crust, anyone? A salute to the South with a key lime pie, perhaps? Or my favorite, a traditional succulent pecan pie with light, flaky dough. Go for a dense not-too-sweet and not-too-tart apple pie that the whole family will enjoy. Established in 1977, Sweet Things has supplied many California restaurants and will deliver anywhere in the continental U.S. Email or call Sweet Things at 415-388-8583 to request the order form.
Residents of Marin and San Francisco are lucky, as there are two Sweet Things locations in the Bay Area. One is a stand-alone shop at the Cove Shopping Center in Tiburon, and in the other is in Laurel Village, San Francisco, tucked away inside Cal-Mart, the independent grocers. Look for the bakery counter to your left as you enter.
Or, save a few dollars by heading farther down the Cal-Mart grocery aisles. I also recommend the boxed pies that Cal-Mart offers near the check-out when the holidays come around, priced at $15 to $18. The pecan pie and apple pie I brought to Thanksgiving dinner in San Rafael last year were as good as it gets. Doing something right, Cal-Mart has been a Laurel Village mainstay since 1952. The location is 3585 California St. between Starbuck's and Noah's Bagels in Laurel Heights near Spruce Street.
Sweet Things closes at 7 p.m., an hour before Cal-Mart closes at 8 p.m., and on Sundays, the bakery closes 6 p.m. and the grocer closes at 6:30 p.m. There is convenient, free, two-hour parking at the rear with validation, and MUNI lines 1, 2, and 38 are all within two blocks. Call 415-751-3516.
Noe Valley Bakery
Well-known to the locals and with loyal customers since 1995, this small, independent bakery is a family business and a neighborhood favorite in the heart of Noe Valley at 4073 24th St. at Castro. Always busy for the holiday season, you can now order their holiday pies online with local pick-up. There is a parking lot adjacent to the bakery and plenty of street parking for early birds.
Six all-around favorites for pre-ordered pies are pecan, traditional or Dutch apple, berry or pear cranberry, and, of course, a seasonal pumpkin pie. All are priced at $21 for a 9-inch round. Advance warning: The Noe Valley Bakery Dutch apple pie is so popular that it is on sale only during limited hours for Thanksgiving! Check out the order details online before the Monday, November 21, deadline. You can also read more about NVB's terrific community outreach and charitable support.
If you or a member of your family or holiday guests follow a gluten-free diet, the holidays should not present special challenges when it comes to delicious baked goods that everyone can enjoy. Gluten-free is a way of life for increasing numbers of celiacs, wheat- and gluten-intolerant individuals. Lucky enough, there are advantages to being in the Bay Area, where some delicious options are available.
I was so pleased to stumble upon Mariposa's kiosk open seven days a week at One Ferry Building. Mariposa bakes in nearby Oakland by hand in small batches and aims to deliver wonderful baked goods that are indiscernible from the finest high-gluten products available. Buy in Oakland at the Ferry Building or at farmers markets on Saturday in Los Altos and on Sundays in San Rafael, Palo Alto, and Campbell.
When it comes to planning ahead for holiday pies, there is ordering via the website or by phone at 510-595-0955. A 6-inch gluten-free and dairy-free pecan pie is $11. Thanksgiving pre-orders must be placed prior to Monday, November 21, at 4 p.m. Choose from traditional favorites: apple pie, apple-cranberry, apple galette, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and New York cheesecake. True, cheesecake is not exactly a pie, but gluten-free folks have had to learn to be very, very flexible about their limited options, so it is included here and it is a treat that everyone will savor.
Butter Love Bakeshop
San Francisco-based but currently operating only online with deliveries, this bakeshop recently received a shout-out from the New York Times food critic, Mark Bittman, and was featured in SF Weekly. Owned and operated by an industry couple with a background in the restaurant world and now supplying several restaurants and cafes, Butter Love Bakeshop is still one of the Bay Area's best-kept little secrets. Be among the first to experience pie heaven from this newcomer. The secret is all in the buttery pie crust. Owners Josh and Esa are passionate about food, pastry, and, most of all, pies. There are fabulous homemade fruit pies and pecan, pumpkin, apple, and cranberry butter all priced at $24-$26 for Thanksgiving, as well as a chocolate cranberry pecan pie for Christmas. While there is a $5 delivery charge for San Francisco, there is a new-customer, one-free delivery policy (but do ask about policies over holiday dates). Esa uses real pans for her pie baking, so there is a $2 pan deposit or credit towards your next order.
As Yogi Berra is reported to have said, "Cut my pie into four pieces, I don't think I could eat eight." He may have been referring to pizza pie rather than pecan pie, but this quote works for me! Bring on a slice of my favorite Thanksgiving pie.