Photo by Robin Rosenberg

ANYTIME IS A GOOD TIME to eat pie, but there are those who need an excuse. To that end, through a loop of logic that could only be dreamed up by a mind tormented by both mathematics and hunger, Pi Day was born. While March 14 (3/14) is more closely linked to celebrating the mathematical constant of pi—3.141593, that wily, irrational, transcendental number—it doesn't take a genius to extend the concept to culinary pie. After all, pies are most often circular, and pi is integral to calculating the circumference and area of a circle.

Okay, the reasoning is tenuous. That shouldn't stop you from taking an hour on March 14 to meditate on the nature of pi, while enjoying a slice of pie. Here are a few Portland pie places to get your pie on.

Sweet:

Random Order Coffeehouse

1800 NE Alberta

331-1420

There's no better place for tippling pie lovers to cure their dual cravings for booze and meringue. The cream of Portland's pie crop, Random Order has a startling array of pies available at any given moment... and a full bar.

Pie fillings change seasonally, so you're sure to find something new. One constant, however, is their butter crust—robust enough to hold its form when sliced into a big wedge, but flaky against the fork tines.

Currently, the lemon pie is a great bet. Packed with amazingly bright Meyer lemon curd, it's a pucker-inducing cure for the blues.

Bipartisan Cafe

7901 SE Stark

253-1051

The Bipartisan Café may not have booze, but it's a pie wonderland nonetheless. The huge selection of pies is what makes this Montavilla hangout so popular for politicos of all stripes. After all, is there any debate that can't be solved over a slice of luscious peach pie?

Expect crusts that are thin and flaky, with focus on the filling rather than structural integrity. That's a good thing considering that the Bipartisan fruit pie fillings are so well balanced—just enough sweetness and acidity without being too thick or cloying.

Half & Half

923 SW Oak

222-4495

What Half & Half lacks in daily pie selection, they more than make up for in creativity. These are gorgeous homemade pies that are nearly too pretty to eat. Still, you'll certainly want to tuck into what's inside the lovely crust.

On a recent visit, the shoofly pie offered incredible dark notes of molasses and brown sugar—a sweet and smoky revelation from the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Combined with the whimsical atmosphere, the creative sandwiches, and coffee from Courier Coffee, Half & Half's pies make this café a perfect downtown hideaway.

Savory:

Immortal Pie and Larder

8029 SE Stark

971-255-1491

Immortal Pie and Larder may be brand new, but the initial selection of savory pies is certainly good enough to prompt devotion. These single serving, take-and-heat pies are simply stuffed and certainly enough to sate your hunger.

Inaugural options include a chili-filled pie with a slice of cheddar tucked under the buttery top crust. Better still is a delicious fennel sausage and apple pie with big chunks of salty sausage set beside slightly sweet cubes of tart apple. The crust is made even better by sopping up the juices.

Pacific Pie Company

609 SE Ankeny, Ste. C

381-6157

Aussie-style savory pies are what it's all about at Pacific Pie Company. The selection changes weekly and you may find anything from lamb, to beef and mushroom, to spicy lentil and coconut lovingly baked inside these pretty, personal-sized pies.

I'm a fan of the signature beef and stout pie. It's absolutely rib sticking with big chunks of braised beef swimming in a tangy sauce. Potatoes and carrots add texture without being mushy.

Also on the menu are traditional sausage rolls and pasties. Dine in at their small, well-lit shop, or take a frozen pie to go from the freezer.

Whiffies

SE 12th and Hawthorne

946-6544

To know a Whiffies pie is to love a Whiffies pie. The sweet selections are great, but I crave the savory here. A recent favorite is the pot roast pie, but I will never forget the salmon pie and its hint of dill. While the selection is always changing, you can be sure that the fevered minds behind Whiffies are constantly looking for the perfect filling for their hand-held fried pastry packages.