There’s no disputing that the best pies are always homemade pies. If we’re talking specifics, Melissa Zielinski’s caramel apple pie with buttery, homemade crust is the best pie. Even if the pie has weird lumps or is 99 percent sugar, something about the wholesome determination that goes into making a homemade pie makes it taste remarkably better than a store-bought option.
However, making a truly decent pie from scratch is a lot of work. And we are all well aware that buying a pre-made pie crust and dumping a can of pumpkin pie filling inside is the real reason for seasonal depression. Fortunately, Portland has a dangerously diverse amount of pie shops and bakeries serving delicious pies for reasonable prices to fit your pie needs. I’ve picked a few of my favorite unique local slices to help guide your tastebuds this holiday season.
Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet potato is arguably better-tasting than pumpkin. (There’s a reason pumpkin fries don’t exist.) That’s why Lauretta Jean’s sweet potato pie ($37) makes so much sense. The dense filling tastes a bit more savory than a classic pumpkin pie—a delicious contrast to the sweet marshmallow meringue topping toasted to perfection. It’s Thanksgiving pie 2.0, and I am here for it. (Lauretta Jean’s, 3402 SE Division; 600 SW Pine)
Caramelized Pear and Cranberry Pie
The true magic of the Pie Spot is that its wee little pie bites ($4.50 each) allow you to eat around three pies in one sitting (if you’re up for it). The Caramelized Pear and Cranberry Pie, which balances the tang of cranberries with hearty chunks of pear, is my holiday fruit-pie favorite. Plop a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of your tiny pie for extra joy. (Pie Spot, 521 NE 24th)
Kentucky Bourbon Salted Pecan
I’m not usually a pecan pie fan, mostly because they are often turbo-loaded with sugar and make my teeth hurt. However! Random Order’s Kentucky Bourbon Salted Pecan Pie ($33) breaks the mold. Maybe it’s the booze baked into its sweet filling, maybe it’s the thick, buttery crust that breaks off in perfect bite-sized chunks, maybe it’s the salty-sweet aftertaste. Something about this pecan dream has me coming back for seconds. (Random Order, 1800 NE Alberta)