Forget the turkey and stuffing. No matter how you slice it, pie is arguably the best part of any Thanksgiving dinner. Just in time for the holidays, we’ve done the homework for you and sampled some of LA’s very best-hitting up classic diners, artisanal bakeries, and even social media purveyors who, thanks to COVID-19, have recently turned to Instagram to sling their slices of heaven. From seasonal favorites to meringue-crowned custards and fruit-laden crusts, we’ve sourced 20 crave-worthy pies to suit every palate (even if your taste leans more savory than sweet), but it’s on you to decide whether you’re picking one up to share on Turkey Day or keeping it all to yourself. Either way, be sure to place your order soon before they’re all gone for the holidays!
Echo Park The dish: Fruit pie The epic pies at Chainsaw are masterminded by Karla Subero Pittol, the former pastry chef at Here’s Looking at You-where we heard some diners visited solely for her bar pies, never once ordering anything else from the restaurant’s menu. With no startup cash, Pittol and her partner Max Sheffler (whose resume includes Providence) turned their garage into a full-fledged bar/restaurant concept last year-and Chainsaw’s baked goods have since achieved near-mythical fame. Her fruit pie changes based on what’s in season, but you can always count on it being loaded with sun-sweet farmers market produce that she’s harnessed to reach its full flavor potential. One week it’s plum, brown sugar, date, and strawberry; the next it’s apple date in a double crust gilded with crunchy, coarse sugar. Premium ingredients are key to Pittol’s perfect pies. Her dough, which won Best Crust at KCRW’s annual Pie Contest, is made with top-grade butter-like Kerrygold (which she says yields the crispiest texture), Clover, or Strauss. And she scours only the best for her fillings too-such as succulent DaVall dates to counter the fruit’s mid-high acidity, guaranteeing each pie has the ideal ratio of sweet versus tart. True to Pittol’s M.O., her homemade whipped cream is far from an afterthought; served on the side, this delightful dollop melds heavy cream, Strauss yogurt, brown sugar, and Salvadoran crema for a little tang and a lot of body. How to order: Order online for pickup.
Pasadena The dish: Vegan sweet potato COVID-19 forced Guyanese chef Yonette Alleyne to pivot her catering business to home deliveries, but the pandemic hasn’t slowed the demand for her soul-warming fare: chicken curries, oxtail stews, and irresistibly tender, buttery, flaky patties-a true display of her prowess with pastry dough. Thankfully, you can now sink your teeth into the autumnal pies she’s whipping up for the holidays, including a lush sweet potato offering. Cradled in an exquisitely laminated crust with a slightly chewy bite, this caramel-inflected pie is dessert’s answer to comfort food-and its rich, custardy consistency belies its vegan status. Alleyne, who’s been vegetarian for twelve years and vegan for the last two, has refined her recipe with a few key ingredients: coconut sugar, vegan buttery shortening, oat milk, and aquafaba (the starchy liquid leftover from cooked chickpeas that helps bring the filling together). Roasted sweet potatoes are smashed to a pulp until nearly silky-smooth (Alleyne leaves in microscopic chunks for a pleasing hint of texture), then spiked with cinnamon, nutmeg, and just a touch of lemon zest. With an understated sweetness, this hearty pie is something you’ll feel comfortable bringing to any Turkey Day gathering-even if you’re just showing it off over Zoom. How to order: Message @caribbeangourmet via Instagram to place an order for pickup or delivery.
Brentwood & West Hollywood The dish: Chocolate cowgirl pie Lawyer-turned-piemaker Brianna Abrams grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where all the women in her family-including her great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and sister-baked together for every occasion. When she moved to Los Angeles and took in the abundance of fresh fruit at local farmers markets, Abrams was inspired enough to ditch the courthouse and start churning out her now-famous crusts. Her chocolate cowgirl pie is a gloriously rich, dense, fudgy interpretation of North Carolina’s well-known Tar Heel pie (a traditional chocolate chess pie) that trades in commonly used pecans for a salty oat crust (hello, texture) and adds handmade salted caramel to the mix. Even better, true to her commitment to source local ingredients, Abrams uses chocolate from California-based chocolatier Dick Taylor, who makes small-batch, bean-to-bar cocoa that lends serious depth to this culinary masterpiece. How to order: Order online or in-person for takeout; delivery via Postmates, UberEats, Grubhub, or DoorDash.
DTLA The dish: Caramel kabocha pie Helmed by Nicole Rucker, a former pastry chef at the Gjelina Group, Fat + Flour doesn’t have an overwhelming menu. Instead, Rucker executes a handful of flavors exceptionally well from her tiny pie shop tucked inside Grand Central Market. Her iteration on pumpkin pie ditches the usual gourd for organic kabocha squash (often called Japanese pumpkin stateside), which possesses a sweeter flavor and fluffier texture. Roasted and blended with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, each batch of filling contains a huge pot of house-made dark caramel-resulting in a simple yet sensational pie with stunningly complex notes. Add all that to a butter-laced crust and you’ve got yourself a keeper. How to order: Pickup via Tock.
Los Feliz The dish: Strawberry cream pie Housed in a distinctive-looking, cottage-style building, this family-owned and operated Los Feliz icon has been turning out pies and brewing coffees since 1969. In California, it’s the sole survivor of the original wide-ranging House of Pies franchise (created by IHOP founder Al Lapin Jr. and all but wiped out by the ‘80s). Their recipe for success hasn’t changed much: stellar customer service and a reasonably priced menu chock-full of diner-style offerings like burgers, pancakes, and sammies. But the fresh-baked pies are by far the main attraction. Their seasonal strawberry cream is a sumptuous medley of vanilla custard and whipped cream balanced by a generous serving of juicy, glazed strawberries. And where other strawberry cream pies run the risk of being gloopy and overly saccharine, this heavenly version tastes (and looks) like a lightly sweetened cloud that’s easily polished off within days. How to order: In-person takeout or delivery via Postmates or Grubhub.
Inglewood The dish: Pumpkin praline cheesecake Beloved Inglewood landmark Harriet’s Cheesecakes launched with a core menu of 12 handcrafted flavors, but after indulging requests from family, friends, and customers, the menu has expanded to over 64 options. While it’s tough to choose between white chocolate raspberry, mocha mousse, and lemon lime, nothing else will do but Harriet’s pumpkin praline for Thanksgiving. Like most great things, this delightful cheesecake was born out of necessity during this very holiday-created for her daughter Dawn using pumpkins (Dawn’s preferred gourd) instead of sweet potatoes and utilizing praline for sweetness (thanks to the dearth of maple syrup in the pantry). Harriet’s improvisation, made the same way today, has since become a menu stalwart-with each caramel-draped, praline-oozing slice boasting a consistency both velvety and lightweight on a soft, sugary crust. Although Harriet’s been churning out cheesecakes for almost 40 years, her ingredients and techniques remain a closely guarded secret. In fact, only three members of her team have access to the recipes for every element; the rest, which largely consists of family members, are only privy to the base, batter, or toppings. How to order: Call 310-419-2259 to order with 24-hour advance notice (three to four week notice encouraged during the holidays).
Eagle Rock The dish: Hot buttered rum pie You can’t go wrong with any of Know Reality’s concoctions-after all, this tiny Eagle Rock storefront, which once operated a pie truck, has won scads of ribbons from the KCRW Pie Contest. Here, you’ll find the city’s most inventive flavors, from winter berry cabernet to espresso bourbon butterscotch pecan (both of which are KCRW award-winners). But their hot buttered rum-which we imagine tastes like Harry Potter’s butterbeer in pie form-is our victor. Developed with a top-secret butter rum syrup that’s steeped with nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon spices (and obviously, a fair amount of rum), it’s smothered in rum and vanilla bean-infused whipped cream, sprinkles, and chocolate curls. Each decadent bite tastes exactly like a holiday pie should: cozy, comforting, and just a little bit boozy. How to order: Order online for pickup.
Echo Park & Westlake The dish: Winter luxury pumpkin pie You could dig into a regular ol’ pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner this year. Or you could feast on Valerie Gordon’s-which is made using Winter Luxury pumpkins, a special variety that, when roasted, boasts a deep underbelly of caramel flavor. Valerie, a chocolatier who’s developed artisanal truffles and other confectionery treats at her namesake shop since 2004, then roasts and purees the gourds before adding her proprietary blend of winter spices. Poured into a pâte brisée crust-the French-style version of a classic, all-butter pastry crust-the nuanced pumpkin filling is garnished with pillowy whipped cream and freshly ground nutmeg for a highly sophisticated take on a timeless Thanksgiving treat. How to order: Order online for pickup or call 213-739-8149 to inquire about delivery.
East LA The dish: Turkey dinner pot pie It’s only a matter of time before Laura Hoang’s tempting treats-passion fruit chiffon cake and glossy donuts flecked with gold leaf and flower petals-pop up in your Instagram feed. Like a handful of other skilled culinary artists with social media savvy, Hoang (the former pastry chef at Buddy’s in DTLA) started selling her creations via Instagram after the pandemic hit. For the holidays, she’s slinging her own take on turkey pâté chaud, based off of her mom’s eggroll recipe and the savory Vietnamese puff pastry called bánh patê sô. Warm, nutty Red Fife flour lays the groundwork of Hoang’s crust, which is a 30% whole-wheat brisee, hand-laminated to live somewhere between pie dough and puff pastry. Inside this sturdy structure baked to golden perfection, you’ll find ground turkey, carrots, celery, onions, shallots, and silken potatoes mashed with butter-along with Asian pantry staples, like white pepper, oyster, and mushroom soy sauce, that add extra depth to the filling. Served with a side of strawberry-cranberry sauce and gravy, it’s the very essence of Thanksgiving dinner distilled into one single dish-available in three sizes ranging from a hand pie to an eight-inch round. How to order: Submit an order form.
Downtown The dish: Buko pie Considered the specialty of a town in the Philippines called Los Baños, where tourists often leave with a pie in hand, the best buko pie in these parts is thankfully available much closer to home. At Grand Central Market’s Sari Sari, James Beard-nominated Chef Margarita Manzke has created her own beloved take, skipping the traditional top crust for a crispy streusel that lends tastebud-titillating texture to this traditional Filipino dessert. Beneath the rich crumble, you’ll find chunks of tender, young coconut (buko in Tagalog) layered in smooth pastry cream and coconut jam for a pie that hits just the right note of sweetness. How to order: Email an order form to [email protected] with 24-hour advance notice.
North Hollywood The dish: Lemon meringue This cozy, homey, rustic coffee shop in the NoHo Arts District is the sort of place where you dream about writing an award-winning script or the next Great American Novel-fueled by a cup of good coffee and a slice of heaven. All of their butter-crust pies are made by hand in small batches to ensure quality, so you can’t go wrong with any flavor. But there’s nothing like their old-fashioned lemon meringue-with its cool, custardy filling and sweet-and-tangy balance-to inspire your creativity (and satisfy your cravings). Its bright citrus zing lends optimal acidity to an ultra-smooth, creamy curd that you’ll find yourself spooning into your mouth until the plate’s left with only crumbs. How to order: Order online for pickup.
West LA The dish: Pecan pie The Apple Pan turns out pies as classic, familiar, and unpretentious as the legendary Los Angeles institution itself. While there’s nothing quite like digging into a slice at their crowded U-shaped counter on Pico, their pies taste just as good at home. And while “apple” is part of their namesake, we go for the rich, gooey, baked-fresh-daily pecan here-which is made using an original family recipe that Ellen Baker (who founded the diner along with her husband Allan in 1947) brought with her from Nebraska. Her recipe dates back to 1909, but over a century later, the kitchen’s still making the pecan pie in the exact same way, placing every single nut by hand to create a delicate pattern on top. How to order: Order online for pickup.
Glendale The dish: Double chocolate custard pie After working as Sqirl’s pastry chef for almost three years, Sasha Piligian did a six-month restaurant stint in Nashville before returning to LA and deciding she no longer wanted to work in restaurants. Instead, she sought out to sell her own confections through pop-ups. COVID-19 shifted her original approach, but Piligian’s now hawking her baked goods via Instagram-from heart-stoppingly beautiful cakes laden with fruit curd to pastry boxes filled with yuzu donuts and spiced streusels. For Thanksgiving, she’s teaming up with Red Bread’s Rose Wilde (an acclaimed pastry chef in her own right who consults for Rossoblu and, like Piligian, works with whole grains and less-celebrated ingredients) on four new pies. Our pick? An intensely chocolatey creation that ensures there won’t be any next-day leftovers-and calls for a salty shortbread crust that’s baked, crumbled, pressed, and baked again. After pouring chocolate custard-based off of Wilde’s fan-favorite chess pie with a gooey, rich center-into the crust, the pie is baked for a third time. It’s finally piped with chicory meringue swirls-a rich, nutty alternative to the more traditional coffee flavor that cuts through the sweetness. As a bonus, snagging a Piligian-and-Wilde collab means you’re embracing the holiday’s giving spirit: a portion of proceeds will benefit Farm2People, which supports local food growers and empowers underserved communities. How to order: Order online for pickup.
Santa Monica The dish: Spiced butternut squash meringue pie Santa Monica stalwart Milo + Olive is hosting its first Thanksgiving Bake Sale on Nov 25-where you can pick up everything you need for the holiday in one go, from apple cider salted caramel layer cakes to brioche pull-apart rolls. Our pick: the butternut squash meringue pie, a twist on a classic that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. It stars a flaky crust made from local Sonora wheat flour by the Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project and tons of Clover organic butter, as well as hearty Tutti Frutti butternut squash-oven-roasted to optimize the gourd’s rich flavor, puréed to a silky-smooth paste, and sweetened with house-made caramel sauce. Although the filling is infused with deep, caramelized flavor and all the quintessential pumpkin pie spices, it’s not tooth-numbingly sweet, so a cap of torched meringue (slathered on top at an almost 1:1 ratio) is the perfect, show-stopping accompaniment. How to order: First-come, first-serve at the bake sale.
Various locations The dish: Shepherd’s pie For a warm, meaty, comfort-food classic that’s exactly what 2020 calls for, look no further than shepherd’s pie-which The Pie Hole has fine-tuned to perfection. This gourmet pie shop, which makes both sweet and savory to equal acclaim, started off in Los Angeles and has since grown to six locations in Southern California and two in Tokyo. Instead of using the traditional lamb that’s so popular in Australia and England, their shepherd’s pie calls for well-seasoned ground beef to suit American palates. Every element is made by hand from scratch, right down to the peaks of cheesy mashed potatoes on top. But what really sets their shepherd’s pie apart is an excellent crust that’s flush with butter-thick enough to keep in that hearty filling of beef, mushrooms, and peas, yet delicate enough to yield to a crispy, break-apart crunch the minute you take your first bite. How to order: Pickup or delivery via ChowNow.
Beverly Grove The dish: Green apple pie Since first opening in 1938, Du-par’s at The Original Farmers Market has enjoyed a well-earned reputation for the city’s best pies. But there’s something about their crowd-pleasing, classic apple pie, which sports an impressive towering canopy, that evokes warm, fuzzy childhood memories of mom baking in the kitchen (even if your mom never baked in the kitchen). Like the rest of their baked goods, it’s made from scratch using premium ingredients-starting with sweet-yet-tart Granny Smith apples. The fruit is hand-peeled and piled high into crispy, buttery dough, covered in a sky-high dome, topped off with brown sugar and cinnamon, and baked until the apple slices are perfectly al dente. Pro tip: Serve each mouthwatering slice warm with vanilla ice cream. How to order: Pickup or delivery via ChowNow.
Various locations The dish: Pumpkin ice cream pie Santa Barbara-based scoop shop McConnell’s is shilling a limited special that’s the best of both worlds (ice cream and pie, obviously): their signature pumpkin ice cream loaded into a scrumptious brown butter crust, drizzled with salted caramel sauce, and studded with sweet pecan pralines. The star of this 11-inch pie is the creamery’s seasonal flavor-a puree of roasted pumpkin accented with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice, then stirred into California Central Coast grass-fed milk and cream. With deep molasses undertones and a velvety mouthfeel, this cold, creamy pie is just the antidote you need after a heavy turkey dinner. How to order: Order online for pickup.
Santa Monica and Mid-Wilshire The dish: Key lime pie This burger joint only slings a few, curated items, but it does every single thing on its menu well-including a magnificent key lime pie (the vote’s split between that and their equally good banana cream). A secret family recipe of Lysa Heslov, a filmmaker and philanthropist who’s a longtime friend of HiHo co-founder Jerry Greenberg, it’s made from scratch using old-fashioned techniques. The beauty of this slice lies in its utter simplicity. No elaborate toppings, no novel gimmicks-just satiny-smooth whipped cream and slightly tart pudding plunked into a salty-sweet-crumbly graham crust. Plus, its zesty sweetness is airy and light enough to make it the perfect footnote to HiHo’s wagyu beef burg. How to order: Submit a request form for a whole pie with 24-hour advance notice (for more than one pie, order three days ahead).
Beverly Grove The dish: Banana cream pie There are a slew of things that just don’t make sense in 2020, but Magnolia’s brilliant idea to turn its famous banana pudding into a banana cream pie is certainly not one of them. While their creamy, golden pudding is interlaced with vanilla wafers throughout, their nine-inch pie is made using a crust of those same wafers-crushed and pressed into a cookie shell that’s loaded up with bananas, vanilla pudding, and a crowning layer of fluffy whipped cream. Cool, sweet, lightweight, and luscious, each mouthful has a bit of ripe banana to add just the right amount of chew. How to order: Order online for pickup.
Santa Monica The dish: Rose petal pie Let everyone else bring the creamy custards, the sticky-sweet fruit pies, the whipped meringues. You’re not like everyone else, which is why you’re bringing Birdie G’s whole rose petal pie-a gorgeous creation inspired by retro stained-glass pies and cakes. The brainchild of Chef Jeremy Fox and his friend and ex-wife Deanie Hickox, who consulted on the restaurant’s opening dessert menu, this bouncy, pink-hued beauty consists of raspberry-rose mousse studded with rose petal, strawberry, and hibiscus jellies on a pretzel crust. A slice of this featherweight pie offers up an Instagram-worthy photo and a potpourri of understated flavor notes (floral, fruity, and salty). How to order: Call 310-310-3616 to place an order for pickup with 48-hour advance notice. Order by Friday, November 20, for pickup on Sunday, November 22-they’re closed November 23-26.Sign up here for our daily LA email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Los Angeles has to offer.
Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint café with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.
Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.
Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.
Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and café, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.
Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.
Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the café’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.
Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.
Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.
Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.
Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.