Notice there is no category called “Dessert.” No category for cake, cookies, ice cream, or candy. Texans are very serious about one confection, and that’s pie. Give us a good pecan, peach, chocolate meringue, coconut cream, or buttermilk pie, and we’re a happy bunch.
If there’s a great apricot fried pie in the mix, even better. Great pie, the kind made by hand well before dawn, is the stuff on which family traditions are built. Bakeries on town squares that make some 400 pies to order and have them ready to pick up the day before Thanksgiving—those are the places we patronize, no matter the season. We never tire of talking about pie, either: Readers’ Facebook discussions on this topic generated nearly 600 shares and 600 comments on the Texas Highways page. Three of your favorites reside in Central Texas, while one hails from closer to North Texas and one awaits you in East Texas.
Blue Bonnet Cafe, Marble Falls
Few are the souls who can resist a stop for a piece of pie after spying the neon Blue Bonnet Cafe sign on US 281. One of the state’s most enduring destination cafés, the Blue Bonnet has been building its steadfast following since 1929. Baked fresh each day, the pie selection includes apple, cherry, pecan, fudge, peanut butter, coconut cream and meringue, chocolate cream and meringue, German chocolate, banana cream, and lemon cream and meringue. There’s even a no-sugar-added apple variety. What’s not to love about a place that hosts pie happy hour on weekday afternoons? Reader Lynda Mills of Pasadena says, “Meringue pie! Chocolate, lemon, coconut. My mouth is happy when I have that sweetness. Reminds me of family times when my loved ones would get together.” Cody Pierce of Waxahachie adds, “The coconut cream pies are absolutely unimaginably delicious! People wait in line just to buy a slice.”
Pie, it seems, might be the key to world peace, as the sign hanging inside this favorite claims, “Pie Fixes Everything.” Plentiful are those patrons known to show up at breakfast time to get a piece of coconut or caramel pie—notable for the golden “sky-high meringue”—still warm from the oven. Meringue-topped choices range from coconut, chocolate, and peanut butter to lemon and caramel. Creamy varieties include Black Forest and banana-blueberry. Pure Texan choices include pecan and the “doctor’s office” (layered vanilla custard and sweet cream cheese on a graham-cracker crust
and topped with toasted coconut and pecans).
The Coffee Shop Cafe, McGregor
Savvy travelers along Interstate 35 near Waco know to hop off the freeway and make a beeline westward a few minutes in order to enjoy some of the most popular pies around. Café co-owner Valerie Duty Citrano uses her grandmother’s recipes to make more than a dozen varieties, including black bottom mocha, coconut macaroon, hot fudge, chocolate pecan, tart cherry, strawberry-rhubarb, and—during the holidays—pumpkin pecan praline.
Texan Cafe & Pie Shop, Hutto
Open since 1996, the café with the supersized Hereford head over the door (his name’s Ferdinand) occupies a limestone building in Hutto’s vintage downtown. Pie choices tend toward specialty varieties, including chocolate-covered cherry, chocolate toffee, lemon drop, peppermint patty, chocolate silk, Oreo cookie, millionaire, brownie-cream cheese, and turtle. Facebook poster Heather Griffis says the Texan Cafe is “the only place that makes awesome peanut butter pie.”
Oxbow Bakery & Antiques, Palestine
Perhaps you arrived to shop? Good luck. You may not get past the counter topped with a selection of fresh-baked pies. Visitors from as far away as New Zealand and Denmark find sweet joy in the chocolate meringue, coconut meringue, buttermilk pecan, lemon icebox, and pecan praline pies, among others. “We couldn’t decide which flavor we wanted, so we got one of each. They were all good, in case you were wondering,” says Facebook poster Holli Conley.