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8 awesome pies for your holiday meal

The holidays deliver a multitude of good cheer: festive decorations, convivial parties, gifts, and that most important of seasonal delights—pies. 

Nothing deserves celebration more than the variety of pies crafted by talented bakers and pastry chefs across Texas. If you’re not making your own for your holiday celebration, here’s a guide to where to buy—and feast on—the most delicious pies in the Lone Star State.

1. Emporium Pies

Two locations: 314 N. Bishop Avenue and 2708 Main Street, Dallas; and 107 S. Tennessee Street, McKinney; emporiumpies.com.

Emporium pies

Photo courtesy Emporium Pies

Emporium Pies is the North Texas destination best known for exceptional pies. The original artisan shop, located in a charming 1920s bungalow in Dallas’ popular Oak Cliff neighborhood, the Bishop Arts District, was so successful that two other locations were opened. Its signature desserts are smooth Operator, a French silk chocolate with a pretzel crust, and Lord of the Pies, a deep-dish apple with cinnamon crumble on top. For the holidays (through November), however, you can’t go wrong with Drop Dead Gourdgeous, a gingerbread crust filled with spicy pumpkin custard.

2. Sweet Lucy’s Pies

4801 Edwards Ranch Road, Fort Worth. 817-727-6009; sweetlucyspies.com.

Eggnog cream pie |  Photo by Lindsey Lawing

Eggnog cream pie | Photo by Lindsey Lawing

On the western side of Fort Worth’s Metroplex, Sweet Lucy’s Pies reigns as the pie lovers’ top pick. This boutique pie business operates every Saturday at the Clearfork Farmers Market and by special order. It’s the brainchild of baker Lindsey Lawing, who uses only locally sourced ingredients to create year-round faves like chocolate chess, salted honey, and TX Whiskey chocolate pecan. During the holidays, she spoils us with hot chocolate cherry, salted butterscotch, and eggnog cream pie.

3. The Hay Merchant

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston. 713-528-9805; haymerchant.com.

Vinegar pie | Courtesy The Hay Merchant

Vinegar pie | Courtesy The Hay Merchant

The Bayou City knows how to make merry with some of the best pies in Texas. Head to the Montrose area in the heart of Houston, just a stone’s throw from the Museum District, to the The Hay Merchant gastropub. Much of its reputation rides on craft beer, but the food deserves equal attention. The vinegar pie—an old-fashioned early-American delicacy starring a sweet and tart custard—is the winner. Chef Victoria Dearmond serves it topped with transparent panes of salt brittle.

4. Revival Market

550 Heights Boulevard, Houston. 713-880-8463; agricolehospitality.com/revival-market.

Pecan pie at Revival Market | Photo by Julia Gabriel

Pecan pie at Revival Market | Photo by Julia Gabriel

Just north of Houston’s downtown, the architecturally rich neighborhood known as The Heights is home to Revival Market, the coffee stop, market, butcher shop, and café where chef de cuisine Steve Lamborn is beloved for his pecan, apple, and pumpkin pies.

5. Royers Round Top Café

105 Main Street, Round Top. 979-249-3611; royersroundtopcafe.com.

Not My Mom's Apple Pie | courtesy Royers Round Top Café

Not My Mom's Apple Pie | Courtesy Royers Round Top Café

Halfway between Austin and Houston, the charming hamlet of Round Top (population less than 100) attracts hundreds of thousands to its seasonal antiques fairs. All year long, however, locals and visitors seek out hearty meals and heavenly pies at Royers Round Top Cafe, founded by Bud Royer and owned by his son. It’s not unusual to find folks waiting for an hour or two to claim one of the 40 seats inside. They know their patience is amply rewarded by a slice of the chocolate chip pecan pie, sweet ’n’ salty (fudge, caramel, and sea salt) pie, or lemon-blueberry pie. For the holidays, try Not My Mom’s Apple Pie, made with Granny Smith apples and brown sugar, and topped with pecan strudel; or Texas Trash Pie, filled with chocolate chips, pretzels, coconut, caramel, and graham crackers.

6. Cookhouse

720 E. Mistletoe Avenue, San Antonio. 210-320-8211; 
cookhouserestaurant.com.

Candied yam pecan pie | Courtesy Cookhouse

Candied yam pecan pie | Courtesy Cookhouse

In the Alamo City, holiday celebrations traditionally lean Latin, where luminarias light the way. But a distinct taste of the South is generously served at Cookhouse, where owner-chef Pieter Sypesteyn shares the blend of French, Spanish, Italian, Caribbean, Creole, and Cajun influences of New Orleans. Just off St. Mary’s Strip close to downtown, it’s the best place between here and the Atchafalaya River for the most sinful combination of two favorite holiday pies: The candied yam pecan pie is scratch-made with Steen’s Cane Syrup, candied yams, and Texas pecans. No holiday treat tastes better.

7. Slowpoke Farm Market

709 Conrad Hilton Boulevard, Cisco. 254-735-7090; slowpokemarket.com.

Sea salt caramel pie | Courtesy Slowpoke Farm Market

Sea salt caramel pie | Courtesy Slowpoke Farm Market

Between raising pigs, chickens, and cattle, and growing vegetables for the meats, eggs, and produce sold at their market, it’s a wonder that Kerry and Joy Hedges have time for anything else. Yet they serve lunch on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays inside Slowpoke Farm Market, their shop on the main drag of Cisco, a bustling little Eastland County town. But the former Houstonians do it with aplomb. Getting up hours before dawn daily, Kerry bakes a selection of beautiful pies, with sea salt, chocolate, pecan, coconut cream, and buttermilk, among other ingredients. For this holiday, and destined to be a hit, is his chocolate/peanut butter/cream pie, with a cookie-crumble crust and layers of smooth, rich fillings.

8. The Gap Café

2709 Farm Road 89, Buffalo Gap. 325-572-3334; thegapcafetx.com.

Apple-cranberry pie | Bart Herje/Salty Roan Productions

Apple-cranberry pie | Bart Herje/Salty Roan Productions

Less than an hour west of Cisco, the Gap Café in Buffalo Gap serves a smorgasbord of pies daily from its sister business, Salty Roan Bakehouse. Among pastry chef Chelsie Herje’s specialties are buttermilk pie and blueberry-cherry pie. But a holiday table is best set with two special apple renditions, the caramel-apple pie with crumble topping and the apple-cranberry pie with a lattice crust. Santa would surely like a piece of both.

AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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