In the past few years, good old-fashioned American pie has taken a leap from country windowsills to big-city storefronts. Meet the newest members of urban baking's upper crust.
Sisters Melissa and Emily Elsen got their start in the family restaurant back in Hecla, S.D., and this year, they opened their own place, Four & Twenty Blackbirds, in the emerging Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus. From the café's pressed-tin walls and communal tables to the fresh berries sourced from a friend's backyard, the transplants have managed to cultivate a true sense of small-town charm, smack in the middle of New York City. 439 3rd Ave., birdsblack.com, slices from $4.50.
It's not that Gregg Abbott broke the pie mold with his handheld Whiffies Fried Pies—it's that he never used one to begin with. Since 2009, he's been experimenting with form and filling at his trailer in the city's Cartopia street-food center—to sublime effect. Take his Mounds of Deliciousness pie: The highly indulgent chocolate-and- coconut empanada can explain his thousands-strong Twitter following in one bite. SE 12th Ave. and SE Hawthorne Blvd., whiffies.com, from $3.
With its signature triple-X crust detail and late-night hours (open until 3:30 a.m. on weekends), this Washington outpost of an old Baltimore favorite, Dangerously Delicious Pies, is a perfect fit for D.C.'s edgy Atlas District. Owner Rodney Henry's recipes range from savory BBQ pork pies to the sweet—and tongue-in-cheek—White Trash Crème Brûlée, and marionberry pie topped with rock candy (zing!). 1339 H St. NE, dangerouspiesdc.com, slices from $6.50.
Done up in seafoam green and gingham, Paula Haney's pint-size Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Chicago's Ukrainian Village seems cribbed straight from a 1950s sitcom. In keeping with the nostalgic theme, it's Haney's meticulously crafted classics that have drawn diners since 2008: a chess pie made from single-origin Venezuelan chocolate, and a banana-cream slice whose topping reveals real flecks of vanilla bean—not extract. 1618½ W. Chicago Ave., hoosiermamapie.com, slices from $4.
The Southwest-inspired green-chile-and-apple pie in a cheddar crust at Chile Pies (& Ice Cream) didn't fall far from its culinary tree: Owner Trevor Logan's New Mexican restaurant Green Chile Kitchen is just a block away. In his new, dessert-centric shop, Logan has more room to mix things up, as proven by his latest sweet treat: blended pie milkshakes that contain a whole slice per serving. 601 Baker St., greenchilekitchen.com/chilepies, slices from $5.