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Save Room for Dessert: Minnesota Pies Can't Be Beat

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Betty's Pies, Two Harbors / Shannon Kunkle
Food & Drink // List

Save Room for Dessert: Minnesota Pies Can't Be Beat

By James Norton

From the North Shore to Bemidji to Bluff Country, Minnesota is wealthy in pie, boasting some old-school shops that make pies that would please even a French pastry chef, as well as some new-fangled pie makers that are reinventing the art form.

From north to south (more or less), here's a sampling of some of the state's most inviting pie shops.

  1. Rustic Inn Cafe
    Rustic Inn Cafe

    The Rustic Inn Cafe, up the road from Two Harbors, is a classic North Shore pie place with a comfy interior and a formidable pie menu. The specialty of the house is an apple caramel pecan pie of surpassing gooeyness, which arrives less as a slice than an explosion of caramel, nuts and fruit. The North Shore berry pie is as fresh and bright as the apple caramel pecan is sugary and dense, and makes a nice chaser if you're a two-slice kind of guy (or gal).

  2. Pasties Plus
    Pasties Plus

    There's no ordinance stating that pies have to be sweet, and that's a wonderful thing. Pasties Plus in Grand Rapids makes all of its pasties fresh daily, available hot and ready to eat or half-baked for finishing at home.

    So what's a pasty? For the unfamiliar, these savory pastries are characterized by their buttery baked exteriors, filled with varying combinations of meat, potatoes and veggies. They've been known to sell out, so get there early or place your order in advance.

  3. Sara's Tipsy Pies
    Saras Tipsy apple pies Minnesota State Fair

    Sara's Tipsy Pies / Minnesota State Fair

    Sara's Tipsy Pies

    Visitors to Stillwater are advised to make a stop at Sara's Tipsy Pies, which has made a name for itself with its inventive, boozy pies. Sara's offerings include varieties using beer brewed by the local boys over at Lift Bridge Brewing, and the 2 Gingers Irish Apple whiskey pie is one of the brand's cornerstones.

    You can also get a taste in the Food Building at the annual Minnesota State Fair, where Sara's booth has become a Fair favorite.

  4. Keys Cafe
    Keys Cafe

    The venerable Keys Cafe (with nine locations throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul area) is one of the cornerstone bakeries in the Twin Cities, and its pies are a mainstay for good reason—they're affordable but made with care, classic takes on classic flavors that will get you through the summer (or the holidays) without ever needing to turn on an oven.

  5. Turtle Bread Company
    Raspberry Pie from Turtle Bread Company in Minneapolis

    Turtle Bread has three tasty locations in Minneapolis / Becca Dilley

    Turtle Bread Company

    With three Minneapolis locations, the Turtle Bread Company turns out stunning lattice-topped pies that promise and deliver gourmet flavor. The shop's fruit pies boast a crispy, sugar top crust and the sort of bright flavor that comes from real fruit (as opposed to canned fillings).

  6. Aroma Pie Shoppe
    Women carrying trays of pies in Whalan

    A parade of pies from the Aroma Pie Shoppe in Whalan

    Aroma Pie Shoppe

    Under new ownership, the Aroma Pie Shoppe in Whalan, near Lanesboro, sits amid some of the state's most dramatic rural scenery.  And its offerings are, hands down, some of the best pies in the country. Fruit pies taste bright and clean, sweet without being sugary, with real fruit flavor shining through. But the star may be the Minnesota Maple, featuring a gooey base of maple syrup and oatmeal, topped and baked with toasted coconut.

James Norton

James Norton is the author of Lake Superior Flavors (University of Minnesota Press), a guide to eating and drinking on the Lake Superior Circle Tour. He is currently the food editor at The Growler magazine.