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Pie Pilgrimages: The Pie Hole

The case at the Pie Hole.

The case at the Pie Hole.

From Los Angeles

The Pie Hole

2014-03-18_13-08-17_57CurvyMama goes to L.A. a lot, but often doesn’t get the time to scout out the great pie places lurking in the City of Angels. On a recent visit, though, we extended our stay and managed to squeeze in a joyous little jaunt to a pie shop worthy of your attention.

What’s going on in The Pie Hole’s kitchen deserves attention all by itself, but for another reason, too: it’s emblematic of the real ascent of downtown Los Angeles as a viable place to hang out and do cool stuff. 

In the 25 years I lived in L.A., the city took a deep breath several times and tried to build a nightlife–no, wait, any kind of life–into its godforsaken downtown. Bounded by three freeways, 2014-03-18_13-07-40_977it was a place that bustled during the day with City Hall, law firm and government types (along with less-well-dressed reporters such as myself). But most everyone who worked downtown deserted it as quickly as possible at 5 p.m., leaving the sidewalks to a vaguely menacing array of drug addicts, homeless folks and other down-on-their-luck types. Rounds of effort to draw residents with an artists’ loft community and alluring condos flagged.

In the years I’ve been gone, though, someone has figured it out. A new convention center, tons of cool restaurants, the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Concert Hall, all helped click this scene into place. Downtown isn’t just alive and well, it’s thriving. And the Pie Hole is mainlining sugar into the mix.

2014-03-18_13-06-01_601The CurvyMama girlfriend and I saw all of this unfold from the window of a Toyota Highlander driven by a friend who’s an actress and tour guide. We had hoped to do a walking tour, but a pinched nerve sidelined me, so we drove instead. I was blown away by how much the area had changed; it was so inspiring that I resolved to spend a days downtown–on foot!–on another trip soon. The place is brimming!

In all the cheek-by-jowl newness, it took a little doing to find The Pie Hole. On tiny Traction Avenue, it’s holding down a scruffy, artsy little strip not far from the slick restaurant scene near the Staples Center. The shop has commandeered a generous amount of space, though; one room houses the pie case and open kitchen; another, decorated in spare, corrugated, industrial chic, offers tables. There are a few on the sidewalk, too, for al fresco pie consumption. Check out the cute sign they’ve got at the curb:

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The day’s menu, scrawled by hand on brown butcher paper, offered us a baker’s dozen of sweet and savory pie varieties. Earl Grey! Mexican chocolate! What to do when we had only a few minutes to grab a couple of slices and run?

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Coconut raspberry

Coconut raspberry

My GF, Barbara, ever the coconut cream addict, chose a coconut-and-raspberry concoction. I opted for maple

Maple cream

Maple cream

custard. Mine was wonderful; deeply flavored and creamy filling, supported by a nicely firm yet still flaky all-butter crust. The layer of raspberry under the coconut cream didn’t charm Barbara–a coconut cream purist–but I thought it was a creative approach to a classic pie, and the coconut filling was quite lovely.

The Pie Hole will be a required stop on my walking tour of the new and wonderful downtown L.A. in the near future!

 

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