If I gave you one chance to guess what Pie Town, New Mexico was most famous for, you'd probably say "pie"... and you'd be right. The tiny town in western New Mexico is known for being pretty no-nonsense, especially when it comes to dessert. But how did this community come to get its unique name? It all started back in the 1920s, when a Texan named Clyde Norman's car broke down on the side of the road. Since he couldn't fix up his car, he simply opened a bakery in the spot he was stranded, and it became famous up and down the Coast to Coast Highway for its dried-apple pies. The Dust Bowl and Great Depression took its toll on Pie Town, but they kept going, baking pies to serve to weary and downtrodden farmers heading West in search of opportunities. Since then, the town has kept its reputation as a friendly stop-off where travelers can take a break from the road and enjoy the friendly atmosphere and a slice of home-cooked pie.
*Note: Since there are multiple pie places in Pie Town, some of them have agreed to be open on alternating days rather than compete directly. The only time all are open at once is during the annual Pie Festival in September.
The Gatherin' Place is one of the four main pie purveyors of Pie Town. The friendly cafe serves up simple breakfast items like huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos along with green chile burgers made with fresh local beef, BBQ, tacos, and more. Pie flavors rotate daily and can include peach, green chile-apple, apricot, chili-chocolate, blueberry, chocolate-cherry, blackberry, and more. They serve their 5" pies whole, as opposed to in slices, and they come topped with ice cream. They're great for splitting, and pair nicely with a free cup of coffee.
There's also the Pie Town Cafe. The name is as straightforward as their offerings, but it's all worth trying. You'll feel right at home with a bowl of delicious green chile pork stew or something off the all-day breakfast menu. Strawberry-rhubarb, cherry, pecan, blueberry-peach, pumpkin, coconut cream (some spots in Pie Town only make fruit pies, so if cream pies tickle your fancy, stop here), and of course, the famous New Mexico apple pie with pinon nuts and a kick of green chile.
For an atmosphere that's as appropriately kitschy as Pie Town itself, stop into Pie-O-Neer. The decor is quaint and inviting, and they are all about the pie. Their pie bar serves up delectable slices in flavors like apple-cranberry crumb, blueberry, peach, and cherry. They also have a line of famously merengue-topped cream pies (banana, chocolate, and coconut) and a line of chili pies (chocolate chess with red chile, New Mexico apple with green chile and pine nuts, and peach-green chile.) As with all of the pie joints, call ahead to see what they have... and ask them to save you a slice!
The Pie Source Homestead Cafe serves as a tiny museum about Pie Town's history, as well as a pie joint, since it's all housed in an authentic log homestead cabin and decorated with antiques. They have their own take on the green chile-pinon and apple pie, which they call a Southwest apple pie, along with pecan, cherry, pumpkin, lemon, and other flavors. There's also a red chile-apple, and they'll often have stew or coffee on the stove as well. Pull up a chair and feel free to chat up whoever is working about the history of this unique little town.
Of course, the town itself is pretty small, and other than pie, there's not a ton there. Just outside the community, though, you'll find some pretty rad attractions. The Very Large Array, the world's premier radio astronomy observatory, makes for a strange and science-y stop, and the Lightning Field, Walter De Maria's famous land art installation that begs to be struck during a storm is also right nearby. And, of course, after you work up an appetite exploring, you know where you can refill on coffee and a homemade slice of delicious pie!