There’s a paradox embodied by Chile Pies’ business model that would probably confuse a hard-core adherent of Darwin’s theory of evolution. According to my dim understanding of a key precept of his, excessive specialization in a species is a doomed strategy, inviting extinction with open claws or wings. Diversification or oblivion. Chile Pies the restaurant is devoted almost solely to its namesake, which would suggest a deadly narrowing of focus, if not for that fact that you can throw almost anything you want at the pie dartboard and it’ll stick. A pie crust, even more so (I’d argue) than a french roll, pizza crust or tortilla, is a culinary magic hat out of which one can pull almost anything sweet and/or savory. Peaches, ground lamb, currants, potatoes, headcheese, carrots, apple, asparagus, pulled pork, garbanzo beans. Throw it in there and see what happens.
My preferences strongly favor the savory and I was disappointed at the scarcity of pie options for my palette, of which there were only two: chicken pot pie and red chile carne asada. The latter was delicious, the meat tender and juicy. The former was totally undistinguished in flavor and texture and required a small handful of salt. The crust, though, was uniformly on point. Other non-sweet items included two stews (green chile chicken or pork, red chile chicken posole). If you’re like me, you’ll avoid the posole, which by rights should be a vehicle for pork, not chicken.
I’m not opposed to sweets, but I didn’t have space for them due to my gustatory priorities. Here for that conspicuous sweet tooth are a couple of their sweet pies: chocolate peanut butter, mexican chocolate pecan, oven-roasted sweet potato, and something called mud cake. They’ve got “pie shakes”, as well, plus the annoyingly ubiquitous Blue Bottle drip coffee, which surprisingly came out hot for once (yeah, yeah- first-world problems.)
One of the best parts of Chile Pies is its whole aesthetic, which combines Pioneer West motifs with Mexican Catholic iconography and weird objets d’art re-purposed as light-fixtures. If nothing else it’s a sweet little spot to kick it a block-and-a-half off the mad swirl of activity that is the intersection of Church and Market Streets.
314 Church Street (@ 15th Street)