My family likes pie.

This is a true statement, but it’s also an inside joke. I’ll try to explain it to you, but, like most inside jokes, you may not find it as funny as we do.

My brother is in the Navy. When he was on his first ship, the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, he had to sit through damage-control training. While in the middle of training, a sailor interrupted the instructor to share with him some random story about his grandfather. The instructor said, “Yeah, well, I like pie,” and then continued with the training. Ever since then, whenever a member of my family blurts out a completely off-topic statement, inevitably someone will say, “Well, I like pie.”

The thing is…we really do like pie. A lot. So much so that my brother didn’t have a groom’s cake at his wedding. He had pie. And my family has worked hard through the years to perfect the chocolate meringue pie. The result of our hard work and love for the dessert is that we now make the very best chocolate meringue pie. Seriously. Just ask us and we’ll tell you.

I realize we’re not the only ones who love pie. That’s because pie is so flexible. Don’t like chocolate meringue pie? That’s OK. Try coconut cream. Don’t like coconut? That’s OK, too. Try pecan pie. Or chocolate pecan. Or key lime. Or apple. Or strawberry. Or lemon icebox. Or chocolate chip. Or buttermilk. Or pumpkin. Eat it cold. Eat it hot. Eat with a cup of coffee. Eat it with a glass of milk. Eat it with a scoop of ice cream on top. There are myriad options.

Luckily for you, I can tell you where to go to try some of the best of these options…

fredericksburgNext time you’re in the Central Texas region, go to Fredericksburg. Actually, don’t even wait until you’re in the area. Just go visit Fredericksburg. Climb Enchanted Rock, eat lots of good food, and then head to Fredericksburg Pie Company for dessert. It was at this quaint pie shop that I discovered how delicious buttermilk pie and coconut cream pie can be. My husband and I visited together and both agreed that the coconut cream was a beautiful sight. Neither of us is a fan of coconut, but this pie begged us to try it. So we ordered a slice, and while the coconut cream pie was being cut, we noticed the buttermilk pie. It called out to us as well, so we asked for a slice of it, too.

Both pies were divine—and I highly recommend you order both—but the coconut cream pie forever changed my husband. Ever since that experience, if you say “Fredericksburg” and “coconut cream,” my husband turns into Pavlov’s dog. It’s both fun and kind of gross.

If you are a fan of key lime, or a true graham-cracker crust, then drive out to the middle of nowhere (a/k/a Hico) and try a slice of the key lime pie at the Koffee Kup. Now that I think about it, if you’re going to drive all the way to Hico, just order an entire pie. You’ll need it as sustenance for the trip back from whence you came. I ended up in Hico back in December. I needed to pass my kids off to my mom for a few days during their Christmas break. My parents were out even farther in the middle of nowhere, so we agreed to drive toward each other until we met. Hours later, we arrived ahungered in Hico. I shared a slice of key lime pie with my mom before I ditched her and my kids. We were both smitten (with the pie…the kids are OK, too). The filling was tangy and the crust was perfection. In fact, we agreed that it was both the best key-lime pie and graham-cracker crust we’ve tasted so far (but we’ll definitely let you know if we taste something better one day).

And then there’s Royer’s Pie Haven in Round Top. Oh, sweet Royer’s! As if Round Top isn’t Royer'swonderful enough, Royer’s is like the icing on the cake…or like the scoop of Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream on the pie. (Speaking of, Royer’s now offers its customers scoops of Blue Bell on top of pie slices.)

My mom tried out Royer’s before I did. She called me while in the middle of eating a slice and said, “You HAVE to try out Royer’s Pie Haven next time you’re in Round Top.” So, like the obedient daughter that I am, I looked at my calendar and found the next free Saturday that I had and planned a trip to Round Top and Royer’s (via Lexington so I could stop at Snow’s BBQ on the way…because it made more sense to eat pie AFTER I’d had brisket and sausage).

What I like most about Royer’s is their continuing creativity. I’m pretty sure there’s someone at that shop who spends all day every day standing in the kitchen throwing a bunch of tasty ingredients into a pie crust just to see how it comes out. This is the only way royers junkberryI can explain concoctions like the junkberry pie, which Royer’s itself describes as “a whole bunch of junk…apples, peaches, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, with a sour cream topping.” So someone went to the grocery store and bought ALL the fruit and put it ALL in one pie. And then there’s the Texas Trash. I took the (really) long way to the Valley once so I could pass through Round Top and try out more pie. The Texas Trash was my pick of the day. Whoever came up with this pie took all his/her favorite snacks—chocolate chips, graham crackers, pretzels, caramels, etc.—and created a pie out of them. Ingenious.

Whatever methods the people at Royer’s are actually using to come up with pie ideas, it works and I hope with all my heart they keep it up. And as long as they do, I’ll keep finding excuses to end up hungry in Round Top.