From “yapper” to “soup cooler,” there is no shortage of fun and colorful euphemisms for our mouths. “Pie hole” might be my favorite, though, if for no other reason than pie is the best. The good folks at Betty's Pie Whole (155 Quail Gardens Dr.) in Encinitas know pie is awesome; so awesome, in fact, that their entire menu is pie-centric.
Betty's is the sister restaurant to the much-lauded Elizabethan Desserts, which moved to a different location down the road, letting Betty's take over the former space. Now the charming, cowgirl-themed eatery can focus not only on the sweets that put them on the map, but savory pies as well.
If you've never made the trip up the coast to Betty's Pie Whole, it's well worth it. The Pie Whole is tucked into the Sunshine Gardens nursery complex, just a few trots down from the San Diego Botanic Garden, so you can nibble on pie and grab a few succulents while you're at it.
There's no point in perusing a savory pie menu if you aren't going to tuck into a classic chicken pot pie. Grandma Lucy's Chicken Pie is dynamite, with a well-herbed crust that stays hot and flaky on top, but soft and chicken-juice-filled on the bottom. Peas, carrots, and enormous chunks of white meat make this individual pie a great lunchtime alternative to just another sandwich.
Although most pies at Betty's come in a larger, traditional, shareable size, all of the pies are made in singlesized tins, perfect for one hungry maw.
The Get Along Lil' Kielbasy Pie had everything I like: sausage, potatoes, spinach, and a cheesy white sauce to bind it all. The flavors were good but something went awry in the ovens on mine because the inside was still pretty cold. Forgivable once, but a bit disappointing nonetheless.
Many of the pies are made with yeasted dough, which yields a much chewier and toothsome case for fillings than a traditional butter or shortening crust. You don't get as much of the pie crust flakiness, but it stands up to the meaty, cheesy fillings that go with savory pies.
I loved the Eat Yer Greens, a beautiful puff of a pie encased in that great yeasted dough. The filling is a decadent creamed spinach (and kale, of course), gooey with Parmesan and mozzarella and studded with mushrooms. The outer crust gets an adorable cowgirl worthy brand of “BPW” burnt into the top—a sweet touch.
And speaking of sweet, there are still plenty of dessert pies to be had. Check out the Blackbird, either with a lattice crust or a crumble top. Summer is the time for this one, juicy with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. The Opossum is another fun treat, rich with a cream cheese chocolate mousse, whipped cream and chopped pecans. Wash it all down with some peach sweet tea and you're good to go.
I've heard mouths referred to as “cake holes.” But the era of the cupcake has come and gone. It's time for pie.