Apple pie is as American as the stars and stripes of Old Glory, but not all apple pie is made equal. We explore the possibility that the best apple pie in the USA is in the little gold rush town of Julian, California.
It’s no exaggeration to say that America has a fascination with apple pie. In fact it’s an obsession. And pretty much every town in the States claims to have the best.
I can understand the fixation; for as long as I can remember, of all desserts, hot apple pie with a scoop of ice cream will get me every time. I think I must be a little bit American!
So when Mrs Romance and I discovered we’d be driving right through a town famous for its pie, I was very excited.
We were driving from San Diego to Las Vegas. Ordinarily this drive will take you around 5 hours. We were planning to take longer than that. 5 days longer in fact!
We’d decided to go east to Palm Springs first. We’d be driving through deserts and over mountains, across the San Andreas Fault and along Route 66… and most importantly right through the town of Julian, California.
Apple pie central – Julian, California
Julian is a cute little mountain town about an hour out of San Diego. It popped up as a result of the gold rush in the 1870s. And with it came the apple trees that would cement this town as a destination for pie lovers across the globe.
There are a multitude of pie shops here, but these are the big three:
2225 Main Street, Julian.
2122 Main Street, Julian.
2119 Main Street, Julian.
We tried 2 places – the Julian Pie Co and – a bit off-piste – the Julian Café and Bakery.
Our verdict? Don’t bother going to the Julian Café and Bakery. The pies here are fine, but the Julian Pie Company, whose pies you can find in stores all round SoCal, is popular for a reason
The Julian Pie Company’s apple pie with ice cream really hit the sweet spot. A short crumbly piecrust, juicy, oozy filling, soft, rich apple and a crisp delicate pastry bottom. Perfect.
Also the service at the Julian Pie Co was miles better – friendly, efficient, welcoming. The staff at the Julian Café and Bakery were in the middle of a domestic when we walked in. Which was a bit awkward.
We’d love to go back and try the other two names out – Mom’s Pies and Apple Alley. It would be interesting to compare them… and eat more pie!
Apple pie facts – courtesy of the APC – the American Pie Council
- Americans buy around 186 million apple pies every year. And that’s just from stores, not restaurants.
- 36 million Americans identify apple pie as their favourite.
- 6 million American men ages 35-54 have eaten the last slice of pie and denied it.
For more facts like these, check out the APC’s survey results here. It’s really quite amusing.
Have you been to Julian, California? Where do you think the best pie in America is? What do you have with your apple pie? And can someone please explain what’s going on with the cheddar cheese option as a topping?