Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés

By Lisa Green

September 19, 2023

With delectable crusts and succulent fillings, these Michigan-made pies will have your mouth watering.

This story was originally published on Oct. 19, 2021.

MICHIGAN—You’ve probably heard the phrase “as American as apple pie.” Maybe it’s time to start saying “as Michigander as cherry pie.”

Whether we’re filling it with our locally-grown fruits or rolling it up with savory meat and vegetables, filled pastries are a culinary staple in Michigan. Michigan is an agricultural mecha with over 50,000 farms, which just makes for fantastic pies. Michigan ranks third in the nation for apple production; more than any other state, we use a good deal of those apples in pies. 

Michigan also grows more than 70% of the nation’s supply of tart cherries, making our cherry pies a tour de force of their own. We are also third in the nation for blueberry production. And with nearly 2,000 dairy farms, our cream pies can’t be beat.

Where are the best places to sample these Michigan-made delicacies? We’ve rounded up a list of the best places to snag a pie that are sure to satisfy any Michigander.

Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
Grand Traverse Pie Company

Grand Traverse Pie Company (Multiple Locations)

525 W. Front St., Traverse City, MI 49684 

Additional Locations in Ann Arbor, Brighton, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Midland, Norton Shores, Okemos, Plymouth, Portage, and Rochester Hills

If it’s made of Traverse City cherries, you know it’s got to be good. Named one of the Best Mail-Order Pies by Country Living Magazine, this Cherry Capital chain crafts a variety of award-winning pies served at 15 locations and shipped all over the country. Michiganders Mike and Denise Busley started the business in 1996 to reconnect with both their home state and the passion of hand-crafting pies.

The Cherry Crumb Pie and Old Mission Cherry Pie are the breakout stars here, both featuring decadent locally-grown Montmorency cherries. With the Michigan ABC Pie, the cherry superstars are accompanied by two other Michigan-grown crops: Northern Spy apples and Rubel blueberries. Chocolate lovers will appreciate the Cherry Ganache pie, the classic Grand Traverse Cherry Crumb Pie topped with homemade chocolate ganache. Outside the trademark cherries, the Grand Traverse Pie Company has a variety of other crowd-pleasing flavors, including pumpkin, apple, strawberry rhubarb, peach, berries, key lime, lemon meringue, and various cream pies.

Visit the Grand Traverse Pie Company website to find a pie shop near you or order a pie for delivery.

Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
Achatz Handmade Pie Company

Achatz Handmade Pie Company (Multiple Locations)

75700 North Ave., Armada, MI 48005

Additional Locations in Beverly Hills, Chesterfield, Oxford, Shelby Township, and Troy

This chain of pie shops in the Detroit metro is dedicated to using the best, healthiest, and most locally-sourced ingredients possible. Those are business decisions that make you feel good no matter how you slice it.

Michigander couple David and Wendy Achatz started selling pies at the Armada Flea Market, with their fledgling business fueled almost entirely by dedication and hard work. More than twenty years later, the Achatz’s pies have been featured on Good Morning America, Food Network, Rachel Ray, and more. Shipping directly from their production facility in Chesterfield, the Achatz Handmade Pie Company keeps the chain of production short. They take special care to work directly with local farmers for superior and fresh products.

Their signature and best-selling pie is the Michigan 4 Berry, which features tart cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Their Cherry Crumb Pie is also a best-seller, as it took home the blue ribbon at the National Pie Competition. Also worth trying is the Cannoli Cream Pie, a vanilla pastry cream mix with cream cheese, mini chocolate chips, and toasted almonds. The Cannoli Cream Pie won the People’s Choice Awards at the Taste of Troy Festival. For savory pie lovers, Achatz also features pot pies with chicken, beef, lobster, or spinach.

Want to try their signature pie in a remixed format? The Michigan 4 Berry is also featured as a cheesecake, jam, and salsa.

Visit the Achatz Handmade Pie Company website to find a pie shop near you or order a pie for delivery.

READ MORE: Michigan’s also got a knack for the pasty. Here are 5 things to know about Famous Lehto’s Pasties, a local favorite just north of the bridge.  
Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
Zingerman’s Bakehouse

Zingerman’s Bakehouse (Ann Arbor)

3711 Plaza Dr., Ann Arbor, MI 48108

It’s impossible to talk about the culinary delicacies of Michigan without eventually mentioning the Zingerman’s family of restaurants in Ann Arbor.

Business partners and Wolverines Ari Weinsweig and Paul Saginaw initially opened Zingerman’s Delicatessen in 1982 with a humble goal of serving up great corned beef sandwiches. Where there are sandwiches, good bread is soon to follow, and Zingerman’s Bakehouse opened in 1992. The Zingerman’s brand now covers 11 different businesses and ships Michigan-made foods all over the country, and great pies are just one of the many offerings. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Zingerman’s did a holiday pie pickup truck in select locations in Michigan and Ohio to promote safe shopping.

The fans of Zingerman’s are fans of the classics. The Rustic Apple Pie is a crowd-pleasing favorite, with Ida Red apples from the local Nemeth’s Farm. The Pumpkin Pie is made using locally sourced cream from Guernsey Dairy and Michigan-made honey. The Perky Pecan Pie is made using non-GMO brown sugar.

Aspiring pastry chefs may learn how to make pies the Zingerman’s way through in-person and virtual classes or by ordering the Zingerman’s Bakehouse Cookbook.

Visit the Zingerman’s Bakehouse website for more information or to schedule a delivery.

Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe

Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe (DeWitt)

108 N. Bridge St., DeWitt, MI 48820

If you’ve ever felt nostalgic for the vintage Betty Crocker from the 1950s, Linda Hundt and her Lansing-area shop Sweetie-licious will give you that feeling of home.

Sweetie-licious is a full service vintage restaurant, but the pies are the centerpiece. Linda Hundt started her lifelong love of pastries with an Easy Bake Oven. Later, she learned to love cooking with the women in her family. This expanded to a love for vintage and making people happy with pies. Today, Sweetie-licious sells a variety of seasonal baked goods, set to a backdrop of white and pink candy striping, with Frank Sinatra crooning in the background.

Sweetie-licious’s most iconic offering is Tom’s Cheery Cherry Cherry Berry, the pie that won the Food Network Pie Challenge in 2009, beating out over 100 other pies. Multiple pies have won at the Crisco National Pie Championships, including the Blackberry Raspberry Pie, Cherry Blackberry Pie, Blueberry Raspberry Pie, Cherry Rhubarb Pie, Pumpkin Caramel Apple Pie. Blueberry Basil & Lime Pie, Sticky Toffee Pudding Caramel Apple Pie, Candy Apple Pie, and Banana Cream Pie. 

For the aspiring pastry chefs, Sweetie-licious offers cooking classes to help spread the love of baking. Linda’s cookbook Sweetie-licious Pies also provides her compendium of recipes blended with her own unique storytelling.

Visit the Sweetie-licious website for more information.

Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
CRUST – A Baking Company

CRUST – A Baking Company (Fenton)

104 W. Caroline St., Fenton, MI 48430

This block-wide yellow awning structure definitely stands out in Fenton, just a stone’s throw away from Flint. But perhaps there is no better place than Genesee County to expect a baking production facility with large windows where you can watch the Michigan industry at work.

CRUST is a bakery that uses traditional small batch recipes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Everything at CRUST is done by hand. Its building, which is a revitalized building in Fenton’s downtown, is dedicated to production, but there is enough space for restaurant space and retail space. Owners Chad Brennan, Mary Beth Brennan, Mark Hamel, and Mike Green also own The Laundry, another local restaurant in Fenton’s downtown. The Laundry formerly had a 14-year relationship with the baked goods of Zingerman’s Bakehouse before deciding to pursue their own auxiliary bakehouse. The owners have succeeded in making CRUST a true bakery, serving up over 120 different varieties of baked goods. MLive voted CRUST Michigan’s Best Bakery in 2018.

Pies are just one of many varieties of baked goods that CRUST does well. The CRUST staff hand-shapes the crusts and avoids any artificial flavors or preservatives in their pies. They offer traditional favorites sure to satisfy, including the Thanksgiving staples of pumpkin and pecan pies. Several varieties of apple pies are offered. The American Berry pies come with over two pounds of blackberries, raspberries, cherries, and blueberries. For the aspiring pastry chefs, CRUST offers classes at their discretion.

Visit the CRUST website for more information or to schedule a delivery.

Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
Sister Pie

Sister Pie (Detroit)

8066 Kercheval Ave., Detroit, MI 48214

The Motor City is renowned for its culinary ingenuity. The working-class capital has created coney dogs, square pizzas, and Boston Coolers—and with Sister Pie, it uses Michigan agriculture to innovate new pies such as the Sour Cherry Bourbon Pie.

The “big-hearted bakery” opened in 2015 in a former beauty salon in Detroit’s West Village. Michigan native chef Lisa Ludwinski had big dreams of becoming a theater director, but changed her mind after experiencing the New York culinary scene. She started baking pastries out of her parent’s home in Milford, but scored her current brick and mortar space after winning some entrepreneurial cash from Comerica Hatch Detroit. This rising culinary star has received a number of accolades, including a six-page feature in Bon Appétite. Her pies are featured at Shake Shack’s Detroit location.

Sister Pie features a number of creative pie innovations. One of these is the Salted Maple Pie, a year-round feature that revolutionizes the Southern chess pie with Michigan-made maple syrup from Imlay City. The Sour Cherry Bourbon Pie is inspired by an Old Fashioned cocktail and actually uses aromatic bitters with its pour of Kentucky Bourbon into a traditional cherry pie filling. The Sweet Potato Marshmallow is a Thanksgiving offering that blends pureed sweet potatoes with heavy cream and spices, then tops with marshmallow meringue.

For those that can’t quite make it to Sister Pie, Lisa Ludwinski offers her recipes in the cookbook Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit. Aspiring pastry chefs may also attend a virtual class from Sister Pie.

Visit the Sister Pie website for more information.

Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
Great Lakes Pot Pies

Great Lakes Pot Pies (Clawson)

809 W. 14 Mile Rd., Clawson, MI 48017

Michigan has several mail-order services for pies, but this establishment specializing in pot pies is brand new.

Owner Jannie Teitelbaum started her pie business when she brought a homemade pie to a women’s group. The pie won over the group. When someone wanted to order one, they asked if Teitelbaum was selling pies as a business. She then tested recipes for six months, with her teenage son Steven serving as the official taste-tester. After selling pies at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, Teitelbaum finally opened a brick and mortar store near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reduced foot traffic served as an advantage to the budding entrepreneur, and aided in the business’s success.

The primary flavors at Great Lakes Pot Pies are chicken, beef stew, Italian meatball, and pasty. Both a vegetarian and a vegan pot pie are available, as well as gluten-free varieties. For fans of traditional pies, they also offer apple pies and pecan pies.

Visit the Great Lakes Pot Pies website for more information or to schedule a delivery.

Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
Bavarian Inn Lodge

Bavarian Inn Lodge (Frankenmuth)

1 Covered Bridge Ln, Frankenmuth, MI 48734

The Zehnder family may have turned Frankenmuth into a destination for chicken dinners, but perhaps their pies are surpassing the chicken in popularity.

The Bavarian Inn is one of two famous locations where Frankenmuth diners can feast on German-inspired fare, with the other location being Zehnder’s. The family owns both locations. The Bavarian Inn, though, has the Castle Shop Bakery located with the Castle Shops on the lower level. The esteemed Dorothy Zehnder is the matriarch of the family whose old-world recipe lard crust forms the foundation of the pies. The bakery uses Michigan-made products.

The Bavarian Inn Bakery has several varieties of pie made daily. The most popular pie is the Apple Kuchen, which is the German take on a pie. Their Pumpkin Pie comes in second, which includes blue Hubbard squash from the local Fred Weiss Family Farm. Other favorites include the Lemon Meringue and Caramel Apple pies. Aspiring pastry chefs can find Dorothy’s recipe for apple kuchen and more in her cookbook “From My Kitchen to Yours” or check out MLive’s publication of the recipe here.

Visit the Bavarian Inn website for more information.

Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
Rock City Eatery

Rock City Eatery (Detroit)

4216 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201

With around 400 craft breweries operating in the state, Michigan is the premier craft beer destination of the Midwest. So you know there’s something to get excited about when a restaurant’s tagline is “Food. Booze. Pie.”

Rock City Eatery recently moved to Detroit’s Midtown after initially opening in Hamtramck. Though it is a full-service restaurant and bar, it started as Rock City Pies in 2011. Owner and chef Nikita Sanches takes the philosophy of “if it’s good as a drink, it’s probably good as a pie.” In 2015, Sanches and his then-fiancé Jessica Imbronone competed on CNBC’s “Restaurant Startup.” Though Sanches did not win anything, he received plenty of praise from the hosts for the tastiness of his creations. The pies are now offered on the restaurant’s rotating dessert menu, though Sanches still prepares pies for the holidays.

Some pies featured during the holidays include the popular Butterscotch + Bourbon + Pecan. Other pie flavors range from the traditional Salted Caramel + Apple, to the unusual like Cranberry + White Chocolate + Pistachio. 

If you’re a fan of pop culture food, keep an eye out for Nikita Sanches at the Harry Potter-inspired A Very Magical Feast and Star Wars-inspired May the 4th Dinner, both at Frame in Hazel Park.

Visit the Rock City Eatery website or Facebook page for more information.

Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
Crane’s Pie Pantry

Crane’s Pie Pantry (Holland)

6054 124th Ave., Fennville, MI 49408

11 East 8th St., Holland, MI 49423

The Crane family has an interesting claim to fame—they’ve been growing fruit on their farm before the U-Pick farms made it cool. And the family developed some tasty pie recipes in the past 100 years.

Starting from a 180-acre parcel of land purchased in 1916, five generations of the Crane family have been selling bounties of Michigan fruit. A 150-year-old barn has housed a restaurant, bakery, and cidery since 1972. The restaurant was started by the late Luetta Crane, and originally, it only sold pies. The restaurant later expanded when customers wanted food to go with their pie. Now, Luetta’s two daughters and grandson run the family business. Crane’s sells a total of 20,000 pies per year, with fruits extracted either from their own orchards or neighboring farms.

One noteworthy feature of Crane’s Pie Pantry is the Flight of Pie for those who dine in and want to sample multiple varieties. Crane’s features the traditional classics, including apple, cherry, blueberry, and pumpkin. The strudels are worth trying, especially the Cherry Cheese Strudel, which is a crowd favorite. Specialties include the Rhubarb Raspberry Pie and Dark Chocolate and Pecan Pie. Crane’s products are also sold at a wide variety of retailers in West Michigan.

Visit the Crane’s Pie Pantry website for more information, including finding a retailer near you or ordering a pie for delivery.

Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
Rosie’s Pies

Rosie’s Pies (Bay City)

1142 S. Huron Rd., Kawkawlin, MI 48631

There are few things as wholesome as small family-owned businesses making pies in small towns. Rosie’s Pies in the Bay City area has been preserving this tradition for over twenty years.

Owner Pat Schnell named the bakery after her mother, Rose George. Schnell’s extended family helps run the family business, with two of her sisters and a niece working in the bakery as well. Additional nieces also come in for the holidays, when the family bakery sells around 2,500 pies. Rosie’s is noteworthy for using Michigan-made Pioneer Sugar, another Bay City business. 

The Dutch Apple Pie is the most popular pie, but Rosie’s offers a variety of flavors. The bakery’s fruit pies come in 13 different varieties, with the Say Yes to Michigan Pie and Berries of the Forest Pie being signature varieties. Cream pies include banana cream, coconut cream, lemon meringue, chocolate cream, and more. The Old Fashioned Apple, Dutch Apple, Blueberry, Pumpkin, and Cherry are all available in sugar-free varieties as well. Make sure to also try Rosie’s cinnamon rolls, brownies, muffins, and many varieties of cookies.

The pies from Rosie’s can also be picked up at Jack’s Fruit & Meat Market or Brian’s Fruit & Meat Market.

Visit the Rosie’s Pies website for more information.

Michigan Pie Tour: 12 Upper Crust Cafés
Sweet Potato Sensations

Sweet Potato Sensations (Detroit)

17337 Lahser Rd., Detroit, MI 48219

Sweet potatoes are a fall flavor that has gained popularity for their health benefits and vitamin-rich nutrients. Sweet Potato Sensations in Detroit has succeeded in turning this hit-or-miss health food into a culinary foundation for a number of delicious creations.

Sweet Potato Sensations started in 1976 when owners Jeffrey and Cassandra Thomas spent their first Thanksgiving together as newlyweds. Jeffrey wanted sweet potatoes on the table, but Cassandra did not like candied yams. A compromise was reached and Cassandra created sweet potato cookies, which eventually became a famous addition to Sweet Potato Sensations. The business’s name was invented and incorporated in 1987, and their first storefront opened in 1993. The menu grew to include pies and other sweet treats. They took inspiration from George Washington Carver who, in addition to the peanuts he is more famously known for, created hundreds of new uses for sweet potatoes. Then, in 2014, savory recipes were added to a new Savory Menu.

The Sweet Tooth Menu includes the popular Sweet Potato Pie, which is also available as Sweet Potato Pecan and Sweet Potato Coconut. They also serve up additional deserts like Sweet Potato Cheesecake, a 3-Layer Sweet Potato Cake, Sweet Potato Pecan Pound Cake, and even Sweet Potato Ice Cream. For those that can’t get behind the sweet potato craze, non-starchy alternatives include Lemon Chess Pie, Orange Velvet Cake, 3-Layer Chocolate Cake, and more. The Savory Menu includes Belgian Sweet Potato Waffles, and a number of menu options served with sides such as sweet potato grits, sweet potato pancakes, and sweet potato cornbread.

Visit the Sweet Potato Sensations website for more information.



MI Grand Rapids Food Voting

Local News

Related Stories
Share This