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Central Standard

Food Critics: The Best Pies And Cakes In Kansas City

Katie Knight/KCUR

It’s an age-old question: In the battle of pie vs. cake, which is superior?

Some contend that cake is a great vehicle for frosting. Others say that pie can incorporate more seasonal ingredients, like fresh fruit.

Who is right? And can’t we just all sit down with a cup of coffee, our plate of [fill-in-the-blank] and just get along?

When we asked listeners to chime in on social media, the majority of people we heard from leaned towards pie, citing fresh-picked fruit fillings, flaky crusts and  memories of grandma’s pies.

"Pie is cozier. And we've never had leftover pie around here ... but I'm always taking leftover cake to the people at work!" wrote Beckett Graham.

On Friday's Central Standard, we tried to resolve the issue. Experts from both sides of the aisle debated the merits of both, then our Food Critics, Mary Bloch, Bonjwing Lee and Jenny Vergara, shared their favorite pies and cakes around the metro.

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

  • The crisp at Café Sebastienne in the Kemper Museum. The fillings change with the seasons, and I love the berry ones of any kind. The topping is just right combo of flour, butter and a little sugar.
  • Mini carrot cakes at Café Europa. It looks like a cupcake on steroids, but it has frosting in the middle like a cake. I still miss the ones at Prospect’s, an old Westport haunt.
  • Flourless chocolate cake. I will still order it anytime I see it on a menu. The Capital Grille’s is fabulous – dense and rich, as it should be. Story has one as well (its chocolate torte).
  • All of Rye’s pies are noteworthy. I love the MoKan pie, which is chock-full of walnuts and pecans with molasses and chocolate gooeyness to hold them together.
  • Jude’s Rum Cakes are sinfully moist and delicious.
  • Capital Grille also has a really good dense cheesecake.
  • I’m partial to the cherry and blueberry pies at The Upper Crust Pie Bakery.

Bonjwing Lee, The Ulterior Epicure:

  • I second Mary’s mention of the pies at Rye. My absolute favorite is Megan Garrelts’s coconut cream pie, but I also like her banana cream pie. This past spring, Rye had a ridiculously delicious rhubarb pie with warming spices (like cardamom) and a touch of citrus.
  • The icebox pies at Town Topic (by local companyGolden Boy Pies) are terrific. I especially like the flaky crust on the cream pies. When you order pie a la mode, they ask if you want it warmed up. They told me that it would take a moment because they don’t have a microwave. I noticed a lard-y taste to the pie and saw that they heated the pie up on the griddle.
  • Andre’s Confiserie Suisse serves a European-style cake. Its buttercream layer cakes are dense and rich. One tip: If you let them sit out, the buttercream becomes smooth and creamy.
  • Hana’s Donuts in KCK. I’m sucker for blueberry cake donuts.
  • Heirloom Bakery & Hearthhas a strawberry basil crostada that’s really good.

Jenny Vergara, Contributing Editor, Feast Magazine:

  • Jude’s Rum Cakes, which are locally made by Craig Adcock. This has been my go-to birthday cake request for many years. Butter. Sugar. Rum. Enough said. It’s served on dessert menus around town.
  • Succotash’s eight-layer citrus cake with Smurf-blue frosting. Citrus of any kind really trips my trigger, so this cake hits all the right notes for me.
  • Fresh lemon cake with lemon curd filling from Dolce Bakery.
  • The peanut butter pie at Market 3. It’s a chiffon peanut butter pie (which has whipped cream mixed in with the peanut butter filling). It’s mile-high.
  • Butterscotch pie at You Say Tomato (when they have it). You Say Tomato has really been known for their fantastic pies.
  • The honey pie at The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange. It has a custard filling with a little bit of lavender and a flaky pie crust. I literally went home and sat down with recipe books to make it. The Rieger served it through the fall; I don’t think it’s on the menu right now, though they now have a s’mores pie that sounds great.
  • The coconut cream pie at Rye.
  • Affare makes an amazing housemade cheesecake with quark, so it’s a lighter form of cheesecake – like a soufflé.

Listener Recommendations:

  • You Say Tomato serves a hummingbird cake, which is an old-fashioned Southern layer cake with fresh pineapple and cream cheese frosting. I also really love their peach pie, which isn’t overly sweet. The pie is just delicious; I get it with a scoop of homemade ice cream (and I think I’ve died and gone to heaven). I haven’t found a dry cake at You Say Tomato.
  • Most cake is better than most pie but CaféEuropa's lemon cake or my mother's strawberry cake is better than any pie ever. Yay, cake
  • Sweet potato pie at Vee’s Sweets and Treats. It was very fresh and very creamy. The crust was flaky and excellent. The sweetness and the sweet potato consistency were also excellent. It was a well-balanced pie at a great price.
  • Galle’s Smokehouse Grill in Holden, Missouri has the best triple chocolate brownie pie in the world. It’s served warm, and it’s all soft and melty and chocolate-y in the middle. It comes with a really good vanilla ice cream and whipped cream on the side.
  • The cream cheese pie at Common Ground Café in Warsaw, Missouri.
  • I go to Succotash and the many-layered multi-colored cake is calling my name. I’ve managed to resist so far but will someday give in.
  • The Upper Crust Pie Bakery will change your life! Pocket pies forever!
  • Bumbleberry pie from Upper Crust.
  • Ladybird Diner has amazing pies (when they reopen after fixing their fire damage).
  • Costco cakes are sumptuous, especially the filled sheet cakes.
  • The five-layer Holy Chocolate Cake by the slice at The Brick.
  • Carrot cake at Bloomsbury Bistro. Layer cakes at Dolce Bakery. And mini Bundt cakes in a variety of flavors at 3 Women and an Oven.
  • I will start off saying I prefer cake, but I want to tell everyone about hand pies from Lucky Cakes. They are absolutely fantastic, and they’re only available at the Waldo's Farmer’s Market or Crow’s Coffee.

KCUR’s Alyson Raletz contributed to this report.

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