Introducing the Pie Shake…Yes, That’s Pie. Shake.

pie shake

Walking through the NoPa neighborhood of San Francisco recently, the veggie gf and I stumbled upon a restaurant with a name so simple and enticing we couldn’t resist: chile pies (& ice cream). Yep, that’s the name of the restaurant. And they have just three basic menu items:

– Classic New Mexico-style frito pie (for the uninformed, that’s chili poured over a bed of fritos).

– Fresh slices of sweet&savory pie with outrageous varieties such as green chile apple pie with walnuts and a cheddar crust.

– Ice cream and frozen yogurt in creative flavors like bittersweet chocolate and horchata.

Obviously, this was already approaching a pretty perfect restaurant as far as I’m concerned. But then I scanned to the bottom of the menu and saw one more item that just about knocked me over…

Pie Shakes. “Just choose your slice of pie and flavor of ice cream.” Ummmm…say what?

BS: What’s a pie shake?

Server: We take a slice of pie and a scoop of ice cream and make it into a milkshake.

BS: Wait, like, you really chop up the pie and put it in a milkshake?

Server: Yes.

BS: Really?!?

Server: Yes.

BS: Did you guys make this up or is it a thing?

Server: No, I’m pretty sure we made it up.

BS: So is it smooth like a milkshake or chunky with pieces of pie?

Server: It really depends on who is making it.

Stunned, I was unsure whether to be more wowed or disgusted. For the moment, the green chili pie looked too perfect — we had to try it as is, sans shake. But I knew immediately that I would have to return before we left SF and try the pie shake.

When we made our way back to chili pies (& ice cream) a few weeks later, I knew what I had to do. I asked the server on hand which of their fresh pies would make the best shake, and we settled on a lemon-buttermilk pie mixed with vanilla-cookie ice cream.

A good ten minutes of mixing later and she returned with the work of beauty you see above. I was concerned about what type of texture the pie shake would entail — would it just be a grainy milkshake with no attractive vestiges of pie? Or more like a runny scoop of ice cream with a soggy slice of pie on the bottom?

But it was exactly what was promised — the perfect fusion of god’s two great dessert creations, every bite/sip tasting a little bit like pie, a little bit like ice cream. Most of the shake was drinkable through a straw (with a little neck effort), while some large pieces of crust remained whole and crispy.

I think the USDA recommended allowance of pie shakes is once in a lifetime, but still — why not?

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  • Jenna September 20, 2010  

    I still think that sounds disgusting. Maybe if it’s a mix-in of pie filling and ice cream, topped with a sliver of pie crust as some kind of finish, I’d be behind it. But pie crust getting all soggy mixed with ice cream? No, no, no. Pie is meant to be pie – crisp crust encasing a sweet and soft fruit filling. A milkshake is meant to be a milkshake – cool ice cream blended with milk and flavoring. Give me a piece of pie a la mode any day over this perversion of both the pie and the milkshake.

  • Rachel September 21, 2010  

    They are far from the inventors of this; I’ve been eating such creations at frozen custard stands east of here for more than ten years. (Side note: where the hell is frozen custard’s spot on the SF food scene?!) Chile Pies’ version rather pales in comparison – both taste and texture – to what I’ve previously experienced. Granted, just one person’s opinion, but I urge you to seek out the competitors they don’t believe they have, try their stuff. Pumpkin pie shakes, cheesecake shakes, apple pie shakes… I’m just sayin. It’s pretty damn magical.

  • Danielle September 21, 2010  

    “It’s pretty damn magical.” LOVE it. BTW, that sounds delish.

  • averagebetty September 21, 2010  

    Everything good in life should produce a feeling of uncertainty as “whether to be more wowed or disgusted.” Love it 🙂

  • Jason's BBQ Adventures September 21, 2010  

    WOW! I would definitely try one of those. Very fascinating.

  • erica September 21, 2010  

    San Francisco has an indian pizza place (to merge two post comments into one). i didn’t try it but was told it’s amazing.

  • BS September 24, 2010  

    @erica: Indian pizza is mos def on my to-eat list on my few remaining days in SF. how amazing!

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  • Andrew C October 7, 2010  

    I’m from up in Canada and this seems like no big deal… You can get fresh ice cream or gelati mixed on a frozen slab with any number of things from fresh apple pie to birthday cake,!(Personal fav)
    Don’t see what the diff is blending it all up, i prefer leaving chunks, but the birthday cake is smooth as silk, premixed! The vanilla birthday cake ice cream taste like birthday cake and looks like plan ol’ vanillla!

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  • drew December 28, 2010  

    Home of the original Pie Shake:

  • scarlet @dishcrawl December 29, 2010  

    omg. pie shake? i must try this! i’ve been in sf all this time and have never! thanks for the tip! sounds divine! 🙂

  • Sushi December 29, 2010  

    Actually, the Pie Shake was originally created by the Hamburger Inn, a major political campaign stop in Iowa City, IA.

    It’s even listed in their Wikipedia page, so obviously it’s canonized.

  • sauterdejoie April 9, 2011  

    Yes Drew! Hamburg Inn has been making these as long as I can remember (rhubarb pie shake is fantastic when available). They also do the same thing with cake (red velvet is my favorite).

  • Tim November 11, 2011  

    I actually came up with this idea a few years ago. It was during wrestling season in high school and I was cutting a lot of weight. As a food lover weight cutting is especially hard and I would often get random cravings as if I were a pregnant women. I believe it was a day or two after thanksgiving when I couldnt decide between a bowl of ice cream or a slice of apple pie. I ended up throwing both of them together in my Magic Bullet and creating an apple pie vanilla ice cream milkshake. It came out pretty good from what I remember.

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