Go Eat This Now: Peasant Pies

Enjoy the fruits of the ingenuity of French fishermen.

It’s officially one of the most wonderful times of year, Fall. First semester is in full swing, we have set sail into football season, and Halloween is less than one moon cycle away. With the celebrations that will ensue over the last quarter of the year also comes the wonderful world of breads, muffins, cookies, and pies!

So many pies! Pies that come in all shapes and sizes with savory and sweet fillings that warm the soul at dessert with a late harvest Grenache or on an early morning commute with an oat chai. This autumn, it’s all about one pie in particular, the hand pie.

Hand pies, at times circular and at others semilunar, are a pastry formed by placing a dollop of filling onto a circular piece of biscuit-style dough that’s either folded or crimped shut, then baked or fried. Since 1993 we’ve had very special hand pies right here in the city, and they’re all ours.

Peasant Pies has two locations, one in Mission Bay and the other in the Inner Sunset specializing in their adorable palm-sized pastries. Business partners Ali Keshavarz and Gerard Buulong wanted to produce a fast, cheap, and delicious alternative to other “fast food” choices incorporated into the hustle and bustle of city life. Thus, the San Francisco peasant pie was born.

These pies were inspired by French fishermen who would stew fish, tomato, and garlic for a night before baking dough around the mixture in the morning, according to Peasant Pies’ website.

With about 12 different types of savory pies, the ham, egg, and cheese is the best place to start. The classic blend of savory and creamy flavors are perfectly encapsulated in the crumbly pie crust. With each bite the cheese ruptures out of the pastry’s sides, as the inside’s eggy steam billows into little clouds. This pie is built for a cold rainy Muni ride into the office.

The next savory pie that stands alone in its category is the seafood pie stuffed with clams and tomato sauce. The chopped and simmered baby clams are briny and coriaceous, softened by the sauce’s tangy flavors of tomato and garlic. Each bite is slightly fishy and sweet on the tongue, while aromas of crushed red pepper travel through my olfactory system. If this pie doesn’t make you want to hoist the anchor and charge full steam ahead into the cold, choppy Pacific, nothing will.

Lastly, we finish off with a sweet pie. With about 10 options on the menu, these are more like little tarts than pies. The mixed berries and flan have no dough covering them, exposing their beautiful texture and colors. Now that we are in the year’s colder months the pumpkin pecan pie is available. This pie is sweet and spicy with that irresistible pecan crunch.

After about 25 years of pie making under their belt, Peasant Pies can also be found in markets around the city like Whole Foods and Rainbow Grocery. So your pies can be brought home and reheated for when you want to hunker down on those cozy nights. What Peasant Pie has managed to do over the last two and a half decades is no easy task. For the most part they specialize in only one item that they’ve made uniquely San Franciscan, and what’s even more impressive, they’ve stayed open.

Peasant Pies

550 Gene Friend Way

and 1039 Irving St.

(415) 731-1978

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