Pie Town, NM is definitely off the beaten path. Straddling the Continental Divide, you may think you have arrived at a ghost town. There is no need to fret. There is pie in Pie Town. If you call ahead, the Pie-O-Neer Cafe will even have your favorite slice or whole pie ready and waiting for you.
Pie Town is popular not only with adventurers from around the world who enjoy trekking thru the Continental Divide, but also with curious other tourists. All have one thing in common. Stop, rest, and eat some pie.
We stopped for lunch (and pie!) at Pie Town on a day trip loop from Albuquerque that also included our La Ventana Natural Arch Sidetrack and The Very Large Array (VLA) Sidetrack. We came in from the northwest (La Ventana Arch) on some pretty desolate back country roads.
Though Pie Town is nothing more than a few buildings and tumbleweeds, it leaves a big impression, and we were relieved to find it! There are a couple of cafes open different days of the week, so most likely you can find one open the day you drive thru. We had our eyes on the Pie-O-Neer Cafe. We called ahead a couple of days before we were scheduled to arrive to make sure the Pie-O-Neer Cafe would be open and also to place our orders for pies to take home. The staff was super friendly and suggested that we tell them an estimated time of arrival and asked what different pies our group was interested in sampling once we arrived at the Pie-o-Neer. It felt comforting to know someone was expecting us in Pie Town, much like visiting an old friend!
Upon entering the cafe, we were greeted with warm smiles and the delicious aroma of pies freshly baking. My eyes were drawn to an antique buffet in the back of the small cafe where a dozen or so pies sat. The staff was busy slicing and plating pie while also holding conversations with Kathy Knapp, the owner, and other locals who were there enjoying lunch and pie.
Kathy, along with her mother, moved to Pie Town after stopping there in the 1990’s in hopes of tasting some pie only to find there was no pie available in Pie Town. Kathy and her mother decided they would stay and bake and sell pies there like past generations of families had done. However, due to health issues, Kathy's mom was forced to relocate to an area with a lower elevation but Kathy stayed on and continued to run the Thunderbird Trading Post now turned Pie-O-Neer Cafe.
Kathy Knapp and The Pie-O-Neer have been featured by the NY Times and on the CBS Morning Show. Also, there is a documentary by Jane Rosemont featuring Kathy Knapp and the Pie-O-Neer titled, "The Pie Lady of PieTown" which details Kathy’s eventual settlement and success there.
While at the cafe, we enjoyed steamy bowls of green chili stew (the only non-pie item on the menu). We made sure to leave room for our little slice of heaven! Kathy put our pre-ordered pies in the oven when we arrived which left just enough time to wander up the road to the DanCyn' Windmill Museum.
Set on private property, the yard was adorned with all types of old windmills and farming equipment. The house was opened so we were able to go inside where we found the "period authentic" log cabin to be filled with many interesting and old artifacts that once belonged to ranchers and farmers from the area. It was fun for grandparents to recognize a thing or two and then share the memories these items sparked with the grandchildren.
In no time, Kathy greeted us with our freshly baked pies and after snapping a few photos, we were on our way. This is definitely an "off the beaten path" sidetrack for a day when you are in the mood to just drive away from the bustle of the city and to enjoy some nice company which awaits you in Pie Town.
Southwest of Albuquerque