Good to Go is a column where our food writers explore Dallas' restaurant scene through takeout orders, delivery boxes and reheated leftovers.
“Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”
In his 1999 play Boston Marriage, playwright David Mamet gave one of his characters that quotable line. After months of sheltering in place, you might be ready to test out the theory, or maybe you just like pie.
Either way, JudyPie in historic downtown Grapevine offers some wonderful to-go pie options you’ll want to try.
With whole pies, 6-inch mini pies, pie slices and close to a dozen other treats, the vintage-style shop stands ready to satisfy more than your sweet tooth. These desserts come with a side of nostalgia, especially if you have fond memories of pies your mother or grandmother made.
“Our main ingredient in every pie is love,” owner Judy Balunda says. “I know that sounds hokey, but it’s true. Every pie has a story to tell, and no two pies look the same because they are made totally by hand, even the whipped cream, just like my mother, Rhoda, did.”
Family recipes are highlighted in many of the pies on the menu, but some of Balunda’s experiments have resulted in deliciously inventive flavors.
The shop’s twist on a banana cream pie is called banana pudding pie, baked in a vanilla wafer crust and topped with whole vanilla wafers.
German chocolate cake gets reimagined as pie, and this one is Balunda’s favorite. The rich chocolate filling in shortbread crust is similar to the shop’s flourless chocolate torte in texture: It’s cake-like, but also comparable to fudge. Topped with the familiar gooey coconut-pecan topping, this dream of a dessert is one of four different chocolate pies on the daily menu at JudyPie.
As much as I love chocolate, my favorite is a specialty pie recently returned to the menu. Named after long-time Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Bud Kennedy, the “Bud blue” is a cream cheese pie topped with blueberries and whipped cream in a graham cracker crust.
You may have memories of eating a pie like this, which was usually made from a boxed mix and topped with canned cherry pie filling. In my family, this no-bake pie made regular appearances at church socials and family reunions. But JudyPie’s version with the from-scratch, tart blueberry topping makes this pie better than any cream cheese pie I can recall.
The sweets menu isn’t limited to just pie. Cinnamon rolls, hand pies and homemade toaster pastries are offered, as well as gluten-free goodies and homemade dog treats.
You can also choose from a solid selection of cookies. The highlight here is the skillet cookie, a bigger-than-your-hand cookie made with chocolate chips, caramel, salt and pretzels.
Two savory pies – chicken pot pie and shepherd’s pie — are also mainstays on the menu and have been in high demand from the shop’s takeout program during the pandemic.
The tiny shop has made several adjustments to make social distancing possible in the small space. An ordering table set up just inside the doorway lets customers pick up orders placed online or make their selections without entering the store.
“If someone walks up wearing a mask, we will let them in to have a look at the pies, especially if they have never been in before,” Balunda says. “We will let in up to four guests in at a time. We no longer have indoor seating, but our curbside pickup and Uber Eats keep us hopping.”
Customers in masks space themselves along the sidewalk in front of the store in another sign that the 4-year-old shop is still thriving. Balunda says she feels blessed during the pandemic.
The staff has also previously collected donations of toiletries for MHMR while encouraging customers to write loving notes for recipients. The store promoted the donation program at its weekly Pie Bingo nights before COVID-19.
For now, the in-store bingo parties are on hold, but a special back-to-school pie bingo is planned for the end of August as a Zoom event. Adapting to make things work from a safe distance can be a challenge, but JudyPie is keeping the pie — and the love — coming.
JudyPie, 520 S. Main St. Suite 200, Grapevine. 817-400-7437. Open for takeout 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.