Review: First bite at Pop Pie Co.

Located near the gateway to University Heights, Pop Pie Co. is the brainchild of business partners Steven Torres and chef Gan Suebsarakham. The indoor/outdoor, dog-friendly fast-casual cafe serves coffee drinks and a limited menu of traditional pot pies, hand pies, small dessert pies and side dishes.

In his native Thailand, Suebsarakham grew up eating traditional Australian meat pies. The ones he's created at Pop Pie honor those roots but also incorporate Southeast Asian and Latin American ingredients. The shop's signature is its flaky, rich all-butter double pie crust, which takes two days to make. I sampled most of the shop's pies (which sell for $8 to $8.50 each) on a pair of visits and found most of them as good as grandma's original, with fresh, high quality ingredients, including white meat chicken, fresh vegetables and cream.

Standouts include the British-inspired Steak & Ale pie (tender beef in a rich beer-enhanced sauce), the spicy Poblano & Corn "Rajas" pie (white meat chicken, fresh corn and roasted poblano chiles in a cream sauce) and the Green Curry Chicken (rich flavors of coconut milk and kaffir lime). The chicken pot pie is just OK and my mushroom and ale pie was dry. Among the optional side dishes, choose the kale salad. Brightened with lemon, its lightness is a good contrast for the heavy pies.

The best of the 3-inch mini desserts is the warm German chocolate pie, oozing with coconut, caramel and dark chocolate. The coconut cream pie is little more than long shavings of fresh coconut meat mixed in a cream base, which make it difficult to eat.

There's not much variety at Pop Pie, but that hasn't hurt its business. It's a hot spot for coffee aficionados, hipster and dog-lovers, who can order at the window and dine with their pooch on the outdoor deck.

Pop Pie Co., 4404 Park Blvd., University Heights. (619) 501-4440. poppieco.com

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