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Monte Vista Inn: Pie Time in the Sierra

Posted by Christopher Hall on January 15, 2014
  • a table of pies at Monte Vista Inn in Dutch Flats California, image
    Photo caption
    A table of assorted pies at Monte Vista Inn tempts you to save room for dessert.
  • Fireplace with deer above mantel at Monte Vista Inn, image
    Photo caption
    Feel at home by the fireplace at the Monte Vista Inn.

Road Journals Blog—According to the American Pie Council—yes, such a group really exists—January 23 is National Pie Day. But at a historic roadhouse in Dutch Flat, Calif., just off Interstate 80 in the Sierra Nevada, every day is pie day.

The rotating and copious selection of house-baked pies at the Monte Vista Inn (32106 Ridge Rd., Dutch Flat; 916-389-2333) has had generations of I-80 travelers braking at the Dutch Flat exit. The building dates from the late 1930s and the current owners, the Wardwell family, took over in 1972. For years before and after the Wardwells arrived, the pies were made by a woman from nearby Gold Run; she eventually passed the pie-making apron to her daughter, who in turn has passed it to a Wardwell daughter, Holland.

Dinner entrees here skew toward standard steakhouse fare, there's live music most Saturday evenings, and the dining room radiates rustic, mountain-lodge charm. But the real stars are the
15 or so desserts available each night, most of them in the form of pie.

A lot of places say their pie tastes like Mom made it, and at the Monte Vista Inn that's the truth. Crusts are flaky, fillings substantial. Depending on the season, you'll find raspberry, triple berry, strawberry-rhubarb, and other fruit pies. Supplementing them are a host of regular but changing offerings—mocha, coconut custard, bourbon walnut, Butterfinger ice cream, and thin mint ice cream, to name a few. A scoop of à la mode on that slice of Dutch apple? Sure, why not. You've still got miles to go on I-80.

Photography by Christopher Hall

This blog post was first published in January 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.