What should you bring to Thanksgiving dinner when you’re not doing any of the cooking? (But you still plan on doing a lot of the eating and drinking.) We’ve put together a list of ideas featuring local makers guaranteed to elevate your guest status.

Slab pies at Piebird’s kitchen in Lawrenceville. Photo by Tom O’Connor.
Slab pies at Piebird’s kitchen in Lawrenceville. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

First of all, there’s no such thing as “too much pie.”

You’ve probably seen Piebird’s mouthwatering “slab pies” at pop-up events and markets around the city. The Lawrenceville-based pastry kitchen specializes in rustic and seasonal pies all made from scratch. They make traditional pies along with the larger sheet tray size. Now through Sunday (11/19), Piebird is taking Thanksgiving orders for pies that will be ready for pickup on Wednesday (11/22).

The most popular flavors this season are salted caramel apple and bourbon pecan, according to Jason Thomas and Annalee DePaoli, the co-owners and husband-wife team behind Piebird.

One new flavor, pumpkin s’mores, is also garnering a lot of interest. It’s made with a graham cracker crust, pumpkin custard, house-made marshmallow fluff and dark chocolate shavings. “It’s been a real hit at our most recent pop-up events,” says Thomas.

Other Piebird options include Dutch apple cranberry, pumpkin praline, chocolate bourbon pecan, and, of course, straight-up pumpkin.

While the deadline for ordering Thanksgiving pies is Sunday, Piebird will be available for catering, wholesale and special orders as usual through the holiday season.

Wigle’s Afterglow Ginger Whiskey. Photo by Wigle Whiskey.
Wigle’s Afterglow Ginger Whiskey. Photo by Wigle Whiskey.

You can’t lose with good booze.

Wigle Whiskey features an ever-growing selection of locally-crafted spirits perfect for holiday gatherings. Bottles of Wapsie Valley Pennsylvania Bourbon, Straight Monongahela Rye or Afterglow Ginger Whiskey (just to name a few) make great additions to any bar. Colorful eye-catching labels make them great gifts.

Maggie’s Farm Rum features a large selection of award-winning locally made rums. Their dark and spiced rums help make great cocktails for the holiday season.

Engine House 25 features locally made wines like the Clemente Cabernet or the Franco Harris Sangiovese. Stop by the tasting room to try these and other tasty selections and find the perfect choice for Thanksgiving dinner.

Pick up a growler of small-batch cider from Arsenal Cider House for a delicious local alternative. They also have a tasting room where you can sample different varieties.

Brothers Anthony, Michael and Nicholas Ambeliotis of Mediterra Bakehouse. Photo by Mediterra Bakehouse.

Even more options from local makers:

Wheel & Wedge offers crafted cheese platters featuring locally made selections from Goat Rodeo Dairy and Parma sausage from the Strip. Platters can be ordered online in advance and include crackers, nuts, dried fruits, pickles and everything else you need. If you know your cheeses, they even accept custom orders.

A colorful selection of French macaroons will be an attention-grabber on any dessert table. Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery (Millvale),  Gaby et Jules (Squirrel Hill), and Macaron Bar in the Ross Park Mall all offer delicious assortments of ganache-filled goodness.

Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches fall four-pack. Photo by Leona’s Ice Cream.
Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches fall four-pack. Photo by Leona’s Ice Cream.

Local favorite Leona’s Ice Cream is offering a Thanksgiving holiday four-pack of their unique ice cream sandwiches in fall-inspired flavors like pumpkin caramel, maple nut, apple cinnamon and vanilla. (See their website for ordering and pickup details.) You can also find pints in pie-friendly flavors from Leona’s as well as at Millie’s Homemade (Shadyside and Market Square) and Betsy’s (Mt. Lebanon).

Freshly baked bread is a smart choice for big dinners, and great for turkey sandwiches later. Mediterra Bakehouse offers an inspired selection of artisan loaves with beautiful designs baked into the crusts. Olive farm loaf, San Francisco sourdough and cranberry pecan are just a few of the flavors offered at the Robinson Township shop. La Gourmandine Bakery (Lawrenceville, Hazelwood, Mt.Lebanon) stocks a selection of French-style creations that will look great on any table. Additionally, Chef Becca Hegarty is baking “Bread & Salt” inspired loaves at the newly-opened Bitter Ends Garden & Luncheonette.

Finally, fresh ground, locally-roasted coffee is always a crowd-pleaser at the end of a holiday meal. Zeke’s Coffee, Commonplace Coffee, La Prima Espresso and Klvn are a few of the local roasters offering a variety of blends to fit the occasion.

Tom O'Connor

Tom O'Connor is a photographer and writer currently based in Pittsburgh.