100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes: No. 97, Bean Pie at Conscious Cafe

This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.

I have two reasons for loving the bean pie at Third Ward hangout Conscious Cafe. One is the fascinating background of the dessert, its evolution from Southern sweet potato pie to a predominately Northern treat made from -- you guessed it -- navy beans. It was an evolution that occurred solely due to religious reasons, as African-American adherents to the Nation of Islam's teachings found ways to substitute forbidden foods in their traditional favorites.

The other reason I love bean pie is much less academic; it's just damn delicious. You'd never know it was made from navy beans, with a sweet taste and smooth consistency that is a remarkable simulacrum of sweet potato pie with a graham cracker crust. With warm undertones of nutmeg and cinnamon, this is a dessert that tastes just as good in the summer as it does in the winter, especially with an iced coffee from Conscious Cafe.

And the best part? As seen above, you can buy an entire pie to take home -- just remember to call the cafe and order ahead.

The list so far:

No. 100: Dumplings at Heights Asian Cafe No. 99: Mixta Pizza at Friends Pizzeria No. 98: Veggie tacos from Radical Eats

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Katharine Shilcutt