Slice of Pumpkin Pie at Bang Bang Pie Shop ($5)
Bang Bang's dynamic pumpkin pie is a feast of different textures and flavors. There is, of course, the creamy pumpkin filling, which would taste great even if it had been plopped in a frozen crust. Instead, it comes in a crumbly, salty graham cracker crust. On top is a dollop of airy whipped cream and crunchy pumpkin seed brittle. If you've ever considered pumpkin pie boring, one bite of this slice will change your mind.
Tamale at Mana Food Bar ($4)
What might be most surprising about Mana's pumpkin tamale is how straightforward and confident it is. Instead of dressing it up with a dozen toppings, the tamale is served all wrapped in its corn husk. Even the pumpkin seed mole is served on the side. But this is a serious tamale, one that mixes soft and fragrant corn masa with sweet pumpkin and roasted jalapeño.
Cappellacci di Zucca at Piccolo Sogno ($17)
Piccolo Sogno stuffs this pasta with sweet roasted pumpkin, and then pairs it with a buttery sage sauce, salty Parmesan, and meaty walnuts. The result feels like the embodiment of fall in the Midwest—when you cut into the pasta, you can see the orange color of the pumpkin—albeit with a slight, but significant, detour through Italy.
Masa Flat Bread at Antique Taco ($9)
It may be called a masa flat bread, but Antique Taco's newest menu item is really a huarache, complete with a soft and satisfying masa base. But instead of slathering the top with refried beans, chef Rick Ortiz uses salty and tangy goat cheese. It's a fascinating choice, and it sets the stage for a collection of fall vegetables, including beets and, of course, pumpkin. Some orange slices add a bracing acidity to this fascinating take on a huarache.
Carbassa Cocktail at Mercat a la Planxa ($13)
Want to drink your pumpkin? Step right up to the bar at Mercat a la Planxa and order the Carbassa, which features both pumpkin syrup and house-made pumpkin spice bitters, along with lime juice, cinnamon, and Torres orange Liqueur. Like apple cider, it's one of those drinks that just tastes like the season. It warms you up inside, while also making you hungry from the restaurant's Spanish tapas.
Pumpkin Pie Concrete at Scooter's ($4.30)
While glad I was able to sample so many different kinds of dishes, I would have been happy eating all of my pumpkin in pie form. What I didn't expect was a dish could be improved by simply adding pie to it. Scooter's is currently selling a pumpkin pie concrete, which features a slice of pumpkin pie mixed up with the restaurant's excellent custard.