Pie is an essential part of the Thanksgiving meal, but nothing says you have to make it yourself. Many area bakeries and pastry shops try to have pies available right up until Turkey Day. But to be sure you get the pie you want, order ahead. Here's a rundown of pies we found from bakeries and specialty food stores.

BEST BUNS BREAD CO.

Pecan and pumpkin are the holiday highlights here, with a chocolate bourbon pecan pie (9-inch, $19) and a pumpkin chiffon pie (9-inch, $14). Order by Nov. 22. 4010 S. 28th St., Arlington; call 703-578-1500.

DEAN & DELUCA

Pastry chef Lynn Zuckerman has planned for a slew of 10-inch pies for Thanksgiving, including the usual pumpkin, apple and pecan ($20 each) and sweet potato ($28). Or consider a crumb-topped apple pie ($25), deep-dish pumpkin ($28) or deep-dish apple with sun-dried cranberries ($28). Order by Nov. 21. 3276 M St. NW; call 202-342-2500.

DESSERTS BY GERARD

Gerard Huet has a mind-boggling 28 pies available for Thanksgiving with prices ranging from $9.50 for pumpkin to $25 for fresh raspberry (all 8-inch pies). For a twist on the usual harvest theme, what about a pear-chestnut-sweet potato pie ($12.95) or apple-walnut-cranberry ($15.95)? Order by Nov. 22 with Thanksgiving Day pickup available from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. 6341 Livingston Rd., Oxon Hill; call 301-839-2185.

EATZI'S

Pies aren't normally a staple of this Rockville food extravaganza--except at the holidays. Look for 9-inch varieties of pumpkin ($10.99), pecan, apple and cherry streusel (all $12.99). Order by Nov. 22. 11503-B Rockville Pike, Rockville; call 301-816-2020.

FIREHOOK BAKERY

Cinnamon meringue tops Firehook's popular sweet potato pie ($14, serves 6 to 8), one of five special pies available for the holidays. Order by Nov. 22. Locations in Old Town Alexandria, Dupont Circle, Farragut Square and Cleveland Park, or at www.firehook.com.

MOM'S APPLE PIE

It's hard to beat Mom's 26 varieties, which are made with a minimum of sugar and lots of home-grown fruit. Most are 9-inch pies and range in price from $6.99 to $15. Order by Nov. 22. 296 Sunset Park Dr., Herndon; call 703-471-6266. Also 220 Loudoun St. SE, Leesburg; call 703-771-8590.

PASTRIES BY RANDOLPH

What keeps people coming back year after year is the pumpkin mousse pie (9-inch, $18.50). Order by Nov. 23 for pick-up on Thanksgiving Day. 4500 Lee Hwy., Arlington; call 703-243-0070.

PASTRY DESIGNS

They're called tarts rather than pies at this European-style bakery. Look for a rustic cranberry and walnut tart (8-inch, $20; 10-inch, $30) and a pear tart with cranberries and frangipani filling (8-inch, $18; 10-inch, $30). Order by Nov. 20. 4929 Elm St., Bethesda; call 301-656-0536.

PATISSERIE POUPON

Everything's fresh in Poupon's pumpkin pie (9-inch, $13.75). Ditto for the various fruit tarts (8-inch, $21; 10-inch, $29.50) and an interesting strawberry pistachio tart (8-inch, $21; 10-inch, $29.50). Order at least a week ahead. 1645 Wisconsin Ave. NW; call 202-342-3248.

PIE GOURMET

Owners Joseph and Marie Merenda work around the clock come Thanksgiving, making hundreds of pies available until 11 a.m. on Turkey Day. Favorites include cranberry-apple and a sugar-free apple pie (8-inch, $11.95; 10-inch $16.95) as well as bona-fide mincemeat pie (8-inch, $12.95; 10-inch, $17.95). Order at least a week ahead. 507 Maple Ave. W., Vienna; call 703-281-7437.

SEN5ES

What keeps Sen5es' pumpkin pie (8-inch, $22) from being too dry? Co-owner Bruno Feldeisen's secret is to undercook it slightly. Order this and other specialties, including apple crumble pie (8-inch, $22) and a linzer torte (8-inch, $26), by Nov. 23. 3206 Grace St. NW; call 202-342-9083.

SUTTON PLACE GOURMET

Six pies are featured on Sutton's Thanksgiving menu, including the usual suspects (9-inch pumpkin, apple and pecan, $9.99 to $14.99) as well as an apple-pear-chardonnay pie (8-inch, $14.99). Order by Nov. 22. At all Sutton Place Gourmet locations.

SWEET SURRENDER

New owner Anne Falk has ambitious plans for her Thanksgiving pies, which include an apple crunch (9-inch, $12.50), pumpkin-caramel-pecan (9-inch, $13.50) and a Turtle tart (9-inch, $15). Order by 2 p.m. Nov. 20. 3522 12th St. NE; call 202-529-6331.

UPTOWN BAKERS

All the classics--apple, pumpkin and pecan--are available here in 10-inch pies that range in price from $9.99 to $12.50. Or try the harvest medley, which combines cranberries, apples and raisins (10-inch, $12.50). 3133 Connecticut Ave. NW; call 202-362-6262. Also 3471 N. Washington Blvd., Arlington; call 703-527-6262.