As Southerners, pie is in our blood. We like them filled with pecans, topped high with meringue, chilled in the icebox, and every variation thereof. Here are some places you must try around the South.
New Albany, Mississippi
New Albany is one of those little Mississippi towns that you’ll miss if you blink, and you don’t want to miss Sugaree’s Bakery. Classic Southern cakes are what brought Sugaree’s into the spotlight, but the pies here are not to be missed. Pecan and chess pies are available every day, but the famous five-pound (yes, really!) chocolate meringue pie is available only on Fridays, so plan accordingly.
110 W. Bankhead St.
Wild Flour Pastry
Charleston, South Carolina
Pastry Chef Lauren Mitterer is living her dream at WildFlour Pastry, and her dream will easily find its way into yours. Her pecan pie is stellar, with pecan halves caramelized in a dark brown sugar filling. The Key lime pie here has a bevy of devotees, and the chocolate caramel tart will make your mouth water just from seeing a picture. Lauren also bakes pies to order and offers single-serving-size portions at the bakery.
73 Spring St.
Sweet Auburn Bread Company
Sweet Auburn Bread Company might not specialize in pies, but they sure do make some wonderful ones. While it might be debated whether or not cheesecake qualifies as pie, in our book, it does, and Sweet Auburn’s sweet potato cheesecake is something everyone should experience. Chef Sonya Jones uses a combination of family recipes and her own ingenuity to create decadent desserts that respect the classic traditions while making them into something truly unique.
234 Auburn Ave. NE
Strawn’s Eat Shop
As far as the eats go, Strawn’s Eat Shop has the South covered. And you are supposed to eat a good meal before you have dessert, right? Strawn’s is famous for a cooling Southern summer delight—strawberry icebox pie. What exactly is an icebox pie? It’s as simple as fruit and cream in a crumb crust chilled to perfection. Strawn’s sweetens strawberries to the blissful heights of seasonal glory and layers on rich whipped cream that combines to form an ethereal treat.
125 Kings Hwy.
Charlotte’s Eats & Sweets
The meringue rises high at Charlotte’s Eats & Sweets. This preserved drugstore, complete with soda fountain, serves a wonderful lunch, but it’s the pie that’s made Charlotte’s a destination. She uses family recipes to make classic pies that will make you feel right at home. But her techniques take her above and beyond most home cooks. Her coconut cream pie with inches of fluffy meringue is a beauty to behold, but don’t let that stop you from devouring it.
290 Main St.
It’s easy to say that a restaurant is a landmark, but when you’re talking about Mammy’s Cupboard, you’re taking landmark to a whole new level. The entrance of Mammy’s is the skirt of a huge woman set beside the highway. Pie is not the first thing that comes to mind, at least not until you get inside. Then, there’s glorious lemon meringue pie, coconut cream pie, and banana caramel pie, just to name a few.
Mrs. Rowe’s Family Restaurant
Mrs. Rowe’s has become an institution among Southern restaurants, and the pies here are one of the contributing factors. Mrs. Rowe always encouraged her customers to order dessert first because the restaurant’s pies have always been popular enough to sell out before anything else. You’ll enjoy any classic you can think of here, from coconut cream to shoofly to fudge. And while it would be easy to fill up on pie (and perfectly fine to do so), keep in mind that pie isn’t all that put Mrs. Rowe’s on the map. Save some room for perfect spoonbread and plenty of other delicious Southern dishes.
74 Rowe Rd.
Durham, North Carolina
With a website like piefantasy.com, there’s a lot to live up to, and Scratch delivers on the promise. Everything here is made by hand using as many local products as possible. This means that the menu changes with the seasons, with special treats available as different produce peaks. You’ll find traditional pies like Shaker lemon alongside more modern and unique combinations like grapefruit meringue and sweet beet cream.
111 Orange St.
The Loveless Cafe
The Loveless Cafe is deservedly legendary. Chances are, you aren’t just going for the pie—so save room! You can get freshly baked pies along with a daily cobbler or crisp. One of the best things about the pies at the Loveless is that, while you can enjoy them there, the bakers in their kitchen share their recipes on the restaurant’s website, so you can re-create their famous pecan pie, fudge pie, or even their over-the-top bacon apple pie in your own kitchen.
8400 Tennessee Hwy. 100
Jim’s Kountry Pies
You might intend to just stop by Jim’s Kountry Pies to pick up a pie, but that’s not how it works. Jim’s Cajun wit and charm will lure you into a sit-down conversation that’s worth every minute of your time. Jim holds a treasure trove of Cajun history and heritage that he’s more than happy to share. And he’ll also share some of his pie-making secrets, although he’ll tell you, and rightly so, that you wouldn’t need him to tell you anything if you’d spent more time in the kitchen just watching your own mother and grandmother. Pie is about family to Jim, and by the time you leave his shop, it will be part of your family, too.
3606 Romero Rd.
Of course, PieLab is all about great pie, but it’s also pie for a good cause. All of the profits from PieLab go to the H.E.R.O. charity that provides resources for the citizens of Greensboro, Alabama. But it’s about even more than that. It’s about ideas. PieLab is a place for ideas to flourish and partnerships to form. It’s also a place for people to learn the skills of making great pies. Of course, you’ll find a great selection of classic pies every day at PieLab, but there’s always something special and seasonal like tangerine chess pie in the winter, pluot tart in the fall, and strawberry shortcake in the spring.
1317 Main St.
Muddy’s Bake Shop
Kat Gordon made Muddy’s Bake Shop famous in Memphis with her made-from-scratch cupcakes, but her pies are not to be missed. You can enjoy them whole or by the slice, knowing that every day they’re made from the freshest ingredients available. Kat’s recipes are based on her grandmother’s baking, but she adds her own twists that make her treats absolutely irresistible. Fruit pies here are always delicious, but keep an eye out for her fabulous chocolate chess pie, a masterpiece of velvety fudge that still manages to be light and smooth as silk.
5101 Sanderlin #114
A Few More Sweet Bites:
Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House
For one week in May, Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House in Huntington, West Virginia, becomes a strawberry pie mecca as local berries come into season and make their way into one of the best icebox pies you’ll ever eat.
Allen & Son BBQ
Allen & Son in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is a destination for barbecue, but don’t skip dessert. Pies here are homemade and change with the seasons and mood.
Edna’s Restaurant in Chatsworth, Georgia, serves up the usual Southern meat-and-three standards, but it’s the pies that keep people coming back. Edna’s makes very good chocolate and coconut pies, but the peanut butter cream pie is famous.
By Paul and Angela Knipple