You've scraped up the last bit of mashed potatoes and captured a few rogue field peas rolling around on the plate. All that remains are the bones from the fried chicken. Still, you've managed to reserve some tummy space for the pinnacle of the meal: the homemade pie.
Pie making is a highly prized culinary art form in the South, where technique is passed down from one generation to another as reverently as great-grandmother's wedding ring. Juicy fruits, berries, spiced sweet potato, buttery pecan and silky, tangy buttermilk are among the most favored varieties.
Creating unforgettable pies is a robust endeavor not just in home kitchens, but in a growing number of South Carolina's restaurants and bakeries where signature pies are a source of pride. Ready for a slice? Take your pick from these establishments with a reputation for great pie making.
Aunny's Country Kitchen, Georgetown A Georgetown gem, Aunny's delights locals and tourists with a menu of down-home favorites like fried chicken, pork chops, okra, greens, mac and cheese and, of course, that homemade pie. Pies to try: Sweet potato, coconut, coconut-pecan
Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop, Greenville It's a pie lover's dream - an entire shop bent on turning out delicious pies. Head to Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop in Greenville and satisfy your craving for pie classics or discover a new favorite.
Pies to try: Buttermilk, I-40 (pecan, chocolate chip and coconut), Granny's apple, coconut cream
Carolina Cider Company, Yemassee and St. Helena Island This purveyor of Southern goodies sells a variety of grits, cornmeal, jams, preserves, ciders and relishes. The biggest draw at Carolina Cider Company, however, is the homemade pies that come in two sizes to fit all appetites.
Pies to try: Apple, sweet potato, pecan
Howard's Restaurant, Moncks Corner Since 1958, home-cooked breakfasts and lunches have been the calling card at Howard's Restaurant, where there is no menu. (Try asking for one if you want a lecture from the management. Otherwise, just say what you're in the mood for.) Patrons routinely end their meals with a slice of freshly baked pie. Again, just ask for your favorite and if they have it, it will appear.
Kaminsky's Dessert Cafe, Charleston, West Ashley and Columbia Dessert is a way of life at Kaminsky's, including its signature batch of flaky, decadent pies, all kinds.
Pies to try: Bourbon pecan, coconut cream, Toll House
Kudzu Bakery, Litchfield, Columbia and Mount Pleasant Carefully selected ingredients make Kudzu's baked goods some of the tastiest around, with pies that are filled with the finest nuts and seasonal fruits. The Columbia location is a fairly recent addition, much to the delight of the Soda City crowd.
Pies to try: Pecan, lemon chess, strawberry-rhubarb, peach, blueberry
Millers All Day, Charleston and James Island When a farmer and miller come together in a Charleston restaurant enterprise, it's a given that good pie will figure into the mix. If you don't aim to eat pie as an entree at Millers, resist the urge to peer into the baked goods display when you walk in.
Pies to try: Brown coconut cream, honey pecan
Peach Stand, Fort Mill While there's an abundance of luscious things to eat at this hopping pit stop for farm fresh produce, baked goods, ice cream and more, the Peach Stand's fresh-baked pies are always a showstopper.
Pies to try: Peach, blueberry, apple, strawberry
Strossner's Bakery, Cafe & Deli, Greenville This deli-bakery combo is the Upstate's go-to spot for all kinds of pies, each one an example of Strossner's skilled pie making.
Pies to try: Banana cream, chocolate cream, cherry, peach, pumpkin
Sugar Bakeshop, Charleston This small-batch operation, aptly named Sugar Bakeshop, specializes in all kinds of baked goods and pastries, including a rich selection of pies.