The Best Slices Of Pie In The US, According To Tasting Table Staff

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When it comes to a good slice of pie, you know it when you taste it: Perfect in its simplicity, flaky, buttery golden crust gives way to a filling that's soft, but not too soft, firm, but not hard — each bite a revelation. On the flip side, a bad slice of pie is something we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy: Crust that is bafflingly dry, pale and underbaked; a too-sweet or overly salty, runny filling; and (Mary Berry's arch nemesis) a soggy bottom.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell the bad from the good without forking over your hard-earned cash, so we're here to help next time you're looking for a little taste of heaven. Here are Tasting Table staff's top slices of pie across the U.S., guaranteed to knock your socks off. (And if you're looking to try the pie pictured above, start preheating your oven and check out our classic pecan pie recipe.)

From Brooklyn to Big Bear, we've got the sweet, the savory, and the "don't knock it till you try it." Let's dig in.

Key lime pie at Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie in Brooklyn - Stephanie Friedman

If you're a fan of key lime pie (and honestly, who isn't?) it doesn't get much more legitimate than Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie. As the name suggests, this Brooklyn shop doesn't mess around with a vast menu — it knows what it's good at and sticks to it. Self-proclaimed "home of the fresh squeezed key lime pie," Steve's focuses on high-quality ingredients. The pies' crusts are made simply with house-baked Graham crackers and butter, and Steve's only uses 100% freshly squeezed key lime juice.

The commitment to quality is obvious after just one bite. The sweet, tart, creamy key lime filling bursts in your mouth, paired perfectly with a crumbly, buttery crust. The real distinction between Steve's and your average grocery store pie comes down to freshness — the key lime flavor is so potent it's easy to see why the shop stays away from bottled juice. You can buy full-sized pies or single-serve and mini tarts if you're afraid of scarfing down an entire pie in one sitting (which is a real possibility).

For the ultimate experience, try "The Swingle": a key lime tart frozen on a Popsicle stick and dipped in Belgian chocolate — you'll never go back to chocolate-covered ice cream again.

Birthday pie at Pie Junkie in Oklahoma City - Matt Kirouac

The eternal debate of pie versus cake comes to a truce at Pie Junkie, an adorable slice of Americana in Oklahoma City's artsy Plaza District where one of the seminal sweets is an epic mashup called birthday pie.

Essentially a pie that tastes like a cake (or a cake masquerading as a pie, depending on how you look at it), Pie Junkie's birthday pie is a confetti-colored confection that features a silken cake batter mousse filling in a vanilla wafer and sprinkle crust, which is piped with a ring of fluffy whipped cream and strewn with more sprinkles. As a fan of both cake and pie, it's a dream come true for me. The whole thing tastes like vanilla cake and buttercream frosting baked in a cookie crust, proving once and for all that pie deserves an equal spot at your next birthday party.

Vinegar pie at Butterjoint in Pittsburg - Erica Martinez

I'm pretty sure that the only reason I ordered vinegar pie at Butterjoint in Pittsburgh is because I had never once eaten something I didn't like at the cozy restaurant. I'd never heard of vinegar pie before, probably because it's not a pie you see every day (or, like, ever). A type of desperation pie, vinegar pie was developed in 19th century America as a method of making dessert when certain ingredients were not available, like apples and lemons. Yes, there is vinegar in the recipe; No, the pie doesn't taste like vinegar — it tastes, in fact, sublime.

At Butterjoint, the vinegar pie is smooth and creamy, with a tartness similar to apple. The top is gorgeously caramelized and very sweet; A crispy, toothsome layer of brown sugar and butter that perfectly balances the tangy custard. Butterjoint's pie crust is lard-based, which makes it extraordinarily flaky, and melt-in-your-mouth tender. As someone who has historically considered pie crust "meh" at best, I never leave a single crumb. Served with local vanilla ice cream, Butterjoint's vinegar pie is hands down the most remarkable slice I've ever eaten.

French silk pie at Village Inn in Albuquerque - Brendan McGinley

Did you know that there's an American Pie Council? Yes, an entire organization exists just to ensure that Americans continue to love pie. Seems like a free throw, but have you considered that your love of pie may actually be due to the fact that our national pie lobbyists are just really good at their jobs? Whatever the answer, the American Pie Council thinks Village Inn makes America's Best Pie and I do, too.

I don't expect you to take Big Pie's word for it, given the council's natural investment in pie consumption. I'm telling you from firsthand experience that a decade ago I stopped at a Village Inn location for lunch with no foreknowledge of its reputation in the pie industry. I ate a slice of French silk pie that was such a jaw-dropper the rest of my trip included a mandatory Village Inn visit each day to try the remaining pie menu.

Navy bean pie at Abu's Homestyle Bakery in Brooklyn - Katherine Peach

Abu's Homestyle Bakery is a Bed-Sty mainstay serving its signature bean pies in a small, standing-room-only storefront. Tucked on Franklin Street, the navy bean pie is known to draw a crowd — and my pick for the top slice in the U.S.

A Muslim-American dish, navy bean pie became popular in the 1960s and was featured in chef Lana Shabazz's 1979 cookbook detailing Muhammad Ali's favorite recipes. Abu's bean pie is just the right amount of sweet, tasting nutty with a mix of brown sugar and cinnamon flavors. It's reminiscent of Thanksgiving but distinct from sweet potato pie (the bakery makes a good one of these as well). The filling is firm, yet custard-smooth and tender with each bite.

Let it be said, Abu's bean pie is so good that half my of personal pie was commandeered by my fellow taste testers, so you'll want to order one per person — they're too good to share. The mini-pies cost $3 and are about the equivalent of a slice, while the regular navy bean pie will set you back $6, making this not only the best pie in Brooklyn but also the best deal.

Turtle Brownie mini pie at I Like Pie in Claremont - Erin Shaw

It's not often that I'll drive an hour for pie, but the mini pies from I Like Pie in Claremont, California are so good I've been known to hop in the car and head east from Los Angeles for a little foodie day trip. Of all the flavors at I Like Pie, the one that calls my name most often is the Turtle Brownie mini pie. A decadent brownie baked into a buttery, flakey pie crust, with a dollop of sweet cream cheese filling and topped with a drizzle of smooth, rich caramel, and a smattering of candied pecans, the dessert has me coming back on the regular.

Aside from this pie being a delicious treat, I love the size, which allows me to try more than one flavor. These pies are perfect to nibble on as you stroll through the village's tree-lined streets, taking in the many specialty shops, like clothing boutiques, a record store, a cheese shop, and the famous Folk Music Center. In my opinion, there's nothing sweeter than a bit of window shopping with a tasty treat in hand.

Chocolate Checkmate pie at Pickle's Pie Shop in Big Bear - Lei Shishak

One of the best slices of pie you'll ever try is in Southern California at an elevation of 6,700 feet. Those in the know trek up the mountains above Los Angeles with one destination in mind: Pickle's Pie Shop. Set in a whimsical, hobbit-style building, this wondrous food purveyor churns out a dreamy chocolate pie that is not to be missed.

Pickles (yes, that's the owner's name) and the close-knit team created the Chocolate Checkmate pie last year and it's been a bestseller ever since. Described as a "pie-meets-fudgy brownie soufflé," the filling (made with Barry Callebaut cocoa powder) rises about an inch over the tender, all-butter crust, giving the pie an eye-catching appearance that makes it impossible to ignore.

If you're not a chocolate fan (gasp), Pickle's is still worth a stop, serving up other tasty slices like mixed berry and Sweater Weather (maple, blueberry, ginger, and cherry). The shop also offers savory take-and-bake 6-inch pot pies, which are sold frozen.

Chicken pot pie at Hoosier Mama in Chicago - Matthew Spina

Few dishes have been wronged by modern food culture the way pot pies have. Relegated to the frozen food aisle, pot pies are usually sad little microwavable meals with mushy crust and soupy filling, able to somehow burn your mouth while still being a little cold in the center. And don't even get me started on the plates of stew that get covered with puff pastry and called pot pie. They may taste good, but crust is not an accessory to a pot pie, it's half the dish, and those are not pot pies. Thankfully we still have places like Hoosier Mama Pie Company that know what a real pot pie is.

I briefly worked at Chicago's Hoosier Mama, so I can say with some authority that all the pies are great, but the savory ones are truly something else. The company's chicken pot pie is the type of meal that rewires your brain. The pie is rich, savory, and creamy, with big pieces of roast chicken, potatoes, and other vegetables. It embodies what pot pies are supposed to be, which is everything good about a gravy-soaked homemade meal wrapped up in a delicious, flaky crust. I only hesitate to recommend it because, in the years since I first had one, no other chicken pot pie has come close. Eat one and you'll be chasing that same experience the rest of your life. (Alternatively, you can buy the Hoosier Mama cookbook and start making them yourself.)

Sour cream apple pie at Martha's Country Bakery in Brooklyn - Autumn Swiers

As a card-carrying foodie with a village-razing sweet tooth, I venture out on semi-regular pie expeditions. Luckily, bakeries in New York City stay open late, and as this is America, Home of the Pie, there's always a new slice to taste.

The shining jewel of these ventures is Martha's Country Bakery. There are two Martha's locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but I typically hit the one on Bedford and North 1st. (The dining room is darker.) Inside, a sprawling pastry case lines the entire length of the store, showcasing glistening cheesecake, massive cookies, flawless cupcakes, and more. Today, though, we're here for the sour cream apple pie.

The apples are sliced thin enough to be thrown through a closed door jamb and every few bites you'll get an apple with a whisper-thin strip of intact peel — an unexpected but welcome textural component. Sour cream ripples lock in moisture, protecting this slice from the Sahara-esque dryness to which so many other crumble-topped pies fall prey. Speaking of the crumble: It's lightly caramelized brown sugar and cinnamon, dotted with big chunks of candied walnuts. This isn't a hyper-sweet slice, and it goes perfectly with a cup of black coffee (which Martha's also serves, and it's always hot). I swing by nearly every Wednesday when the Pie Special rolls around.

Chess pie at Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House in Lynchburg - John Tolley

There's a lot to love about Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House in Lynchburg, Tennesse. First, the name is both a mouthful and a misnomer: While Mary Bobo did run it as a boarding house for many years, playing host to the president of the town bank and the Treasury agents assigned to the nearby Jack Daniel's Distillery, she died in 1983 and it hasn't housed an overnight guest in decades. Second is the boarding house serving style: Guests purchase a ticket, are seated at a table with strangers, and plate after plate of food is brought out until everyone has had their fill. The fare is traditional Southern and there are always two meats — like fried catfish or meatloaf — along with bountiful sides such as fried okra and corn muffins. Of course, we're here to talk about pie, and Miss Mary Bobo's is famous for it.

The best on the menu (and I would argue in the nation) is Miss Mary Bobo's chess pie. Copious amounts of butter, eggs, a touch of vinegar, and a little cornmeal come together to create a moist custard filling that rivals St. Louis' famed gooey butter cake for richness. The pie has a flaky lard crust and comes topped with a dollop of homemade whipped cream that features no small amount of "hometown product" (i.e. Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey).