Eleven-year-old Liberty Cafe, now an institution in Bernal Heights, built its reputation on pie. Baker/owner Cathie Guntli's menu still features the ultimate chicken pot pie topped with buttery, multi-layered crust and filled with velvety chicken, bright vegetables and creamy gravy with deep chicken flavor. The small, ingredient-driven menu changes monthly but she doesn't dare remove the pot pie. Her tall-yet-delicate banana cream pie is another staple. Patrons drive across town for lunch and dinner, circle for parking and wait outside on a bench until one of a handful of tables becomes open just to have these pies. Now that the Cottage Bakery is open in the back, locals drop by in the morning for freshly baked breads, croissants with house-made jam and French pastries with coffee. The bakery becomes a wine bar Thursday through Saturday — a place where people can wait with a glass of wine until a table opens for pie.
The Liberty Cafe
410 Cortland Ave., San Francisco
(415) 695-8777; www.thelibertycafe.com
South African Yumna McCann’s savory chicken curry pies with haunting, aromatic, chicken and potato filling and hallmark buttery, flaky crusts have become an obsession for pie aficionados. You can taste them hot at Mission Pie, (2901 Mission St., San Francisco) or buy them to bake at home at the La Cocina stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market on Saturdays. For more information, visit www.mystipies.com.