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Where to eat in Savannah [MERGED TOPIC]


KatieLoeb
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Hi all:

A friend and co-worker is finally getting a well deserved vacation (hopefully I'm next :smile:) and has decided to visit Savannah. I'm hoping all of you serious travelers and gourmands as well as food professionals can recommend the not to be missed places there for a fellow foodie/restaurant person.

Thanks in advance for your advice!

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Skip breakfast and have lunch at Mrs. Wilkes'. Can't remember where it is, but locals and guidebooks should be able to tell - or just look for the line of people on the street. They take 10 people at a time from line and seat them together at a round table in the bottom floor of a historic house. For a fixed price ($10-12 - it's been a while, so can't remember but it is cheap), you get dish after dish of Southern classics (fried chicken, ham, spoonbread, okra, greens, biscuits, corn, and on and on) and eat until you are ready to explode. An unbelievable meal.

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Two don't-miss places:

The Lady & Sons

37 West Congress

912-233-2600

Elizabeth on 37th

105 East 37th

912-236-5547

Both are Southern at thier hearts, but a comparison is interesting. The Lady is traditional; Elizabeth is run by Elizabeth Terry, one of the original "New Southern" chefs and recipient of more awards than I can list here.

Damian is right about Mrs. Wilkes, too.

It's also a short trip to Charleston.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Be sure to eat a low country boiled dinner - a shrimp, sausage, fresh corn, baked potato combo - which can be more interesting than it sounds, and is widely available. There's a touristy strip of bars and restaurants along the river-front, but you can get some bargains there in respect of food which requires limited kitchen skills - huge tubs of fresh oysters and shrimp, crab and so on.

For informal dining with a southern slant and a reasonable choice of wines by the glass, Savannah Bistro. For a more upscale, formal experience, the Olde Pinke House. Essential thing to do in Savannah is tour the squares of the historic district and visit some of the stately homes which are open to the public.

You can take a guided tour, or get a guide book and make it up as you go. Excellent walking city.

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With respect to the mention of Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House... It is located at 107 West Jones Street in the downtown Historic District of Squares and cobblestones. Way back when I lived there, Jones Streeet was among the first to draw attention and some of the town's most prominent residents bought houses on that street to restore.

Note that Mrs. Wilkes died in December of 2002 and the restaurant stayed closed well into February while the family decided whether or not to continue. They, finally, DID decide to go on and I would imagine there has been no noticeable change in the food After all, staff numbered nearly forty and Mrs. Wilkes working in the kitchen was long in the past. She was there daily as inspiration and to supervise as well as to begin the lunch meal (at 11:30 a.m.) by saying "Grace".

Best fried chicken I've ever had and, yes, I put a lot of weight on when I worked nearby. Don't miss it !

Bob Sherwood

____________

“When the wolf is at the door, one should invite him in and have him for dinner.”

- M.F.K. Fisher

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Thanks to all of you for your kind advice. Unfortunately, my friend has changed her travel plans (or at least her destination) due to meeting up with family. However, I am now very interested invisting Savannah myself, so I will print out and save this information for future reference.

Again, many thanks for all of the great suggestions.

Katie

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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If time permits, reading the book"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is a good intro to some aspects of Savannah.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'll second the recommendation for the Lady & Sons. Probably my favorite restaurant in Savannah, and I always look forward to eating there when I'm in town. Be sure to get there early (or be prepared to wait): they're almost always packed, and while they're planning to expand, as far as I know, it's not happening for a while.

For barbecue, Wall's BBQ (515 E. York Lane) is good. Also good 'cue at Johnny Harris (1651 E. Victory Drive), which is a great old Savannah institution: it has a great big octagonal dining room with murals on the walls and ceiling. Neat place. I also like Carey Hilliard's (a local chain of eat-in restaurants) for barbecue; also good fried chicken.

For low country shrimp boil, the Crab Shack (on the road out to Tybee Island) does a good job, and it's also a fun place to eat. (Though if you're there during crab season, you should probably have those. Or go with a friend and get both...)

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  • 9 months later...

I will be visiting friends in the Savannah area in March. Where should I eat?? Looking for upscale suggestions for dinner, more interesting suggestions for lunch. I am from the north, so I would like to try some southern cuisine for lunch time...

Thanks!

Anthony

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is an institution. Real Southern cooking served family style in a delightfully old-school Victorian boarding house atmosphere.

If you go for lunch, you'll be hard pressed to eat dinner that night.

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

107 W. Jones St.

Savannah, GA 31401-4507

Phone: 912/232-5997

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I visited Savannah a year ago October.

One place that we ate that really stands out is the Casbah Moroccan restaurant.

The abmiance was incredible, the food delicious, and we had splendid evening.

This was our first and only experience with Moroccan food in a restaurant, but it certainly won't be the last!

Casbah

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Savannah has several decent upscale choices, especially when you consider it's a pretty small town. I personally think 45 South is the best, but it can be a little formal. Prior posts correctly noted that Elizabeth Terry is no longer the chef at Elizabeth on 37th, but it is still a favorite of many. Visitors seem to enjoy their inclusion of "Southern" ingredients, although I sometimes find the effort forced. Most Southerners ate grits, shrimp, country ham, collard greens and even red eye gravy (that’s ham drippings and black coffee) growing up, but never in a cast iron skillet timbale. Most Southerners also blanch at the idea of paying $7 for grits, even good grits.

Other good places downtown include Suzabelle's (noisy w/ live piano but fun) Garibaldi's (always order from the many "specials" on the chalk board, never off the menu), the Olde Pink House (nice setting in a late 1700s building), Sapphire Grill (serious wine list), Jean Louise (small, and you mostly eat what the chef feels like cooking) and Il Pasticcio (pretty good Italian, but that may not be what you have in mind). Of these, I would probably say Suzabelle’s is closest to Southern regional cuisine, but all are good. Garibaldi's and The Pink House have common ownership; their signature dish is a whole, crispy scored flounder in an apricot shallot sauce.

If you will venture as far as Tybee (the local beach), Georges’ and Tango are both very good. It’s about 20 minutes from downtown.

For lunch, I agree that Mrs. Wilkes is good food, and a good chance to taste several Southern dishes served family style (from communal bowls you pass around the table). Most locals don’t eat there, not because it isn’t good, but because there’s always a long line (you can get carry out from the back door, and one lunch will feed two people). Another place popular with visitors and locals is The Lady and Sons. Very Southern. Most people get the buffet, which is quite good for buffet food. Paula Deen, the owner, has a show on the food channel, so this place can get quite crowded, too. Lesser known but great Southern food can also be found at Queeny’s a Go Go.

A more refined lunch can be had at 1790 Inn, which is more of a white tablecloth place than the others. It’s in an old inn and quite reasonably priced. Good crab cakes. For an adventure, find Walls Bar-B-Que on an unpaved lane (we don’t have alleys in Savannah) downtown.

The only breakfast worth noting is at The Breakfast Club on Tybee. Excellent eggs florentine. It’s OK to get potatoes instead of grits.

If you have more specific preferences, I’ll try to be less general. I hope you will enjoy your visit; it's a great time of year to be here.

Edited by maf (log)

"Eat at Joe's."

- Joe

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therese, I’m not sure how long ago you ate at the Olde Pink House, but I’m guessing its been several years. While opinions on restaurants can vary wildly, it’s been a while since you could legitimately call the place dreadful. My wife and I were new to Savannah in 1986 and decided to go there for our first anniversary. Dreadful was an apt description; my “Veal Thomas Jefferson” wasn’t even a good microwave thaw-and eat. We didn’t go back for a long time, but the place changed hands a few years ago. It was purchased by the Balish family out of Charleston, who also owns Garibaldi’s and Bistro Savannah here. All three put out a consistently good meal. There is also a Garibaldi’s in Charleston and Columbia, SC, and they may own other places, as well. The bar in the basement of the Olde Pink House is also nice, especially on cooler nights when the fireplace is accompanying the piano jazz. If I have my local history right, the building that houses the restaurant was the first bank in Georgia (the old vault is now the wine cellar).

Teeples is still in Thunderbolt (near Savannah), and it one of my favorite dives. I’m a sucker for the plywood table with the hole in the center (with trash can below, just push the shells through). The steamed oyster tray (remember, you can only get oysters in months that include an “r”) would be a good recommendation, especially with some crab stew or grouper. The plastic cup of crushed ice they float in your plastic pitcher of cheap beer is a classic- who wants tepid American draft? A couple years ago they were the only place, anywhere, where you could get Georgia oysters (not that such is on a level with, say, Virginia ham, but when in Rome...), but I’m not sure if that’s true anymore.

Beto, you must have been well advised by someone to have found Sweet Potatoes, as it doesn’t seem like a place you could randomly stumble upon. It’s well thought of by locals and one of the few places worth mentioning on the more suburban “Southside,” although it’s more of a lunch place. The same owners also operate the nearby Toucan Café, which is also a great lunch place (Caribbean slant).

"Eat at Joe's."

- Joe

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  • 1 year later...

I'll be in Savannah for a work conference next week, and what was supposed to be a free night on Monday is turning into a "team dinner". The rest of my team is composed of 9 salesmen ages 45-65, putting bearnaise on their steak would probably be considerred "foo-foo french food". My boss is "hoping to find a decent sports bar" near our hotel, the Riverfront Marriot.

I'm a serious food traveler, and I'm willing to risk my job a little for a better night in Savannah. But if I can't get out of the group thing, does anyone have any suggestions for a place we might go? I'm looking for something simple and hearty enough to pass with the others, but interesting and authentic for me, dinners in the $10-15 range.

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Wow, that sounds like a really amazingly bad evening out. All my sympathy.

There's a brew pub in Savannah called Moon River Brewing that's located on Bay St, the street that's right behind the riverfront. I can't vouch for the food, but the beer was decent on my one visit, and my friends and I talked to the brew master for a while one evening before heading out for dinner. Pleasant guy, nice vibe to the place when we were there.

I had a surprisingly decent lunch one day at Belford's, located in the City Market. The dinner menu looks too foofy and too expensive, though.

Very good food at Gottlieb's, but not even remotely a possibility for the entire group food- or price-wise. The bar's nice if you want to eat solo and can ditch your colleagues.

There's a Chart House right on the river. You could do worse.

The Hyatt Regency Savannah was remodeling its bar when I was there this fall (2005). It's likely finished by now, and would presumably offer a nice view. The traffic on the river is actually pretty cool to watch---enormous container ships go by with some frequency.

If the group were willing to go for seafood there are some places ("shell houses") not right in town I could recommend. Car or taxi required.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Well, therese "stole" my first suggestion -- Moon River brewpub on Bay Street, just west of City Hall. :biggrin: It really does strike me as your best bet as a compromise, what with its casual atmosphere, lotsa beer, and reasonably authentic Savannah fare. Unless the kitchen has changed drastically since I worked next door and traded food 'twixt restaurants, MR has good crabcakes and sandwiches, and most of their appetizer menu is beyond acceptable. (The Ossabaw dip is quite good, and the fried green tomatoes are almost as good as my Mama's.) And, unless John has undergone a complete transformation lately, the brewmeister's offerings are generally quite good. (If I'm being completely forthcoming, though, I should probably reveal that I was an early "guinea pig" for MR's brews... and that I never drank or enjoyed beer until my guinea pig stage. I thought that all beer tasted like Budweiser up to that point! Young and stupid, I know!)

Beyond Moon River, the only sports bars I recall in the downtown district are Loco's deli (some number West Broughton -- about 10-ish blocks from the Marriott,) and Sorry Charlie's, near City Market (similar distance from the Marriott.) Loco's is okay, but no great shakes; and I'm not sure I could recommend Charlie's -- I'll just say that I wouldn't walk a mile for their food or drinks. If you're really lucky, though, you can ditch your colleagues at the TGIFriday's inside the Marriott, and strike out on your own!

"Enchant, stay beautiful and graceful, but do this, eat well. Bring the same consideration to the preparation of your food as you devote to your appearance. Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress."

Charles Pierre Monselet, Letters to Emily

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If it must be a sports bar, Loco's is really the only one downtown. It's popular with the young-twenties crowd, but the food is pretty uninspired even by bar food standards. As also mentioned, Sorry Charlie's is also a possibility, qualifying perhaps as a sports bar as measured by the number of televisions, but without much of a sports theme. Between the two, I'd say the latter's food is marginally better, and they have a good happy hour.

While I'll concur that Moon River brews a decent beer (although it sounds like your crowd might not be into "fancy beer," I'm not so enthusiastic about the food, although it is a step up from the two sports bars. I'd say the nearby Churchill's Pub (fish & chips, bangers & mash, burgers, sandwiches) is better. Another possibility, closer to the Marriott on River Street, is Spanky's (the usual bar food, good chicken and grouper fingers). Slightly farther down River Street is Tubby's Tank House, OK for seafood. Although I'm reluctant to mention a chain, your group might notice there's an Outback within walking distance.

Still downtown, but a little too far to walk, is The Crystal Beer Parlor. Old place, lots af character, good burgers and crab stew.

If you're going to ditch, you'll have to do it somewhere other than the TGIFridays. It's recently closed, and I'm not sure if there's even a restaurant in the Marriott now.

"Eat at Joe's."

- Joe

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Well, I suppose that eating in Savannah is a better bet than I recalled, if TGIF has actually closed! Please pardon my out-of-date recommendation there, even if I'm glad to hear that downtown has lost one of its chain eateries.

Even if I'm a bit out of date on my recommendations, I can certainly echo maf's suggestions of Spanky's, Tubby's (owned by the same co. as Spanky's,) and Churchill's. All offer fairly "safe" food that still tastes pretty good. I'd even go so far as to recommend Spanky's for tasty chicken fingers, and I'm assuming that Tubby's offers the same recipe for chicken -- with a better view. (maf, am I remembering correctly that Tubby's now has the balcony view overlooking Rousakis Plaza, above Huey's?) It's very possible that I have an overly-sentimental remembrance of Moon River's kitchen, after helping critique while they were in their first stages.

"Enchant, stay beautiful and graceful, but do this, eat well. Bring the same consideration to the preparation of your food as you devote to your appearance. Let your dinner be a poem, like your dress."

Charles Pierre Monselet, Letters to Emily

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