Savannah! Hostess City of the south! A city so beautiful Sherman refused to burn it. Full of history and southern charm, it is a great place to visit. And a great place to go out and eat.
This post is limited to the historic section, as I logistically wasn’t able to get out of it. I hope to see other parts of Savannah on another trip.
There are several great places to eat breakfast in the historic district. Here are my favorites.
Goose Feather’s Cafe
Topping my list is Goose Feathers, a local cafe that has a full breakfast menu. TI can be found on on Barnard Street. For my breakfast, I choose the Bird’s Nest. This is a dish you could only find in the South: a bowl full of grits topped with poached eggs and ringed by shredded cheese. The poached eggs were cooked to perfection, not too hard and not too runny. They blended perfectly with the grits and cheese. Adding to the restaurant’s charm is the lovely mugs the tea comes in.
Maple Street Biscuit Company
A close second for my favorite breakfast spot is Maple Street Biscuit Company.
Maple Street is a chain restaurant which, as regular readers of this blog know, I usually avoid. But we have nothing like this in the north so I decided to make an exception. Maple Street Biscuit Company started in Jacksonville, Florida but has spread throughout the south. The original owners sold it to Cracker Barrel in 2019 but as far as I can tell the quality has been maintained.
Maple Street makes its biscuits fresh every day. That quality is immediately evident, as these were the best biscuits I have ever had. I ordered the fried chicken biscuit, which comes covered with sausage gravy. As you can imagine, it was quite heavy. And quite delicious. It’s not something I could eat every day, but it made for a great treat.
I arrived at Maple Street biscuits just as it opened. But I was not the only one. Another person, who happened to be staying at the same hotel as me, also showed up at the same time. He was from Alabama but was acquainted with the restaurant from its original location in Jacksonville, There, he had met the owner. On a previous trip to Savannah, he discovered this location. Now he makes it a point to go whenever he is in town. Maple Street certainly breeds loyalty.
Rise: Biscuits and Donuts
However, Maple Street is not the only choice for biscuits in town. There is another option, Rise: Donuts and Biscuits. This is also a chain, but one worth eating at.
I had the fried green tomatoes biscuit sandwich. Given a choice of biscuits, I chose the cheddar cheese. This was a very good combinations. While the biscuit was not as fresh as the ones at Maple Street, the sandwich was still very tasty. I was happy with the meal.
There is one other breakfast place that I wanted to try, Back in the Day Bakery, that I did not get to. Located on Bull Street a few blocks south of Forsyth Park, it’s a bit of a hike from the river front area where I was staying. But it is reputed to have the best baked goods in town. Next time.
In the historic Savannah, there are several places to go for lunch. I didn’t plan it this way, but all of the spots I am recommending are sandwich take-out spots..
The first, and best, place I tried is the eclectic Zunzi’s. Located on a side street near Oglethorpe Square, it looks like a whole in the wall place. But don’t let that deter you. It is first rate. Their sandwich choices include chicken, smoked sausage, Boerewors sausage, and the Godfather – a mix of all of them. Of course, I went for The Godfather. All their sandwiches are served on a French roll with Zunzi’s special sauce. The bread was freshly made and the chicken and sauce were fabulous. The Boerewors, however, I did not care for. I expect it is a bit of an acquired taste. The next time I go there, I will stick with the chicken sandwich.
Parker’s Market and Urban Gourmet
Another popular spot for sandwiches in Savannah is actually in a gas station. Parker’s Market Urban Gourmet offers a wide variety of sandwiches and Paninis. These are all premade, although you can get the Paninis grilled. There is also hot food available as well; the most popular seemed to be the fried chicken. I decided to go with a sandwich, curried chicken salad. It was very well made. I also got a slice of the oreo cake for dessert. Not bad, but you could tell it was not freshly made. Parker’s would be a great place to go for a quick bite while site seeing, especially if you are travelling with kids.
Soda Pop Shoppe
The final place I stopped in for lunch is an old fashioned style lunch counter called Soda Pop Shoppe.
Extensively decorated with 50s era photos, walking into this place makes you feel transported to ages past. The main items on the menu are hot dogs and sandwiches. It seemed like most people were ordering the hot dogs, but at the owner’s suggestion I got the club sandwich. He recommended a sub roll, but I wanted something different and went with a pretzel roll.
Packed thick with luncheon meat, this was a hardy sandwich. I loved the sauce that was on it, mustard based but thinned out a bit with oil and vinegar. This was very tasty; quite unique. Overall, it was great advice and a great sandwich.
There are many great places all over Savannah’s historic district where one can find great places to eat. The heart of them all is Broughton Street, which is practically lined with restaurants from end to end. Here are the places I recommend, but they are just a small sample as to what is available.
My favorite restaurant in historic Savannah is Treylor Park. I went there based upon my Uber driver recommendation’s. Located on Bay Street very close to the river, it is a bar but with a home style friendly atmosphere. Their most popular dish is PB&J wings, which I gather is a Thai influenced sweet and sour wing. But I was in the mood for some beef, so I went with their Southern Sloppy Joe instead. This was a good Sloppy Joe, although I am not sure what made it southern.
I did get to see some of Treylor Park’s other dishes. The table next to me ordered the the nachos and the chicken pancake tacos — think chicken and biscuits but in taco form. Both looked fantastic. The comments I heard were enthusiastically positive.
For dessert, I went with my waitresses favorite: Bananas crème brule. It had a nice caramel crunch on the outside, but was creamy on the inside and had a distinct but subtle banana flavor. A very good dessert and a very good recommendation.
Vinine Van Gogos
Another favorite restaurant of mine is a pizza place called Vinnie Van GoGos. Located in the City Market area, this was another of my Uber driver’s recommendations. They don’t have a list of pizzas to choose from. Instead, you pick the size and the toppings you want a la cart. I chose sausage and sun dried tomatoes, both premium toppings.
The result was a great pizza. It had a solid crust, plenty of marinara sauce and copious amouts of cheese and toppings. All quite delicious. I ate what I could and was eating leftovers for days afterwards. One bit of warning though, Vinnie’s only takes cash. So make sure you have some on hand before you go.
Public Kitchen and Bar
Located on Bull Street just south of Chippewa Square is another restaurant that I heartily recommend. Public Kitchen and Bar is what I would call a gastro pub; a high end bar serving top quality food.
I wanted to start my meal with something light, so I ordered a spinach salad. Topped with copious amounts of boiled egg, crumbled, and covered with a hot bacon mustard dressing, it was not light. But it was delicious.
I could not good conscience go to Savannah and not have Shrimp and Grits. So that is what I ordered for my main meal. Although what I got was an upscale version of it and not the traditional southern preparation. Instead of a small amount of shrimp in a bowl full of grits, tt was large amounts of shrimp (and sausage!) with a tiny mound of grits in the center. Additionally, there was some vegetables mixed in. The whole thing was smothered in a rich cream sauce. Decadent and flavorful, the shrimp and grits was a great meal. It was also very filling, which was too bad. I dearly wanted to try their bourbon peacan pie, but I was too full. I hear it is fantastic.
Flying Monk Noodle Bar
For most of my trip, I had been eating traditional Southern food. That changed with my last meal. I went with a group of friends to the Flying Monk Noodle Bar. It is one of the many restaurants on Broughton street. The place features noodle dishes from all over Asia; dishes not only from China and Japan, but also Laos and Cambodia. Three of my friends decided to go with the Crispy Succulent Pig: a platter of fried pork cut into thin slices. All three thought it was fabulous I went one of their signature noodle dishes, Master Shifu’s Noodles. The base of this dish is braised beef short ribs, which was marvellously tender. They were served over a wide noodle. Both were swimming in a rich and flavorful broth. It was a dynamite combination. My other companions ordered the Singapore Noodle with tofu and the White Elephant, the chef’s special chicken soup. Both gave good reviews of their meal.
Everyone found their meal delicious, although the pork one got the rave reviews. While Flying Monk’s was not crowded the day we went, that is not always the case. Earlier in the week, there was long lines waiting to get in. So if you want to go there, plan your trip accordingly.
Savannah is also a great place to eat candy and desserts. Here is what I found.
Leopold’s Ice Cream
The first stop on any dessert tour of Savannah has to be Leopold’s Ice Cream. Located in the heart of Savannah, right on East Broughton Street, this is an old fashioned ice cream shop that has been serving the area since 1919. All the classics are available, from banana splits and fudge brownie sundaes to root bear floats.
I went with something with a bit more of a southern flair, the Savannah Socialite. This contains both milk and dark chocolate ice cream, with pecans mixed in. I found it enjoyable, but lacking something to counterbalance the chocolate. I think some sort of sauce would have helped a lot.
There are some historic local candy stores in Savannah. The most unique by far is Byrd’s Cookies. I saw two locations, one on River Street and one in Market Square. I stopped in the one on River Street. Byrd’s makes small batch cookies. They primarily caters to businesses, and these store fronts are a small part of their operations. They have about a dozen different cookie recipes, free samples of all are available for tasting. I tried several, and they were all good. But I ended up going away with a bag of the Benne. Made from a 300 year old recipe, the Benne combines maple syrup and nuts to make a mostly savory cookie. A very unique cookie, it makes for a great, light snack.
Odin and Sons/Mad Mac’s
By far the most unique place I found in Savannah was a combination cupcakery/ comic book store.
The front of the storefront is Mad Mac’s, selling cupcakes (liquor infused cupcakes), while the back of the store is Odin and Sons selling comics. The comic book store had a good selection of recent comic books and had a friendly staff providing good recommendations. They pointed me to Simon Says, a book written and drawn by local artists. Has I known Savannah has a renowned School of Art, this book would not have been a bit of a surprise to me. But it was. I am looking forward to reading it.
As for the cupcakery, I asked the shop keeper for recommendations. For the liquor infused cupcakes, the top cupcake was bourbon infused peacan. For the alcohol free, the undisputed champion was the cookie dough. I went with that. It was moist and delicious, perhaps the best cupcake I have ever had.
Savannah Candy Kitchen
And any trip to Savannah would not be complete without a trip to Savannah Candy Kitchen.
It is impossible to miss, as they seemed to be everywhere. In addition to having two locations on River Street, they also have a location in the City Market. Not only that, they have store fronts in central locations in most of the terminals in the Atlanta airport. Savannah’s Candy Kitchen’s signature items are pralines and gophers. Gophers are pecans covered with caramel and chocolate.
But they are a small fraction on the types of candy available. I made special note of the dozens of varieties of candy apples. They also had many different variations on chocolate covered marshmallows. I had both of the signature items. I highly recommend the gophers. The praline was good, but I’m not sure it topped what I had in New Orleans. At the airport, I had an oreo brownie and a chocolate covered peanut butter cup. Both were high quality, although I could have used more oreoes in the brownie. Overall, don’t pass by Savanah’s Candy Kitchen. They have high quality candy.
Comic books stores are not the only place you can get cupcakes in Savannah. On Bryan Street, right next to Ellis Square is Mabel’s Cupcakes. They have been voted Savannah’s best cupcake and their cupcakes have been written up in New York Times.
I ended up not getting the New York Times’ award winning cupcake, but instead went with the shopkeep’s current favorite cupcake: the Banana’s Foster. With a banana cupcake as the base, the center of the dish was the frosting and sauce. A good cupcake. But not quite as good as Mad Mac’s, which I had later that same day.
If cupcakes are not your style, how about French pastries?
Located on Broughton Street is Le Macaron French Pastries, and they specialize in macarons. They have dozens of varieties. At that point in the day, I was too full from all the cupcakes I had eaten. So no macarons for me. But a friend bought a box which he brought back home to his wife, which she loved. They went quickly.
As I mentioned earlier, I was only able to sample I small fraction of the restaurants in Savannah. There are several places I wanted to try but did not get to. The most notable is Lady and Sons, the restaurant started by the most famous Savannah chef, Paula Deen. It is well known for their southern food.
Another missed opportunity is Tondee’s, which was practically across the street from my hotel. Tondee’s is a tavern located in a historic building, being built in 1853 for the Central Railroad and Bank. A friend ate there. He heartily recommended their their Fish and Grits. The picture is from him.
Other’s on my list that I did not get to are: Back in the Day Bakery, which I talked about above; The Grey (southern food in an old Greyhound bus station); Green Truck Pub; Molly McPherson, which is reputed to have the best meatloaf in the city; and The Olde Pink House, serving fine cuisine in an old colonial house..
As I’ve said before, whenever I visit a city I like to pick up a book about that city. I started with cookbooks, but have since expanded to include books on history and culture.
For the cookbook, I got one of Paula Deens: Lady and Sons, Too! As the title implies, this is her second cookbook. The foreword gives the back story of her restaurant and it is the most heart-wrenching tale. Suffering a mid-life crisis due to a bankruptcy and a collapsed marriage, Paula Deen went into the restaurant business in 1989. She started off renting in a Best Western, but not enough space was provided to make for a strong business. When the lease expired, Paula borrowed all the money she could and bought a long term lease on an old building in Savannah’s historic district. On opening day, she did not even have enough money to pay the parking meters. But open she did, and the rest is history. I now realize what a mistake it was not to eat at her restaurant.
I also found a great book about life in Savannah, called Savannah Sideways. Written by a transplant to Savannah by marriage, it offers a unique view of Savannah’s contemporary culture. Covering topics such as what it is like to be an outsider living there, local ghost stories, history, and even the local wildlife (apparently squirrels are fed in unusual ways there). The book offers a view of Savannah like no other.