Soon after the jumbalaya, Abby and I set off on a journey to Charleston, NC to visit one of my college roommates. Due to intense procrastination, we hadn’t made any plans for three of the days. Abby had never been to Savannah and all I remembered was that there were a lot of parks, so we made the hour and a half trek down. Indeed, there were many parks.
Savannah is a shockingly beautiful place. I’ve never much liked the south because I hate weather above 80° with a passion, but were Savannah a little cooler I would move there in a second. It’s an incredibly walkable town with a rich history. The guidebook of choice seemed to be this one, which featured totally unbiased (yeah right) and hilarious asides about how awful some of the buildings look. We had a great time with it.
But enough about the town, let’s talk about the food!
Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House
The first thing we did in Savannah was make reservations at Paula Deen’s restaurant. The second thing we did was cancel them and go to Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House, which was unanimously recommended to us as the best home-style southern cooking in town. I guess we lucked out by being in town during a tropical storm, because evidently the line is usually about 1.5 hours long. It only took us 20 minutes.
Mrs Wilkes’ is family style, which means you end up at a table with about eight strangers. This is my worst nightmare. However, even with pretty much everything going wrong that could have (people, we decided at the beginning of the meal to pass to the right!), it was the best meal we ate in Savannah. Endless platters of food covered the table, and we stuffed ourselves silly. My personal favorites were the sweet potato casserole, the mashed potatoes with gravy, and the BBQ, but everything was incredible.
Even if I had to wait 1.5 hours, I would do it. The food was that good. I’ll be buying the cookbook, so look forward to seeing some recipes on here. Or, check out a couple for yourselves on epicurious.
The Crab Shack
The Crab Shack isn’t technically in Savannah but on the nearby Tybee Island. It’s a quick trip, and it’s well worth it. We ordered the Shack Specialty for two, which came with enough food for probably 3 or 4. In addition to mounds of crawfish, shrimp, two kinds of crab, and mussels, there were also potatoes, corn, and sausage. They had an awesome hot sauce that I bought a bottle of on my way out. Oh yeah, we also fed their alligators.
The rest of Tybee Island was pretty darn nice too. We visited the fort-turned-museum by the lighthouse, then headed down to the beach right next door. There was a little bar there with really cheap beer, which hit the spot on the hot day.
I feel like I need to lead this section off by mentioning that you are allowed to have open containers smaller than a certain size in Savannah. When the temperature turned sweltering on our last day, almost every group we passed was drinking.
There wasn’t really a reason to go to The Distillery other than the fact that we love good beer, which I guess is a pretty good reason! They had an awesome selection on draft and some tasty food, so it turned out to be a great decision. For food we got the “Pretzel Treasures” and the “Houdini Chicken Sandwich”, then polished it off with a deep fried moon pie.
The real treasure here was the beer. Each of us ordered a flight of beers and all of them were pretty great. Unexpectedly, both of us ended up with our favorite beer being a local brew – Wild Heaven‘s Let There Be Light. If you’re looking for some good beer in Savannah, this is the place to go.
Meinhardt Vineyards Tasting Room (City Market)
After a day of walking around in a tropical depression, we ducked into the Meinhardt Vineyards Tasting Room to take the edge off. The kindly bartender explained that we were about to have our minds blown, and he was correct. The south’s native grape – the muscadine – and the local winemaking process combine to produce a sweeter wine than we were generally used to. Both reds and whites are meant to be chilled because the wine is meant to be drunk on hot days, of which there are no shortage of in Georgia. If you happen to be in town on one such day, I highly recommend stopping by to try a few tastes.
River Street Sweets
Though evidently known for their pralines (which are darn good – we tried a sample), my clear winner at River Street Sweets was the dark chocolate bear claw. It’s not one of those donut-y bear claws. No, this thing was a masterpiece of pecans and gooey caramel and magnificent dark chocolate. Heck, I don’t even like pecans, and I would have willingly eaten these things for every meal. Make the trek and get one of these, you won’t be sorry.
Leopold’s Ice Cream
I was saving the best for last. Leopold’s Ice Cream is a Savannah tradition, opening back in 1919 before closing in the 1960’s. Luckily for us, it reopened again in 2004, serving some of the same recipes it was famous for years ago. I love ice cream, so even terrible ice cream is usually pretty good in my book. Leopold’s is far from terrible. In addition to excellent ice cream, they have a lot of memorabilia from the original store, which makes for a lovely historical backdrop.
If you couldn’t tell, I had an amazing time in Savannah. Between the food, the sites, the history, and the closeness of everything (the whole historical district is just a square mile!), it is an incredible town no matter what you’re looking for.