If you've never been to Savannah, Georgia (or even if you have), go ahead and do the tourist stuff: Eat at Mrs. Wilkes' Boarding Room, grab a drink (and a praline sample) on River Street, do a ghost tour. Those are all great, but there are a lot of less cliche places to enjoy in Savannah as well. Here are some places to eat and drink in Savannah that I love.
Places to Eat
Sandfly Bar-B-Q - When in the south we must eat barbecue. Sandfly is a little over a mile from the touristy center of Historic Savannah. That made it close enough to walk to, but far enough away that most of the patrons were locals not tourists. The restaurant is in a charming old streamliner like those used for old diners. The pork was good. The brisket was better.
Alligator Soul - This subterranean restaurant has an intimate feel that is perfect for date nights. They specialize in locally sourced ingredients and are particularly skilled in game meats. The rib eye I had was magnificent as well (and too overwhelming for me to finish myself).
The Grey - This restaurant is in a restored art deco bus station. The food is modern and eclectic. Although there are full-sized entrees on the menu we went with a selection of small plates to maximize our variety and help save room for dessert (a cheesecake made from house-made cheese that was delightful). Although I put this in the "places to eat" section, they also had lovely cocktails.
Rise Biscuits and Donuts- Rise claims to have "the best dang biscuits and donuts." I didn't try a donut (although they looked fabulous). I can attest that the biscuits are buttery and flaky. You can get them plain or with a variety of toppings ranging from breakfast traditional (such as egg and sausage) to more sandwichy (fried chicken, ham, arugula) with nice selection of condiments. Seating is limited, so you may want to consider carry out although you'll miss out on the free coffee refills.
Places to Drink
The Jinx - We happened upon this cool punk bar on our last visit the and had to go back. The decor is half Halloween, half rock band swag. During happy hour domestic beer and well drinks are buy one, get one for $1. They have two pinball games, The Sopranos and The Walking Dead, the latter of which is now one of my favorite tables. On Wednesday night we enjoyed Rock-n-Roll Bingo. People play to win free PBR and other promotional prizes. Bartender Gil who runs the bingo games is a former Marine with tattoos for every place he has lived. When we said where we were from he proudly showed us the Chicago-style hot dog on his left forearm.
Planters Tavern - The Olde Pink House is a restaurant that shows up on many tourist to do lists, but we didn't find the food to be that exciting. However, nearly hidden down some side stairs is a cozy bar with some moderately-priced house cocktails and nice ambience. The first night we stopped by an older white woman in a giant hat was playing piano while a black woman in a sequin gown sang jazz standards. Try The Pink Lady for a not-too-sweet cocktail garnished with fresh raspberries.
Circa 1875 - Savannah is a place where you can drink for very cheap if you want to, but if you are willing to splurge on quality Circa 1875 is a lovely place where cocktails are high art. Le Mule, their take on a Moscow Mule with the surprising addition of star anise, is a particular stand out.
Other Savannah Tips
- Buy a Telfair Musuem pass. $20 gets you access to the Jepson Center and Telfair Academy art museums as well as a tour of the historic Owen-Thomas House. You have a week to visit all three spots, so you don't have to cram them into one day.
- Book lovers must visit E. Shaver, Bookseller on Madison Square. It's a quaint shop with a surprisingly large selection, a tea shop, and several cats.
Have you been to Savannah? Please share your favorite spots in the comments.
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