D.E.A.L.: Dining in Savannah
As the oldest city in Georgia, the genteel Savannah is dripping with Spanish moss, Southern charm, gorgeous historical architecture and amazing cuisine. Savor Savannah says there are five foods you must try while in Savannah: fried green tomatoes, shrimp & grits, pralines, peaches and Savannah’s signature Chatham Artillery Punch. This potent drink, first made in 1859 for the Georgia artillery unit it’s named after, is made with cognac, bourbon, rum, lemon juice, sugar and champagne, and is a sure-fire hit.
Savannah tradeshow veteran Elise Silver Simons says, “Treylor Park (pictured left) and The Grey are great spots for dinner. Zunzi’s is an amazing sandwich spot for a grab and go. The rooftop bar at the Bohemian is a great spot for a drink. You can take a water taxi across the river from the convention center.”
One recent diner seconded Simons recommendation, writing, “If you’re looking for a place locals eat and don’t want a kitschy southern restaurant” dine at Treylor Park and their outdoor beer garden in the alley behind Bay St. They have a fun and casual vibe, and unique menu options—including PB&J wings (a Thai-style peanut sauce on a wing with jam to dip it in), banana pepper rings, crab cake sliders, chicken and pancake tacos, fried avocado, grilled apple pie sandwich and for dessert a bacon brownie.
South African-inspired Zunzi has won “Best of” accolades from Buzzfeed, The Travel Channel, Country Living magazine and others—People magazine chose their Conquistador made with baked chicken, their signature Sh*t Yeah Sauce and Zunzi’s dressing, as the best sandwich in the state. The restaurant recently tweeted “Zunzi’s will have a new home at 236 Drayton Street. After 15 years of making our guests say SHIT YEAH! on York Street, our landlord [said] ‘Zunzi’s is too busy for the space and a burden on the building.’ It’s going to be bittersweet moving from our little hole in the wall, but as they say, ‘Everything happens for a reason!’ One of those being our collaboration with treylorparkrestaurants on our sister bar concept, @zunzibarofficial!”
The Grey (pictured left), a former Greyhound bus station, is one of the best-known restaurants in Savannah. The highly-acclaimed restaurant offers up elegant fare as well as a more casual experience at The Diner Bar at The Grey. Chef Mashama Bailey serves up dishes like turnip bisque, collards and quail.
One block from the Savannah River, The Pirates’ House is the oldest restaurant in Savannah, built as a brick gardener’s house soon after James Oglethorpe and colonists arrived in 1733. The railway car in the middle of the Victorian District is the downtown location of Sandfly BBQ (pictured left) for some Memphis-style BBQ with a Southern twist. And there’s always a line at Leopold’s Ice Cream (pictured right), known for its tutti-frutti flavor and being the “fifth-best ice cream in the world.” Seafood lovers should head to Pearl’s Saltwater Grille, Vic’s On the River, Sorry Charlie’s, Garibaldi Café and the Olde Pink House.
The iconic Olde Pink House (pictured right), with its large columns and pink hues, it’s an Instagram selfie must. Inside, individual rooms serve Lowcountry cuisine by candlelight. Downstairs is Planters Tavern with a live pianist and more candlelight ambience.
Another iconic Savannah experience is Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room (pictured left)—a first-come, first-served Southern comfort-food institution. Housed in a boarding house, it opens only for lunch (11a-2p) and guests are seated family-style at long tables filled with fried chicken, beef stew, meatloaf, cheese potatoes, collard greens, black-eyed peas, mac ‘n’ cheese, rutabaga, candied yams, squash casserole, creamed corn, biscuits and sweet tea (no alcohol). All that for $25 cash (or Venmo). Unfortunately, Mrs. Wilkes passed away in July of 2020 after 59 years of serving up great food and hospitality; her granddaughter is continuing the tradition.
Other must-dos include the elegant Vic’s on the River with live piano playing nightly and traditional Southern food like fried green tomatoes and crispy flounder and, if you like fine dining in a haunted house, head to Husk Savannah (pictured left) for locally sourced ingredients in creative Southern classics.
This story originally appeared in the Jan./Feb. 2020 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 46. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_jan-feb_2021