The Best of Savannah
Asenzya spends a great deal of time doing field research, or what we call culinary anthropology, in cities all across America. At the end of 2017, I found myself working on a southern cuisine project that took me to the heart of this charming city. What I found was down-home southern fare, thriving and unique independents, and a secret bar hidden in the heart of the entertainment district.
I spend a great deal of time exploring small restaurants, food trucks and street food. I feel there is lot to learn from these small independents; they are often more agile and have a greater need and ability to adapt trends earlier and more easily. They also offer more intimate insights to a region’s true culinary personality. I hope you use this brief Savannah independent guide the next time you make it to this gem of the Southeast!
Best lunch – Mrs. Wilkes:
They are the quintessential Savannah restaurant and will top almost any list of where to eat in town. But word to the wise, it is only open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and if you want to eat in the first seating, get there at 9:45 a.m. and wait.
- What: A southern family-style lunch spot
- Address: 107 W. Jones St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: http://mrswilkes.com
Best local breakfast – Narobia’s Grits and Gravy:
A small greasy spoon with just a few seats, don’t come here looking for a fancy breakfast or eggs benedict. This local hangout that serves grits, smothered shrimp with eggs, tender biscuits and fried catfish. This is a taste of the simple Savannah and definitely off the beaten path.
- What: A southern café
- Address: 2019 Habersham St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: https://www.restaurantji.com/ga/savannah/narobias-grits-and-gravy-/
Best bar with food – Treylor park:
I went here for a drink and left with the best BLT I’ve had in years. The food was imaginative and well executed.
- What: A southern bar with food
- Address: 115 E Bay St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: http://treylorparksavannah.com
Best Savannah-style bistro – B. Matthew’s Eatery:
GREAT brunch-quality breakfast served all week long. This was one of my “wow” places – I didn’t expect this quality of attention to local fare. Try the fried green tomato benedicts, you won’t be disappointed. Their quiche of the day was also a sight to behold! It had a layer of bacon just above the crust that was wild.
- What: A southern bistro
- Address: 325 E. Bay St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: https://bmatthewseatery.com/
Best Georgia BBQ – B’s Cracklin’ BBQ:
This small joint is located in a strip mall. B’s Cracklin’ was rated as one of the top 50 BBQ joints in America by Thrillist. B’s Cracklin’ has great ribs, pulled pork and brisket, but my favorite was the array of sauces available that enhanced the meat.
- What: A southern BBQ
- Address: 12409 White Bluff Rd., Savannah, GA 31419
- Website: https://www.bscracklinbbq.com/
Best martinis – Jen’s & Friends:
Jen takes her service and martinis seriously. She has over 100 martinis on the menu on any given night, and they are all good. Well, at least that’s what the regulars were telling me – I couldn’t sample all 100 in a single night!
- What: A casual, small craft martini lounge
- Address: 34 Bull St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: https://www.jnfsavannah.com/
Best burger – The Public Kitchen & Bar:
Repeatedly voted one of the best burger places in Savannah, I can tell you this is a great burger.
- What: A trendy American restaurant
- Address: 1 W. Liberty St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: http://www.thepublickitchen.com/
Best Asian fusion – The Vault:
Set in a historic bank, this is a beautiful setting with a solid Asian influenced menu.
- What: Asian fusion restaurant
- Address: 2112 Bull St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: http://vaultkitchen.com/
Best homemade: The Green Truck Pub:
Fantastic food made from scratch with a focus on sourcing local, they list all the farms they buy from on the menu. But don’t expect high-end dishes, these guys do sandwiches and burgers and they do them right.
- What: A southern café
- Address: 2430 Habersham St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: https://greentruckpub.com
Hodgepodge breakfast – J. Christopher’s:
A great place to grab a casual morning bite. The walls are adorned with local artists’ work and the plates with local flare.
- What: A southern café
- Address: 122 E. Liberty, Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: http://www.jchristophers.com/
Secret bar – Mata Hari’s Speakeasy:
A true secret bar, you won’t find any advertising, website or door sign; it is hidden down an old cobblestone alley in the heart of the entertainment district. You have to know about it, where it is, how to find it, and more importantly, the password to get in. Hint, the Westin’s concierge can help guide you. Be warned – it is tough to get in and is only open Thursday–Saturday.
- What: A southern speakeasy
- Address: Near 309 W. River St., Savannah, GA 31401
Best low country boil – Savannah Seafood:
Okay, this one was a little tougher. I read a lot about this place and had higher expectations, but so many people sent me here. It was good but felt a little like fast food for me.
- What: A seafood joint
- Address: 116 E. Broughton St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: https://savannahseafoodshack.com/
Best place for whiskey libations and a bite – Edgar’s Proof & Provision:
They have a well-designed craft cocktail menu with a list of mules that would make any prospector envious.
- What: A hotel bar and lounge with craft cocktails
- Address: 15 E. Liberty St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: http://proofsavannah.com/
Great drink with a view – Wyld:
It’s outside the city proper but if you’re looking for a place to enjoy a drink, in a fun and comfortable atmosphere with an amazing view of the water, the Wyld is your spot.
- What: A casual drink spot
- Address: 2740 Livingston Ave., Savannah, GA 31406
- Website: http://www.thewylddockbar.com/
Best pho – Flying Monk’s Noodle Bar:
Looking for some Asian noodles? Ok, so this isn’t that Southern – well, not Southern at all – but who doesn’t love a little Asian noodle shop every now and then? Located downtown in a narrow cosmopolitan storefront, Monk’s is the best in town.
- What: An Asian noodle house
- Address: 5 W. Broughton St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: http://www.flywiththemonk.com/
Birth a of a new chain – Rise Biscuit & Donuts:
I’m not a chain person. In fact, if you read the prelude to this section, I avoid them. But I was guided here by a couple of people. It’s no Blue Star Doughnuts, but it was solid and they are slated to open 100 more units in the next five years. So, because we do what we do, this may be worth a quick visit to see what a chain can look like before it starts expanding.
- What: A young chain of doughnuts
- Address: 10 W. Broughton St., Savannah, GA 31401
- Website: https://risebiscuitsdonuts.com/locations/savannah-downtown/
Live music or a fun night of karaoke – Jinx:
This little bar is located just off the downtown square and has live music or karaoke most nights.
- What: A local music bar
- Address: 127 W. Congress St., Savannah, GA 31401
Best culinary road trip worthy of the ride – Southern Soul BBQ:
Okay, this is 90 minutes out of Savannah, but listed as one of the top BBQ joints in the country. And they are good, really good. I’ve personally eaten at more than 100 BBQ places across the country in the last three years and Southern Soul is easily in the top 10 for me.
- What: A southern BBQ joint
- Address: 2020 Demere Rd., St. Simmons Island, GA 31522
- Website: http://southernsoulbbq.com