A Foodie's Guide to Savannah

A Foodie's Guide to Savannah

Arriving in Savannah, I am immediately mesmerized by the Spanish moss hanging from the massive trees on every block.  It’s easy to tell why Savannah has won awards for their tree stewardship.  The historic homes and public gardens throughout the city are equally beautiful; modern, but at the same time, a city frozen in the early 1900s.  One thing that is not frozen, however, is the weather.  A visit in April, feels like summertime in the mountains of NC - upper 80s with high humidity to match.  I take a quick survey of food options and find about 1,000 restaurants listed online, which rivals what we have in WNC.  Immediately, I know I will like eating my way through this town.

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8:00AM Although I would normally sleep late on a vacation day, I set my alarm this morning so I will not miss breakfast – Savannah style.  It is worth getting up early, the streets are empty and the morning air is cool.  I arrive early at the Funky Brunch Café.  A cook your own breakfast kind of place. They have pancake griddles right in the middle of the table! They offer a variety of mixings for your pancakes and will cook them for you, if you’re still a little too tired to make breakfast.  An order of batter is enough for two people, especially if you’re getting eggs or other side items.  The best part: every pancake is warm off the griddle when it goes into your mouth.  

9:00AM After breakfast, I head to the Forsyth Park Farmer’s Market.  Set in a beautiful location right in the middle of downtown Savannah, this market appears to be thriving.  With nearly 30 vendors, they offer just about any kind of local food you could ask for.

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My first stop: Clark and Sons Organics.  A table brimming with pecans (pronounced pee-cans, when in South Georgia), a favorite treat of mine.  I say,“I’d like to buy a bag of pecans”and am greeted with the reply “That would make me so happy!” followed by a booming laugh and big smile.  How could I not smile in response?

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I proceed around the rest of the market taking in the variety of things that are not yet in season at home – strawberries, in the first week of April!   While at the market, I also meet Joanne Morton, Director of Operations of Well Fed Magazine.  Well Fed, a cross between Food Life and ASAP’s Local Food Guide, is the guide to everything local in Savannah.  We exchange publications and stories of local food.  She tells me Savannah is experiencing the same kind of boom in local food as Asheville.  She also mentions her travels to other parts of the country, where there are similar local food scenes.  The takeaway, you can eat and support local wherever you go!

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10:00AM  While I am here in Forsyth Park, I decide to take a walk around.  The scenery is breathtaking.  Not the same as the views in WNC, but everywhere you go you can feel the history surrounding you.  The park, measuring about 30 acres in size, was established in the 1840s. It features a beautiful fountain, constructed in 1858, at the north end.  While there, I note three different wedding parties having their photos taken by the fountain, obviously a major attraction for locals and visitors alike.  Many of the homes along the
park’s edge are marked with plaques indicating their construction date, 1889, 1903, etc.  All more than 100 years old and very well preserved.  The large trees in the park must be just as old and provide a wonderful place to shade yourself from the sun and relax for a while.  

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11:00AM After all that walking around I am hungry again and dying to try the Green Truck Pub.  Advertised in Well Fed as ‘casual atmosphere featuring food made from scratch, local craft brewers and produce from Georgia farms.  It sounds just like my kind of place!  I’m glad I arrive early, because there is a line to get in by the time my food comes out.  The atmosphere has a cool vibe - an old fast food joint, converted into a local eatery.  It’s obvious they don’t take themselves too seriously.  The menu looks great, but I decide to go with the daily special – the Smokehouse: a local burger topped with bacon, house-made BBQ sauce and smoked Gouda.  My favorite twist is the cooking options for the burger – bloody, cooked or burnt. I am something of a cheeseburger connoisseur, so it means something when I say this is one of the best burgers I have ever had. Don’t miss it if you’re in town.

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2:00 PM While reading through Well Fed magazine, an article about the Back in the Day Bakery caught my eye.  I’ve never met a baked good I didn’t like, so I decide to check it out. I pull up outside of an unassuming building, directed here by my GPS.  For a moment, I think I must be in the wrong location.  The neighborhood looks a little rough and the building looks a little run-down, but I’m here so I decide to go in.  Once inside, I have to stop for a moment just to take in the décor and the furnishings.  Nothing has been overlooked, right down to the employee’s uniforms.  Just like the rest of Savannah, it’s both hip and old-fashioned at the same time.  I am so glad I didn’t judge this book by its cover!  I order up a Mexican chocolate cookie and sit down by the window for some people watching.  There is a dad and his small daughter at the table across from me enjoying a flight of mini cupcakes.  The little girl likes to lick the icing and the dad is left to eat the rest.  It brings back memories of spending time with my own Dad.  Everything about this place is just so sweet!

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5:00 PM For dinner, I decide to walk to Treylor Park.  Because of the name, I figure this to be a casual restaurant.  When I arrive, I am surprised to find the dining room to be rather new and upscale - but it’s the outdoor garden that I’m interested in.  A quaint little courtyard complete with a separate bar and food service and strung with lights to create the perfect outdoor space.  It’s early, but the place is already getting crowded.  I start my meal with a shot of pecan Bourbon.  It comes with a warning from the bartender – don’t shoot it or you may choke on the pecans!  I order a Grilled Apple Pie: a grilled cheese topped with cinnamon apples, fried chicken and bacon.  Although it might sound like a strange combination, the sandwich is quite good.  I also enjoy how they serve the waffle fries in a mini fryer basket.  The most enjoyable part of my meal, however, is talking with the two guys sitting next to me, Phillip and Eric.  They work for the local paper and are full of recommendations for eating and drinking in Savannah.  I have to make a list, because there is no way I can make it to all their suggested places this trip.  One place really peaks my interest through, the Top Deck Rooftop Bar, which they promise is the best place to go if you like “good views and hot chiseled guys”.  

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7:00 PM I head to the Top Deck Bar, which is atop the Cotton Sail Hotel.  Both the bar and hotel are very nice.  I feel a bit under-dressed.  I’m not sure why the bar has an indoor area, except to shelter patrons during a rainstorm as there is no one sitting inside, the deck, however, is quite crowded.  I pull up a stool at the edge of the deck, which provides a terrific view of the river, bridge and pedestrians below on River Street.  The promise of “hot chiseled guys” did not disappoint, so ladies, make sure and leave your male companions at home.  The drinks were reasonably priced and they serve a tapas menu, which I was much too full to sample.  All together a great end to my food holiday in Savannah.  I can’t wait to visit again!

Note: The meals mentioned in this post are not GF.  This trip was taken in my pre-GF days. I cannot vouch for the availability of GF items at any of these restaurants.

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