Savannah’s foodie scene draws upon its Southern heritage, proximity to the sea, and its role as a major port town, especially during the spice trade. Local seafood is on most menus in the form of fresh oysters, crab boils, and shrimp and grits. Different takes on good ole Southern cooking—deep fried or barbecued anything and everything—is found on menus from food trucks to high-end restaurants. Traditions and classics are revered here but a new crop of chef-driven gastro-pubs and bistros are churning out their interpretation of Southern favorites.
This is where Paula Deen began her Southern cooking empire and while I have not included her restaurant, Lady & Sons, on my list of 5 Can’t Miss Places to Eat in Savannah, it is definitely worth a visit.
My picks for can’t miss dining in Savannah are a combination of local favorites and well-established restaurants. These are places where the residents of Savannah go for a meal. All are located within the downtown historical area.
Rise and Shine for a Big Day of Sightseeing in Savannah
10 West Broughton Street
The storefront sign for Rise proclaims you will find “the best dang biscuits and doughnuts in Savannah” and they are correct. These are not just any plain biscuit. You can actually see the thin layers of dough that have risen to create a light and fluffy piece of heaven.
Pick from a staple of Southern favorites to go with the multiple layers of mouthwatering dough…buttermilk fried chicken, green tomato, pimiento cheese, or heritage country ham. For a sweeter breakfast, try the blueberry or peach biscuit. The fresh fruit is kneaded directly into the dough to give a burst of flavor with every bite. Add a cup of Counter Culture coffee, another Southern favorite, and you will leave Rise fortified and ready for the day ahead.
I recommend the Blueberry Biscuit.
Slow Down and Enjoy Lunch at a Classic Savannah Bistro
b. MATTHEWS Eatery
325 East Bay Street
b. MATTHEWS is a modern bistro serving American and Southern classics for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Okra Succotash Spring Rolls, Black-Eyed Pea Hush Puppies, Shrimp and Grits, and Fried Green Tomato and Pimiento Cheese Sandwiches provide a Southern flair to the menu. Kale and arugula salads, a variety of popular sandwiches and paninis, along with heartier fare like Fish & Chips, give options for all types of taste buds.
I recommend the Okra Succotash Spring Rolls and Shrimp and Grits.
Happy Hour (or two)!
Sorry Charlie’s Oyster Bar & Cocktails
116 West Congress Street
Sorry Charlie’s has a weekday happy hour from 4-6 pm that cannot be beat! $1 oysters and $3 Georgia-brewed beers. It’s repeatedly voted as Savannah’s best-loved oyster bar and serves a variety of other locally sourced seafood for lunch, dinner, and late night.
I recommend the oysters, of course, and the hush puppies are outstanding.
Dine in Genteel Savannah Style
The Olde Pink House
23 Abercorn Street
Both a tourist destination and a local favorite, The Olde Pink House is in a meticously preserved 18th century mansion and connected with the historical Planters Inn. Dining tables spread out amongst the numerous rooms of the historic home give each area a distinct look and feel. All rooms include period pieces, chandeliers, and fireplaces creating ambience for high-end dining. The Low Country She Crab Soup is the most ordered dish on the extensive menu. You really can’t go wrong with any of the selections. The hardest part is selecting from all of the mouthwatering choices.
I recommend the Chilled Shellfish Tower if you’re in the mood for a splurge.
Late Night Snacks and Cocktails
115 East Bay Street
Many of the restaurants in Savannah close between 9-10 pm but the kitchen at Treylor Park stays open until midnight. It’s a casual, hipster selection with southern-inspired comfort food such as wings, sliders, and nachos. The menu has southern favorites well represented but there are many selections with a more West Coast vibe. Craft beers and creative cocktails round out the trendiness.
I recommend the Avocado Fries and Grilled Apple Pie Sandwich.