Eating & Drinking in Georgia: Savannah's Best Restaurants

Eating and Drinking Our Way Through Savannah

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I live to eat rather than eat to live. (Well, when traveling at least; when home, I try to juice or go light on the carbs to balance it all out.) Which is why destinations like Savannah are my favorite kind of places: great visuals for photos, stellar shopping options, a deep-rooted history and some of the best food around.

Savannah, Georgia

When I started planning Lemon’s bachelorette, it was tough whittling down the ample dining options to fit a group our size and budget. So I had to be selective. Selfishly, this also gave me an opportunity to try out some places that have been on my radar for ages.

Savannah, Georgia

And thus, I give you my Ultimate Eating & Drinking Guide to Savannah, Georgia’s tastiest city.

Back in the Day Bakery

Best for … Lunch or a Midday Pick-Me-Up

If you read magazines, you’ve likely heard of this place. Every travel/food publication has at least mentioned it—and I wrote a little blurb last time I was in Savannah—and with good reason. As its name implies, Back in the Day exudes a sense of retro nostalgia, and even the servers dress the part. The place is the epitome of cute and decked out in mismatched shabby chic decor, but the owners don’t compromise quality for the sake of aesthetics: Everything I’ve ever tried there is on pointe; order the bacon and onion jam sandwich for lunch, and be sure and add on a coffee specialty and grabbed a baked good (or seven) to go. I’m always partial to their cupcakes; then again, I’m partial to any cupcakes!

Back in the Day Cafe in Savannah
 

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

Best for … A Hearty Lunch

This was first up on our group itinerary, and we never made it there. Why? Well, Mrs. Wilkes is so popular that you pretty much have to get there an hour before it opens to claim your place in line. That didn’t quite work with our lazy bachelorette itinerary; however, I was able to try out Mrs. Wilkes the last time I was in town. It’s quite comparable to Miss Mary Bobo’s in Lynchburg in that it’s a boarding house with a mishmash of Southern comfort food served up family style. That said, they don’t take reservations, so you really must arrive early—say, 10am for the first seating at 11— to claim your spot (or plan on waiting a long time). This is an instance when you’re going to want to forgo breakfast and wear your roomiest fat pants; it’s that filling (and good).

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room in Savannah
 
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room in Savannah
 
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room in Savannah
 

The Olde Pink House

Best for … Date Night or A Fancy Dinner

Let me start by saying: If you’ve never been to Savannah, this is where everyone will recommend you spend your fancy dinner. Let me follow-up by admitting: Everyone is right; this may be the best restaurant in Savannah. Located inside an 18th century mansion (as the name implies), the Olde Pink House occupies prime real estate on Reynolds Square in the downtown historic district. From BLT salad (yes, salad!) to mac and cheese jalapeno poppers to vidalia onion and sweet potato ravioli in a pecan cream sauce, everything we tasted was nothing short of phenomenal. My only minor caveat with the place is that we had a group larger than they allow you to book online, and it took me two months and five phone calls before I got anyone to get back to me to confirm our reservation (good thing I started early!). But again: worth the effort. And for all we ordered, the check wound up being around $37 per person—including tip! You can’t find that cheap of a great meal anywhere else. Love you, Savannah. And if you don’t have a reservation, you can grab a drink in the basement bar and check out the live jazz that takes place many nights each week.

The Olde Pink House in Savannah, Georgia

Alligator Soul

Best for … Dinner with Friends

You wouldn’t necessarily stumble upon this under-the-radar, subterranean restaurant unless you set out looking for it; it’s tucked away on an unassuming side street and doesn’t get as much love as, say, the Olde Pink House. That doesn’t mean you should discount it, not for a second. It’s a hodgepodge of American, Southern and Cajun/Creole cuisine, heavy on game (kangarooooo! antelope! ostrich! camel!)(I didn’t taste the last one for obvious reasons) and seafood (shrimp and grits? breaded fried oysters anyone?). While there two years ago, I had the six-course tasting menu (with wine pairings, duh)—which let me eat my way through the gamut of what they serve—and I say: go for it. Splurge. You deserve it.

Alligator Soul in Savannah

b. Matthew’s Eatery

Best for … Sunday Brunch

Four words: fried green tomatoes Benedict. I don’t know about you, but I’m an eggs Benny girl, and the more creative options a brunch spot has under that category, the higher a rating it gets from me. This was our last stop on the way out of town, and even though we were there right at 10am, I was sure glad we made a reservation; the place was packed (and this was off-season on a rainy, gloomy February day at that). The staff couldn’t have been friendlier, and everything our group tried was tasty.

b. Matthews Eatery in Savannah

Rocks on the Roof

Best for … Pre- or Post-Dinner Cocktails

There aren’t a lot of places to drink with a view in Savannah, but Rocks on the Roof is one of the few of them. Part of the Bohemian Hotel, this rooftop bar overlooks the river and h. We planned to make it there before sunset, but again: bachelorette problems. So we headed straight there after dinner instead. The crowd at first skewed younger—Savannah is a popular spot for frat and sorority formals so there were a lot of just-barely-of-age college kids—but we stuck around long enough to where we were the younguns.

Leopold’s

Best for … Anytime!

Another instance of somewhere we planned to go all weekend, but never got around to it. Leopold’s is a Savannah staple, and you should absolutely put it high on your priority list (get there before you fill up on Southern food at Mrs. Wilkes and Olde Pink House, will ya?). I got to meet Mr. Stratton himself the last time I was in (he was behind the counter scooping up the goods), and this old-fashioned ice cream parlor is one of my favorite of anywhere I’ve been. And those Girl Scout flavors! O. M. YUM. It’s right in the thick of some of the best shopping in town, so promise yourself a treat if you don’t blow all that cash at 24e.

Leopold's Ice Cream in Savannah

Vinnie Van Go Go’s

Best for … Take-Out

Because sometimes you just want to order takeout and eat in your hotel room. We anticipated this would be the case on the final night of a jam-packed bachelorette weekend and so we had already planned to order a few pizzas from Vinnie Van Go Go’s after I discovered this place on Yelp. The pizza wasn’t mind-blowing but it did the jobs and the pies. were. HUGE. I’m just glad we carried out and didn’t plan to eat in, as it was a Saturday night and the crowd at the restaurant was bonkers!

Gryphon Tea Room

Best for … Lunch

Truth be told, this place had better reviews online than the Tea Room on Broughton Street where I went last time, but while I loved the Gryphon’s lunch menu, the afternoon tea service was just OK. In other words, if you want the proper tea experience, go to the Tea Room, but if you want ambiance and delicious sammies, book yourself a table at Gryphon (either way, you can’t go wrong).

Gryphon Tea Room in Savannah

The Tea Room

Best for … Afternoon Tea

See previous review. I loved everything about this place. And the convenience of being right in the middle of Broughton Street is clutch. Go there and order the tea they set on fire; you won’t be disappointed.

The Tea Room in Savannah

Jen’s & Friends

Best for … Sugar Sweet Cocktails

A friend was in Savannah a week before me, and once I saw her birthday cake martini, I knew we’d be making a stop here. If you don’t like sweet drinks, this might not be your place, but dang, they have 300+ kinds of martinis—from traditional to specialties like Reese’s Pieces and S’mores—and every one I tried was delicious (I recommend the gingerbread). It’s tiny, though, so get there early if you want a table or space at the bar.

Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos

Best for … Late-Night Shenanigans

A Savannah staple, this piano bar is loud and raucous, but also a must-do at some point during your stay. Who doesn’t love a good piano duel, and all the music was great, the drinks were affordable and there was plenty of space to sit in the roomy establishment. One thing that did sort of annoy me is that there were three brides-to-be there—and we had heard this was the place to go with a bachelorette group as the musicians would call you on stage—and no matter how many times we requested songs and told the pianist we, too, had a bachelorette, he ignored us in favor of the other two. Still, a fun bar, and I’d go back.

Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos

Your turn: What are your favorite Savannah restaurants and bars? What did I leave off the list?

COMMENTS
  • March 5, 2014

    Back in the Day cupcakes are the greatest! Savannah Smiles was also a stop on my bachelorette party – such a great place, I’m sad your bachelorette didn’t get pulled up on stage. As many times as I’ve been to Savannah, I’ve still never gone to Mrs. Wilkes – need to go soon!
    Carrie McLaren recently posted..Making Memories at Gulf World Marine ParkMy Profile

    • March 6, 2014

      And you’re so much closer to Savannah than I am! Jealous! Back in the Day, yummmm. I would almost make the eight-hour drive simply for their cupcakes.

  • March 5, 2014

    Oh my days, where do I even begin?! The number one reason I want to go to the south (there are other valid reasons as well!) is the food, my tummy’s already rumbling and I’ve just had my tea!
    Naomi recently posted..The least capital cityMy Profile

    • March 6, 2014

      When you finally make that leap, I’d be happy to give you a list of all my favorite restaurants across the South (it’s more like a novel) 😉

  • March 5, 2014
    Amy Brock

    Such an awesome post!
    I wanted to add to your bit about The Tea Room – it is now paired with a fabulous new eatery called Dept. 7 East! Same location on Broughton, just some creative renovation of the space has allowed for the two to co-exist and compliment each other beautifully.

    Next time you visit, you must try Dept. 7 East, any restaurant that call pull off having a sandwich called “Perverted Roast Beef” on their menu and still be classy and delish is tops in my book! AND: Tableside S’mores for the win! http://dept7east.com/menu/

    • March 6, 2014

      I peeked in and saw it looked different! I love that spot–I just wanted to try out Gryphon this time. Both are so yum!

      But tableside s’mores? Currently crying that I didn’t know about those; otherwise, we would have been there in a flash.

  • March 6, 2014

    In eating as well as living, it’s not the years of your life that matters, it’s the life in your years … these restaurants are definitely a part of the latter credo!
    Heather recently posted..Top Reasons To Visit South KoreaMy Profile

    • March 17, 2014

      I am going to adopt that mentality! Love it!

  • March 8, 2014

    OMG, this post makes me hungry! Like you, I also live to eat! I love cupcakes!
    Renuka recently posted..Top 10 Women Travel Bloggers I FollowMy Profile

    • March 17, 2014

      Man, I’m in week two of Paleo right now and going back and looking at this cupcake physically pains me, ha!

  • March 8, 2014

    Oh yum! Everything in this post looks divine. My sister lives a few hours from Savannah, so I’m thinking a visit is in order!
    Kavi recently posted..Happy Chicagoversary!My Profile

    • March 17, 2014

      Be sure and plan for four meals a day if you do! =)

  • March 10, 2014

    I spent only about 24 hours in Savannah, but went to the Olde Pink House for lunch and loved it…especially the drink called the pink lady.
    Patrice recently posted..Springing ForwardMy Profile

    • March 17, 2014

      Oooh I didn’t realize they had lunch, too. Might have to check that out on my next visit!

  • March 14, 2014

    b. Matthews is definitely a favorite! You should check out Green Truck Pub – some of the best burgers I’ve ever had!
    Heather recently posted..3 Easy Campfire RecipesMy Profile

    • March 17, 2014

      You know, we stayed two blocks from Green Truck Pub—I only know that because I tried to tag the house in Instagram and GTP came up—but getting 12 girls out of the house to do anything is a chore, so sadly, I didn’t get to go there…this visit. There’s always next!

  • March 14, 2014

    One of my favorite things about traveling is that I get to eat food at new and amazing places. It’s one the best ways to explore a new place, I think, by eating everything and anything.
    terra recently posted..30.My Profile

  • March 21, 2014

    How do you go to Savannah and not eat soul food? Try Sisters the next time you pass through. Food is cultural and you can’t take advantage of Savannah without acknowledgement of the African-American influence. Cheers!

  • March 24, 2014

    Visiting different restaurants and trying different delicacies and specialties while on a vacation is one of the best leisure thing to do.
    Jeremy Norton recently posted..Help with Setting up a BusinessMy Profile

  • April 3, 2014

    This is great! I’ve only seen Savannah on quick stops driving from NYC to Florida but I plan to spend more time there eating and drinking as much as possible!
    Danee Sarman recently posted..Full Circle at the New Museum Spring GalaMy Profile

  • June 1, 2014

    Whoa, I feel awesome because I pretty much hit up all of these wonderful spots during my getaway to Savannah in the fall! I LOVED Rocks on the Roof- great place to grab a cocktail and enjoy the beautiful weather. Great roundup!

  • September 16, 2014

    I literally just found your site today and ironically, I wrote a blog post today about why Savannah is one of my favorite cities.

    I did realize that you wrote this post months ago, but I still enjoyed reading it. I have to check out the Tea Room when I go back to Savannah. Thanks for sharing!

    Love your website BTW!
    Toya recently posted..Savannah, GA, USAMy Profile

    • September 17, 2014

      Thank you so much! I’m obviously a HUGE fan of Savannah, as well!

  • January 3, 2015

    Going to Savannah in 1.5 weeks and i am so excited by the restaurants that you have posted here… 🙂

  • January 19, 2015
    mariasgold

    You also need to stop by on sundays best, Ole southern buffet on stephenson ave . Best homecooking southern style to. Also heard doubletree motel downtown has great buffet yet to try . just saw on eat it and like it tv show Lulucakes bakery opened up on hodgeson and eisenhower dr. Durning the weekdays 11am-2pm mon-fri buffet 10.00 or christmas buffet dinner try hilton garden inn in midtown on abercorn street near 12 oaks shopping center . if yours craving mexican try any jalapeno restuarant. If your craving collard greens and bbq best little drive is mac’s place bbq in bloomingdale ga off hwy 80 closed Sunday’s and mondays. If your craving bbq might i suggested given a try the bbq sliders and best dutch crusted sweet potatoe casserole as a side give wiley’s championship bbq wilmington isl.area hwy 80 east they are closed sundays we worth the drive. Also if you have the family or group only want take out give barnes restuarant call cooks whole boston butts off waters ave savannah. Or low country boil seafoodlicious skidaway rd.savannah. also if you got a sweet tooth give savannah rum runners a try great cupcakes. W.bolton street. Near forsythe park. Or bakers pride off derenne ave. Just desserts of savannah 5224-B skidaway rd . Or.krispy cream doughnuts on skidaway rd or abercorn street and largo dr its open late . If your out by oglethrope mall or Savannah mall area.

    • January 19, 2015
      mariasgold

      Ole southern buffet is actually called ” Ole Time country Buffet located on stephenson ave. Savannah ga. Also give Sweet teas buffet m-fri 11am-2 hwy 21 port wenworth ga and has sunday buffet 11-2..

    • January 20, 2015

      This is super helpful for my next visit! Thank you so much =)

  • March 18, 2016
    Audrey

    Just found your blog and instantly engrossed! My bestie and I are both huge travel and fine food nuts, so needless to say I find much to be intrigued by here!

    Savannah is one of our favorite spots, we’ve been there many times. If I were to cite just a couple of my fave dinner spots there, besides those you mention:

    Noble Fare on Jefferson St: For my money, the top dinner establishment in the city, not excluding Olde Pink House. Simply exquisite!

    Chive on Broughton St: A very pleasant discovery when we went last June. They actually had lionfish on the menu, which is a very rare and succulent treat!

    Back to devouring your blog!

    • March 18, 2016

      Thank you so much for swinging by, Audrey! Sounds like we would be great friends =)

      I am definitely due for a return to Savannah as it’s been two weeks now, and those will be my top two priorities when I finally make it back!

      And I’ve actually hunted and eaten lionfish in the Caribbean before, since they’re a threat to the ecosystem on this side of the world. They’re also delicious 😉

  • August 30, 2016

    There’s no shortage of awesome food in sav that’s for sure!

  • September 3, 2016

    If you love cocktails, you should definitely head to Savannah. My boyfriend and I spent a few days in the city last month and we treated ourselves to a selection of craft cocktails from different venues. One of our favorite places was Mati Hari, an authentic-looking speakeasy in downtown Savannah. The ambiance there was great, and so was the Absinthe 75!
    Jessica recently posted..Busking In NYC: The Amazing Power Of The Musical SawMy Profile

  • March 22, 2017

    What a great post! Im visiting Savannah this weekend and had already bookmarked most of these places!

    • March 23, 2017

      Awesome, Kimberly! I might be going back next month for the first time since writing this post three years ago, so report back if you find any awesome new eats =)

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