Savannah’s Historic District is teeming with restaurants, most of which enjoy very good reputations. Many of the best are high-end eateries where the service and ambiance are only matched by the outstanding cuisine. One of the best is the Olde Pink House, a Downtown Savannah staple that’s housed in a restored 18th-century mansion. The restaurant's Southern-inspired cuisine is superb and the historic setting is lovely.
Other great high-end choices in the Historic District include a.lure, Noble Fare, 45 Bistro and Circa 1875 Gastropub, a French restaurant with great food, a cozy atmosphere and a stellar wine menu.
If you’ve come to Savannah hoping to have some authentic Southern home cooking, then be sure to grab a spot in line at Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room, a family-style eatery that specializes in fried chicken, beef stew and all the trimmings. Mrs. Wilkes is only open for lunch Monday-Friday, so plan accordingly.
For those who want to take their lunch to go, there’s no better place in the Historic District than Zunzi’s, an eclectic take-out joint with incredible sandwiches. You’ll probably be tempted to try the restaurant’s Conquistador sandwich–a baked chicken breast on French bread with Zunzi’s special sauce–which was named the third best sandwich in America by the Travel Channel’s Adam Richman, but don’t pass up the other sandwiches and entrees. There are a plethora of other great casual choices in the Historic District, including the Crystal Beer Parlor, Fire Street Food and Middle Eastern Cuisine.
Middle Eastern Cuisine
This small eatery, located across from the Chatham County Courthouse on Montgomery Street, is a hidden gem. Owner and chef Ali goes out of his way to make diners feel at home. But it's his food that really shines, from the garlicy and delicious hummus to the moist and flavorful pork souvlaki. Other outstanding choices include the baba ganoush, lemon soup, stuffed grape leaves, baked falafel, gyro sandwich and pastitsio. Though the restaurant's ambiance is fairly forgettable and service can be on the slow side (Ali wears a lot of hats, after all), once you start eating, you'll be glad you chose to dine at Middle Eastern Cuisine. (912-443-0414)
Crystal Beer Parlor
This longtime Savannah favorite first opened its doors in 1933 and holds the distinction of being the city's second oldest restaurant. The original Crystal Beer Parlor was one of Savannah's most popular restaurants and was the first American eating establishment to serve alcohol after the repeal of Prohibition. Despite the restaurant's rich history and popularity, the Crystal Beer Parlor faced tough times and even closed its doors for a number of years. Energized by new owners, the Crystal Beer Parlor reopened in its original location in 2009 and has once again become a Savannah favorite. The restaurant is known for its thick, juicy, freshly made burgers but also receives rave reviews for its seafood, salads and other American-influenced fare. The Crystal Beer Parlor's gorgeous wooden bar is always lively, and the restaurant hosts weekday happy hours and trivia night every Monday. (912-349-1000)
Fire Street Food
From the masterminds who brought Savannah The King & I, Tangerine Fusion and Sushi Bar and Ele Fine Fusion comes Fire Street Food, a Historic District eatery that prides itself on being fresh, fast and affordable. The restaurant's influences run the gamut from Thai to Japanese to Vietnamese to American, with standout items including the wagyu kobe burger, gang dang gai chicken curry, endamame salad and skewers, which can be ordered with chicken, beef, pork or shrimp. The eatery's bright, modern decor is a welcome change from the many dark, historic restaurant's in Downtown Savannah, and the food is a veritable bargain. ((912) 234-7776)
This popular takeout restaurant boasts an eclectic menu thanks to the Swiss, Italian, South African and Dutch heritage of proprietors Johnny and Gabriella DeBeer. The couple has created a delicious and reasonably priced menu that blends flavors from these and other countries, with standout dishes including a cottage pie with ground beef, a vegetarian curry stew and homemade lasagna. But perhaps Zunzi's is most famous for its sandwiches, namely the Conquistador, a baked chicken breast served on French bread and topped with lettuce, tomatoes and Zunzi's special sauce. The tangy and hearty sandwich received national attention when the Travel Channel's Adam Richman named it one of the top three sandwiches in America on his show Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America. (912-443-9555)
You don't have to compromise atmosphere just because you're craving shrimp and grits. A.lure, an eatery near City Market in the Historic District, offers the best of both worlds: outstanding cuisine that puts an interesting spin on Low Country classics and a sophisticated, upscale interior that blends historic and modern elements. The restaurant's eclectic menu, which incorporates locally and regionally sourced ingredients, takes standard favorites and turns them upside down. The Low Country Boil, a one-pot dish that traditionally includes boiled shrimp and sausage, becomes a fancy Southern feast thanks to the addition of a crab cake, fingerling potatoes, collards, sweet corn soufflé and an Old Bay hollandaise sauce. The chocolate sweet potato mousse, topped with toasted marshmallow fluff, spicy candied pecans and chocolate-dipped bacon, may just be the most innovative Southern dessert in town. ((912) 233-2111)
Fresh, flavorful, innovative and beautifully presented – seafood simply doesn't get any better than Noble Fare's near-perfect plates. Amidst an intimate, chandelier-lit setting, diners delight in selections from an ever-changing menu that highlights fresh local ingredients handpicked by passionate owner and chef Patrick McNamara himself. Past standout creations have included the tuna tartar with avocado, pineapple relish and curry oil, the pan-seared scallops over bacon and corn risotto and the raspberry chocolate cake paired with creamy custard. A newly remodeled wine bar on the restaurant's second floor is the perfect spot to grab a drink before dinner or to enjoy on its own. (912-443-3210)
With a prime location on Broughton Street, 45 Bistro seems like an obvious choice for fine dining in Savannah. But the elegant restaurant that inhabits the space on the ground level of the Marshall House Hotel often takes a back seat to old Savannah staples and the newer restaurants du jour. Diners should not overlook this gem, which serves up a rotating selection of eclectic, brilliantly executed dishes. Many restaurants excel at preparation, while others have mastered the art of flavor. 45 Bistro takes top honors in both categories, serving dishes that are bursting with flavor and cooked with the utmost care. An attentive staff and extensive wine list make this the perfect spot for a romantic Savannah evening. (912-234-3111)
Circa 1875 Gastropub
For the best French cuisine in Savannah, head to this cozy Parisian bistro and adjoining gastropub on Whitaker Street. The gastropub is located on the site of a former Irish pub and has retained much of the original atmosphere, including tiled floors and wooden partitions. Bistro dining is available in the adjoining room or downstairs in the wine cellar, a romantic, brick-lined space that's perfect for an intimate dinner. Circa's menu includes an array of traditional French appetizers such as escargot, mussels and pate, along with seasonal entrees that are inventive and flavorful. Most entrees are accompanied by a vegetable or starch, but additional sides can be ordered a la carte. (912-443-1875)
Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room
When President Obama visited Savannah during his first term, he ate at only one restaurant: Mrs. Wilkes' Dining House. It's no wonder that the Commander in Chief chose this Jones Street staple, which has been serving family-style meals for decades. With platters of fried chicken and dishes of butter beans, red rice, collard greens, mac and cheese, and candied yams freely flowing around the 10-person shared tables, Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room promises great food and equally great conversation from fellow diners who have come from near and far to experience Southern cuisine at its finest. The selection of dishes rotates but is available on the restaurant's website for those looking for specific items. (912-232-5997)
Olde Pink House
Legend has it that several ghosts haunt the 18th-century Georgian mansion that is home to the Olde Pink House. While it may be tempting to be on the lookout for those rumored spirits, diners will undoubtedly be distracted by the excellent food and cozy ambience that have made this one of the city's most popular restaurants. The Southern-influenced cuisine is always flavorful and features a large selection of fish, beef, pork and chicken dishes. Among the standout seafood entrees is the crispy scored flounder with apricot shallot sauce, which has been a mainstay on the menu for years. The "BLT" salad, a twist on the traditional BLT sandwich that incorporates fried green tomatoes, crispy bacon and black pepper thyme buttermilk dressing, was featured on the Food Network Show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." The restaurant's signature praline basket filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with berries is the perfect way to end the meal. (912-232-4286)
About Amy Pine
Amy's thrilled to have the opportunity to share her love of Savannah with the world. A Savannah native, Amy has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and editor, and her work has appeared in numerous local, regional and national publications. Prior to launching a freelance career, she was executive editor at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she served as editor of the college’s alumni magazine. Amy received a B.A. in English and communications from the University of Pennsylvania. She's currently putting the finishing touches on her young adult novel, The Girl in a Picture Frame.
Read more about Amy Pine here.
Connect with Amy via: Blog | Google+