You can get fried chicken anywhere, but if you want it full of flavor and served with love, then head to one of Savannah’s many home-style restaurants. The city’s down-home eateries are all about fresh, homemade comfort food and personable service.
One of the best home-style restaurants in Savannah is Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room, a lunch spot that’s been a favorite among locals and tourists for years. Guests at Mrs. Wilkes sit at family-style tables and pass around platters and dishes filled with comfort food favorites like fried chicken, beef stew, mac and cheese, and biscuits.
Those looking for something a little more contemporary should check out Sweet Potatoes, a Midtown restaurant with mouthwatering meatloaf, fried catfish, collards, lima beans, corn pudding and more. Café Florie, located in the city’s Thomas Square Streetcar neighborhood, also puts a modern twist on home-style cooking.
For more traditional home-style cooking, be sure to stop by Sisters, Masada Café, Holland House and the Garden of Eden, four eateries that specialize in good-ole Southern cuisine and soul food.
Two long-time Savannah restaurants also give patrons a taste of home-style cooking– Johnny Harris, which has been a local favorite since it opened its doors in 1924, and the Pirates' House, an eatery that will delight both kids and adults.
And you can’t mention home-style cooking without talking about Paula Deen. The Queen of Southern cooking still draws a crowd at her popular restaurant The Lady & Sons, a down-home eatery that serves Paula classics like fried chicken and gooey butter cake.
With a tradition of hospitality dating back to 1753, this establishment did, indeed, cater to seamen early on. These days, it's got a more sedate clientele, and they're more inclined to gluttony than to marauding. Locals frequently recommend the fun and friendly restaurant, and its 15 different dining rooms can handle a host of patrons. The menu specializes in seafood (everything from a stomach-sating seafood platter to grouper Florentine), and there's a terrific, reasonably-priced Southern lunch buffet as well. The Pirates' House is also a treat for kids. Young diners can transform into pint-sized pirates with pop-out hats, eye patches and mustaches, while enthusiastic pirates roam the restaurant's several dining rooms to entertain guests with comical quips and spooky stories. (912-233-5757)
The Lady & Sons
Paula Deen's restaurant remains packed despite recent controversies that have tarnished the celebrity chef's reputation. The popular buffet features an array of classic Deen dishes, including Southern fried chicken, collard greens and gooey butter cakes--items made famous on Paula's now-canceled Food Network shows. Diners who want something a little fancier can order from the menu, which includes a variety of appetizer and main-course selections such as fried green tomatoes, crab cakes and peach barbeque grouper. Die-hard fans may want to consider picking up some Paula-themed items at the adjoining gift shop. After all, the gift shop's wares, including cookbooks signed by the lady herself, jams, sauces and more, may be harder to come by now that the Queen of Southern Cooking's reign has come to an end. (912-233-2600)
For the past four decades, this small, unassuming Midtown eatery has been serving Southern and soul food favorites to devoted local patrons. The restaurant's daily buffet menu features a rotating selection of meats and side dishes, among them crispy fried chicken, meat loaf, chicken and dumplings, beef stew, collard greens, okra and tomatoes, mac and cheese, green beans and sweet potato soufflé. A cooked-to-order breakfast is available seven mornings a week and includes favorites such as omelets, pancakes, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, hash browns, and biscuits and gravy. The friendly staff, laid back vibe and tasty food make the Holland House a good choice for those looking for their soul food fix. ((912) 352-3382)
Masada Cafe at the United House of Prayer for All People
Everyone knows that those potluck meals at church produce some of the best-tasting Southern food around. What if you could eat that down-home church food year-round? Enter Masada Cafe at the United House of Prayer for All People, a restaurant that is literally run by the church. The cafeteria-style eatery, which is located in the church annex, features a rotating selection of soul food favorites, including fried chicken, country fried steak, mac and cheese, cornbread, red rice, green beans and more. The restaurant is off the beaten path, but after filling your belly with heaping portions of Southern staples, you won't regret the trip. (912-236-9499)
If you're longing for one of those unforgettable Sunday meals your grandma made, then head to Sisters, a family-owned eatery that specializes in traditional Southern fare. There's nothing fancy on Sisters' menu, just standard, hearty classics such as oxtails, fried chicken, smothered pork chops, barbeque ribs and fried shrimp, along with a panoply of side dishes including collard greens, candied yams, mac and cheese, and lima beans. Prices are reasonable, especially the weekday lunch special, which includes a meat and two sides. Sisters also serves a full breakfast seven days a week, including an all-you-can-eat pancake feast on weekends. In addition to the restaurant on Skidaway Road, Sisters also has locations on Mall Boulevard on Savannah's Southside and in nearby Pooler. ((912) 335-2761)
Sweet Potatoes touts itself as serving "endearing food," and this popular Midtown eatery, indeed, specializes in the kind of familiar comfort food your grandmamma made. The restaurant offers an array of salads and sandwiches, but it's the entrees that really shine. From fried freshwater catfish to peach glazed barbeque chicken to meatloaf, there's something to please every Southern food-loving palate. Picking an entree may be easy, but choosing the accompanying two sides may prove more challenging. The long list of side dishes includes corn pudding, lemon collard greens, dilled lima beans, sweet potato salad, black eyed peas, fresh sliced tomatoes with vinaigrette, sliced cucumbers with vinaigrette and rice, plus a rotating selection of daily specials. If you're finding it hard to make up your mind, you can always opt for the vegetable plate, a reasonably priced entree that includes your choice of four sides. (912-352-3434)
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)
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+