Any thoughts of dieting have to be cast aside when you visit Savannah, because true Southern food involves indulging in the likes of crispy fried green tomatoes, ham-hocked collard greens, deliciously smothered pork chops, fried chicken and other decadent delights. As you would expect, Savannah offers a vast selection of good Southern restaurants, from casual mom-and-pop choices with great food - as well as prices - to fine dining eateries specializing in nouvelle Low Country cuisine. If you hunger for down-home cooking in a family-style atmosphere, check out Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room, a Savannah favorite known for its fried chicken, meatloaf and delicious sides. Restaurants such as Sisters and Masada Café at the United House of Prayer for All People are popular for their basic Southern home cooking. Sweet Potatoes is where you'll find classic dishes with a definite a 21st-century twist to traditional Southern favorites. For a special occasion - and a different kind of Southern cooking experience - make a reservation at Elizabeth on 37th, an upscale eatery which delights guests with its innovative spin on Southern classics. The Olde Pink House, Vic’s on the River and a.lure are also excellent bets for tasty comfort food. Then, of course there’s The Lady & Sons, the restaurant made famous by celebrity chef Paula Deen. Paula's restaurant, which includes a Southern-style buffet, always draws a hungry crowd.
The Lady & Sons
America's well known celebrity chef Paula Deen's Savannah restaurant draws locals and visitors alike who are in search of good Southern cuisine. Popular dishes offer an array of classics such as fried chicken, Savannah crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits and a host of seafood dishes. The ever-popular buffet offers slightly less fancy, but equally delicious fare. Desserts such as key-lime or pecan pie are winners. An adjoining gift shop features some of Deen's signature cookware, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets and other kitchen-related "goodies." The popular Lady and Sons is run by Deen and her two sons, Jamie and Bobby (912-233-2600)
This unassuming Midtown restaurant has been serving soul food to residents and visitors to Savannah Southern for some 40 years. A daily buffet typically offers a rotation selection of meats such as crispy fried chicken, beef stew, chicken and dumplings along with a selection of sides such as okra and tomatoes, mac and cheese, sweet potato soufflé and collard greens. Custom-made breakfast is available daily and includes favorites such as pancakes, omelets, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, biscuits and gravy and hash browns. The vibe is laid back, the staff is friendly and the prices are reasonable. Added to that, the Holland House offers a comfy, down-home feel. ((912) 352-3382)
If you're in the mood for a typical Southern meal, be sure to stop at Sisters, a family-owned restaurant specializing in traditional local cuisine. You won't find anything fancy, but you will find standard choices such as fried chicken, smothered pork chops, oxtails, friend shrimp and barbecued ribs accompanied by tasty side dishes. Some of the favorites include mac and cheese, candied yams, collard greens and lima beans. The price is right - especially the weekday luncheon special. Breakfast features pancakes, corn beef hash, smothered shrimp or chicken, hamburger steak and more. On weekends they offer an all-you-can-eat pancake feast. ((912) 335-2761)
Vic's on the River
Nestled in a restored cotton warehouse which once served as a hub for General Sherman's army during the Civil War, Vic's on the River offers a pleasing selection of Southern favorites. Topping the list you'll find pecan-crusted local flounder, Southern meatloaf, wild Georgia shrimp and smoked cheddar stone ground grits and crab, as well as shrimp and oyster stew. Typical sides may include collard greens, mac and cheese, braised spinach, smoked Cheddar grits and Andouille potato hash. Top your meal off with praline cheesecake or pecan pie and a mint julep and you've had a true Southern dining experience. A selection of wines, Port, Madeira and Sherries offer the perfect complement to your meal. (912-721-1000)
Masada Cafe at the United House of Prayer for All People
Taking in a potluck meal at a church may not spring immediately to mind if you're in search of good Southern cooking, but Masada Café at the United House of Prayer is an exception. The restaurant is run by the church and features a cafeteria-style eatery, which is located in the church annex. Leading the list of rotating soul favorites, is delicious fried chicken, country fried steak, mac and cheese, cornbread, red rice, green beans and more. The restaurant is a bit off the beaten path, but you'll enjoy heaping portions of Southern favorites and you won't regret the culinary trip. (912-236-9499)
Conveniently located in Savannah's Historic District, a.Lure features a classy, upscale ambiance, combing historic and modern touches, serving classic Southern cuisine - with a playful twist. The farm-to-fork blend of Low-Country fresh seafood is drawn from owner Daniel Berman's memories of home-cooked meals and his appreciation of produce fresh off of the farm produce. The restaurant's eclectic menu offers not only their specialty seafood, but includes a wide range of meats from steak to pork and chicken. Appetizers include the popular fried green tomatoes with Cajun remoulade with pickled and grilled green salsa and balsamic vinegar. The Low Country Boil becomes a Southern feast with the addition of a crab cake, fingerling potatoes, collards, sweet corn soufflé and an Old Bay hollandaise sauce. The chocolate peanut butter s'mores - a chocolate torte with peanut butter ganache, homemade marshmallow and toasted marshmallow cream - may just be the most decadent dessert in town. ((912) 233-2111)
This Midtown eatery touts itself as serving "endearing food," specializing in good, old-fashioned comfort food. An array of sandwiches, salads and entrees offer plenty of choices from fried freshwater catfish to pot roast, fried shrimp dinner and meatloaf, sure to please the most discerning Southern palate. A long list of sides includes lemon collard greens, roasted Brussels sprouts, black-eyed peas, corn pudding, steamed cabbage, dilled lima beans and more. You'll find the perfect finale in their legendary banana pudding, chocolate chip pecan pie or sweet potato pie. An ample list of wines, beer, craft beer and other refreshments are also available. (912-352-3434)
Olde Pink House
One of Savannah's most popular restaurants serves nouvelle Southern cuisine in a sophisticated 18th-century Georgian mansion, located adjacent to the historic Planter's Inn. You'll find typical dishes such as shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes and barbeque-glazed duck, as well as other favorites such as a blackened oyster appetizer with watermelon relish and green tomato chow chow. Also on the list is the more traditional bourbon molasses-glazed grilled pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes and collards. The signature praline basket filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with sweet berries is the perfect finale to your meal. The restaurant's portrait-lined walls, fireplaces and shimmering chandeliers add to the charm, making the Olde Pink House one of the best places to savor a delicious meal in true Southern comfort. (912-232-4286)
Elizabeth on 37th
For an elegant, Southern-inspired menu served in a 1900s mansion brimming with rich antiques, Old World trappings and marble fireplaces, be sure to visit Elizabeth on 37th, one of Savannah's noted fine dining establishments. Open since 1981 the eatery features fresh local produce and seafood as well as an assortment of Southern basics along with an impressive wine list. Sapelo Island clams are a favorite appetizer and the Coastal Grouper Celeste is a longtime best-seller, with sesame-almond-crusted fish, peanut sauce and roasted potatoes. Decadent desserts include a dense chocolate pecan torte with chocolate whipped cream; Savannah cream cake - angel food with sherry laced custard,topped with a berry and custard sauce; pecan almond torte topped with praline ice cream and bourbon caramel sauce and more. Wine captains are available to suggest custom pairings, and the attentive wait staff goes out of its way to ensure a pleasurable dining experience. (912-236-5547)
Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room
For the "real deal," Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room is "must" if you're in the mood for real Southern food. The popular lunch spot, located in a cozy house on a brick-lined street in the Historic District, has been drawing a crowd of tourists and locals alike since a young Mrs. Wilkes took over a boarding house in 1943. Her establishment is so popular that on most days you'll have to wait in line before landing a spot at one of her coveted tables. The family-style restaurant offers a rotating selection of delicious homemade Southern favorites including the necessary fried chicken, meatloaf, mac and cheese, candied yams, okra, butter beans, collard greens and more. (912-232-5997)
About Michelle da Silva Richmond
Michelle da Silva Richmond is an award-winning travel editor and member of the Society of American Travel Writers and other journalism organizations.
She has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, consumer and trade magazines and in-flight publications. In addition, she has co- authored and contributed to many guide books and was a weekly travel columnist for a metropolitan Connecticut daily newspaper.
Growing up abroad, combined with a colorful career as a Pan Am flight attendant fueled her wanderlust and passion for travel.
She lived in Mexico City for nearly 20 years and has visited nearly 100 countries. Her bags are always packed.
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