The only time I’ve visited the South was New Orleans back in 2015 so when I was invited to a friend’s wedding up in North Carolina, I decided to make a little trip out of it.
My first stop was the enchanting coastal city of Savannah, Georgia known for its polished parks and squares, horse-drawn carriages, and antebellum architecture. We arrived at night and went straight to our historic hotel, The Marshall House, the oldest hotel in the city dating back to 1851. The Marshall House, located on Broughton Street (the main shopping street), was quaint, had that Southern charm, and had wonderful service and amenities such as complimentary wine and cheese every night, live music, and history talks.
Our first night we had dinner at Prohibition inspired by the classic 1920’s speakeasy with its décor and here you’ll find more refined versions of Southern dishes.
Fresh aromatic lettuces were served with creamy Burrata cheese, a vibrant sweet pea sauce with fresh peas, and meaty bacon pieces.
These pig trotter “tater tots” were fun and playful. Crispy on the outside with a gooey warm interior.
Slightly spicy juicy chicken wings were served with a cooling Gorgonzola cheese ranch sauce. Super tasty.
The flavors of the dish were delicious with the sweet corn velouté and supple pieces of crab but the grouper was undercooked so we asked them to cook the fish longer (this type of meaty fish needs to be cooked through otherwise it’s difficult to eat). Once the grouper was cooked through, it was much better.
A damn good cheeseburger, what more could I ask for?
Sadly this panna cotta was way too firm and didn’t have that luscious mouthfeel. The flavor was decent but I couldn’t get past the texture.
The mousse was a little heavy and lacked that airiness.
Overall we did enjoy our dinner at Prohibition but a few dishes needed some work so my rating is a 7.5/10.
Our first full day in Savannah was spent walking around the historic center to marvel at all the beautiful squares and architecture. The city has 22 squares and are surrounded by historic homes, museums, inns, and churches. We also walked through the city market, an open air market with shopping and dining dating back to the 1700s. While walking in the historic center, we passed by several historic homes such as the Juliette Gordon Low House (birthplace of Girl Scouts’ founder), Andrew Low House, and Owens–Thomas House. We also walked through Colonial Park Cemetery in the middle of the historic district which dates back to 1750 followed by the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Lastly we walked to Forsyth Park, a gorgeous park in the city where I ran to everyday during my morning workout.
After admiring the historic district, we went to Bonaventure Cemetery outside the city center known as one of the country’s most beautiful cemeteries dating back to 1846.
We finished the day adventures with a walk down River Street along the Savannah River where there are shops and restaurants.
Our second night we dined at the Olde Pink House, a Georgian mansion built in 1771 that serves Southern cuisine. The food and ambience is a bit old school but fits the city’s old world charm.
The complimentary biscuits and cornbread were way too sweet so I could literally taste the sugar crystals.
A decent caesar salad but I would have liked more croutons and shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Crispy tart fried green tomatoes were in between a delicious moist crab cake. The fresh arugula salad on the side was the perfect vibrant accompaniment to cut through the richness of the fried tomatoes and crab cake.
The scallops had a great char yet were still slightly translucent in the middle and were finished with a herb butter. The cheesy cheddar grits were creamy and decadent and the mixed beans on the side consisted of green beans and sugar snap peas.
Tender filet mignon was served with rich whipped potatoes with bacon. The demi glace could have had more green peppercorn flavor as I was expecting pieces of green pepper to give that added punch of flavor and spice.
I love key lime pie and this was tasty except for the whipped cream on top. It reminded me of that fake whipped cream which I don’t care for as it tastes artificial.
While the food at the Olde Pink House is definitely not cutting edge or inventive, overall everything was actually pretty tasty and cooked nicely so my rating is a 7.5-8/10.
Our final day in Savannah started off by heading to Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, another institution in the city and a must when visiting. They’re only open for lunch Monday-Friday and take no reservations so people start lining up as early as 9:30am. We arrived at 10:15am and there were already about 40 people in line. By the time they opened at 11am, the line had easily doubled and we were sat around 11:30am. The cost per person is $23 for all you can eat (be sure to bring cash, no cards).
At Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, you sit with strangers and share the food family style. Dishes are always rotating but you’ll always have fried chicken and sweet tea. Some side dishes on that day included cornbread, macaroni and cheese, black eyed peas, baked beans, rutabaga, rice and gravy, mashed potatoes, red rice, collard greens, okra and tomatoes, and coleslaw, and there was even more! We finished the meal with banana bread pudding and blueberry à la mode.
The fried chicken was simply prepared and was just seasoned with salt and pepper but it was super tasty…juicy, moist, and crispy. Some of my favorite side dishes were the cornbread, the various bean dishes, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, collard greens, and pickled cucumbers.
Both the banana bread pudding and blueberry à la mode were a bit too sweet for my liking but still delicious.
If there’s any food establishment you must go to when visiting Savannah, it’s Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. The whole experience of strangers enjoying home cooked comfort food together is priceless. Of course the only downside is waiting in line but you can decide if that’s something you’re up for.
After a fulfilling lunch we went to Tybee Island, about 20 minutes away from the city. We had a lazy day at the beach but didn’t end up staying too long as it was quite hot.
After the beach we freshened up at the hotel then walked around the city center again before our last dinner. We walked down the Savannah River, to City Hall, and then back to the park.
Our final dinner was at Cotton & Rye, a New American restaurant with a Southern flare and a sleek yet homey ambience.
Their homemade bread had caraway seeds in it, a delicious addition. We had at least three helpings of their scrumptious bread.
I loved everything about this vegetarian beet tartare in which you didn’t even miss the beef. The red beets were roasted and were sweet, chewy, and had such a depth of flavor especially with the salty capers. The lemon horseradish yogurt added creaminess but could have used more horseradish flavor to add more heat.
Creamy cheesy grits had succulent pieces of shrimp mixed throughout with juicy segments of tomato and meaty bacon chunks. So good.
Damn…these really are award winning wings! The chefs at Cotton & Rye actually won the James Beard Foundation’s Southern Wing Showdown last year and for good reason. These sticky wings were super crispy yet moist and supple and had the perfect amount of spiciness to sweetness. My mouth is drooling just thinking about them!
Tommy loves his fries so we decided to order this side dish and it was more than abundant.
Beautiful trout was stuffed with crab meat and served with a rice mixture with all types of goodies. Really tasty.
What a fun presentation…literally candy bars! Who doesn’t like milk chocolate with shortbread and caramel in the middle?!
I love any type of fruit cobblers but the crust was too doughy for my liking.
Cotton & Rye had some freakin’ delicious food and service was awesome too so my rating is an 8/10.
Savannah is one of the oldest cities in our country and is definitely one of the prettiest. With so much greenery, cobblestoned streets, and southern hospitality, it’s a destination not to be missed when visiting the South.