5 Bites of Savannah
A weekend break steeped in history and delicious Southern food (and drink)
It is said that in 1743 when General James Oglethorpe, who founded Savannah, was sailing back to England, he said, “Don’t change a thing until I get back.” He never returned. A historic town through and through, Savannah is filled with a quiet and elegant charm that makes it the perfect weekend getaway. And the ghost tours and cemeteries worth exploring make it particularly ideal for an October trip — stop by the Bonaventure Cemetery and book a spot on the Legends of Savannah Ghost Tour before seeking out the city’s best food and drink, of which there is plenty.
Breakfast: Complete with open-mic nights and worn-in couches, The Sentient Bean gives the air of a typical college town coffee house. But the coffee and food options are anything but. Fair-trade coffees from Ethiopia to Nicaragua, perfectly pulled espresso drinks, and a classic, refreshing “shakeratto” on offer, this is coffee done well. The food choices, too, are a great way to start your weekend in town right — go with granola and yogurt, a breakfast burrito, or a homemade pastry.
Lunch: On Tybee Island there is a laid-back place where mouthwatering crab, shrimp, and the day’s fresh catch have been delighting patrons since 1987. It’s a place where people wish they could lick their plates clean and where the menu is perfectly simple and unabashedly lauds just what the kitchen does well. According to the Crab Shack, they boil their shrimp “to perfection,” serve the best barbecue on the beach, and pile their Shack Specialty high with an assortment of tasty, seasonal shellfish. And there are very few diners who’d disagree. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/andrew d miller)
Dinner: Set in an elegant mansion built in the early 1900s, Elizabeth on 37th is a classic Southern restaurant where menus are changed daily based on seasonal offerings and herbs are home-grown. Fresh seafood is complemented by fresh produce and their wine cellar boasts more than 10,000 bottles that are paired with every dish. Think pepper-crusted beef tenderloin with mushroom-potato gratin, coastal grouper with sesame-almond crust, and a Southern pecan and almond tart with praline ice cream and bourbon caramel sauce.
Drinks: Cutting loose with a drink in hand is a favorite pastime in Savannah. And Congress Street Social Club has more than enough to help while the hours away. It’s a low-key dive bar with strong drinks, dart boards, billiards, and a coveted outdoor patio. The mild weather of Savannah allows for outdoor boozing even late in the year, so take advantage before popping back inside for a go in the photo booth.
Afternoon Snack: The only thing that’s difficult about finding a lip-smacking snack in Savannah is choosing between candies that are made right before your eyes at River Street Sweets or snacking on the long-loved, homemade cookies at Byrd Gourmet Marketplace. Both have been around for ages and both are local treasures, so perhaps don’t choose between them — spring for both! (Photo, of River Street, courtesy of Flickr/smccard)
Hotel: Book a room at the Mansion on Forsyth Park for a look into Savannah history — it was built into an existing mansion from 1888. The hotel is dressed to the nines with everything from the lounge to the pool to the marble courtyard set to impress. It is like staying in your wealthiest friend’s Southern mansion. Or, if quiet luxury is more your speed, take advantage of the innumerable inns, guesthouses, and B&Bs that Savannah is known for, like the classic Foley House Inn. Located on Chippewa Square, the Foley House Inn is rich with history and is beautifully designed. It’s a quiet setting with generous-sized rooms and lavish amenities.