As one of the greatest foodie cities in the country, I knew that finding some delicious bites wouldn’t be the problem on my last visit to Savannah, but how to narrow it down to a really short visit. Centuries of multiculturalism have come together to create a truly unique cuisine that is also instantly familiar and even feels homely. There’s a lot to love about the Savannah, Georgia food scene, but these were my own favorite and even unexpected culinary moments.
Savannah Food Tour
My favorite way to experience a new city for the first time is on a food tour, whether I’m in Bologna, Helsinki or Savannah. Food tours are not only fun, they are informative too. Learning about a local cuisine is a crash course in the history and culture of a destination, as food is an integral part of both. Savannah Taste Experience is the only tour company in town exclusively focused on food and culinary heritage, offering a variety of different tour options. Since it was my first time, I went with their classic tour of the city, the First Squares Food Tour.
Taking the precautions from the COVID era, I joined the small group as we began our easy stroll through some of the most beautiful and iconic squares and tree-lined streets in the city. We of course stopped several times along the way to try some great local dishes while learning about the city’s impressive history. I never like to divulge all the secrets of a food tour, but I will say that one of my favorite stops was at The Little Crown where I unexpectedly tried a great British meat pie. While it may seem strange to try on a Savannah Food Tour, it points to the ever-changing landscape of the food scene, which thankfully continues to change and evolve.
Brunch in style
B. Matthew’s Eatery is located in the historic Savannah neighborhood and is a one-of-a-kind bistro. It’s one of those places that locals try to keep to themselves, but happy visitors like me are always eager to discover it. What started as a casual deli and bakery has since grown into a full-service establishment that highlights some incredible classic American dishes through the use of superior ingredients and an obvious love of craft. The menus for all meals look great but the brunch was a perfect match for me and my own love for great breakfasts. Almost impossible to narrow down my choices, I opted for the traditional French toast with sourdough. My only regret, of course, was that I couldn’t try everything on the menu, but now I have many more reasons to return.
Historic ice cream
Visiting one of the most famous ice cream parlors in the country wasn’t on my original to-do list, but once I found out about Leopolds I couldn’t resist stopping. Founded in 1919 by three brothers from Greece, its unique recipes and downtown location instantly wowed Savannah residents in search of a sweet treat. Since then, generations of Savannahians have grown up on Leopolds, and the ice even has some famous connections. Lyricist Johnny Mercer grew up with Leopold’s and was so excited about their famous Tutti Fruiti ice cream that he wrote the now famous song about the shovel. Even today, the super premium ice cream is still handcrafted in historic downtown Savannah using these original recipes. However, if you want to enjoy a few scoops I was willing to wait. Lines are common for what really is the best ice cream you will ever try.
Plant River District
At the turn of the 20th century, Savannah was concerned about keeping up with electricity demands, so a power plant was built along the river in 1912, fueling the city’s growth until it was closed in 2005. Fortunately, this incredible place has not been allowed to leave for a long time and since then it has been remodeled into a fabulous new hospitality destination that picks up on its impressive past in every way. The Plant Riverside District combines great restaurants and shops into a beautiful, almost steampunk aesthetic. The centerpiece is the stunning new JW Marriott. Whether it’s a meal at one of the hotel’s incredible restaurants or something more casual by the water, you can’t go wrong in Savannah’s newest hotspot.
There are few places for a nightcap that I like more than just a fun tiki bar. The ambience and kitsch of the 50s just attracts me. So I found myself in one of the best in the country – the Bamboo Room Tiki Bar. The Bamboo Room is located above the famous Sorry Charlie’s restaurant in the historic savannah and is a fascinating, exotic tropical hideaway. The design of The Bamboo Room includes a collection of artifacts from around the world, personal collections, and hand-carved unique items and decorations. Equally important is the cocktail menu, which shines with a mix of classic and new tiki drinks that were invented only for the Bamboo Room. Spending some time here was another unexpected highlight and a fun way for anyone to start or end an evening.