Nicknamed “The Hostess City of the South,” Savannah knows a thing or two about hospitality. With its classic down-home cooking, New South cuisine, international fare and James Beard Award nominees set against a backdrop of luscious landscapes and 18th and 19th century architecture, Savannah welcomes diners with the grace and charm you’d expect from a classic Southern city.
The city is filled with many venerable tried-and-true restaurants. Whether it’s fine dining at Elizabeth on 37th, family-style meals at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room or a swanky date night at 700 Drayton, you can’t go wrong with the classics. But the Savannah dining scene is hotter than a 30,000 BTU burner and tasty new possibilities are on the menu.
The folks who brought The Grey to Savannah in 2014 are at it again with a second helping at The Grey Market. Combining the founding partners’ love of New York bodegas with the convenience of a Southern lunch counter, The Grey Market is part deli, part market and part luncheonette. Dine in on hot dishes for breakfast and lunch (try the fried fish with two sides) or New York-style sandwiches all day (chicken liver on rye is recommended), and pick up provisions to take home, including fresh baked breads, smoked fish spreads, rotisserie chicken and wine. It’s like a big city neighborhood market with a Southern twist.
Another classic reinvention is Atlantic, located in a former gas station that dates back to the 1930s. The menu is loaded with shareable snacks, small plates and sides ideal for sharing, including beet carpaccio sprinkled with pistachios and fried capers, sausage stuffed calamari, lamb dolmas and ratatouille. Big plate options include whole roasted fish and beef bourguignon. Seating is available at a community table, in an intimate dining room or on the patios out front and back. Be sure to dive deep into the extensive wine list.
No restaurant on the Savannah dining scene pays homage to the indigenous ingredients and heirloom products of coastal Georgia better than Husk. Newly opened in 2018, the restaurant is a sister to outposts in Charleston, S.C.; Greenville, S.C.; and Nashville, Tenn. Executive Chef and Georgia native Christopher Hathcock believes in using local farmers and purveyors as much as possible when creating his seasonal menus of distinctly Southern dishes.
Located in the heart of the historic district, the one constant at Husk is that the menu changes daily. Dishes such as pimento cheese with Anson Mills benne wafers, heritage pork ribs with sorghum and hibiscus, and Georgia shrimp and grits with farm egg, baby greens and shiitakes celebrate the region’s bounty and change the way we look at Southern cuisine.
Popular with locals and visitors alike is Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market, adjacent to Perry Lane Hotel. Although its owners describe it as an American bistro, the Emporium feels more like a French bistro, with it oversized windows, open kitchen, convivial bar and congenial din from breakfast to nightcap.
The menu is decidedly European-leaning, with savory and sweet breakfast and brunch items, house-made charcuterie, fresh fruits de mer (the roasted barbecue oysters with bourbon smoked jalapeño butter are not to be missed), spectacular seafood towers and decadent entrées including croque madame, moules marinière and coquilles St. Jacques). Salads, made-to-order sandwiches, house-made desserts and coffees are available to go. There’s also an impressive wine selection.
The owners behind Circa 1875, a well-established French bistro and gastropub in the historic district, have spread their wings (culinarily and geographically) with the recent opening of La Scala Ristorante. Located in the burgeoning Starland district, La Scala delivers fine, regional Italian fare with pristine service in a restored turn-of-the-century mansion on 37th Street. Options include traditional antipasti such as vitello tonnato or Wagyu beef carpaccio, primi pastas including tagliolini carbonara and pappardelle Bolognese, and decadent secondi including osso buco and branzino arrostito. Seating is available in one of six elegantly decorated dining rooms, alfresco on the outdoor patio or in the intimate wine cellar.
From the founder of The Collins Quarter brunch spot and The Deck Beachbar and Kitchen on Tybee Island is newcomer The Fitzroy. Australian-inspired gastropub favorites include house-made potato chip nachos with pork, poblanos and melted brie; short rib croquettas; crispy tofu and papaya salad; and an overstuffed burger made with certified Angus beef and topped with cheddar cheese, arugula, pickled beets, bacon, barbecue sauce and a fried egg. The Fitzroy also has a killer happy hour.
The Foxy family of coffee shops has introduced a new concept with Fox & Fig. Located on Troup Square in a cozy, brightly lit corner space, the plant-based café serves a variety of coffee drinks, teas and wines. The menu features hearty dishes, including breakfast tacos, eggless quiche, cheese platters, smoky mac n’ cheese and a meatless burger. It’s also easy to satisfy that sweet tooth with cinnamon rolls, seasonal cheesecakes, a truffle shuffle flight or milkshakes made with Leopold’s coconut cream.
Best of the rest
Located in a renovated building in the historic district, East End Provisions serves wood-fired dishes, craft cocktails, brews and wines. Prepared with regionally sourced ingredients, dishes include pork fondue, filet Oscar and crab cakes.
Rhett in The Alida hotel on the riverfront features a darling lunch counter overlooking the kitchen and a bright, open dining room with an industrial feel. Serving three meals a day (including breakfast until 2 p.m.), the Southern-leaning menu includes pecan-crusted French toast, pickled shrimp salad and roasted pork with braised collards, roasted fingerling potatoes and boiled peanuts.
Bitty & Beau’s on Congress serves a killer cup of joe to go. Staffed and operated by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the operation has three locations in the Southeast.
If You Go
The Grey Market.109 Jefferson St. 912-201-3924, www.thegreymkt.com
Atlantic. 102 E. Victory Drive. 912-417-8887, www.atlanticsavannah.com
Husk. 12 W. Oglethorpe Ave. 912-349-2600, www. husksavannah.com
The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market. 254 E. Perry St. 912-559-8400, www.emporiumsavannah.com
La Scala. 119 E. 37th St. 912-238-3100, www.lascalasavannah.com
The Fitzroy. 9 Drayton St. 912-210-5980, www.thefitzroysavannah.com
Fox & Fig. 321 Habersham St., Savannah, GA. 912-297-6759, www.foxandfigcafe.com
East End Provisions. 420 E. Broughton St. 912-335-5522, www.eastendsavannah.com
Rhett. 412 Williamson St. 912-544-4575, www.diningwithrhett.com
Bitty & Beau’s. 319 W. Congress St. 912-358-7180, www.bittyandbeauscoffee.com
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