After eight years of being away from the low country, I finally returned back to Savannah, Georgia to spend a wonderful week away from my home in Chicago. My trip was filled with friends, fun, and lots of food! Seeking and finding new and familiar spots during my stay was incredible. And, I felt it was only right to share what I discovered on the blog.
Check out the ultimate guide for food and drink to Savannah and discover the best eats, drinks, and things to do in this coastal city from a semi-local expert.
Living in Savannah
I lived in Savannah for four years while attending college at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). I spent most of my time in the Historic District as an underclassman. In my sophomore to senior years, I lived in a more localized community known as the Starland District, of course, I didn’t know it had a formal name until after I graduated. I wouldn’t call myself an expert of Savannah, but I am no novice either. I stepped off campus grounds often for work and for play to visit neighboring colleges, communities, and cities within Georgia and across the bridge in South Carolina. Let’s just say, I got to know the city very well.
Where to Eat in Savannah
Savannah has an incredible food scene. Seafood dishes are popular and my personal favorite. But, the list below leaves no good category untouched. No matter your choice, you cannot go wrong with these restaurants in Savannah.
The Vault Kitchen and Market: A relatively new spot(for me) in the Starland District of Savannah. The Asian fusion-inspired restaurant is located in an old bank and with a refurbished exterior that keeps the charm and history of the previous occupants intact. Complete with a window-less covered atrium, the airy and aromatic restaurant is perfect for a rich, fresh, and filling bite. Bonus: For all of those who love hidden gems, be sure to get a glance at the back room of The Vault. Behind the safe is an exclusive room for larger parties and special events.
What to Order: Tuna Nigiri, Shumai Dumplings, Nickel Noodle Stir Fry.
Back in the Day Bakery: This is a black, woman-owned bakery and retail shop located in the heart of the Starland District. The quaint bakery dedicates its corridors to decadent baked goods like the seasonal Pumpkin Crunch Bar or the familiar Chocolate Chip cookie. The sweet shop is only open on weekends, so get there early to beat the morning crowd. Believe me, you will have competition for these highly sought-after treats.
What to Order: Biscuit and Ham Pimento and Guava Puff
Foxy Loxy Café: A bustling coffee shop that draws a huge student crowd on weekdays and weekends. The shop is located by the SCAD’S liberal arts building and has kept students full and energized for several decades. If coffee is not your thing(it’s certainly not mine) opt instead for a non-caffeinated beverage and a treat from their Mexican-inspired food menu.
What to Order: Chicken and Beef Tacos with a Horchata
Zunzi’s: There’s only way to describe this famous sandwich shop: Shit Yeah! Zunzi’s is a South African-inspired restaurant that has expanded immensely since my time in Savannah. It’s a local favorite that is truly incomparable. The location, size, and menu of the restaurant may have changed, but the quality and uniqueness of the food have remained the same. It’s so good, that I brought a piece of it back to Chicago just so I could indulge in it one more time.
What to Order: The Godfather
Green Truck Neighborhood Pub: Located outside of the Historic District of Savannah and was a frequent lunch stop during my time at SCAD. The brews and burgers are very budget-friendly, which is why it was such a popular choice.
What to Order: Hot Rod Deluxe Burger
Leopold’s Ice Cream Shop: Savannah is a dessert destination. In addition to their shops dedicated to confectionary are local ice cream shops like Leopold’s on Broughton Street. Since 1919, Leopold’s has been serving up award-winning, homemade super-premium ice cream plus other delicious diner dishes. You’ll be transported back into time while dining at this family-owned establishment that celebrates the history, Hollywood, and decadent ice cream.
What to Order: Single scoop Savannah Socialite
Belford’s Seafood and Steak: A high-end restaurant oozing with rich southern charm. The award winning dining destination is known for its seafood and steak selection as well as a prime location in the heart of the Savannah City Market. Find a spot outdoors on the patio or inside under dimly lit lights and enjoy a selection of strong cocktails, fresh food, and a hospitable atmosphere.
What to Order: “B.L.T” Stack, Crispy Calamari, Shrimp Greens and Grits
The Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market: This stylish restaurant has amazing service and is a one-stop-shop for a variety of dining experiences. You can enjoy service in the large dining room, grab a small bite in the lounge, post up for a cocktail at the bar, or head to the rooftop for posh drinks and a kitschy atmosphere. If you are lucky, you may even spot a celebrity or two staying at the attached hotel.
What to Order: Pilsner Steamed Mussels and the Market Catch of the Day
From neighborhood bars to downtown cocktail lounges, this list is a great guide to great places to drink in Savannah.
Common Restaurant: Every day is a great day to enjoy happy hour at Common Restaurant. The reclaimed establishment offers specials like $.50 Oysters that are of course fresh and drink specials that range between $6 to $11 dollars. Not a bad deal for a popular downtown establishment!
What to Order: $5 Simply Poured Wine
Myrtle and Rose: A cute rooftop garden with great views of the Savannah River. The assortment of botanically inspired cocktails is a must-try at this romantic riverside rooftop.
What to Order: Blooming Bee
Artillery Bar: A lavish exterior, cool interior, and even cooler bartenders are reason enough to step inside the Artillery. The speakeasy is the perfect place to partake in post or pre-dinner cocktails that is located just outside Savannah’s Historic District on Madison Square. The sophisticated bar has been many things in its former life, including a Ford car dealership, Georgia Hussar’s armory storage, and even a former retail shop. It keeps its historical legacy intact through its imaginative cocktails and an extensive list of unique bourbons and wines.
What to Order: Bloodline
The Black Rabbit: This quaint bar and restaurant is located a few blocks from Forsyth Park and SCAD’s buildings dedicated to their fashion programs. Try any one of the specialty cocktails along with a soup, salad, or sandwich for the perfect pick-me-up meal or pick-up and go if you are in between work or classes.
What to Order: Affectionate Reverence
Crystal Beer Parlor: Crystal Beer Parlor is a cozy hidden gem that is a bit off from the tourist path. The bistro and bar is located inside a former grocery store, with many of the artifacts from the local shop still unscathed. The rare finds within their beer selection is the main reason why this neighborhood spot is filled with college students, educators, and visitors daily. But, you can’t go wrong with the food options either.
What to Order: Atlanta Tiki Haze Cider
When to Visit Savannah
After living in Savannah year around, I believe the best time to visit is during the months of March through May as well as late September through October. The weather is warm but not scorching hot and the humanity is a bit more tolerable.
Visting Savannah in the spring and fall certainly has its upsides. Just check out the great events that take place during those seasons.
- St. Patrick’s Day: The St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Savannah takes place every March. It is the second-largest celebration in the city. Festivities to commemorate the holiday include a parade, dying of the fountain in Forsyth Park, and of course, drinks to go throughout the Historic District.
- Savannah Film Festival: An annual festival produced by Savannah College of Art and Design. The star-studded event draws hundreds every year to check out new and emerging films before they hit the big screen.
Where to Stay in Savannah
Savannah is a very walkable town. No matter where you stay, you will have very little issue getting around. If you are looking for ultimate convenience staying anywhere in the Historic District will be your best bet. You will find a variety of chain hotels, family-owned B&B’s, and of course ‘haunted’ houses. If you are willing to part ways with the downtown area, I suggest checking out Airbnb or another rental service for homes that are closer to Forsyth Park. There is generally housing readily available due to the large student population that rents out the majority of homes in the area.
What to do in Savannah
Savannah is a very relaxing city. There aren’t too many attractions or tons of activities that you can’t finish in one visit. But the attractions are very fun and super interesting where you can enjoy these time and time again. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Get spooked during a ghost tour.
- Spot Coastal dolphins during a tour dolphin tour.
- Grab some sun on Tybee Island.
- Visit a neighboring city in South Carolina.
- Shop the local farmers market on Saturday’s at Forsyth Park.
- Discover something new in the Starland District.
- Explore shops on Broughton Street
- Find unique goods at The Paris Market.
- Safely take your drink to go in the Historic District.
- Visit the SCAD Museum.
- Grab drinks at a swanky rooftop bar.
- Sample pralines and fudge at River Street Sweets or Savannah Candy Kitchen.
- Take a historic walking or trolley tour.
- Dine at a white table cloth restaurant. Fancy attire not required.