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New to Savannah: Looking for good NON-chain places

Hello I am new to chowhound and Savannah, and would like to know where the good non-chain restaurants are. I like all types of food and I am not biased about hole in the walls versus five star places. Thanks for everyone's help in advance :)

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  1. Have you noticed an overwhelming lack of response to any question about Savannah and the surrounding area? We are new also and are looking for a decent Farmers Market in Hilton Head, nontouristy and reasonable places etc. Here in Bluffton, north of HH I can't find a decent tomato or ear of corn. There are a few small farmers markets, open either in the am or until about 5:00 PM. So convenient.

    Good pizza at Vinnie Van GoGo at City Market, Indian at Madras something on Eisenhower,lunch during the week at Ms Wilkes Boarding House. Still looking for decent Chinese . Oh well, I'll keep looking

    3 Replies
    1. re: LynnTTT

      If you are looking for a good farm stand on Hilton Head check out Mr. Grant on Squire Pope Road. My mom is a regular, and she will not buy produce anywhere else. He is now open seven days a week from 9 to 5, just past Hudsons, before Bermuda Point on the left with an American Flag near the drive.

      1. re: LynnTTT

        LynnTTT - for really great tomatoes and peaches, you can either go to the peach lady on SC 46 near the old Piggly Wiggly or you can go up HWY 21 north of Beaufort. There is a tomato farm there that has incredible produce - fabulous canteloupe, tomatoes (they have 3,000 acres planted), zucchini, etc. They also make their own pickles which they export all over the country. There is also a state farmers market in Garden City near Savannah just off of Rte 80, where they have lots of local produce. Their silver queen and silver king corn is terrific and is their okra. There are not a ton of vendors, but it's bigger than the market in Bluffton (they have probably 20 farmers there) and the produce is fresh and good. Much of it is organic.

        Good luck finding decent Chinese - I don't think it exists in this part of the county. We do have an excellent Thai restaurant in Bluffton, but I'm at a loss for Chinese food - and I miss it!

        For good food in Savannah - try Jazz'd Tapas Bar - really good!

        1. re: LynnTTT

          If you make the drive to Beaufort there are great Farmers Markets in Port Royal and usually downtown Beaufort on weekends. Also Barefoot Farms and Dempsy Farms on St. Helena have great fresh produce and they are open during the week and over the weekend.

        2. I've never been, but isn't Paula Deen's place in Savannah?
          The Lady and Sons??

          1 Reply
          1. re: foodsnob14

            Yep Paula's restaurant is in Savannah. I've been and it's wonderful! You can either eat at the buffet or order off the menu. On the downside be prepared to wait in a long line to get in, or get in line well before you plan to eat. She has also opened another restaurant just outside of Savannah, on one of the barrier islands I think, called Uncle Bubba's Oyster House, or something like that.

          2. Just got back from brief visit to Savannah. Here are a few good non-chains for you!

            Soho South Cafe, 12 West Liberty Street Savannah, Georgia 31401 Phone: 912-233-1633, http://www.sohosouthcafe.com/ - nice lunch place especially - artsy atmosphere

            Olde Pink House 23 Abercorn St - "olde" Savannah - terrific food - romantic place

            B Matthews on Bay Street - kind of grungy atmosphere, but fantastic food! http://bmatthewseatery.com/

            Vic's on the River - http://www.vicsontheriver.com/ - Good food and great view of the river

            1. Just got back from Savannah. Places we loved were: Breakfast - Cobblestone Cafe on Lower Factor's Walk; Dinner - Vic's on the River, and Isaac's on 9 Drayton. Great food for a good value. Isaac's has only been open since March.

              Vic's on the River
              26 East Bay Street, Savannah, GA 31401

              1. I think all the Savannahians are just way tired of answering the same questions about Paul Deen's places from all the tourist-folks. But I'll bite anyways.
                Been here almost 6 years and i recommend the following:
                Starfish Cafe : http://www.thestarfishcafe.org/ at 719 East Broad Street - the food is good and the community benefits are admirable; the bbq guys who set up on thursdays and fridays at Victory and Bull St in the car wash have great bbq now that rib castle is shut down; crab stew and artichoke/pine nut dip at Firefly, 321 Habersham St; best coffee and scad student barista attitude at gallery espresso (bull n of liberty); Queeny's is okay and off the beaten path, their tomato sandwiches are tasty and light (1611 Habersham St,).
                For produce, Kroger's in town on Gwinnett has the ;argest and least styrofoam packaged selection for mainstream stores, but try Polk's on the way out to Tybee (Davis' Killer Tomatoes and great boiled p-nuts), as well as Brother's (?) Produce on Liberty at around Habersham, they're related family -wise and have local-ish produce and veggies.
                Also, read up on our town's better food options at http://www.savannahoffthebeatenpath.c...

                1 Reply
                1. re: ultra

                  We found the Rib Castle the day we were leaving the city and he had just sold his last of the day. We vowed to return tand were thinking about this spring break. Is the place really no more??? It'd be a shame to fly there from Mpls and find the place closed up.

                2. Not sure if it is still around, but if it is, Love's Seafood (I think it was "Shack") is an adventure not to miss.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: GroovinGourmet

                    Yes, Love's Seafood is still there in Richmond Hill. Now there is also The Crab Shack on Tybee Island. Food is prob. better at Love's but the atmosphere is great at the Crab Shack.

                  2. Savannah dining alone is enough to make one move to this charming city! If you'd like to induldge and maybe spend a bit more, check out "Jazz'd Tapas Bar." Unquestionably the best restaurant I have ever eaten at and it is a guarantee that it will revolutionize your thoughts about food. If you enjoy more comfort style fare, check out "New South Cafe" where chefs have fused modern twists and traditional Southern favorites into exquisite dishes. The pecan-crusted, boneless fried chicken drizzled with thick honey is absolutely a must have! The River Street and Historic District both boast unique eateries such as "Kevin Barry's Irish Pub", "Wild Wing Cafe", "Clary's Cafe" and "Huey's". Don't forget to stop into the River Street candy stores to sample world famous pralines and treats! If you're spending the day at Tybee Beach, make sure you pick up a giant beach burger from the pavillion. You will surrender to the calorie! Personally, I would avoid Lady and Sons unless you're going for the heck of it. While the food is acceptable, it is certainly nothing to write home about. Nevertheless, Savannah is quite the treasure and her restaurants prove to be excellent ways to savor the South. Happy eating!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Greenlikeabean

                      Someone just recommended Jazz'd on my post. It has a GREAT website!

                    2. Almost forgot! www.savannahmenu.com offers a list of about fifty restaurants and full menus for each and everyone! It's a great, up to date site where you can find reviews, buy VIP dining cards, learn local information, and enter monthly contests that can land you a 50.00 gift certificate to the restaurant of your choice. I won last month and got a free meal at "Jazz'd!" Check it out!

                      1. Having just been to Savannah (home on Friday), enjoyed reading all the suggestions! What a beautiful city! AND great food! Our favorites were Mrs. Wilkes (didn't do Paula's at the recommendation of several "locals" - too expensive and Mrs. W's has more "authentic" dishes), Clary's Cafe (just awesome!), and Johnny Harris!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dramamama

                          I had a wonderful dinner at Saigon in Savannah this Spring! Highly recommend it! Here's the review

                        2. My husband I went for the weekend to Savannah and found a great place it is called Billy's Place. It is above a pub. The food is fabulous and the service excellent.
                          The Pub is called McDonough's the address is 21 E. McDonough Street. You enter thru the side door of the pub and take the elevator upstairs. They serve dinner late until like 11:00 or 12:00 PM which is unusual for Savannah. Dont let the location fool you it is very very nice and they have live entertainment on piano. I would suggest reservations if you plan on dining early. They do not have a web site yet but google it and you will find some reviews.

                          1. Some of my favorites are: Garibaldis, Il Pasticcio, The Pink House, J.Christophers, Vinnie Van Go Go's (all downtown); The New South Cafe and Kao (both eastside around Victory and Skidaway); George's (Tybee Island). Hope this helps.

                            1. Try Girabaldi, Elizabeth's on 37th. Some people swear by the P. Dean place, but I hate that kind of food myself. Love's wasn't anything great, and I've heard the good things about the Crab Shack but haven't been because I don't want to smell the river and deal with flies. Have you discovered Kitchenware Outfitters yet? It's a great store for buying all sorts of things for cooking, and it's locally owned.

                              1. We love Sweet Potatoes Kitchen at Eisenhower and Waters in a strip shopping center. Very nicely prepared food and quite inexpensive. Can't beat the Breakfast Club on Tybee for breakfast and lunch.

                                1. We've been to Vinnie Van Go-Go's and Mrs. Wilkes - both recommended above. We liked both quite a bit. I've heard really great things about Elizabeth's on 37th, too.

                                  1. I grew up west of Savannah, and I actually think The Lady and Sons is a quite good representation of food I grew up with. The hoecakes are exactly like my mom's, the vegetables are similar to my family's - I say give it a go.

                                    My brother is a big fan of Olympia Cafe on River Street - I think it's just okay. Jazz'd was terrific, as were The Sapphire Grill, Elizabeth's, and Tango on Tybee Island. There's another place with two locations, one on Wilmington Island that's very good, let me see if I can dig up the name.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: BhamGuy

                                      I like the Old Pink House.
                                      Very good coastal southern food and nice setting.


                                      1. re: BhamGuy

                                        So, did you're mother make you stand outside in the blistering Savannah sun for three hours before letting you in to eat?

                                        Did she have some post-pubescent college kid who never heard of the words Sir or Ma'am scream your last name out at the top of their lungs when your time had finally come, just so you could drag your dehydrated carcass across the asphalt for a meal?

                                        I don't think so, but apparently, that's how they did it at the Dean home and that's how she treats her customers these days. Sorry, the day she became a millionaire is the day she gave up her Southern manners and lost this long time fan and customer.

                                        Although the food is wonderful, I won’t spend money to be treated like cattle.

                                        1. re: bkhuna

                                          I don't think you can blame the crowds that swarm to her restaurant on Ms. Deen herself. Thanks to Food Network and other venues she has become an American, if not world wide, household name, and those visitors to Savannah choose to go to her restaurant to eat. One building can only hold so many people and if more people are waiting to get in than the building can hold, there's bound to be a line, a long line. Time and planning is the key. When we were visiting we planned on arriving early, prior to the lunch opening time, and the, yes young, hostess told us how long the wait would be, with pretty good accuracy. We took that time to do some sightseeing and arrived back at the restaurant right about the time our name was called. No the food isn't what one might call 5 star, but it is good old down home food. For a shorter wait you might try Uncle Bubba's as it is relatively new and you can get some of the same dishes.

                                          1. re: bkhuna

                                            You blame the restaurant for being successful? What would you suggest the restaurant do to fix it?

                                            It's simple economics. The demand for the restaurant has outpaced its ability to supply diners. If you want to get things back to the way they were, there are only two reasonable options: 1) she can increase prices to run-off some of the patrons or 2) she can increase supply (moving or expanding ain't free).

                                            Maybe there's a third option: people with your selfish perspective quit eating there and the line gets shorter for the rest of us!

                                        2. We took a recent trip to Savannah and planned to eat at Lady and Sons. However, we stayed at Tybee and on our way out saw Uncle Bubba's. We decided to eat there our first night instead of driving back into the city for Lady and Sons. We were pleasantly surprised. We found out the restaurant was Paula's brothers. The food was fabulous and the service was wonderful. We loved it so much we went back the second night. Have the catch of the day and for dessert you have to try the key lime. Enjoy!

                                          2 Replies
                                            1. re: LaLa

                                              I have had oysters at Uncle Bubba's... amazing. They were a new take on something I have had a million different times.

                                              One of my favorite restaurants in Savannah is Toucan Cafe. It is a sister restaurant to Sweet Potatoes mentioned in an earlier post. http://www.toucancafe.com/ You can link to Sweet Potatoes from there. Great food, great mint sweet tea. Menu suggestions: for lunch have the Jamaican jerk chicken, the filet for dinner. While you are there try the homemade garlic pickles.

                                              Have fun!

                                          1. Excellent Sunday brunch in a shabby-chic setting at Soho South Cafe. (12 W. Liberty Street downtown)

                                            1. I'd second Old Pink House, Vinnie Van GoGo's and Jazz'd. We also liked Cotton Exchange and the Casbah Moroccan Restaurant.

                                              1. OOOOHHH--I almost forgot Johnny Harris BBQ--fabulous!

                                                1. THE best soul food...Mom and Nikki's on MLK. Try the oxtails, pork chops cooked any style, fried chicken and fish, and, if you are adventurous, the pig's feet. All of the sides are well done. EXCELLENT! Next up, for soul food, is the United House of Prayer. These are two "finds" which please out of towners, I've found. And in-towners.

                                                  1. CHA BELLA! It is downtown and has amazing super fresh food!!!! I LOVE CHA BELLA!
                                                    Thai Mussels at Bistro Savannah rock also!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: deeper

                                                      Can you elaberate more on your Cha Bella experience. I haven't heard to many positive reviews. My wedding planner recommended this place, but I haven't eaten there.

                                                    2. I was visiting In Savannah last weekend. We had an amazing dinner a Alligator Soul. Our waiter at Savannah Bistro told us about it. Savannah Bistro was a nice dinner, but Alligator soul was a true fine dining experience.

                                                      1. There IS restaurant life in Savannah! Go to Cha Bella for a fabulous meal by any standards. Seriously you will not be disappointed. There is a new owner - about 4 months new - and he is raising the culinary bar of Savannah. Move over greasy fried Paula Deen and welcome to orgnaic yet succulent and delicious Cha Bella!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: nonna

                                                          I can ditto on the Cha Bella post. I have been twice. Once, under the old owner and it was bad. They ran out of almost everything and the service was awful. The new owner has really turned the place around. The food is excellent, service great!

                                                        2. Recently visited Savannah and the Georgia coast, and since we searched Chowhound for recommendations before going, we thought we should share our experiences.

                                                          Dinner at the Firefly Cafe, based on the recommendation of the staff at the inn we were staying at (they said it was good "local" food, not too pricey). The food was good but not excellent, and the prices were higher than I would have expected (spent about $90 on dinner for two: one appetizer, two entrees, two glasses of wine, one dessert plus tax and tip). We shared a crab corn chowder that was great (lots of veges, not too creamy), my husband had trout with a butter pecan glaze and I had salmon with sweet corn pecan hash. The trout was excellent, the salmon was okay, but not as dressed as flavorfully as the trout. Finished dinner off with a slice of keylime pie--very tasty.

                                                          Lunch at Saigon, Vietnamese/Thai restaurant, really enjoyed it. Can't remember exactly which lunch specials we had, but my husband had a Vietnamese noodle soup (not your standard pho, a little different) and I had a Vietnamese dry noodle dish with tofu and peanut sauce (on top of salad). Both were very good, highly recommend Saigon.

                                                          On our way down to Jekyll Island, we stopped for dinner near Shellman's Bluff.
                                                          Dinner at Speed's Kitchen was great, all the seafood was excellent. Look at other posts for directions on how to get to Speed's Kitchen. Started with creamy crab chowder (not that good actually) and raw oysters (very good). We both had the crab-stuffed flounder for dinner (comes with choice of sides, including slaw, hush puppies, fires). I recommend the "small" portion unless you are huge eater--comes with all the same fixings but is a normal-sized filet. Stuffed flounder takes about 45 minutes, so be prepared to wait. BYOB restaurant too so you can bring your own beer or wine (no corkage).

                                                          Lunch at Georgia Pig (GA Pig) off I-95 (exit 29), south of Brunswick. Thought the chopped pork sandwiches were tasty (they come on a toasted sesame bun that tastes better than the average wonder bread bun you get at many BBQ places) but the prices were high! We live in western GA were you can get a lunch that fills you up (including sides and drink) for $5/person. We spent $20 here for the same amount of food we normally get for $10. Tried the Brunswick stew (different than the Brunswick stews we have had before, more chunky with veges than chowder like), cole slaw and beans for sides. Sides were just average but did like the sandwich a lot.

                                                          Dinner at Christie's in downtown Brunswick was excellent. Started with the clam sweet potato chowder and beet salad with boursin cheese, yum. Flounder and Lobster Mac n Cheese as entrees (both were delicious). We didn't have room for dessert but they make their own ice cream (interesting flavors, including avocado, sweet corn).

                                                          On our way to the Okefenokee Swamp, we passed through Folkston and had great fried chicken at Quick Chic (near 2nd & Main) for lunch. One of those places where everyone in town is getting fried chicken to take home to their families for lunch (long drive through line, but few people eating inside).

                                                          Dinner at Shahenshah Cuisine of India in Macon, GA. Excellent! Highly recommend this place. Staff was so friendly and the food was really great (got the Vegetarian Thali and Shahenshah Speciality combo dinners to try a little bit of everything).

                                                          This is my first post! Perhaps a little too long but I hope it helps someone!

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: califgirl

                                                            Glad you Liked Chrisites, Jayson & Christie are great people, and do a great job. Speeds is off the beaten path, but worth looking for.

                                                            1. re: beteez

                                                              Have only been to Savannah once. While visiting tried many places and they were all nice. One stands out a waiter recommended one place called Alligator Soul. The name sounded a bit strange but we gave it a shot. It was one of the best meals we ever had. Do not miss it. They serve some very fine food.

                                                          2. I live right outside Savannah and we love to find the new and offbeat places. Right now, my absolute favorite spot is Tangerine on the Southside. It is in a strip mall accross from Outback. Doesn't look like much from the outside, but it has a great atmosphere on the inside and the best Thai inspired food around. You have to check out the sushi. It is really creative and the food is downright delicious.

                                                            1. Some of the best ice cream in the U.S. can be found @ Leopold's in Savannah near SCAD. www.choppedonion.com

                                                              1. Just returned from Savannah - what a wonderful place! Totally agree with Vic's on the River, Cobblestone Cafe is a terriic little breakfast place off River Street. We were told that Mrs. Wilke's was wonderful, but we didn't get to it. Now, Paula Deen's Lady and Sons. Sorry, guys, but it was terrible!! Being from Arkansas, we love our southern cooking, but please. We did the buffet - chicken (Popeye's can match it), ribs and country steak in gravy, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, corn and squash casserole. Cold biscuit and hoecake was delivered. Salad bar had iceberg lettuce, and about 5 toppings. A total disappointment and one of our worst meals in Savannah, by far. Cab driver told us that everyone he picks up there expresses disappointment.
                                                                Boar's Head is a good dinner place as well.