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The Best Food in Savannah

We're fully vaccinated and making up for missed travel, ESPECIALLY the missed meals. How is pimento cheese not a thing in New Mexico? We can add green chile to it!

Sexy Nerd and I were fortunate to spend a day in Savannah recently. With such a limited amount of time for our first visit to the city, I made sure to research the best restaurants and local foods to eat. From brunch through dessert, I've done my homework (and my taste testing - being a travel and food blogger is such a rough job) so you don't have to risk a disappointing meal in Savannah.

There's something here for every budget, including free samples of local favorites. No car = no problem, as you can walk to everywhere on this list from the North Historic District (near the Savannah River), which is also home to all of the must-see tourist stops in Savannah, including Forsyth Park, The Basilica of St. John the Baptist, and SCADstory.

Fair warning though - I'm going to make Savannah foodies angry with this post!

The Best Food in Savannah

Leopold's Ice Cream

Skip It. (Or, if you refuse to skip it, at least skip the line.)
Leopold's Ice Cream
See that smile? You'd never know this guy got up for a day of flying at 4:30 am only to get stuck with a delayed flight in Dallas. (Not shown - his wife. You would know.)

I told you I was going to anger up Savannah's foodies and here I am, making everyone's blood boil with the very first item on my list of the best food in Savannah. During my restaurant research, every single travel blog insisted we go to Leopold's Ice Cream. It's like you haven't really been to Savannah if you haven't stood in line for this ice cream. And that's a line that often drags you down the street!

I'll admit, with all those rave reviews, it sounded tempting. (The ice cream part, not the outrageous line.) We're ice cream aficionados. I researched the most popular Leopold's Ice Cream flavors and planned for Sexy Nerd and I to share four scoops: 
  1. Savannah Socialite (Milk and dark chocolate ice creams bursting with roasted Georgia pecans and swirled with bourbon-infused caramel.)
  2. Honey Almond and Cream (Made using Savannah Bee Company honey and fresh roasted almonds.)
  3. Rum Bisque (Rum ice cream with in-house baked almond macaroons.)
  4. Rum Raisin (Sweet plump raisins soaked in rum and liberally mixed into vanilla ice cream.)
I was sold on a visit to Leopold's Ice Cream the moment I saw they have my all-time favorite ice cream, Rum Raisin. It's just about impossible to find in New Mexico. Still, we only had 24 hours in Savannah and didn't want to waste time waiting in line for ice cream.

No problem.

That photo above? Enjoying ice cream in one of Savannah's lovely squares? Surprise...

Leopold's Ice Cream has two locations at the Savannah airport (one before and another after the security checkpoint). It just happens to be the most gorgeous airport we've ever seen. In fact, we found the Savannah airport to be so pleasant that we were startled to hear our names called over the loudspeaker.

Lounging on sunny rocking chairs, we'd dawdled right through the luggage pickup process and ours were the only two suitcases remaining on the conveyor belt.
Savannah Airport
Savannah Airport

Despite the charming location, our Leopold's ice cream did not live up to the hype. Rum Raisin was not available, so we substituted Butter Pecan, which includes roasted Georgia pecans. With four popular flavors shared between us, we were disappointed to discover that everything tasted pretty much like plain vanilla and chocolate ice cream.

For vanilla ice cream, it was good. We'd spent more than $12 on this though and were expecting flavors of honey and pecans, not boring ol' vanilla. I can get vanilla at home. (Though I don't because it's just so darn boring.)

The chocolate ice creams were exactly that, rich like the frozen version of a flourless dark chocolate torte, but they were marketed as having flavors of rum, bourbon-infused caramel, and baked almond macaroons. Maybe the chocolate ice cream was too intense to let the other flavors shine because all we tasted was chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.

Deciding it wasn't worth the calories, we threw the last bites of our Leopold's Ice Cream away.
Where to eat in Savannah
Leopold's Ice Cream: Butter Pecan + Honey Almond and Cream 

Byrd's Famous Cookies

Don't Miss It.
Free Samples Savannah
Byrd's Famous Cookies: Savannah-Owned with Free Samples of Cookies and Biscuits

This being our first visit to the lowcountry, neither of us had heard of the nearly 100-year-old Byrd Cookie Company. All visits to Savannah should include a walk along the waterfront and Byrd's has an inviting location right on River Street (between the JW Marriott and the WWII memorial globe), so we meandered in. 

You guys, the cookie bar! The woman behind the counter was so friendly and she happily encouraged me to try more and more free samples. This may be the only time in my life when I've declined a scrumptious cookie, as you can really only accept so many freebies before you feel guilty. 

The sweet and savory varieties include any flavor you can dream up, such as:
• Georgia Peach Cookies
• Salted Caramel Cookies
• Key Lime Cooler Cookies
• Cheddar Pecan Biscuits

With affordable prices, Byrd's Famous Cookies is an ideal place to pick up a souvenir from your Savannah vacation or a treat for your friends and family back home. 
Byrd's Cookies
Byrd Cookie Company

The Collins Quarter

Best Outdoor Brunch.
Best Food Savannah
The Collins Quarter

With only 24 hours to soak up the charm of Savannah, how lucky were we that the weather was perfect? Mid-May, it wasn't too hot, too cold, or too humid. To not enjoy an outdoor brunch would have been inexcusable. Sexy Nerd and I strolled over to The Collins Quarter to try their Yelp-famous Bananas Foster French Toast and Spiced Lavender Mocha latte.

I'll admit we'd been skeptical about the coffee drink. During our Tasmania road trip, the highly recommended lavender latte at the Bridestowe Lavender Estate had tasted a bit gross. 

The one at The Collins Quarter was MUCH better. It was creamy and not too sweet, without any of the chemical taste some flavored lattes have. If it hadn't been $6.50, we'd have gladly consumed another 5 or so before rampaging through downtown Savannah on a caffeine high.
Spiced Lavender Mocha
The Collins Quarter: Spiced Lavender Mocha latte

Sexy Nerd surprised me by ordering an additional coffee drink. He chose a Thai Iced Coffee, which The Collins Quarter makes with espresso, cardamom, and simple syrup. 

Sexy Nerd does not like iced coffee. Sexy Nerd does not like cardamom. 

He loved it. 

Maybe it was the hypnotic song of the birds in the magnolia trees. We both wanted to sit and sip fancy coffee drinks all morning, discussing what our life could be if we moved into a Georgian or Federal-style home. We'd spend our days ambling leisurely through the cobblestone streets and brunching, not a care in the world.

If only vacation talk could be real life.
The Collins Quarter
The Collins Quarter: Thai Iced Coffee

Saving room for more Savannah deliciousness, we split a plate of Bananas Foster French Toast. Honestly, I wasn't even hungry, but how could I resist the description in the menu?
Brioche french toast with candied pecans, white chocolate marscarpone cream, & espresso-rum syrup.
If French toast was served for dessert instead of breakfast, this would be the standard. The bread was like thick pieces of cake. I don't like white chocolate, but I would have ordered a big bowl of the marscarpone/white chocolate cream to eat like soup, were that an option.

It's probably for the best that it isn't an option. 
Bananas Foster French Toast
The Collins Quarter: Bananas Foster French Toast

Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken

Don't Miss It.
Rise Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken
Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken: Home of the best dang biscuits (and possibly the best dang donuts - we were too full to find out)

Biscuits surely come to mind when you think of southern cuisine and we wanted to taste the best biscuits in Savannah. We were skeptical that this honor could go to a fast food restaurant (wouldn't it basically be a KFC biscuit?), but the price was right and the Historic District location was convenient.

We kept things simple by sharing a warm buttermilk biscuit with house-made pimento cheese. It's one of the best things I've ever eaten in my life.
Best Biscuits and Pimento Cheese
Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken: Buttermilk Biscuit with Pimento and a Fried Green Tomato. That last ingredient is actually a northern food, not southern, but who cares when it tastes so good?

Rise has locations in GA, NC, KS, MD, OK, VA, and TN. Please open a Rise in NM! As that seems unlikely in the near future, I already have my order planned for our next visit to the south:

1. Righteous Chicken Biscuit Sandwich with Boom Boom Sauce and Pickles
2. Blueberry Biscuit with Sausage
3. Cheddar Tots
4. Lots more of those warm biscuits with pimento cheese - keep 'em coming!

Oh, and Sexy Nerd just added that he wants to try their biscuits and gravy. How do competitive eaters prepare for an event? We'd better start training now.

The Paris Market

Be fancy.

If you love interior design like I do, a stop at The Paris Market is nonnegotiable. But wait, isn't this an article about the best food in Savannah? After you've browsed the shop's well-curated wares, such as antique chandeliers, boutique teas, and the best smelling guest soap in existence, visit their chic café. It has been featured in Architectural Digest as “The Most Beautiful Coffee Shop in Georgia.”
Champagne at Paris Market
The Paris Market: Home Decor at Its Finest

For around $20, sit at a marble bistro table and treat yourself to a flute of bubbles, a quiche or a baguette sandwich, and a pain au chocolat. Everything served in the café is prepared fresh from local artisans, including Savannah Rum Runners and Auspicious Baking Co. 

You can even have a fine dining experience with your sophisticated little bébé, as The Paris Market has a kid's menu. Fill them up with a Petit Sandwich (sunflower butter and jam on crustless brioche) and a Kid's Coffee (steamed milk with a Monin syrup) and snap an adorable photo. You might even nab an item or two from the kid's menu for yourself. 

Good luck keeping mom and dad away from your fromage and the macaron trio, bébé.
Savannah coffee and dessert
The Paris Market: Shopping + Champagne

Southern Fried Expectations Food Tour

Because they don't feed you during a carriage ride.
Savannah Taste Experience
Southern Fried Expectations Food Tour: Those bags are full of Paula Deen's famous chicken. Whether you love her or hate her, she's a big deal in her hometown of Savannah.

Prior to our trip, we booked a walking tour through Savannah Taste Experience. With a friendly, knowledgeable guide (who just happened to have lived in New Mexico, just like us), a food tour is a fun way to try different Savannah restaurants on a time crunch. We were a small group of foodies who agreed this experience was worth the affordable price and deserving of a spot on any itinerary.

Our Southern Fried Expectations Food Tour started with fried chicken from The Lady & Sons. It was the best fried chicken I've had in my life, with a thick, crunchy coating sealing in the juicy meat. 
Best Savannah Food Tour
This is the face you make when your wife won't let you eat until she has taken a photo.

A nice thing about our Savannah Taste Experience tour is that we sometimes ate inside a restaurant, such as the fried shrimp (yum) and hushpuppies (meh) we were served at The Cotton Exchange (plus a cold beer Sexy Nerd ordered for us at the bar - love that guy), and sometimes ate outside, easily walking from historic square to square while learning interesting historical facts. 

If you're strictly looking to taste a bunch of things and don't care to learn anything about Savannah, you'll be disappointed with this tour. We'd actually planned to participate in a free walking tour after our food tour (we'd loved the free walking tour we did in Hobart), but agreed our Southern Fried Expectations food tour covered enough about Savannah that we could skip it. 

Our guide was also happy to give recommendations for whatever dining experience you'd like to enjoy during your visit to Savannah, including happy hours, rooftop bars, and farm-to-table meals.

The Georgia Tasting Room

Tasting local wines
The Salt Table
The Georgia Tasting Room

Conveniently located inside City Market, The Georgia Tasting Room is an easy way to taste wine from GA and nearby NC. We loved the format of this wine tasting. For only $3 per person, you can select 6 wines from a laminated sheet (or select only 4 and have your server choose the other 2). I chose 6, Sexy Nerd chose a different 6, and we shared, allowing us to sample 12 unique wines.
Local Wine in Savannah
Not a flattering photo of me and I don't care (because wine)

The tastes are small and there are so many options that even 12 left us with a fear of missing out, so we would have liked the option to try additional wines. Unfortunately, sampling more than 6 (even if you pay another $3) is not permitted. Our knowledgeable wine expert explained that it's due to laws against overserving. We're skeptical that this is true (the tastes are small!) and think it's more likely The Georgia Tasting Room wants you to purchase a full glass instead (fair enough).

We look forward to tasting more wine at The Georgia Tasting Room the next time we are in Savannah.
The Georgia Tasting Room
The Georgia Tasting Room

Treylor Park

Someone was smoking the Maui Wowie when they created this menu.
TREYLOR PARK NACHOS GRANDE:  Waffle fries, pickles, fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese with chive ranch and balsamic
Treylor Park: Fried Banana Peppers and Nachos Grande

I know what you're thinking after seeing the photo above. Only enough time for one dinner in Savannah and we had nachos? 
Treylor Park Nachos Grande: Waffle fries, pickle slices, fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, chive ranch, and balsamic gastrique.
There's a reason this restaurant has 4 successful locations, endless 5-star reviews, and was recommended by our Savannah Taste Experience tour guide. You can eat food here that you never knew existed. Here are a few more of the unique offerings on their menu, all of which we've been told are customer favorites:

Cheese Steak Egg Rolls: Marinated rib eye, cheddar cheese, bell peppers, and caramelized onions with beer cheese dipping sauce

PB&J Chicken Wings: Crispy fried and tossed in a peanut/pecan butter and peach jelly sauce

Grilled Apple Pie with Chicken Sandwich: Cheddar cheese, cinnamon roasted apple, crispy Applewood smoked bacon, fried chicken, apple sauce

Chicken & Pancake Tacos: Lightly toasted peppered pancakes with fried chicken, chili aioli, and strawberry salsa

Treylor Park also offers an excellent selection of local beers, which are half-priced during happy hour (4-6 pm on weekdays). They have several sours to choose from (my favorite) and even more IPAs (Sexy Nerd's favorite), including the raspberry 3 Taverns Rapturous Sour from Georgia and the Southern Barrel Damn Yankee IPA from South Carolina.

Savannah's Candy Kitchen

Free Praline Samples

Located along the waterfront, Savannah's Candy Kitchen started small in 1979 and has expanded over the years to 4,000 square feet of sugary heaven. You can smell the sweetness in the air. No foodie trip to Savannah is complete without tasting a warm, freshly made praline (pronounced "prah-lin," not "pray-lean"). 

You don't have to spend a cent to enjoy Savannah's Candy Kitchen (though you'll probably spend some anyway, as there's something here for everyone). Watch saltwater taffy being pulled on a 100+ year old machine and a toy train running over your head. Admire expertly crafted treats, including homemade gelato and chocolate-covered, well, everything. 
Savannah's Candy Kitchen
Savannah's Candy Kitchen

The Best Food in Savannah

Saving Room for Next Time. (And there will totally be a next time because we love Savannah!)

We were able to indulge in many local goodies, but 24 hours in Savannah still left many restaurants on our itinerary untasted. Here are a few more things to eat, courtesy of research and reviews on the best food in Savannah:

Elizabeth on 37th: A favorite of locals and even authors (it was featured in the book '1,000 Places to See Before You Die'), this is sophisticated dining at its best. Dress to impress and dine on pepper-crusted beef tenderloin. Salads are made with herbs freshly harvested from the on-site garden. If you're really looking to splurge on a memorable meal, order Elizabeth's Special Tasting Menu, which has seven courses for $110 per person, plus an optional wine pairing for an additional $40 per person.

Savannah Square Pops: These are not the popsicles you had as a child. A favorite of Duff Goldman, these are made with high-quality ingredients and feature mouthwatering flavors, such as Strawberry Balsamic, Milk n Honey, and Georgia Peach Tea. They're a refreshing way to indulge your sweet tooth on a hot Savannah day and they're portable, so they won't slow down your sightseeing.

Cha-Bella: This restaurant serves organic food with a menu that changes based on what is in season. As for their menu mainstays, reviewers rave about their fresh gnocchi with sage brown butter, as well as their polenta and their bacon-braised collard greens. The ambiance is top-notch, with Cha-Bella being a popular spot to host a special event.

Lulu's Chocolate Bar: This dessert destination is only open in the evenings most days (6 pm - 10:30 pm, except on Saturdays and Sundays when they open at 2 pm). Order online for pickup to beat the crowds and line. Their Strawberry Suspension Cake and Salted Caramel Martini are rumored to be some of the best treats you'll ever consume. Yes, you can order a martini or one of their other popular alcoholic beverages for pick up and wander through Savannah while you enjoy it, no paper bag or guilt required. It's just one of many reasons we ❤️ Savannah.
Self guided food tour of Savannah
Talmadge Memorial Bridge

The Best Foods in Savannah
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