After moving to Atlanta last year, I’ve been lucky enough to take a few trips to the beautiful Southern city of Savannah. With stunning parks and walkways, framed with trees draped in Spanish moss, and squares of greenery sprinkled throughout the city, I fell in love instantly with the historic city. In my view, you won’t find more Southern hospitality or charm anywhere else in the South. Wanna know what's even better? Exploring all of Savannah’s charm is easy to do in a weekend. Whether you stay by Forsyth Park or closer to the river, you can easily discover all of the city’s sites and incredible restaurants, all on foot. (The city’s open container laws are the icing on the cake if you want to take full advantage of a fun weekend.)
Along with recommendations from friends and some research I did on my own, I planned out a weekend filled with sightseeing, great food and drinks. Here were my favorites.
Click the arrows above to see all of the restaurants
Photo credit: Rachel Taylor
The Foundery Coffee Pub
Before taking a stroll through town, head to The Foundery Coffee Pub for a boost of caffeine. Instead of alcohol, this pub serves locally roasted coffee in a community-friendly space. While you’ll find café staples like macchiatos and lattes on the menu, The Foundry also offers seasonal flavors and other drink creations. While I was sipping on my caramel latte, the space filled up with people working on their laptops or enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend. And unlike other cafés, The Foundery is a non-profit that sources volunteers and funds to help with various initiatives in the community, so you'll know your hard-earned coffee money is going to good use.
The Foundery Coffee Pub is at 1313 Habersham St., Savannah. Connect with the pub on Facebook and Instagram.
Photo credit: The Foundery Coffee Pub Facebook
The Collins Quarter
Inspired by an Australian café, The Collins Quarter is a unique café that serves more than coffee. On the menu you’ll find Australian twists on brunch items like My Cousin Beni (a play on eggs Benedict), Leo’s Aussie Breakkie (breakfast meat, baked beans, mushrooms and toast) and the Down Under chicken sandwich topped with Australian BBQ sauce. If you’re planning on stopping in for brunch, you’ll probably have to wait for a table, but you can grab a drink, like the maple coffee sour, while you wait. The Collins Quarter is located on one of Savannah’s main streets, Bull Street, making it easy to find and grab a meal.
One other perk of The Collins Quarter is its to-go cocktails. You can only get non-alcoholic drinks like coffee at their outdoor to-go window, but if you make your way to the bar, they’ll mix you up a drunken berry mimosa or white Russian for sipping while you walk around town.
The Collins Quarter is at 151 Bull St., Savannah. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram.
Photo credit: Rachel Taylor
The Vault Kitchen and Market
After more than 50 years in business, a Savannah bank closed its doors in 2013. To pay tribute to this historic landmark, the space was turned into a chic eatery that’s decorated with memorabilia, including the bank vault and teller windows. Old bank deposit boxes are attached to the bar and the teller windows allow diners to see into the kitchen. The Vault specializes in pan-Asian cuisine, serving spring rolls, dumplings and a variety of sushi rolls. Its cocktail menu is impressive as well.
During our trip, we headed to The Vault for lunch, and I thoroughly enjoyed a meal of pork dumplings and sticky rice. My boyfriend’s order consisted of The Traveler sushi roll (battered salmon and crab paired with cream cheese, sriracha and shrimp sauce) and The Bull sushi roll (seared beef tenderloin, spicy tuna and cucumber), which were both tasty.
The Vault Kitchen and Market is at 2112 Bull St., Savannah. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram.
Photo credit: The Vault Kitchen and Market Facebook
If you’re closer to the river and looking for a snack, meal or cocktail, head to Treylor Park. This restaurant was recommended by Southern Kitchen’s chef Jeffrey Gardner, and I was not disappointed by my meal. It was, in fact, hard to choose one thing on the menu. From avocado fries to chicken and pancake tacos, everything on the menu was Southern with a twist.
I decided to go with the shrimp and grits tacos as my main meal. Three tacos filled with fried grit bites, crispy shrimp and chimichurri sauce arrived at the table and I quickly consumed them. For the table, we also got an order of the Treylor Park Nachos Grande. Unlike typical nachos, this version is made with waffle fries and topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, pickles and fried chicken — decadent but oh-so-good. The drink menu has local beers on tap, but the restaurant's cocktails are really the star. We recommend trying a bourbon peach cocktail called The Peach Pit and an adult version of cherry cola.
Treylor Park is at 115 E. Bay St., Savannah. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Photo credit: Rachel Taylor
Cotton & Rye
Just like The Vault, Cotton & Rye is located in a building that once housed a bank. However, this sophisticated space has been completely renovated and offers a more modern interior design than The Vault. The menu is heavily influenced by its surroundings and specializes in Southern staples, like fried chicken.
Cotton & Rye’s shrimp and grits are located in the starters section of the menu, but you could easily make them your main meal. They arrive in a warm cast iron crock, and all of the flavors normally associated with this dish are elevated with melted cheddar, crunchy bacon and cherry tomatoes. Other menu items, like crispy chicken wings, stuffed Carolina trout and hangar steak, are all wonderfully crafted, but you really can’t go wrong with ordering the fried chicken thighs. Using Springer Mountain chicken, the restaurant fries the chicken thighs to order. You’ll find a side of spicy honey, and it would be a mistake if you didn’t add a little drizzle to your fried chicken. If the fried chicken wasn’t delicious enough, it’s also served with a cup of ooey-gooey mac and cheese that is out-of-this-world good.
Cotton & Rye is at 1801 Habersham St., Savannah. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo credit: Cotton & Rye Facebook
Named Eater’s 2017 restaurant of the year, The Grey is the epitome of fine dining in Savannah. Located in an old Greyhound bus station, the restaurant’s atmosphere is sophisticated, yet you still feel the history in the building. More importantly, chef Mashama Bailey cooks remarkable dishes using some of the best regional ingredients. But before getting into the food, you’ll want to take a look at the cocktail menu. Everything from the bar is great, but we really loved its gin and grapefruit concoction called Speedwells Trial, as well as the Metroliner (rum, sorrel, Cointreu, lime).
The food menu is split into four categories — Pantry, Water, Dirt and Pasture — and each category includes items that range from appetizer to entrée size. We tried the house-made raviolo, filled with house ricotta and heirloom sweet potato, and the chicken country captain seasoned with curry spices and served with almonds and currants. Unfortunately, we missed out on Bailey’s delicious beignets as they had sold out that night. If you can’t get a reservation or want to stop by The Grey last-minute, try getting a seat at the diner bar. Keep in mind, though, the menu is different and includes more affordable bar food than what’s available on the dinner menu.
The Grey is at 109 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Savannah. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Photo credit: The Grey
Top Deck Bar
Get an exceptional view of Savannah’s Talmadge Memorial Bridge and the Savannah River while enjoying a cocktail at Top Deck. This bar is located above the Cotton Sail Hotel and is a great place to grab a drink during happy hour or spend an evening with friends. The bar is focused on creating great craft cocktails, small plates and charcuterie.
Top Deck Bar is at 125 W. River St., Savannah. Connect with the bar on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Photo credit: Top Deck Savannah Facebook
Leopold’s Ice Cream
To satisfy your sweet tooth, look no further than Leopold’s, which has been scooping ice cream happiness for almost a century. Today, its ice cream is still made using the same recipes and techniques as was done in 1919. As for the flavors, there really is something for everyone. Peanut butter and chocolate lovers will enjoy peanut butter chippy — there are even full-sized chocolate chips in this flavor. Or try the rum bisque, a boozy ice cream filled with house-baked almond macaroons. And the lemon custard has bold lemon flavor and so much fresh lemon zest you can see it in every bite.
Leopold's Ice Cream is at 212 E. Broughton St., Savannah. Connect with the shop on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Photo credit: Rachel Taylor
The Breakfast Club
You’ll be in for a treat if you’re willing to take a little drive to Tybee Island for breakfast. At The Breakfast Club, the menu contains everything from omelets and hash browns to breakfast burritos. The restaurant makes its sausages and sauces in house and every dish dish is freshly made to order. The drive along the coast is worth is for a heaping pile of hash browns — and you can take a walk on the beach when you’re done.
The Breakfast Club is at 1500 Butler Ave., Tybee Island. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram.
Photo credit: Rachel Taylor
Back in the Day Bakery
For a towering breakfast sandwich built atop a fluffy buttermilk biscuit, Back in the Day Bakery can't be beat. This charming bakery in the Starland District is home to bakers Cheryl and Griffith Day, nominees for a 2015 James Beard Award, and experts at crafting treats from butter and sugar. You can, of course, also stop in for a lunchtime sandwich (curry chicken, grilled cheese, and tomato and mozzarella are all solid options), but definitely do not sleep on those biscuits.
Back in the Day Bakery is at 2403 Bull St., Savannah. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room
For an all-you-can-eat Southern food extravaganza, a visit to Mrs. Wilkes is in order. Designed in the style of an old fashioned Southern boarding house, the restaurant's menu boasts a lineup of classic entrees and sides served family style to communal tables. Don't miss the fried chicken, candied yams, butter beans and mac and cheese.
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is at 107 West Jones St., Savannah.
Congress Street Up
Attention cocktail lovers: Gather your best 1920's garb and head to Congress Street Up for some of the finest drinks, served in a true Prohibition-style speakeasy. Complete with a tinned roof, this bar, a part of the American Prohibition Museum, features costumed bartenders and period music, along with classic cocktails, of course. It's the bee's knees.
Congress Street Up is at 220 Congress St., Savannah. Connect with the bar on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Photo: Congress Street Up/Facebook