By Sierra Lawson
When you come to visit Savannah, you've got to do it right! Don't bother with any of the ol' been-there, done-that franchises. Instead, sink your teeth into something local, historical, and completely unforgettable.
Sit tight as I take you on a quick breeze through five of Savannah's must-visit restaurants that are jam-packed with good food, great drinks, and history lessons mixed with local lore that is bound to make your head spin.
5. Crystal Beer Parlor
Crystal Beer Parlor originally opened in the early 1900s as the Henry Gerken Family Grocery Store. Julius Weitz and his family initially owned and operated the building, but it was later sold to William
Blocko Manning and his wife, Connie Manning, in the 1930s.
Then, Gerken Family Grocery Store became known as The Crystal, making its mark in downtown Savannah in more ways than one. William' Blocko' was rumored to have run a speakeasy that sparked the interest of none other than Al Capone!
Blocko denied Al Capone, of course….or at least that's what history tells us.
After the building lay dormant for several years, it was purchased by John Nichols in 2009 and is now what we know as The Crystal Beer Parlor. One of the things that makes this restaurant so unique is that they have a fantastic selection of specialty whiskies, tequilas, and, of course, craft beers that can only be found at this restaurant.
So stop in for a bite and be sure to take in the sights of the various dining rooms; the walls are lined with newspaper clippings and photographs of famous patrons and residents of Savannah.
You've Just Got to Try The: Baked Southern Devilled Crab; Blue crab claw meat, chopped onions and peppers, and served with a sweet red pepper remoulade sauce.
4. Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room originally started as a boarding house in 1943. Mrs. Sema Wilkes, then owner, set herself apart from other boarding places of the time by offering her made-from-scratch southern cooking to those who stayed there.
As time went on, she stopped taking in tenants but always kept her door open to those who wanted a hot and fresh meal. She even worked with local farmers and fishermen to ensure that she supported local businesses and always had the freshest ingredients available.
Sema Wilkes went on to be featured in various news articles, magazines, and local TV specials. She also published several of her own cookbooks and became a local celebrity in her own right.
After passing in 2002, Mrs. Wilkes' family decided to continue her tradition of welcoming folks from near and far and feeding them some good down south cooking, and they are still served lunch daily from 11 am-2 pm.
What's so special about Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is that dinner is served family-style, so you'll be sat at a large table with ten chairs where you are likely to be breaking bread with a stranger. And that's the point!
Come hungry and ready to socialize at this historic Savannah staple. It's bound to be an experience that you will never forget. Don't believe me? Feel free to ask previous patrons such as Barack Obama or the cast of Magic Mike XXL.
You've Just Got to Try The: Famous Southern Fried Chicken and Okra.
3. 17hundred90 Restaurant & Inn
Constructed in, you guessed it, 1790, the property was initially built as three separate residential units that burned down and were subsequently lost in one of the great fires of Savannah in 1820.
So in 1821, the property was rebuilt as a single building, which we see today.
The Inn and restaurant is a popular choice for out-of-towners looking for a nice mix of fine dining, historical gallantry, and a little bit of spooky stuff. Because, oh yeah, this place is haunted, just like everywhere else in Savannah.
One of the most popular spooky events was experienced by Miley Cyrus, who stayed in the Inn's most famously haunted room, 204.
She claimed that Anna, the ghost that haunts 204, moved her boots on top of her suitcase with a handprint on top where she would never put them.
You've Just Got to Try The: Salmon Oscar; Grilled salmon covered with tender crab meat and asparagus tips and hollandaise sauce.
2. The Olde Pink House
Originally the Habersham House, the Pink house was constructed as a private family property in 1771. The home was owned by James Habersham Jr. and passed through many hands of ownership over the centuries. It was once a bank, a library, and even an attorney's office. One of the most notable owners is Alida Harper Fowlkes' Georgian Tea Room.
During this time, the building was painted its iconic pink after the red brick kept bleeding through the white plaster for many years.
This classic Savannah staple is also rumored to be haunted by the home's original owners and the enslaved people who lived and died there.
However, the Olde Pink House is currently known for its unmatched fine dining and 18th-century decor throughout the establishment that takes you back in time with some of the best food in town to boot. Adrienne Bailon is one of the many well-known patrons who would agree that the Olde Pink House is the place to be!
You've Just Got to Try The: Grilled Pork Tenderloin; Tenderloin with bourbon molasses, sweet potatoes with pecan vanilla butter, and collard greens.
1. The Pirate's House
Now ladies and gentlemen, here is the moment you've all been waiting for. The oldest and longest-running restaurant in Savannah is none other than The Pirates House. The structure on the property was initially built in 1753 and ran as an inn for sailors and seafarers alike.
The Inn was certainly no stranger to pirates, and those not keeping a close eye on their rum were known to be shanghaied and taken to sea against their will. After 1794 it was a bonafide restaurant and tavern, and boy if those walls could talk, they’d have some stories!
After WWII, the building fell into vast neglect and disrepair and was quite close to kissing the wrecking ball. However, The Pirate's House is one of the HUNDREDS of buildings saved by the one and only Savannah Historical Society that fought to preserve and restore this building.
After being taken under the wing of Herb Traub and Jim Casey in 1958, it has been transformed into one of Savannah's most popular and historic restaurants. So popular that Ben Affleck, Gwen is Paltrow, and Burt Reynolds are said to have dined there.
You've Just Got to Try The: Pistachio Encrusted Fresh Catch; Pistachio encrusted catch of the day topped with tomato-serrano pepper jam and served with broccolini and fingerling potatoes.
Here at Revelry, we recommend that if you want a particularly unforgettable experience that both your family and your belly will thank you for, you have to run down this list. Every establishment has something unique to offer, and we've never steered you wrong before. So trust us and go ahead and have the time of your life.