It’s been more than 20 years since John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil helped make Savannah one of the country’s most alluring retreats. The sultry coastal city has evolved a lot since then, as reflected in a roster of refined restaurants and bars that still pay homage to its deep Southern roots. Add to that the gluttonous and lively Savannah Food & Wine Festival (November 9–15), and you’ve got yourself an ideal wine and food lovers’ outing. Linger at these eight hot spots.
An original skylight and metal accents evoking vintage buses are glorious reminders that The Grey is housed in a 1938 Art Deco Greyhound terminal. Sidle up to the horseshoe-shaped bar for Mashama Bailey’s catfish tagine spiked with preserved lemon, or the sizzling smoky pig elevated by a fried egg and red-pepper jelly.
After wooing diners in Atlanta and nearby Athens, Hugh Acheson carved out a niche in Savannah with this Italy-meets-the-South shrine to farm-fresh goods. Preface dinner with a frothy Grappa Sour, then tuck into beef carpaccio with puffed Parmesan and smoked duck breast, accompanied by Sea Island red peas and benne seeds.
Andaz Savannah (pictured, left)
Much-welcome modern accommodations await, but a sleepover isn’t the only reason to visit. Here, 22 Square Bar houses Jane Fishel’s boozy creations that include the 3 Sweethearts and the Summer Wind, with celery-infused gin, Cocchi Americano, Suze, soda, Amargo-Vallet and Breckenridge Bitters. The Ca$h Money—flaunting Rittenhouse Rye, St. George Spirits’ NOLA Coffee Liqueur, banana, lime, allspice, chocolate and chicory bitters—is a bracing antidote to a hangover.
Some of Savannah’s most exemplary classic cocktails are crafted by Matt Garappolo at this nearly 20-year-old institution, which turns out favorites like crispy diver scallops with oxtail Bolognese. An extensive California-skewed wine list ensures plenty of choice companions for tuna “mignon” and Carolina Gold Rice grits.
Drinks like the Walk Before You Fly (gin, lemon, crème de framboise, lavender bitters) are a draw here. Savor one around the fire pit after feasting on Chef/Owner Tony Seichrist’s pistachio-chimi hummus and lemongrass snapper.
Blood-orange sangria on tap flows at this laidback joint. Early birds savor half-price bottles of Domaine de la Patience Rhône rosé and Shafer Merlot from the Napa Valley. But that shouldn’t deter you from also ogling the impressive beer offerings.
Beer is also big here, where the ever-changing selections might include Highland Brewing Company’s Black Mocha Stout, brewed with cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa nibs and chipotle. Sipping one alongside a pimento cheese sandwich or burger laden with goat cheese and balsamic caramelized onions makes for a perfect afternoon.
No trip to this historic city is complete without spending some quality time at this soulful brick-walled dive. Georgia boy Jimmy Carter purportedly announced his presidential candidacy here, for good reason. The bar sports well-worn stools, a triumphant jukebox and plenty of PBR.