After falling almost instantly in love with Charleston, Savannah had some competition
Anyone we said to in Charleston that we were from the UK and were doing a trip through the South after living in New York were pretty confused by how Savannah could ever have made the list – although they were glad to hear it
That was mostly down to a few friends taking a trip earlier in the year and it looking so nice that we wanted to go too
Charleston had spoiled us
We arrived later in the day than we had expected to, so it took a little longer to get to the hotel and then to downtown to explore, by which point it was getting dark so we couldn’t really get a feel for it
Also, as we were staying a little further out (at Clarion Inn and Suites on Abercorn) we had to drive through the more run down areas to get there, which made us wonder if any of the city was going to look as nice as Charleston did
Realising that a lot of places to eat shut at 8 or 9, and it was already 7pm, or considerably over our very small budget, didn’t fill us with optimism for getting any good food, but we kept trying until we found a few options
Once we were sorted and heading out for dinner we got a bit more of a feel for it
The main highlight in Savannah was the food, some of the best we’ve had
Sand Fly, Streamliner
Just a few blocks from the tip of Downtown there is a Streamliner than serves barbecue
I’m like putty in your hand if you take me somewhere that is a little out of the ordinary, so this was totally up my street!
The outside was an old train and the inside was a retro American diner – perfect!
Looking at the menu, they served a few different types of barbecue – beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage, ribs, pulled chicken
Being incredibly indecisive I had no idea which to go for – I didn’t want to miss out on the best option
And then I spotted a platter that the waitress said would be good for two. You got to try everything (they’d run out of ribs, so extra brisket) with two sides – mac and cheese, and baked beans – and a couple slices of ‘Texas Toast’
This was incredible. The baked beans were the best I’ve ever had – Heinz doesn’t really count in this because they’re totally different – beans, with chunks of brisket and barbecue tomato sauce, mmmmmm…
Mrs. Wilke’s Dining Room
This is an institution in Savannah. Arguably – and now agreeably – the best fried chicken.
The restaurant is open Monday to Friday, 11-2
3 hours a day, 5 days a week! And it pumps through hundreds, possibly even thousands of people a week.
Granted, you have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it.
We waited around 30 minutes
The way it works is:
- You either arrive really early – early bird catches the worm and all that – say 10am to get to the front of the line for opening. Or really late, around 1.45 to get in on the last table, they close the line at 1.50 so need to make sure to get there just before then
- They sit tables of 10 at a time, so you get sat with a bunch of random people and share dinner together
- When you sit down the food is already at the table – FAMILY STYLE! – two big plates of fried chicken, 20-22 side dishes, and sweet tea, then at the end you get desert (banana pudding or peach cobbler with ice cream – as if you need it!)
[Sides: mash potato, mac and cheese, sweet potato, okra, lima beans, black eyed peas, cream corn, collard greens, gravy, white rice, red rice with sausage, beef stew, stuffing, green beans, BBQ baked beans, pasta with peas, coleslaw, pickled cucumber, corn bread, biscuits, another stew, and maybe some more]
- Then at the end you take your plate, cutlery and glass to the kitchen
- And pay $22 to the nice man at the till on your way out
This isn’t just good food, and a lot of food; it’s an overall really good experience
Drinking in Savannah
We arrived in the warm up days to St. Patrick’s
I never would have thought that this little town would be the second most popular place to go for Paddy’s, just behind New York and ahead of Chicago
But apparently it has a huge Irish population, for two reasons – back in the day when you became bankrupt you couldn’t just draw a line under it and move on with your life, you were sent away to prison, in Savannah, so a bunch of broke Brits and their families moved; the other reason, big surprise, was the potato famine
So now they have a gigantic celebration, said to bring in somewhere from 500,000 to 1.2M people, yes, those Chinese whispers again have some big range!
The best bit about drinking in Savannah, is that they don’t have a law against open containers, that’s right, as long as your alcohol is served to you in a plastic cup, you can drink on the street
So we had a great afternoon walking around cooling off with some peach sangria and then some frozen alcoholic slushies from ‘wet willies’
And found Jack’s new drink! Jack and Ginger 😉
He wouldn’t go along with it, so I have no photo
We spent the early evening in Churchill’s British Pub – it looked pretty authentic unlike any other, so we had to try it!
We took a free walking tour with Free Savannah Tours which I would highly recommend!
As we were only there for one day it made sense to do a free tour and get as much out of it as we could and then we get an idea of where else would be worth walking after, so we wouldn’t just spend the day looking at the ugly bit of the city
Chris, our tour guide was great, he knew so much about the city and was happy to answer questions and make jokes about flawed bits of the city’s history – like only being 50% sure that the right people were buried under the right memorial statues
The most interesting bit of information from the tour, and the explanation for why Savannah isn’t as beautiful as Charleston is that, in the 1950s the Downtown area was essentially the ghetto of Savannah and all the big houses had homeless people living in them and were severely damaged with graffiti on the outside
So for some reason, they decided to start ripping out these buildings and making parking lots, instead of the more sensible option of renovating the buildings
After five years of knocking down historic buildings, a group of 7 women secretly set up a historic society to protect the city from any further destruction. The first action they took was to raise money and buy the next building that was due to be torn down, two days before the scheduled demolition time everyone learnt about their plan. And this is now the head office
Although there was already so much that had been changed, there was no way to go back, so a lot of the city looks quite run down, but the centre still looks intact for the most part, and has a great energy
And it is supposedly the most haunted city in the U.S! So a butt load of tourists like to go for ghost tours now…
Closing thoughts on Savannah
It’s a pretty place, but Charleston wins hands down on looks
They don’t appreciate the British accent as much as Charleston, so no freebies
The food is phenomenal
No law against open containers is great!
Next stop, Atlanta