Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where to Eat - Savannah Edition

As much as I love to cook I also love to go out for a great meal, especially if that meal is to be found in unexpected places. I prefer to go to Mom & Pop establishments because to me, it is an investment into the local community's economy.  Plus, I find the food is always better than at most chain restaurant.  When my husband and I debated whether to move back to NYC or stay in Savannah once he retired from the Army, I have to admit our favorite greasy spoons and local restaurants played a part in our decision to stay in Savannah and put down roots by buying our first home.  If you ever get a chance to visit this tiny Southern jewel of a city, here is a list of places to check out for meals that will satisfy your hunger while handing you a dose of local flavor.

Clary's Cafe  (located on Habersham Street, Midtown)
I just only recently experienced Clary's for the first time with my friend Jessica.  We went to the Habersham location which is right up the block from her house, but there is also the original Clary's located downtown on Abercorn after LaFayette Square.  The downtown location was featured prominently in Clint Eastwood's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil .  I have only been to Clary's once but I have been craving this place since I left that faithful Sunday afternoon.  If you like diners (I love them, especially after spending my formative years frequenting various diners on Staten Island) this is a must stop.  I had the Alpine Burger (topped with Swiss cheese and mushrooms)with fries and a Black & White shake.  Always being down for a good, greasy diner burger, this burger satisfied my craving and left me begging for more.  They serve breakfast all day and their giant homemade chocolate eclair is to die for.  The only downfall to this restaurant is they are open to 4 pm, which makes dinner plans impossible.  

Crab Legs!

The Crab Shack (located off of Rt. 80, Tybee Island)
If you love seafood as much as I do, then this is a must stop.  After spending my 25th birthday at The Crab Shack, I have revisited it numerous times.  After introducing this gem to my parents, we usually make a trip out to Tybee at least once when they come down to Savannah to feast here.  We are already planning our next trip for my 28th birthday next month.  The must have item off their menu is the Shack Specialty, a platter topped high with shrimp, mussels, crab legs, craw fish, sausage, potatoes and corn smothered in Old Bay and served with melted butter.  The platter for 2 can successfully feed a family of 4.  Other noteworthy menu items are the raw oysters, steamed clams and their key lime pie is the perfect ending for a seafood feast.  This is a restaurant where you want to kick back on the outside deck with some good friends, enjoying the kitschy atmosphere with a beer or a mixed drink served in a coconut carved like a monkey head and have a great time. 

Ruan Thai (located on Broughton Street, Downtown)
My husband and I are big fans of Asian cuisine, with the exception of Korean.  Thai is definitely up there on my list, along with Indian and Japanese.  I love all things spicy and Thai food definitely delivers on the heat factor.  Mike and I discovered Ruan Thai when he was home on R&R from deployment and we went there for a date night.  This restaurant, located downtown is one of my favorite date night spots, featuring intimate booths, extensive wine list and low-lighting.  The food is also amazing, from perfectly fried spring rolls to the red seafood curry to the fried bananas.  The entrees are mid-range in price, which is why we reserve this restaurant for date nights but the dining experience at Ruan makes it worth every penny.  

Troy Mediterranean (located on Abercorn St. after Wilshire Blvd)
I credit Troy with inspiring me to start this blog and it has a rightful place on the list. We are lucky enough to live practically around the corner from this place. If you love Greek/Turkish/Mediterranean cuisine and are looking for something different in Savannah then this is a must stop.  This is another restaurant we reserve for date nights due to the atmosphere and quality of the food.  This is a welcome change of pace from the chain restaurants and Japanese steakhouses located on the Southside. If you stop here, get the lamb chops and top off your meal with the baklava, it's to die for!

Pancake Palace (located on Abercorn St. past Eisenhower Blvd.)
Words cannot express how much I love love love the Original Pancake Palace.  We discovered this place almost 2 years ago and this is our go-to restaurant for a family meal out.  My daughter loves this place as much as I do.  This is the definitive local greasy spoon in Savannah where the breakfast is absolutely to die for.  The best part not only are they open 24 hours but they serve breakfast all day.  If you don't mind a restaurant that is rough around the edges, where the waitresses become your friends and is frequented by locals then this is the place for you.  While their pancakes are good, the go-to breakfast carb here is the french toast - thick texas-toast style slices dipped in just enough egg so they are never soggy and griddled to perfection.  They are even nice enough to swap out the pancakes for a slice of french toast if you ask.  The hash browns are amazing, putting Waffle House's to shame.  Ever since we discovered this small slice of local diner heaven, we haven't returned to our local Waffle House or Cracker Barrel, Pancake Palace tops them both.

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