Martha Giddens Nesbit


The best part about eating out is having someone bring you your food and clean up after you! It’s also nice if the food tastes good. I am very put out by overpriced food, poor service (the waiter or waitress disappears and everyone at the table is out of water), and poor execution in the kitchen. Three years ago, I began dining out once a month with a group of lady friends. We call ourselves the Diners’ Club. We try new places in town and revisit favorite haunts. We laugh too loud and two of us are “snorters.”  What I’ve discovered is that often it is a specific DISH that makes me hungry to eat in a particular restaurant. Here are some of the places I can highly recommend, in alphabetical order. Disclaimer: Menus change, and this list is by no means complete. Savannah is full of great food and, unfortunately, I have not tried it all!
— Martha Nesbit

Back in the day bakery

2403 Bull Street | $$$$$

Everything at this place is good, but I particularly like the Pimiento and Pig Sandwich - white Cheddar, apple-smoked bacon and roasted red pepper between two hunks of homemade bread, grilled. When my son and daughter-in-law visit Savannah, they always make one trip to Back in the Day for …. And we love the Back in the Day cookbooks - the recipes work and make you look like a real baker.. Saturdays are very busy, so expect a little wait.



1608 Bull Street/$$$$

I have done mission work in Tapachula, Mexico, and this food is exactly like what we are served when we eat at our favorite restaurant, which is a car repair shop by day and a restaurant serving carnitas by night. The homemade chips, the salsa, the carnitas (roasted pork, grilled pineapple, onion, and cilantro on a corn tortilla) are spot on. We always order Mexican Coke (sweeter and “thicker” than that served in the USA) or hibiscus tea, a deep plum, sweet drink. Bull Street Taco takes their menu a step further with superb red-chili tempura cauliflower tacos and raw tuna tacos, among other offerings. Tacos cost about $4 and usually three will do it. Nice selection of beer. Super laid-back atmosphere and friendly service. This restaurant is located in an evolving section of Bull Street where lots of good things are happening. Love it when a restaurant gets the authenticity right.



4 Broughton Street | $$$$$

The dish I love here is the striped sea bass, which currently is being served with baby bok choy, herbed orzo and lemon, capers, and mixed greens. If you want to know how to cook fish properly, this is the way it’s done. The restaurant is small and chic and has great service. I love the fact that you can get a large serving, or a half-portion. Does not take reservations and there is usually a wait. Moderately priced for such delicious food.


circa 1875

48 Whitaker Street | $$$$$

This small restaurant features French cuisine, like the classic coquilles St. Jacques – scallops in a creamy wine sauce, topped with bread crumbs and cheese, then broiled. Yummy. The steamed mussels are also on my recommendation list. The dining room is small, with a second dining area downstairs for those who are agile enough to navigate the stairs. A very narrow, attractive, noisy bar is in a separate room off of the upstairs dining area.


cotton and rye

1801 Habersham Street | $$$$$

Located in a former 1950s bank building in mid-town Savannah with two large open dining rooms and outdoor seating. Creative low-country favorites, often with a twist. Recommend the hanger steak, shrimp and grits, and the fried chicken thighs.


crystal beer parlor

301 West Jones Street | $$$$$

This is one fun place. Expect to have a wait and expect the bar to be crowded and loud. This restaurant, first opened in 1933, has a saloon feel, with enormous wooden booths that seat six. Food is nothing fancy, but the portions are large and everything is tasty. The menu features some Greek items due to the fact that owner John Nichols comes from a long line of excellent Greek good cooks. I can recommend the burgers, the crab burger, and the pastrami Reuben.


driftway cafe

7400 Skidaway Road | $$$$$

My favorite dish is the firecracker shrimp served on a bed of shredded lettuce. The shrimp are battered and flash fried and have a spicy sauce. My second favorite is the salmon tacos, which have a crispy piece of salmon inside a soft taco. This restaurant is popular with locals who live in the Isle of Hope, Sandfly, Dutch Island and Skidaway Island neighborhoods. The bar attracts a group of often noisy regulars. Friendly, casual service.


elizabeth on 37th

105 East 37th | $$$$$

Located in a restored mansion in mid-town Savannah. This is a special-occasion restaurant where you will experience extraordinary service and imaginative dishes in a lovely setting that is both elegant and comfortable. Think Sunday dinner in Aunt Maude’s dining room. This restaurant is so sure of its culinary offerings that the menu changes with the seasons and with Chef Kelly Yambor’s nightly inclination. Get the pan-seared scallops and the parmesan-dusted local flounder if they are on the menu. And believe it or not, the Brussels sprouts are amazing.



12 West Oglethorpe | $$$$$

Of all the restaurants mentioned here, this one has, perhaps, the most spectacular location, a renovated mansion on a lovely mid-town street with a center aisle of moss-draped oaks. Very romantic and beautiful. Favorite dishes are the fried chicken skins (I know, they have to be very bad for you, right?), the crackling cornbread (you will have to ask for more butter), and the potato crusted whiting over creamed cabbage. Our table ordered the four-vegetable dinner and shared the vegetables and I highly recommend doing this. My tab was $70, so I think this is a special-occasion restaurant. Expect a wait between courses.


leopold’s ice cream

212 East Broughton Street | $$$$$

There is usually a long line at Leopold’s, located in the heart of the historic district on what can be described as Savannah’s main street. That’s because the ice cream is exceptional and the servers are hand-picked for their speed and congeniality. Owner Stratton Leopold and his wife, Mary, are active in the community and use their ice cream to reward students who can recite the Pledge of Allegiance, win academic awards or attend church. Try the Tutti Fruitti, the pistachio or the chocolate chewie flavors. Or, maybe the rum raisin. Or, maybe the lemon curd. Oh, heck, try them all.


mrs. wilkes

107 West Jones Street | $$$$$

This rooming house restaurant, located on the ground floor of one of Savannah’s row houses, is legendary. Expect to wait in line, and expect to sit at a table with strangers and pass the food family style. The menu changes according to produce that is available, but typically expect to have fried chicken, sausage, beef stew, meatloaf, and all sort of country vegetables – cabbage, squash, beans, black-eyed peas, and so on. Only open Monday through Friday, 11-2. Closed during the month of January. Mrs. Wilkes’ is no longer with us, but her granddaughter and great-grandson can often be seen in the restaurant.


noble fare

321 Jefferson Street | $$$$$

Diver scallops with smoked bacon, sweet corn, spinach and balsamic vinegar is my go-to dish. The ice berg wedge and grilled Romaine salads are both delicious. This is a small, intimate restaurant. Because everything is individually priced, the tab can jump in a hurry. Lovely service. This is a restaurant where it’s OK to linger.


pearl’s saltwater grill

7000 LaRoche Avenue | $$$$$

Occasionally, I save my calories so I can order a plate of fried shrimp from Pearl’s. Although there are lots of appealing-sounding items on the menu, I get the same thing every time I go – a small fried shrimp dinner with a baked potato and coleslaw. Small, sweet hush puppies are brought to the table while you are waiting for the main course, and I often eat too many of those. The restaurant isn’t fancy but has a great view of the Herb River, which is beautiful at high tide. At low tide, the creek is mostly mud and marsh grass, but it’s still fun to see the seabirds and oyster shells. Moderately priced. Quick service.

sundae cafe.jpg

sundae cafe

304 1st Street, Tybee Island | $$$$$

This is one of the best restaurants in the area, and there are many great dishes on the menu. But the two I recommend are the fried green tomato BLT, which is just what you’d think it is, and the fried shrimp or fried oyster po boy. One year, I was in New Orleans, LA, with my friend Dottie trying to find the best shrimp po boy in the city, which we did at Johnny’s Po-boys. Well, the one at Sundae Café equals that sandwich. Great bun, great sauce, full of fat, perfectly fried shrimp or oysters. Crowded during the summer months and on holidays.

Screen Shot 2019-10-04 at 9.39.37 AM.png

sweet potatoes

531 Stephenson Ave | $$$$$

Some nights, my husband and I will just look at each other and say, “I’ve got to have pot roast.” That means a trip to Sweet Potatoes, a casual restaurant that caters to locals on Savannah’s south side. The pot roast is melt-in-your-mouth tender and served over mashed potatoes, of course, for $12.50. You can choose side dishes like butter beans with dill (a little too thick) or roasted Brussels sprouts, which they have a tendency to burn, or fabulous candied apples. Other dishes that I can recommend are the fried catfish, pecan-crusted chicken, the grilled pork chop, the black and blue burger, the fried chicken and the fried shrimp. This place is a jewel! Moderately priced.


the olde pink house

23 Abercorn Street | $$$$$

Tourists especially like this place, located in a restored Savannah historic home built for a cotton planter in the 1770s. The restaurant is usually crowded and lively. Try the goat cheese stuffed artichoke fritters or the crispy scored flounder, a signature dish. My friend Elizabeth loves the BLT salad. Desserts are calorie-rich and delicious. There is a great bar downstairs. Perfect for a special occasion.


the vault

2112 Bull Street, located in a renovated bank building | $$$$$

I can’t experiment with the menu because I’m too in love with the seaweed salad, duck tacos, and the wicked tuna roll to try anything new. This Asian-inspired restaurant is just awesome. I do not recommend dining in one of the renovated bank vaults, as they can get quite loud if you are sharing the space with a boisterous group.


vic’s on the river

26 East Bay Street | $$$$$

Vic’s has a bird’s-eye view of River Street overlooking the Savannah River, and is located in an 1858 renovated warehouse in the heart of Savannah’s historic district. So, it rates an “A” for atmosphere. The dishes I can recommend are the shrimp and grits ($14 at lunch and $24 at dinner); the chicken livers (they're are hard to find on restaurant menus), and the jumbo lump crab cakes ($13 for an appetizer portion and $30 for a dinner portion.) On a recent outing, the halibut special and the pecan-coated flounder were the hits of the night. Delicious unconstructed salad with white balsamic dressing was superb. Terrific servers. Take advantage of the complimentary valet service offered Monday through Saturday beginning at 5:30 if you are concerned about parking or walking a long distance on cobblestones.

 Second Thoughts

I am going to tell you that I am eligible to receive the AARP magazine. So, I’m admitting that my restaurant selections may not appeal to those who belong to another generation. I asked my cute Generation X neighbors where they tell their friends to eat when they visit Savannah. Here are their recommendations:
— Martha Nesbit


  • Collins Quarter

  • Little Duck Diner (Lunch and dinner are good, too)

  • B Matthews

  • Two Cracked Eggs


  • Starland Café (salads and paninis)

  • Zunzi’s (Famous on TV for sandwiches)

  • Fire (sushi and Asian)

  • Green Truck Pub (burgers)

  • Mrs. Wilkes (family-style Southern food)


  • Proof and Provision

  • Treylor Park (Very unique food – so good)

  • Chive (nicer, but amazing)

  • Husk (just opened; famous; from Charleston)

  • The Olde Pink House (famous)

  • Alligator Soul (nicer restaurant)

  • El Coyote (New Mexican Restaurant – so cute!)


  • Ordinary Pub (awesome frozen mimosas)

  • Artillery (nice for a cool drink)

  • Top Deck/Cotton Sail (overlooks River and good place for pics)

  • Savannah Smiles (dueling piano bar – so fun!)

  • Social (outside and inside bar; sometimes live music; pool table)

  • The Rail (karaoke upstairs; bar downstairs)

  • Barrel House (live band music)

  • McDonough’s (more local karaoke)

To do

  • Broughton is shopping street. (Martha loves One Fish, Two Fish at 41 Whitaker Street, and all of the shops around that area.)

  • Walk along River Street and stop in candy store.