My Town: Chef Mashama Bailey’s Savannah, GA

When the all-star Savannah chef takes the rare day off, this is where you’ll find her.

Chef Mashama Bailey split her childhood between Savannah, Georgia, and Queens, New York, and she spent most of her adult life in some of the best kitchens in Manhattan, including the city’s fabled Prune restaurant. But just over a year ago, entrepreneur John Morisano lured her back South to her former hometown to helm her own restaurant—completing the circle. Housed in a beautifully renovated 1938 Greyhound bus station, the Grey is, like Savannah itself, a mash-up of French, Italian, and Spanish influences, not to mention the Southern culinary heritage handed down by Bailey’s mother and grandmothers. The restaurant celebrated its one-year anniversary this week, and it’s hotter than ever. When Bailey takes the rare day off, this is where you’ll find her.

photo: Peter Frank Edwards

From left: Mashama Bailey; Patrons enjoy dinner at Bailey’s Savannah restaurant, the Grey.

8:30 a.m.
Wake Up Call: “For me, a perfect day in Savannah starts at the coffee shop. There is a shop south of Forsyth Park called the Sentient Bean. They have great coffee. But it is really an institution. They helped get the farmers’ market started here. On a given day, you might find very wealthy here and you might find homeless people, too. There is no classism. You walk in and it is who it is. It’s super relaxed and easy—the best place to wake up and start your day.”

9:45 a.m.
Healthy Start: “Then I’ll go next door to Brighter Day—a Whole Foods-like store—just to wander. I might grab a snack for later or (depending on if I ate breakfast at the Sentient Bean) a treat for now.”

10:15 a.m.
“From there, I would get in my car and just drive. I’m still trying to rediscover Savannah. But there is this hidden fishing village on the way out to Tybee called Thunderbolt. It’s its own little community. They have their own city hall and fire department. It’s a nice place to walk around. You’re right on the marshes. Boats—for shrimping and clamming—pull right up to the docks. You can walk down and check out the catch.”

Courtesy of Wyld Dock Bar

12 p.m.
Outdoor Adventure: “They do kayaking tours out here at Savannah Canoe and Kayak. We are surrounded by marshes and water. I think kayaking is a cool way to get to know the area. When you drive out from Savannah to Tybee you realize exactly where you are in the world. Kayaking gets you super close to it. Everyone here has a kayak tied to their car.”

Courtesy of Savannah Canoe and Kayak

1:30 p.m.
Rest and Refuel: “I’m going to be hungry after kayaking. Since this would likely be on Saturday or Sunday, I would go to the Wyld Dock Bar on Livingston Avenue. It is right on the marsh, right on the dock. They’ve got fried fish and shrimp and a regular catch of the day.”

Courtesy of Wyld Dock Bar

3:00 p.m.
Shop Talk: “After lunch I’ll head to Paris Market to spend a little money. A lot of local jewelry designers display their work here. You can buy stationery, a cookbook, and ribbon to tie a gift with. There is a lot of vintage mixed together with updated modern things. You can spend an hour in here. It’s also a good place to get a coffee or gelato or a macaron from the in-house cafe.”

Courtesy of Paris Market

4:15 p.m.
Vintage Finds: “Then I’ll go in Civvies for used clothing. You can buy and sell. It’s a nice spot to pick up some sunglasses or cool t-shirt or shop for a costume party.

5:15 p.m.
Bottoms Up: “It’s probably wine o’clock by now, so I will walk over to Congress Street, where the college kids hang out late at night, but you’ll find an older crowd there in the early evening. There is a dive bar called the Rail. They have a really cool outdoor space with live music and dancing. Super dive-y. Super local.”

8:00 p.m.
Perfect Plate: “For dinner, I’d go to Noble Fare. Noble Fare is a cute little place downtown with an old-fashioned bistro feel that has been open for about eight years. You go upstairs, and they treat you like royalty. The owners Patrick and Jennifer are incredibly nice. It’s really a labor of love for them.”

10:00 p.m.
Lights Out: “At this point, it’s time to go to sleep or curl up on my couch with a movie.”