City Portrait

Savannah’s Hot Spots: A Surging Tide

Travelers have always flocked to this charm-laden river city, and nowadays there are more reasons to visit than ever

Photo: Amy Dickerson

An Old Savannah trolley car.

Where to Eat & Drink


Photo: Amy Dickerson

Cocktails at Artillery.

Housed in an elegant 1896 Venetian Gothic building—once the munitions storehouse for the Georgia Hussars—this intimate cocktail den elevates both the drinks, such as the Bit of a Pickle (gin, white balsamic, lemon juice, cucumber, and fresh dill), and the atmosphere, with a set of house rules designed to keep things dignified. Cell phones must be silenced, no flip-flops, and no shots. In other words, raucous bachelor parties should look elsewhere. 307 Bull St.;

Back in the Day Bakery

Even after fifteen years and two best-selling cookbooks, Cheryl and Griffith Day still flick on the lights every morning around four o’clock and start baking Chocolate Heaven cakes, sweet-potato-and-herb hand pies, and sourdough baguettes from scratch. It’s become a rite of passage among Savannah families to bring in babies for their first “newborn”—a one-bite old-fashioned vanilla cupcake that’s a gateway for good things to come. 2403 Bull St.;

Baby cakes at Back in the Day Bakery.

B’s Cracklin’ BBQ

When a fire destroyed the original B’s, the community rallied around pit master Bryan Furman to get him back in front of a smoker as soon as possible. From his new location inside an unassuming strip mall, Furman is back to serving succulent pork pulled from heritage hogs and slathered in South Carolina–style mustard sauce, with not-to-be-overlooked sides such as hash and rice and cracklings-flecked cornbread. 12409 White Bluff Rd.;

The Collins Quarter

Photo: Amy Dickerson

A lavender mocha at the Collins Quarter.

Even, or maybe especially, after a long night, Savannahians brave the line for brunch at Aussie Anthony Debreceny’s bistro. A flat white espresso or a bracing Bloody offers a welcome jolt before you tuck into the savory avocado smash or a reinterpretation of biscuits and gravy with poached eggs and fennel-apple slaw that fills you up without weighing you down. 151 Bull St.;

Cotton & Rye

Named in honor of two of Georgia’s top crops, this old midcentury bank, complete with a private dining space inside a steel vault, serves smart seasonal dishes like herby panzanella and crab-stuffed Carolina trout. Always on the menu: a large slate of small-batch bourbons and the best cheese board in town, piled high with the likes of Sweet Grass Dairy’s Thomasville Tomme and Asher Blue, house-made sausages, pâtés, and pickled veggies. 1801 Habersham St.;

Elizabeth on 37th

For more than thirty-five years, Savannahians have marked all manner of anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and other milestones inside this grand Greek Revival mansion. Once off the beaten path, the culinary landmark now stands firmly at the center of the artsy Starland District’s renaissance. Chef Kelly Yambor carries on founder Elizabeth Terry’s commitment to fresh coastal cuisine rooted deeply in Southern tradition, and the Butch brothers’ wine list is one of the country’s best. 105 E. 37th St.;

The Florence  

Chef Hugh Acheson’s first foray into Savannah marries the flavors of the South with the artful dishes of Tuscany. Executive chef Kyle Jacovino’s rotating menu might feature a silken farm egg starter with nduja sausage and polenta, whole-roasted fish with Carolina Gold rice, or duck cannelloni with tomatoes and garlic crema, and the bar has become one of the city’s chief gathering spots before and after gallery openings and the First Friday Art March. 1 W. Victory Dr.;

Photo: Amy Dickerson

Skillet scallops at the Florence.

The Grey

The partnership between restaurateur Johno Morisano and chef Mashama Bailey was a game changer for the city’s foodscape. Together, the duo transformed a Jim Crow–era Greyhound bus station into a reckoning of the South’s—and Savannah’s—culinary heritage. Guests are welcome to a quick bite (order the red rice cakes) and a drink (try the El Diablo) at the sleek front-of-house bar. Better yet, settle in for an unhurried, multicourse experience in the main dining room, where sharing is not only encouraged but expected. 109 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.;

Husk (coming soon)

Last year, whispers began circulating as the sound of construction crews spilled onto the sidewalk from the once-darkened windows of a Federal-style clubhouse on Oglethorpe Avenue. Could it be true? Could Sean Brock, Charleston, South Carolina’s wunderkind of the Ossabaw Island hog and Sea Island field pea, really be opening his next incarnation of Husk right here in our river city? We’ll get our first taste later this year. 12 W. Oglethorpe Ave.

Leopold’s Ice Cream

Photo: Amy Dickerson

An ice cream break at Leopold’s.

As of last year, you no longer have to wait in Leopold’s ever-present line or even be in Savannah to enjoy its famed frozen hot cocoa or tutti-frutti. Stratton and Mary Leopold recently expanded the local institution, launching an off-site creamery that ships pints and soon opening a second shop. Still, nothing beats the in-parlor experience of an oversize ball of Chocolate Chewies & Cream dripping down a sugar cone at the Broughton Street flagship. 212 E. Broughton St.;

Rocks on the Roof

You won’t find a better view of the city than from this tapas-and-cocktail spot atop the Bohemian Hotel on Bay Street, where, along with an orange-infused margarita or a Georgia peach Bellini, guests can drink in (so to speak) an illuminated Talmadge Memorial Bridge as a harbor pilot gently guides a freighter up the Savannah River. 102 W. Bay St.;

The Wyld

Tucked at the end of a gravel road along an offshoot of the Herb River, this fish shack’s rustic exterior belies the inspired cocktails and fresh seafood you’ll find inside. It’s one of the few waterside-dining options beyond heavily tourist-trafficked River Street and nearby Tybee Island. Chef Tony Seichrist’s dive is cherished by residents who come by land (and sea) to savor ceviche, fish tacos, and sparkling sangria. 2740
Livingston Ave.;

Photo: Amy Dickerson

The Wyld’s bocce pit.

Where to Sleep

The Gastonian

This gracious compound, composed of two Regency-Italianate mansions just off Forsyth Park, defies frilly stereo-
types, opting instead for sophisticated, spacious suites with large private baths, veranda access, and nary a crocheted doily in sight. A late-afternoon cocktail hour and after-dinner cordials affirm Savannah’s reputation as the Hostess City of the South. 220 E. Gaston St.;

Photo: Amy Dickerson

Biking through Forsyth Park.

The Kimpton Brice

The contemporary cool of this boutique hotel is tempered by the neighborly nature of its staff—ever ready with a dog biscuit for four-legged guests. The former Coca-Cola bottling plant sits on one of the city’s original squares, with a private courtyard garden, bikes available for exploring, and books throughout the literary-inspired lobby.  Don’t miss brunch at Pacci, where the lemon ricotta pancakes are worth every calorie. 601 E. Bay St.;

Where to Shop

Alex Raskin Antiques

The building alone is a historic showpiece. Inside, the faded palace is packed with antiques, oddities, and ephemera—the best of which might take some digging to unearth. Fair warning: The irascible owner would rather you walk away than haggle over the price of that  nineteenth-century Heywood Brothers wicker chair. 441 Bull St.;

Photo: Amy Dickerson

Treasure hunting at Alex Raskin Antiques.


Speckled with acid-green confetti or marbled in black and white, Krewe’s pop-art-style sunglasses evoke the joie de vivre of New Orleans, where Stirling Barrett founded his eyewear company in 2013. (Fans include Beyoncé, Reese Witherspoon, and the sisters Fanning.) He opened his first shop outside the Big Easy in Savannah late last year, in recognition of the kinship between the two Southern port cities. 216 W. Broughton St.;

Photo: Amy Dickerson

Sunglasses shopping at Krewe.

The Paris Market

Magical window displays draw you in to this stylish emporium that is part apothecary, part home-goods boutique, and part café with fizzy Italian sodas and French macarons. Like the international bazaars where owner Paula Danyluk seeks inspiration (and wares), the Paris Market is an easy place to lose track of time. 36 W. Broughton St.; 

Roots Up Gallery

Francis Allen and Leslie Lovell don’t care much for rules—especially when it comes to art. Their shared love of folk and outsider art blossomed into this downtown gallery, where patrons will find a mix of legacy works by artists such as Howard Finster as well as contemporary pieces by the likes of local artist Panhandle Slim. 6 E. Liberty St.;

What to See & Do

Ellis Square

A microcosm of Savannah life, Ellis Square, at the intersection of East Congress and Barnard Streets, was almost lost forever, another piece of paradise paved for a parking lot.
Following a 2010 reclamation, the plaza once again teems with children playing in the splash fountain, buskers serenading on guitars and trumpets, and lunchtime loungers soaking up the sunshine—a living ode to the power of preservation.

Pin Point Heritage Museum

After a series of hurricanes battered Savannah’s sea islands in the late 1800s, freed African slaves migrated to the secluded inland shores of the Moon River and founded Pin Point. Their descendants made a living off the land and water, quietly isolated for more than a hundred years until the development of Skidaway Island in the 1970s. Today, the old A. S. Varn & Son Oyster and Crab Factory—once the community’s largest employer—is part of a museum complex dedicated to Gullah Geechee history. 9924 Pin Point Ave.;

SCAD Museum of Art
Thanks to the clever melding of contemporary architecture with the ruins of a circa-1853 railroad depot, the building is a fitting home for the main museum at one of the country’s top
art schools. Inside, the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art displays an expansive permanent assemblage that spans more than 140 years, while the style gallery  show-
cases the couture designs of such international icons as Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera. And exhibitions such as Michael Joo’s Sapelo Island–inspired installation are always on rotation. 601 Turner Blvd.;

Telfair Museums

The Telfair Academy, the Owens-Thomas House, and the Jepson Center for the Arts make up the three prongs of the Telfair, the oldest public art museum in the Southeast. This celebrated triptych has grown in stature in recent years, hosting an exhibit on the influence of Claude Monet and another on the paintings of Winston Churchill. What to see now: mixed-media artist Nick Cave’s soundsuits and William Wegman’s photographs. 207 W. York St.;


Closely packed fish shacks and Victorian shotguns, washed in Easter-egg pastels, lend this small shrimping community on the Wilmington Rivera quaintness reminiscent of Key West before the cruise ships arrived. Head just over the river from tranquil Bonaventure Cemetery—the final resting place for the songwriter Johnny Mercer and the poet Conrad Aiken—and stop at Nelson’s Quality Company for a pound or two fresh off the boat. Or let the cooks at Desposito’s boil some peel ’n’ eats for you—and don’t forget to order the deviled crab.

Photo: Amy Dickerson

Shrimp boats moored to the docks in Thunderbolt.