Savannah Essentials

Eat, drink, and be merry with this guide of local favorite hot spots.

Food and Drink Essentials

PICK UP PARTY FOOD

Parker's Market
222 Drayton St.
912-233-1000
Few places make it easier to throw a cocktail party on the fly or to be a thoughtful guest. In addition to convenient store basics, this European-style grocery stocks imported cheeses and an impressive variety of specialty foods, fine wines, fresh flowers, even great hostess gifts. You can gas up your car and shop 24 hours a day, so Parker’s is perfect in a pinch.

SCORE A LATE-NIGHT BITE

Vinnie Van Go-Go’s
317 W. Bryan St.
912-233-6394
This downtown pizzeria has a cash-only policy, but the enormous Neapolitan slices and beer in plastic cups are served until 11:30 p.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends. The sidewalk seating offers great people-watching and a dose of heavy metal blaring from the kitchen.

SIP A LATTE

The Sentient Bean
13 Park Ave.
912-232-4447
Located on the south end of Forsyth Park, this coffeehouse attracts earnest types who buy organic, fair-trade coffee beans and attend the joint’s poetry readings and live performances. A charming garden out back and long wooden tables strewn with daily newspapers inside encourage patrons to linger.

Nightlife Essentials

ENJOY DOWN-HOME DINING

Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House
107 W. Jones St.
912-232-5997
Until a few years ago, there was no sign to mark the entrance to this pint-sized local institution. But that didn’t stop a line of patrons from queuing up for lunch every weekday from 11-2 as they have since 1943. Served in seatings of 10 around large oilcloth-covered tables, the meal is reminiscent of Sunday lunch at Grandma’s: you serve yourself from platters of fried chicken, black-eyed peas, sweet potato souffle, squash and biscuits, eat till you’re full, then take your plate to the kitchen when you’re done.

TAKE FIDO TO THE BAR

The Olde Pink House
23 Abercorn St.
912-232-4286
Odd as it may sound, a third sports bar with an outdoor garden has recently been added onto this revered restaurant housed in a 200-year-old Georgian mansion. Dogs are welcome every Saturday as well as the first Tuesday of each month for the “Yappy Hour” cocktail social from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Staffers provide treats and water for the dogs.

GRAB A BEER

Moon River Brewing Company
21 W. Bay St.
912-447 0943
Savannah’s only microbrewery is housed in an old hotel. Friends meet there after work and order the beer sampler: five small glasses of the house brews like Wild Wacky Wit, a white beer spiced with Curacao, orange peel and coriander. Second choice: Pinkie Masters (318 Drayton St., 912-238-0447), a smoky, wood-paneled dive, offers $2 tallboy PBRs to its fun-loving clientele of power brokers, reporters, painters, politicians, mechanics and college kids.

SPLURGE ON DINNER

Elizabeth on 37th
105 E. 37th St.
912-236-5547
Elizabeth Terry pioneered her highly lauded brand of Low Country cooking in this neoclassical 1900s villa. Although she’s no longer the chef, the restaurant is the quintessential dining experience in Savannah.

SAVOR A NIGHTCAP

Planters Tavern
23 Abercorn St.
912-232-4286
All after-dinner paths eventually lead to this cozy subterranean bar with two fireplaces and a nightly pianist.

Entertainment Essentials

HAVE FREE FUN

First Saturday Arts on the River
On the first Saturday of every month, follow the cobbled roads down to the waterfront, where you can browse artist booths and souvenir stores. When you’re ready for candy instead of high culture, pop into River Street Sweets (13 E. River St.) and Savannah’s Candy Kitchen (225 E. River St.) for a free -- and generous -- sample of decadent Southern sweets like pralines and divinity.

TAKE THE KIDS

Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout Museum
10 E. Oglethorpe Ave.
912-233-4501
Book one of the Girl Scout Discovery Tours through Old Town Trolley services, which includes a stop here, the birthplace of the founder of Girl Scouts, and a scavenger hunt, for which Brownies and Girl Scouts can earn a badge.

SHOP FOR NEAT OLD STUFF

Peddler Jim’s Antiques
526 Turner Blvd.
912-233-6642
You’ll need stamina to find the old thingamajig you’re hunting, because Peddler Jim’s is packed to the rafters with cool treasures like vintage clothing and jewelry and old glassware.

TRAVEL WITHOUT LEAVING TOWN

The Paris Market & Brocante
36 W. Broughton St.
912-232-1500
Floor-to-ceiling windows wrap this two-story French-inspired lifestyle boutique. The place carries old vitrines, chandeliers, absinthe decanters and porcelain antlers. Moneyed designers and visiting celebrities check in for a quick espresso from the in-house cafe before heading downstairs to a showroom for larger furniture and found objects.

TAP UP-AND-COMING TALENT

shopSCAD
340 Bull St.
912-525-5180
This boutique is filled to capacity with fine art and artlike goods created by Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) students, faculty and alumni. Check out the handmade journals by Donovan Beeson, wallpaper sketchbooks from Working Class Studio and sterling-silver twig barrettes by Allyson Ross.

GET A HISTORY LESSON

First African Baptist Church
23 Montgomery St.
912-233-6597
First African Baptist Church, on Franklin Square, is the home of the first African-American Baptist church in North America and a somber reminder of the South’s tarnished history. The brown-and and-cream stucco edifice, built by slaves in the mid-1800s, is said to have been an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Guided tours shed light on artifacts, such as air holes reputedly carved into the floor for slaves hiding below the sanctuary.

CATCH A ROCK BAND

Jinx
127 W. Congress St.
912-236-2281
Formerly known as the Velvet Elvis, this music venue mixes it up nightly with live acts of all stripes, from honky-tonk to '80s metal and hip-hop.

FIND A FIRST EDITION BOOK

The Book Lady
6 E. Liberty St.
912-233-3628
Rare books, signed first editions and new and used issues keep a strong loyal clientele returning. The pair of working fireplaces and tons of cozy nooks are an attraction, too.

Outdoor Essentials

GET SOME EXERCISE

Tom Triplett Community Park
U.S. Highway 80 W.
912-652-6780
This well-kept park is a happy surprise situated near the airport between Garden City and Pooler. There’s a paved jogging and fitness track around the pond, hiking trails and a disk golf park for Frisbee fanatics. Also check out: Forsyth Park, on the cusp of the historic district downtown. In-line skaters, dog-walkers and joggers favor this grid of green in the old town.

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