Over the past few years, the culinary scene in my hometown of Savannah has taken off. Fine dining restaurants like The Grey and Common Thread have garnered media attention nationwide and elevated the standard in the local food and beverage scene.
In September of 2022, Travel and Leisure declared that The Hostess City — Savannah’s nickname — "has become one of the American South's most exciting food destinations," and noted that "over a relatively short period, this U.S. city has evolved into a foodie mecca."
When scouring a new city for the best food joints, it's best to look to where locals are eating for a good frame of reference.
Here are eleven restaurants where locals actually eat so you can fill your belly while avoiding the tourist traps. From farm-to-table fine dining establishments to hole-in-the-wall delis, there's a destination for every appetite.
Colleagues + Lovers
Address: 4523 Habersham St., Savannah, GA
Why You Need To Go: Colleagues + Lovers is the newest addition to Midtown's Habersham Village and was brought to the neighborhood by the same folks who are responsible for vibrant Downtown bars like Savoy Society.
This restaurant and cocktail bar serves flavorful small plates and craft drinks. The stylish space has a laid-back vibe that is perfect for after-work bites or a savory nightcap to conclude a lively night around town.
Their menu has a variety of dishes, from flatbreads with green salsa and chorizo meatballs to seared queso and ceviche. They even make their own pasta.
Address: 11 E 41st St., Savannah, GA
Why You Need To Go: This casual lunch spot — located in a Victorian home in the Starland District — has been serving the community during lunch breaks for more than 20 years.
The place specializes in creative paninis, soups, and salads with unmatched freshness. The "Goat Bomb" is a popular menu item featuring a goat cheese ball nestled in a bowl of tomato Thai soup, served with grilled ciabatta points for dipping.
Starland Cafe's homemade dip, spreads, and salad dressings elevate the menu items. Wash down your meal with their famous Earl Grey sweet iced tea.
Address: 217 W Liberty St., Savannah, GA
Why You Need To Go: This family-run, casual Italian eatery is a hidden gem located in the heart of the Downtown Historic District.
Here you can find the best homemade pasta in town, served with from-scratch sauces and savory sides. Their selection of house-made ravioli is worth the trip Downtown alone.
The friendly service and intentionally cooked meals makes a visit to Frali Gourmet feel like you're stopping by your honorary Italian grandmother’s house. Try the beet, gorgonzola, walnut, and ricotta ravioli with the Mascarpone and sausage sauce.
Cuban Window Cafe
Address: 1116 Abercorn St., Savannah, GA
Why You Need To Go: After closing down for a short stint, Cuban Window Cafe is back and as good as ever.
Located in the side building adjacent to the El Cheapo gas station, a Miami couple opened Cuban Window Cafe to serve unfussy breakfast combo plates and pressed Cuban sandwiches.
The bright pink building with a walk-up window serves specials like the Mojo Pork plates with rice, beans, and plantains, or my favorite, the Media Noche sandwich that's stacked with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, served on sweet bread.
Their grab-and-go selection also offers traditional menu items like empanadas, pastelitos, and arepas.
Address: 122 E 37th St., Savannah, GA
Why You Need To Go: Located Downtown in an old, renovated Victorian home, Common Thread specializes in farm-to-table cuisine crafted with local produce, fresh oysters and seafood, and hand-crafted cocktails.
You can reserve a table for an intimate dinner date or climb the grand staircase, which leads to a more casual bar area where you can enjoy small plates.
Their wine list is extensive and thoughtfully curated, and their food menu rotates frequently based on the seasons. You can experience true Southern hospitality from their service staff, who are both friendly and knowledgeable.
Address: 147 Abercorn St., Savannah, GA
Why You Need To Go: PJ's Thai serves home-cooked Asian cuisine in a quaint corner shop. Their meals are both savory and exceptionally fresh.
This is the perfect little spot for a meal that's both healthy and flavorful. Their fresh Thai basil rolls filled with vegetables, fresh herbs, and tofu are the perfect way to start your meal.
The spice in their green curry dish balances perfectly with the earthy eggplant and bamboo shoots. Finish off your meal with their mango sticky rice, which is covered in sweet coconut cream.
Narobia's Grits & Gravy
Address: 2019 Habersham St., Savannah, GA
Why You Need To Go: Narobia's Grits & Gravy is a Savannah staple. This family-run breakfast joint has served homemade Southern food to the community for years.
The spot recently reopened to everyone's delight as they renovated and expanded the space to accommodate more hungry customers. Narobia's is an ideal early morning spot to start your day with coffee and their famous grits or French toast.
Al Salaam Deli
Address: 2311 Habersham St., Savannah, GA
Why You Need To Go: Tucked away in a small brick building just outside of the Starland District, Al Salaam serves affordable wraps and sandwiches to locals looking for a quick fix.
Their authentic gyros and kabobs provide a filling lunch without breaking the bank. The small shop is covered in vintage National Geographic covers, which creates a unique and eccentric vibe in this Mediterranean staple joint.
Big Bon Bodega
Address: 2011 Bull St., Savannah, GA
Why You Need To Go: Big Bon is essential to Savannah's breakfast scene. The place is a bagel shop by day and becomes a takeaway pizza joint at night, serving wood-fired offerings to hungry locals looking for their carb fix.
The friendly staff works efficiently in the bustling environment, where ingredients are fresh and meals are affordable. You can't go wrong with their Bodega Brew oat milk cold brew and one of their famous bagel breakfast sandwiches.
Green Truck Pub
Address: 2430 Habersham St., Savannah, GA
Why You Need To Go: Green Truck Pub is famous for serving some of the best burgers and fries in town. Their creative specials feature a variety of local and seasonal ingredients, and their heaping salads are perfect for a more healthy alternative.
The cozy environment makes for a great spot for a quick lunch, and they are accommodating to special diets with their vegan burger patty, which can be subbed in place of meat on any of their sandwiches. You can't go wrong trying their daily burger-of-the-day special, which is always inventive.
Address: 48 Whitaker St., Savannah, GA
Why You Need To Go: This destination, right around the corner from Savannah's famous Broughton Street, is half French bistro and half pub.
The fine dining side offers traditional French classic cuisine, while the cozy pub side with stained glass dividers is perfect for a more laid-back, intimate drink after a long day at work. Their staff is lively, and the walls are decorated with Art Nouveau posters and decor.
The Gruyere burger with au jus sauce and truffle fries, which can only be ordered on the pub side of the restaurant, is one of the best in town.