After eating and drinking my way through Charleston earlier in the week, Savannah really had a lot to live up to. And what better way to experience the local cuisine than with a food tour?! Note: If you ever visit the South and don’t leave 5 pounds heavier, you’re doing it all wrong.
Unless you count London pub crawls (I don’t), I had never really been on a food tour before. We only had 48 hours to spend in Savannah so doing a food tour was a great way to try out several local eateries as well as walking around and getting to know the city.
The Savannah Taste Experience is a wonderful new company started by brothers Stu and Donald Card. Their passion for the great Hostess City really shines through their tours where they’ve handpicked some of the best locally owned restaurants and shops. No restaurant chains allowed!
I decided to go on the First Squares Food Tour which took me along the riverfront and through the historic downtown. This three hour taste tour allowed me to learn quite a bit about Savannah’s history while strolling through gardens and past famous landmarks. Our guide Katie was so energetic, enthusiastic, and very easy to listen to. Okay enough gushing, let’s get on with the food!
Stop #1: Rocks on the River in the Bohemian Hotel
This first restaurant was right on the riverfront with some lovely views. Of course I was too busy digging into my she-crab soup to take any pictures so you’ll just have to take my word for it. She-crab soup is a popular dish in the South and is more of a creamy soup (similar to a bisque if you want to get all fancy) with yes, you guessed it, crab. It was very light and flavorful. Not too fishy which is a good thing for me. Whew, thank god I’m not a food critic. We’re off to a great start here. Stick around.
Stop #2: Tondee’s Tavern
Tondee’s Tavern holds a special place in my heart. It is here that I had my first drink of many on this day. Keep in mind, it was barely noon. When in Rome, right?
It really wouldn’t be a proper Southern food tour without some shrimp and grits. But more importantly, turn your attention to that red drink in the background. You can’t leave Savannah without trying some good old Chatham Artillery Punch. Not for the faint hearted. You’ve been warned.
Stop #3: Molly MacPherson’s Pub
This was my first time stepping into a pub since leaving London last May so I was already sold. The Scottish owner was incredibly friendly and I enjoyed getting to know him and the rest of our group while tasting a hearty meat pie with gravy. After sampling two seafood dishes before this (and all throughout Charleston), I appreciated some variety.
Stop #4: B&D Burgers
At this point it would have been a bit too ambitious to actually eat a burger so we went for the classic fried green tomatoes. I am not the correct person to review this dish because I’ve hated tomatoes my entire life. However, everyone kept telling me how different this would be from those evil red ones so I dug in. I didn’t hate it which meant that it was either the best fried green tomato ever made or that I’ll just eat anything fried. I washed it down with Tybee Tea which is named after Tybee Island in Georgia. It consists of lemonade, unsweetened tea, and vodka… and yes it was still only the afternoon. It was such a big drink that I had to carry it with me to the next stop. Classy. Also, big thanks to the Savannah Historic District for allowing me to consume alcohol on the street.
Stop #5: Mabel’s Cupcake Emporium
Possibly everyone’s favorite stop because who doesn’t love cupcakes? Don’t even answer that question because I don’t want to know. We can’t be friends. Our guide Katie happily served us our cake batter with buttercream frosting cupcakes which everyone inhaled in about 30 seconds. I’m not exaggerating and I promise it wasn’t just the alcohol, but that cupcake was probably the best one I’ve ever tasted. And I live in Los Angeles where I’m surrounded by Sprinkles. If you know what I’m referring to then that’s really saying something.
Stop #6: The Salt Table
My first thought was “Really? We’re going to taste salt?” In the end I was thankful. Not only did they know at this point we’d be very full but this was also a very unique shop to browse. My favorite salts were the Ghost Pepper Sea Salt (very HOT) and the Smoked Bacon Sea Salt. There was also plenty of different iced teas (alcohol free, thank god) to try and even some popcorn.
Last stop: Savannah Bee Company
This place was just so damn charming. I probably would’ve walked in on my own even without taking this tour. Other than knowing where it comes from, I’m really no honey expert so this was very entertaining for me. We sampled Tupelo, Sourwood, Acacia, Orange Blossom, and Wildflower honey if that means anything to you honey enthusiasts out there. There was also a lovely board passed around with apple slices, honey, and cheese for everyone. It was a great way to end the tour.
However, it didn’t end there for me because I was meeting up with tour owners Stu and Donald here. What I didn’t know was that they would graciously treat me to a mead tasting. That’s right, more alcohol.
For those of you not familiar with mead (I certainly wasn’t), it’s basically fermented honey with water. People often call it “honey-wine” and rightfully so. I’m not sophisticated enough to be that into wine yet but this was surprisingly very tasty. We sampled five different kinds with all unique flavors infused with fruits and spices, some dry and some sweet. I definitely preferred the sweeter ones.
As you can hopefully tell, I thoroughly enjoyed my food tour with the Savannah Taste Experience. I had a feeling I’d enjoy sampling different foods but did not expect to have that much fun with a group of strangers. One of my favorite parts about travel is interacting with people from all around the world who are just as passionate about traveling or… food! If any of you visit Savannah, I wholeheartedly recommend this tour. I’d especially recommend taking it at the beginning of your trip as the perfect way to start off your adventures.
Have any of you been on a food tour before? What are your thoughts? Side note: I’ll be attending the Los Angeles Times Travel Show this Friday & Sunday. Let me know below if any of you will be there!