First, full disclosure- when I knew that I was going to be visiting Savannah for a familiarization tour for the Publix Savannah Women’s Half Marathon, the first thing I did was contact the Savannah Taste Experience Food Tour. I told them I was coming and expressed interest in their famous food tour. They offered me a spot on a Saturday afternoon tour. I just want to clarify that up front- while I was given a complimentary ticket for the tour, all opinions and thoughts of the experience are my own.
OK- with that out of the way…….there is no other better way to see a city than through its food. I believe that food is the heart of every culture, experience and memory of any travel. The easiest way to a traveler’s heart is through their stomach. Food is everything. In four years, The Savannah Taste Experience has shown over 10,000 visitors the heart of Savannah and its culture. They offer two tours- one is their First Squares Food Tour, prefect for first time visitors including stops at the Savannah Bee Company and the Salt Table, for honey and salt tastings. The other tour is what I went on – the Famous & Secret East Side Food Tour.
We first met at The Pirate’s House – one of Savannah’s oldest and most popular establishments. This is where Pirates would gather, get their drink on and scheme their next adventure. We began our tour with their world famous award winning Pecan Fried Chicken. Now, I will share most of what we ate (I don’t want to tell you everything- you have to have a few surprises when you do your own tour. Although, all the talk and pictures in the world will never replace tasting the real thing.)
The Pecan Fried Chicken is the Pirate’s House signature dish and though I eat mostly Vegetarian I could not resist a taste. Oh my Goodness. There is a reason this is popular and award winning. I think pecan sauce is going to be my new thing. And if this was just the start of the tour I could not wait to see what was next.
Each location is a short walk from one another with plenty of stops in many of the park squares that make Savannah famous. And plenty of history. We each square served a purpose for the city. Whether used as a community garden, wash basin or market, each square was meant to bring the community together.
Our second tour stop was Wall’s BBQ, a very hidden, off the beaten path joint for homemade family BBQ. This is the kind of place that would be featured on the Food Network or the Travel Channel as a hidden gem. Everyone on the tour enjoyed pulled BBQ, while us non-meat eaters sampled some sides.
I loved the fried okra and tomatoes along with the macaroni and cheese.
The first thing you notice walking into the small restaurant is the jumbled menu board on the front counter. Why are words jumbled? Ah, you must take the tour and find it. It’s clever.
The third stop is the 17Hundred90 Inn. The inn is one of the most haunted spots in Savannah. In just the short time we were in there, we saw two different bachelorette parties enter the bar. This is the only stop on our food tour that was confusing to me. We ate Salmon Salad Crostinis, an item that is not offered on the regular menu so I was confused as to why we were tasting it. I would have preferred something from the menu that would make me want to book a dinner reservation for later in the evening- something that would bring me back to enjoy the restaurant. This was the only place I was not sold on returning to.
Next we went to Fire Street Food and ate Shrimp Skewers. And they were magnificent.
Then we moved on to the world famous Zunzi’s Take Out. Thanks to the students of the Savannah College of Arts and Design, Zunzi’s has a line out the door everyday. However, the line moves very quickly and it is worth the short wait. Meat eaters on the tour experienced the Chicken Conquistador, a sandwich featured by Adam Richman on the Travel Channel. I enjoyed a sample of their hummus and pita bread – red peppers and dill hummus to be specific. Zunzi’s is at the top of my list of places to eat in Savannah and I understand why. Yum.
Our last and sweetest stop was at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen on the riverfront. As we watched the making of the famous Praline candies Savannah is known for, we got to sample them fresh and warm right from the latest batch. Of course, one cannot leave the shop without buying 15 dozen pecan praline candies. Seriously.
What I was most impressed about the entire tour, besides the food of course, is the knowledge of Lauren, our tour guide. She was so well versed in all things Savannah from the ghostly haunts to the architectural history to the best places to stay. What a great way to spend an afternoon picking the brain of a local and eating the best of the best fare Savannah has to offer.
This is so much more than just a food tour. You really get see some parts of Savannah that most tourists don’t find. The tour is also very accommodating from Vegans and Vegetarians to Gluten-Free, the Savannah Taste Experience offers food for everyone at every stop. I highly recommend this tour over any History tour, Ghost tour or walking tour the city has to offer as I feel like this is the best way to really explore Savannah. Thank you to Lauren and the Savannah Taste Experience for an amazing afternoon.
Visit the Savannah Taste Experience website for tour dates, prices and more information.
Have you taken the Savannah Taste Experience Food Tour? What did you think? What other cities have you explored via a food tour?