Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room (Savannah, GA)
On one of our visits together out in San Diego in 2010, we wandered into a used book store and picked up a copy of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Life List, by Patricia Schultz. While we aren’t using it as a guidebook on our travels, we do peruse its selections for the states we visit in case something catches our eye.
Before heading to Georgia, we checked the book and saw that 3 of the 4 listings for the state were located in Savannah, including one for a lunch spot known as Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. Edie had been on a previous trip to Savannah, and after reading a description of the place, Scott was also ready to visit without need for any arm-twisting.
Mrs. Wilkes is located in the Historic District of Savannah, easily found on Jones Street by the line of people forming outside before the first guests are ushered in at 11:00 a.m., Monday through Friday. Without the line, you’re likely to miss it since the sign out front is fairly small. However the line is all you need – and great proof of the experience that is Mrs. Wilkes! [For more info on the restaurant and its history, definitely check out its website.]
The restaurant has 2 large rooms that hold only tables of ten. The greeter at the door asks for the number in your party and then directs you to one of the tables where your other lunch companions for the day may be tourists or locals.
On our visit, there were 2 couples from Utah, a couple from Michigan and two women from Ohio, plus your favorite 2 Kentucky travelers. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and hear how they came to visit this Savannah institution…or in our case, a chance to tell new people about our little adventure!
I suppose that it is possible, though highly unlikely, that one could go to Mrs. Wilkes and leave hungry, but you’d have to be either allergic to every food known to man or the pickiest person on Earth. There were literally 24 bowls and platters of meats and side dishes, plus full glasses of sweet tea, awaiting us when we sat down at our table. And then the server brought around a platter of biscuits and corn muffins.
Unlike our other reviews, we cannot possibly review every dish we tried or this post would get even longer than it already is. However just so you can see the incredible variety, I will at least list out all of the dishes available on our table that day (in addition to the breads and beverages):
If you like Southern-style cuisine and you like the dishes listed above, then you will be as thrilled with the food at Mrs. Wilkes as we were. The dishes were all cooked perfectly for this style of food. Of course we both had our favorites though – Scott loved the meat loaf and the candied yams, and Edie loved the fried chicken and macaroni & cheese!
To finish out the meal, the servers bring around trays of dessert. On our visit it was banana pudding and peach cobbler. We made it easy, got one of each and split them both. Again – YUM!
As illustrated by the picture above, the food and the drinks were already pre-set, but we did have servers who were friendly and attentive to any additional needs we might have. You want a drink other than sweet tea? Done. The bowl of yams or the platter of chicken is empty? Refilled. All the peach cobbler got picked off the tray before it came to you? Banana pudding removed and peach cobbler substituted, stat!
In addition, the servers come around to clear the serving dishes off the table (perhaps a little too efficiently for Scott…), but remember this is a true “family-style” spot. You pick up your own plate, glass and utensils to take to the kitchen before heading up to pay!
You pay $16 per person (plus tip) for the all-you-can-eat array of incredible Southern cuisine – pricier than a Golden Corral for sure, but much, much, much better food and company!
The Doggy Bag, By Knox
Thus it is no surprise that I was a bit excited to test out a bite or ten of fried chicken and biscuits. Since most restaurants aren’t progressive enough to allow dogs yet, it was forgivable when my folks didn’t take me in with them to eat. But returning empty-handed? No doggy bag, no to-go box…not even a few morsels stashed inside a napkin? What injustice!!! Call the ASCPA – this is pooch abuse!