Editor's Pick: Cha Bella
This restaurant was my last stop in Savannah, and I was stuffed. Actually, "engorged" would probably be a better way to put it. So when I say I ate everything Cha Bella put in front of me, I mean it was good. First, the menu is almost entirely organic. You can taste the freshness in dishes such as the daily risotto, which, when I visited, was a buttery masterpiece packed with shredded pork, tomatoes, and fragrant thyme. I also devoured a flaky halibut entrée complemented by a spicy apricot sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, carrots, grapes, and green beans. Dinner ended with a warm oatmeal-and-chocolate-chip cookie sandwich filled with vanilla ice cream (I ate all of that too). 102 East Broad Street; www.cha-bella.com or (912) 790-7888. Entrées:$8-$30.
Best Bakery: B. Matthew's Bakery & Eatery
Shabby in the chicest sense, B. Matthew's is in an old building and toots old music ("A String of Pearls" was playing when I sat down for lunch). The staff is young, sassy, and garbed in T-shirts that read "Good enough to make you wanna slap your mama." My mother's face was in no danger as I ate a "famous" black-eyed pea cake sandwich, which was pretty much just a mush of peas, albeit on delicious bread. So I almost gave up on B. Matthew's, but they redeemed themselves with a bacon-cherry tomato-and-blue cheese pasta salad that "blue" me away. A simple smoked turkey sandwich with Cheddar and green apples made the perfect lunchtime meal. Desserts left me reeling: gorgeous baked pies, cookies, cakes, and the fluffiest wagon wheel of a cinnamon roll I've ever tasted. Sorry, Mom. 325 East Bay Street; (912) 233-1319. Lunch entrées: $3.95-$6.95.
Local Favorite: Firefly Cafe
You'll love the delicious spinach salad kissed with goat cheese, cranberries, candied pecans, jicama, and a cranberry-maple vinaigrette--very light and colorful. Next, go heavy. Order the dressed up mac and cheese. Thin strips of chicken and broccoli sit in creamy harmony with smooth pasta. Finish lunch with a peach bread pudding topped with enough ice cream and cinnamon to please any palate. 321 Habersham Street; (912) 234-1971. Entrées: $13.95-$18.95.
Find of the Month: United House Prayer for All People and Masada Café
If you want real Southern soul food and are prepared for a bit of adventure, come to this church on West Bay Street. Yes, it's a church. Listen to me here: It isn't fancy, but this is a holy cafeteria. Opt for either the juiciest, greasiest, crunchiest fried chicken in Savannah or the densest, most delicious country fried steak in the world. Want a healthier option? Go elsewhere. Texas Pete comes in giant squirt bottles on the plastic-covered tables, and you'll need it for any recognizable vegetable, all of which were pretty bland. All, that is, except the Savannah red rice. I've eaten red rice in some of the best restaurants in town, and brother, they pale--I mean suffer--by comparison to the Masada Café's version (which I suggest you have smothered with their oxtail gravy). Call it a day with the German chocolate cake; then waddle home. 2301 West Bay Street; (912) 236-9499. Dinner for two about $15.
"Food Finds: Surprises in Savannah" is from the January 2007 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.