The next time you're near Savannah, try one of our favorite laid-back seafood joints.

Depositos Seafood Restaurant
There aren't many tables in Desposito's, but you can just about guarantee that each of them will sport a steaming platter of crabs, crab legs, or shrimp.
| Credit: Gary Clark

At sunset, this wood-and-brick building begins glowing like a psychedelic jack-o'-lantern. Aged but buzzing neon beer signs beckon those in search of fresh seafood in the coastal community of Thunderbolt.

Owner David Boone says Desposito's is held together with spit and baling wire. "And hopes and prayers," he adds. He should know. He's been here since he was a kid, when his stepfather, Carlo Desposito, first took over this institution in 1965. And David was there when his mother, Walton, passed him the reins and the recipe to the secret house sauce about 25 years ago.

People would holler at the incoming platters of steamed blue crabs or boiled shrimp (mostly hauled in from the Georgia coast) if they weren't reading the sheets of the Savannah Morning News that double as tablecloths. "The publisher eats here," says David. "He likes to see his paper on the table."

A Quick Note on the Sauce
I do a pinkie-dip taste of the house sauce and nearly shoo it away. Nothing cocktail-y about it. I compare it to a mustard-based barbecue sauce. (It reminds me of the stuff I've slathered on chopped pork in the Carolinas.) But it complements the first shrimp and then the second. Soon I'm ordering an extra cup of the stuff.

Of course, David's lips tighten at my ingredients' inquiry. "That's Carlo Desposito's secret recipe," says David. "It has been around for 40-plus years. And I'm not telling what's in it."

Desposito's: 187 Old Tybee Road, Thunderbolt, GA 31410; (912) 897-9963. Hours: 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, noon-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Directions from Savannah: Take U.S. 80 towards Tybee Island. Cross the first bridge and turn left onto Old Tybee Road.

When I Need a Fried Shrimp Fix
I only eat fried shrimp occasionally, but when I'm near Savannah and craving the critters, I find myself at Holton's. The Georgia white shrimp are lightly battered and quickly fried, and you can't beat the location―just off I-95 at Exit 76.

Editor's tip: Skip the buffet (there's no seafood on it) but not the fries. They're hand-cut and crunchy, because they've been dipped in the seafood batter. 13711 Oglethorpe Highway, Midway, GA 31320; (912) 884-9151. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Directions from Savannah: Get on I-95 South. Get off at Exit 76. Look for the parking lot full of cars.