3.06.2008

My Without a Doubt Favorite Savannah Experience

The entire Savannah trip was wonderful and the memories made with my girlfriends will stay in my special heart place forever. There was much laughter, walking, silliness, appreciation of beauty and history, moments taken to reflect on God's blessings, coffee and of course food.

My favorite Savannah experience took place on Friday, our first full day spent in town. We started the morning with a trolley tour, hopping off and on here and there, enjoying the guides' entertaining stories. Later that morning, the trolley dropped us off a few blocks away from Home Cooking Heaven otherwise known as Mrs. Wilkes.

We made our way over to West Jones Street to take our place in line behind many other hungry souls. Mrs. Wilkes began serving meals out of her boardinghouse in 1943 in a modest brownstone in downtown Savannah. Today, her family still serves up delicious country cooking for lunch from 11:00 to 2:00.

We waited in line well over an hour, but that did not phase us at all. I think we each had a sneaky suspicion that we were in for something truly memorable. We passed the time by chatting with each other, talking to other hungry souls in line and taking pictures.

There was not even a sign in front of her restaurant until 1987. Before then it was just word of mouth between the locals and tourists "in the know". She wanted her establishment to truly reflect a home, and to her a sign did not seem like a home.

Mrs. Wilkes began her restaurant as a boardinghouse offering traditional Southern cuisine served in a family style setting. Her children and grandchildren are actively involved still today. As soon as you step inside you know you are in for something special. We noticed this sign beside the door and had to document it.

You immediately notice that this is not just any old restaurant. This is a place of history and even a bit of home. There are two small dining rooms filled with oval dining tables that each seat 10. As you are seated you take in the aromas of all of the delicious bowls of food already sitting on the table. I lost count of how many bowls were there, but I kid you not that I took a spoonful from each and piled my plate out to the rim! We decided we would try everything, even if we hadn't tried it before or mistakenly believed we didn't like it. Beside each place was a glass of sweet tea and there soon arrived a heaping plate of crispy, but tender fried chicken. I had run out of room and had to wait until I cleared some plate space off!

Since the tables seat 10, we had the privilege of sharing our lunch meal with a couple from New York, a couple from Minnesota and another lovely couple. Sitting together, passing the bowls around the table and eating together felt very much like a family. I could imagine the boarders years ago that may have stayed at Mrs. Wilkes for long periods of time, missing their home and families, and grateful for the home style setting she provided.

Take a deep breath. Here is the view of our table...

Another special touch that makes this restaurant different is that a prayer of thanks is offered before the 11:00 meal. Isn't that wonderful?

I can't remember when I have ever eaten a better meal. Seriously. Especially because I ate things I don't normally eat. About $12.00 bought you a full tummy of beef stew, black eyed peas, collard greens, barbecue pork, sweet creamed corn, potato salad, macaroni salad, cornbread dressing, butter beans, okra and tomato gumbo, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, rutabagas, mashed potatoes, cabbage, macaroni and cheese, delicate flaky biscuits, crispy fried chicken, sweet tea AND banana pudding.

It's a loud call for stretchy pants, isn't it?

Another aspect of the family style setting is that each diner is asked to carry his or her plate and glass to the kitchen. Isn't that great? Everybody has to do their part.

Of course, we each bought a cookbook with the hopes to recreate some of these memories back in Texas. Not sure I can pull it off, but I'd like to try.

As we loaded our plates and sated our appetites a gracious lady came by our table from time to time. We were struck by how personable she was. After we finished she stopped beside our table again and talked with us for a few minutes about girl trips, friendships and family. We were so touched that Mrs. Wilkes' grand-daughter, Marcia, took the time to chat with us and make us feel like a part of her family.


She was even so kind as to pose for a picture with us before we left.

My experience at Mrs. Wilkes is my favorite Savannah memory not only because of the delicious food, but because of the personal touches that made eating lunch there different. It was like nothing else I have ever experienced. If you ever visit Savannah you MUST take time to visit Marcia and the other family members at Mrs. Wilkes' House. Plan accordingly since they only serve lunch from 11:00 to 2:00, they only accept cash or checks and don't forget to wear your stretchy pants.

10 comments:

  1. Oh it looks like so much fun! I can't wait to see how the cookbook is!

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  2. I've really enjoyed your Savannah Series! Last night my mom gave me a travel magazine. One of the locations highlighted was Savannah!! hey, you should be a writer for them!! :)

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  3. Oh how fun, Holly!! I love it! That sounds like such a wonderful experience! I can't believe all that amazing food. I would love to go there some day.

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  4. hope you girls don't mind: I just linked to your savannah posts from my travel blog

    http://silken-placestogo.blogspot.com/2008/03/savannah.html

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  5. What a fun trip! YEAH for you!!

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  6. I have been loving your vacation recaps - especially the feet. This one was just awesome. What a cool restaurant experience. Must try it if I'm ever in that neck of the woods.

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  7. i love family style restaurants. i can't believe how many bowls were on the table!

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  8. Oh, I think I'd be sporting some serious sweats for that luncheon! Love-love-love the pink boas. What fun friends!

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  9. That place should sell stretchy pants! It sounds like such a one of a kind, wonderful restaurant!

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  10. I loved reading all of your Savannah posts! I especially liked the feet everywhere!

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