Sweet Potatoes, Savannah, GA

I’m a native Southerner. I often find myself traveling through the South when on vacation, even if it’s just to visit my folks in Greensboro, NC. And I find myself missing good ol’ Southern food when I’ve been unable to get back to the region for some time.

I just spent an entire year without leaving home for any significant length of time. We went to the beach for a few days around Christmas, and I took my son to a family event for a short weekend in Chicago back in January, but that has been all we could manage. This is unusual for my family. Due to health concerns we weren’t able to skip town until a few days ago, and we drove South at top speed as soon as we got the all-clear.

Right now, we’re en route to Florida, and we’re spending a night in Savannah, GA. You may know this town as the home of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, although my own early experiences of Savannah relate to its role as hometown of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts. If you’ve never been, it’s worth a detour: grand trees draped with moss, a lazy breeze off the water, and plantation-style architecture make for an unmistakably Southern town. The downtown is compact and walkable, with a strange mix of candy stores, daiquiri bars and really old authentic restaurants. Plus, it gets super-humid here, which alone indicates a Southern summer to me like nothing else.

We tried Sweet Potatoes for dinner tonight, and it really is endearing food (as the restaurant’s slogan says). Fried catfish was spot-on, crisp and hot crunchy coating swathing a snowy white fish filet. The biscuits are the flaky type and have appropriately crisp tops and edges. I was attracted to so many of the vegetable sides that I simply ordered a vegetable plate, with creamy cheese grits, cucumbers draped in a gentle vinaigrette, caramelized fat apple slices and a chewy corn pudding. My husband’s peach bbq chicken was a huge portion, with lots of salty meat glazed with a not-too-sweet, fruity sauce. Most excellent, and a good value to boot.

If you’re not up for waiting in line at Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House over on Jones Street for a meal, or you’re seeking a dinner spot, Sweet Potatoes is a good alternative for plenty of inexpensive and authentic eats. Sweet Potatoes is in a nondescript strip center with a cute butterfly mural on the side. It’s not too far from Oglethorpe Mall (and not especially close to the downtown area). Check it out if you’re in town.

There will be more eats from south of the Mason-Dixon line to come, including a rundown of Disney dining, over the coming weeks. Stay tuned…

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