Why does dining solo during a vacation seem scarier than dining solo in your hometown?
I dine alone frequently. Not because my friends are put off by my chewing mannerisms but because I choose it that way. Let me eat in peace.
But during my recent solo Savannah trip, dining alone suddenly seemed frightening. Come on– I could still eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted but this time it was tainted with wonderings. If I had a good meal who can I share that moment with? And that’s not even bringing up my constant problem of eating like a grazer. Wanting to taste lots of varieties of food at one establishment works with friends but gets expensive when solo.
As I wandered between different blocks of the Historic District, I entered one of the many artsy coffees shops frequented by the Savannah Art students (SCAD) called Gallery Espresso. My eyes and feet felt the most satisfied from the warm decor and a place to sit and people watch. However two of my items ordered brought weak and old flavors. How do you mess up a Frozen Espresso or a Cookie? By making it nothing but chunky ice and being left out. At least the Spinach and Feta Scone was unique and tasted like each ingredient inside.
If you’re dining alone in an area, it’s best to stick to tourist hubs even if you don’t want to. There’s a built-in safety typically.Unfortunately, like most tourist hubs while there’s many dining options most of them serve very underwhelming food. Think lots of sandwiches and fried stuff with the occasional Peachy alcoholic drink just to throw in a few Georgia ties.
I was determined to find something decent in this area. Planter’s Tavern is below the famous Olde Pink House Restaurant and also oozes simple elegance. Worries immediately slipped away as I was greeted upon entry by a duo playing jazzy-inspired tracks through a piano and a cello. This small and intimate tavern quickly had me scanning for where I could fit in among all the dark wood and inviting seats. Unfortunately, at 9pm on a Saturday there wasn’t even room for one. I hovered for a while hoping to steal the seat of an unfortunate person who wandered away… but everyone held fast to their chairs. I wanted to plant myself closest to the music soon after made the cruel decision to seek an evening elsewhere.
That’s how I found myself along River Street– the essence of a tourist hub. All I freakin’ wanted was live music and a decent menu. Have I been that spoiled with St. Pete’s music scene? None. None. None. Tubby’s Seafood didn’t have live music, but their trade-off was balcony seating overlooking the busy park where it seemed all of Savannah had gathered for music and partying. Tubby’s was… well… it had the menu of something you’d expect from a tourist-saturated area. Pun-ny names and seafood lacking creativity AND lacking that home-cooked feeling. Sigh.. at least the view was interesting.
For a lunch I ate at the heavily popular Lady and Sons— restaurant of southern personality and chef Paula Deen. Luckily the website made it easy for me to snag a reservation at this Savannah hot spot. That Sunday only the buffet was offered. Although there were only a dozen hot options, they were a great variety of ‘southern staples’ like Fried Chicken, Barbequed Pork, and Mac N’ Cheese. For the price this was a great buffet but I’m very sure its popularity rests mostly in the popularity of its star owner.
My clever idea—I never had to seek out breakfast or snacks because I packed them from home and kept them cool in a cooler in my car and refrigerated overnight. Money saved!
I’m sure many Savannah Travelers are tearing their hair out in reading of all the tourist-traps I visited. How can I judge Savannah cuisine if I didn’t eat at any places known for it? I had an encyclopedia of recommendations from friends and I barely had time to crack it. I dined in locations that happened to be in my way and barely tasted all there was offered because I couldn’t share it with others. Oh well– I never expect restaurants in tourist locations to be great and all of my Savannah dining certainly fit that stereotype.
At least there was always great people-watching. And I used my dining time to catch up on my phone as well as write. Savannah – next time I will uncover your food scene.