The 2014 Eat It and Like It Foodie Awards

Foodie Awards Savannah Morning NewsBest Burger: GREEN TRUCK PUB

Green Truck Pub gets extra credit for freshness, simplicity and creativity in its toppings. Nothing fancy about the burgers. Just consistently good every time.

Honorable mention: Circa 1875

Best Fried Chicken (that you don’t have to wait in line for): SISTERS OF THE NEW SOUTH

Most people know about Sisters. No secret there. The Brown family has it down pat. Savannah fried chicken? Now there is a secret. Just ask the scores of bus drivers, firemen and other blue-collar folks who line up at this tiny spot near Bacon Park every day at lunchtime.

Honorable mention: Savannah Fried Chicken

Best Wings: 520 WINGS

When people keep telling me, “I tried to stop by but it was too crowded,” then you know something good is going on in there.

Honorable mention: Coaches’ Corner

Best Barbecue: SANDFLY BBQ

This might have been our closest vote. Everyone had a favorite. To be expected with barbecue. The only multiple vote getter? Sandfly BBQ. Meanwhile, if you haven’t tried Randy’s on Wheaton Street, just look for the line at lunchtime.

Honorable mention: Randy’s

Best Breakfast: TYBEE ISLAND BREAKFAST CLUB

No secrets here, either. I don’t know what Jody puts in his housemade sausage, but it is addictive. Breakfast Club has been a model of consistency in this area for a long time. Amazing breakfast. As has B. Matthews. Both very deserving.

Honorable mention: B. Matthew’s

Best Brunch: AQUA STAR AT THE WESTIN

Is there an advantage here because it’s a buffet? Perhaps, but this one is impeccable. Every. Single. Time. The Bananas Foster alone is enough to make you cry. Tybee Island Social’s Bluegrass Brunch is gaining traction in town as a go-to spot, as well.

Honorable mention: Tybee Island Social Club

Best Italian: LEOCI’S TRATTORIA

Sundays, Tuesdays, any days, it doesn’t matter. Leoci’s packs ’em in. That said, this race is going to be very interesting next year with Pacci and Hugh Acheson’s The Florence coming on line.

Best Steak: NOBLE FARE

One of the best steaks I’ve ever had. The panel did not know this. Votes came back? Boom. I guess I was right. How good is the steak? Jenny McNamara tells me Chef Pat made her one on one of their first dates. “I knew right there I may have to marry this guy,” she said.

Honorable mention: Alligator Soul

Best Salad: STARLAND CAFÉ

The logjam of cars on 41st Street between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. every day tell Starland’s story. When it comes to selections of great, creative salads in Savannah, there are these two … then everyone else.

Honorable mention: Kayak Kafe

Best Sushi: ELE

Sushi is a touchy-feely subject in this city. Everyone has their favorite little spot. However, I don’t know many who would argue who is always at the top of their game.

Honorable mention: Tangerine

Best Drunk Food: BETTY BOMBERS

Seth and Patrick like to call it “good beer drinkin’ food.” No, no, no. This is the best food in town AFTER the beers. Why eat pizza that is only tasty at 2 a.m.? Betty’s food is really good any time.

Honorable mention: “Fancy” Parker’s Market on Drayton

Best Mexican: TEQUILA’s TOWN

The new kid on the block walks in and takes the prize. Well deserved. They do a very nice job. Try the piggy burrito. Tendras que volver una vez a la semana.

Honorable mention: La Xalapena

Best Thai: KING AND I

Never a bad meal there. Basil chicken is my favorite. Chiriya has done very well since moving from the Southside to Victory Drive near Thunderbolt. A lot of people forget she is there. She is and doing a great job.

Honorable mention: Chiriya

Best Fried Shrimp: AJ’S Dockside

Almost unanimous. Almost. Gerald takes his shrimp very seriously, and they are very good, but this group came at us with clear conviction on who they thought was best.

Honorable mention: Gerald’s Pig and Shrimp

Best Date Spot: ELIZABETH ON 37TH

Savannah has a ton of great spots for a date. However, wanna impress the girl? You know where to go.

Honorable mention: Planters Tavern

Best People Watching: VINNIE VAN GO-GO’S

City Market can be every bit as charming as it is a freak show. Friday nights at Carlito’s? Great food and many times a freak show.

Honorable mention: Carlito’s

Best Locally Sourced: GREEN TRUCK PUB

All it takes is seeing Green Truck owner Josh Yates pushing a wagon FULL of produce out of the Forsyth Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning to convince me. Combine that with Hunter Cattle Company beef and we begin to wonder what isn’t local on their menu.

Honorable mention: 22 Square

Best Craft Brewery: SOUTHBOUND BREWING CO.

Across the board consistent and great. Believe me, we tried them all. Many times. Tough assignment, I know.

Honorable Mention: Moon River Brewing Co.

Best Coffee Shop: FOXY LOXY

The coffees are great but the variety (and quality) of food made the difference here.

Honorable mention: The Sentient Bean

Best Craft Cocktail: SAPPHIRE GRILL

Craft cocktails are everywhere across the South. Here in Savannah? If you want the perfect drink with the knowledge to support it, go talk to Matt at Sapphire Grill. The guys and girls at Andaz deserve a mention, as well. Both are excellent places to have something unique and perfectly mixed.

Honorable mention: 22 Square

Best Female Chef: KELLY YAMBOR OF ELIZABETH ON 37TH

They don’t advertise and they don’t toot their own horn, but Chef Kelly very quietly delivers. Always. I bounced this vote off of a couple of chefs in town and they couldn’t help but agree.

Honorable mention: Brandy Williamson of Local 11ten

Best Chef You May Not Know but Should: KEVIN CARPENTER OF SUNDAE CAFÉ

It surprises me how often I suggest Sundae Café on Tybee to people and the response I get is “Huh?” Plenty of people in the area know about it. They’ve been exceptional for years. But apparently you, or someone you know, needs to get out there and try this gem in the gas station shopping strip.

Honorable mention: Michael Clee of Jepson Café

Best Pizza: VINNIE VAN GO-GO’S

Unanimous. I don’t think many would argue with that. Looking for a change of pace? Go see Anthony at Roma in Bloomingdale.

Honorable mention: Roma Pizza

Best Place to Spend a Sunday Afternoon: TYBEE ISLAND SOCIAL CLUB

This could lead to a lot of debate. A one-block walk to the beach or a perfect view of the marsh? Tough call. I’m thinking the food at Social Club tipped the scales here.

Honorable mention: Bonna Bella Yacht Club

Best Wines by the Glass: CIRCA 1875

A number of people in town have a nice wine program. However, Jeffery and Donald at Circa 1875 deliver a by-the-glass list for wine drinkers. There is a difference.

Honorable mention: Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Best Gourmet to Go: K’Bella Gourmet Carry Out

The islanders know all about Kristen. You should, too. The variety she turns out is amazing. So is the taste. Meantime, every time I walk into Joe’s Homemade, they’ve managed to squeeze another table into a tiny front space. Can’t wonder why.

Honorable mention: Joe’s Homemade

Best Sandwich: ZUNZI’S

The Conquistador gets all the love at Zunzi’s. It’s not the only great sandwich. Betty Bombers Ultimate Chicken Sub is as good as anything you will eat in this city.

Honorable mention: Betty Bombers

Best Sweets: LULU’S CHOCOLATE BAR

Cakes, pies, tarts, macarons, all of it. I dare anyone to say they had something at Lulu’s that they didn’t like. A well-deserved honor.

Honorable mention: Chocolat by Adam Turoni

Best Caterer: NICK MUELLER

Chef Nick is the perfect example in this city of “unless you know, you don’t know.” You won’t find him tweeting, Instagramming or Facebooking, just turning out amazing food at every stop.

Honorable mention: Paul Kennedy Catering

Best Restaurant Group: ELE & THE CHEF

By the end of the year, they will be operating eight, count ’em, eight restaurants (when you include one in Charleston). All of them beautiful, all of them very good. They already have two Foodie Awards. An easy choice is giving them a third.

Best Restaurant Regular: TONY THOMAS

I’m told Mr. Thomas should have a table named in his honor once his days of putting down steaks are done. Standing reservations, same time, same place, same view, same requests for the entertainment. A model of consistency.

The Leopold’s Best Ice Cream Award: LEOPOLD’S

Should someone ever come along and unseat Leopold’s as the best ice cream in Savannah, they will be the proud recipient of The Leopold’s Best Ice Cream Award, because it probably means Stratton and Mary got tired of winning. Butter pecan, please.

Best Bakery: BACK IN THE DAY BAKERY

Cheryl and Grif get all the publicity and it is very much deserved, but Dolores Montoya’s Just Desserts on Skidaway Road is another gem that needs to go mainstream.

Honorable mention: Just Desserts

Best Chinese: Please let us know when you find it

Good? Perhaps. Great? No chance.

 

Trophies

Eat It and Like It launched in Savannah, Georgia with television personality Jesse Blanco as the host. His passion for food and travel has made Eat It and Like It a two-time EMMY nominated program about contemporary and traditional Southern food.