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If you’re visiting Savannah, Georgia, be sure to plan a visit to Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room.
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is an established restaurant located in the heart of Savannah’s downtown. They serve up traditional southern hospitality in a family-style setting. When searching for places to eat in Savannah, it was the most recommended by our friends and family. While this, and the promise of good Southern food, was reason enough for us to visit. I’ve come up at 11 reasons why you should visit Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room.
1. Fried Chicken
The Savannah area is known for its southern fried chicken, and Mrs. Wilkes has perfected the recipe over 70 years. It’s flavorful, crispy without being overdone, and tender.
2. Southern Food
In addition to the fried chicken, countless southern style dishes are served family style. From the website, it lists: Cabbage, Snap Peas, Macaroni & Cheese, Butter Beans, Black-eyed Peas, Rutabega, Squash, Rice & Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Candied Yams, Pickled Beets, Red Rice, Collard Greens, Okra & Tomatoes, Brown Rice, Potato Salad, Apple Salad, Macaroni Salad, English Peas & Noodles, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw.
This is all, of course, subject to change based on seasonal availability. Trust me, you won’t leave hungry!
Photo courtesy of Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room
3. Family style means Family Style
You’ve seen it mentioned a couple of times above that this is a family-style establishment. That means you sit 10 to 12 to a table and the dishes of food are set in front of you. It reminded me of how a Thanksgiving dinner in the south might look. This is a unique experience that you don’t get in many other places. Because of this, I move onto number four.
There is a wait to get into Mrs. Wilkes’s dining room. You will stand in line. Get to know the people you are standing in line with us as you’ll likely sit with them at the family-style table. As most people are from out of town, you get to learn something a little new and different about the travelers around you. We sat with two women from New Jersey and two women from Georgia. Depending on how long the wait is, you’ll feel like family when you enter!
5. Famous Around the World.
There is a map in the second dining room. Take a look and see the pins from visitors from around the world. Who knows maybe you’ll be sitting with someone from another country! These types of situations can sometimes lead to long-term friendships. You never know who you’ll meet.
This place has been located 107 West Jones St since before 1943. Sema Wilkes took over the boarding house at that time, bringing homestyle southern cooking to the dining room. It was and still is a family run business. In fact, we were joined by Mrs. Wilkes’ granddaughter, Marcia Thompson, who told us more about the establishment. It was a joy to get to know her and see how and why she continues the business to this day.
As mentioned before southern hospitality is something many people take very seriously. And it is certainly not lacking at this establishment. Not only are you greeted by a friendly host, but each server was also more than happy to bring out more food (as if we needed it.) They also were happy to tell you about each dish. One thing I thought interesting, is that you are required to clear your plate upon leaving. Again this harkens back to family-style dining and cleaning up as if you were sitting around Thanksgiving dinner. That being said, it also teaches or reinforces proper manners for your children!
8. Portion Sizes
Since this is family-style, it’s also all you can eat. If you have hungry teenagers like I do, this is a dining out dream come true for them. Not only did they get their fill, but they also enjoyed every bite.
You would think with all that food who would have time for dessert? However, your meal does include two choices of dessert. I imagine this also changes seasonally. Our offerings included banana pudding or a lovely Irish sponge cake. Banana pudding is another popular southern delicacy. It appeared on many menus that week!
photo courtesy of Mrs. Wilkes
10. The Store
If you did not get enough of Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room, consider picking up a cookbook or other trinkets in the store. They sell locally made jam honey as well as postcards and other Savannah related souvenirs.
Want a preview? Order the book here!
11. The Boarding House.
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room was originally part of Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House. While not operated as a boarding house today, you can rent through a home rental site, one of the three up apartments located just above the dining room. Imagine the delicious smells wafting up through the afternoon. Because Mrs. Wilkes’ dining room is only open for lunch this does not cause a noise problem in the evening.
Things to Note:
Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room is only open Monday – Friday from 11-2. This is also a cash-only establishment. Prices at the time of this writing are $23 per adult and $11.50 for children under 10. Additionally, they are closed in the month of January. While you may wait in line, tables turn over fairly quickly as food is ready, and there’s no need to order. Mrs. Wilkes is located at 107 West Jones St., Savannah, Ga 31401.
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