A Southern Food Dining Experience at Mrs. Wilkes

I typically don’t eat Southern food at home in Northern California. You just don’t see shrimp and grits on many menus. But when in the South, it is a must to do as the Southerns and devour collard greens, okra gumbo, black-eyed peas, biscuits, fried chicken, cream corn and seventeen other Southern specialties.

Lucky for me, I only had to go to one restaurant in Savannah, Georgia to do just that, Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room.

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, a former boardinghouse, has been serving homestyle Southern cooking in a family-style setting for 68 Years.

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room in Savannah Georgia

You will always find a healthy line of hungry patrons wrapped around the front of Mrs. Wilkes. That’s a good sign.

It is family-style dining and each customer is seated at large tables for ten, shared with strangers. You will not be served until your table is full, which could be torture at a slower restaurant, but not here. Getting to know your neighbor should be done quickly, because you will be sharing your dishes with them within five minutes.

That’s part of the experience and just plain fun.

Before you and your neighbors get to delve into any heavy conversations about important life events, you are served 22, yes TWENTY-TWO, Southern specialties.

There are no menus, if there was you would just have ordered ‘one of everything’. Not wanting to miss out on trying all of it, I put a sampling of each dish on my plate. Proof that twenty-two items can fit onto one plate.

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room in Savannah Georgia

It would be easier to tell you what southern food was not on the table that day instead of listing the things that were, from candied yams to corn muffins to sweet tea.

Just because I hadn’t shoved enough food in my pie hole, we were served (and I ate) banana pudding for dessert. I have no willpower.

In the end you scoop up your empty plates and take them into the kitchen yourself, handing them directly to the dishwasher, cutting out the middle man, the busser. I may have to incorporate this smart business concept into my restaurant.

The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a trendy restaurant with pretty plate presentation, go somewhere else. But, if you want a unique Southern experience where you feel like you are in someone’s home, Mrs. Wilkes will treat you right.

Now take me back to the Dresser Palmer House. I have some digesting and porch sitting to do.

Have you ever been to a Southern family-style restaurant? What is your favorite Southern dish?


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10 thoughts on “A Southern Food Dining Experience at Mrs. Wilkes”

  1. I enjoy everything you write. I am curious though… you appear petite with a small frame.How do you prevent weight gain if you are dining on fried chicken…bone marrow…banana pudding and rice crispy cocktails? Do you eat tiny portions and subsist on romaine leaves when you are not dining out? Or do you run 15 miles a day?:)  I grew up on Kentucky St there in Petaluma BTW and if I ever visit there again I plan to dine at your restaurant because I think you are a talented multi tasking genius!

    Reply
    • I have learned that I am not good at limiting the types of foods I eat, because I want to try everything, so I have to be really good about portion control. Most of the time I have a couple of bites of each dish and my husband will eat the rest. He’s good about being the garbage disposal & never gains weight :) I absolutely do not run…unless somebody is chasing me! At the moment, the only exercise I partake in on a regular basis is yoga. I definitely have to be more careful about my food intake as I get older.

      I live just off of Kentucky Street! I do hope you come eat at my restaurant if you are ever in town again, but make sure you email me first to make sure I am there :)

      Thanks for your kind words, made my night.

      Reply
    • No fried green tomatoes that day! That’s not to say that they don’t have them on other days, just not when I was there :(

      Reply
  2. I have got to get some good homestyle southern cooking sometime. Can't remember last time I even had anything close to authentic southern fare and you're right — we don't see any of those items on menus here in N. Calif. Mrs. Wilkes looks like a a must-visit.

    Reply
  3. I'm a Southern gal and love me some shrimp and grits! I ate buckets of the stuff when I was home this summer! Sadly it's a little hard to find here in China. But that just makes me appreciate it all the more :)

    Reply

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