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Best of Savannah: Food 2013 

Best New Restaurant

The 5 Spot

This Habersham Village eatery marks one more delicious success for Brian and Jennifer Husky of Gaslight Group, the jaunt responsible for Blowin' Smoke, Abe's on Lincoln, B. Matthews and Blue Turtle Bistro.

It's their fifth concept, fifth venture, a fifth notch in the belt for indie restaurateuring — no small feat in a fair-weather tourist town where restaurants and bars weed in and weed out with the changing of the seasons.

"It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, especially in the economy that we're in," says chef and general manager Chris Wise, who serves up 20-plus years of culinary expertise. "The owners are absolutely wonderful to work with ... very hands on."

For a midtown destination, 5 Spot pulls in its fair share of tourists, hungry for a casual space with plenty of parking, a handful of silent TVs and a smattering of outdoor tables. The vibe is familiar, relaxed and comfortable.

"I see enough of the people who come in everyday to know that we have a pretty good local following, very loyal, great customers," Wise says. "They bring a lot of energy to this place."

The draw is the solid reputation of an outfit known for quality cuisine and for giving the people what they want. The specific 5 Spot slant is straight-up accessible, American fare, nothing excessively pre-packaged, but rather more down-home, Lowcountry neighborhood fare.

"We're trying to be an American bistro ... trying to blend new with old. It's a lot of the kind of food that you saw growing up, but with a twist."

Crowd-pleasers includes the grilled salmon entrée with a burnt rosemary aromatic, the fried green tomato BLT, the Cuban, the Reuben and their signature peach barbecue sauce on the pulled pork sandwich. A new addition to their summer menu: chicken and waffles with a red-eye gravy.

"We're not just in the neighborhood," assistant manager Ashley Youngblood adds. "We're part of the neighborhood." — Jenny Dunn

Runner-up: Public

Best Overall Restaurant

Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant

Best Gourmet Burger

Best Veggie Burger

Green Truck Pub

You don't have to be downtown to enjoy cutting edge, super-tasty farm-to-table type cuisine with a cool bar. Great food and great timing — there really wasn't a place quite like it in town when it opened in 2010 — equaled a success story on the fringe of Baldwin Park. Now folks from all around come here to wait in line — and it's quite worth it.

Runner-up, Overall: Olde Pink House

Runner-up, Farm-to-Table: Cha Bella

Runner-up, Gourmet & Veggie Burger: B&D

Best Fine Dining

Best Wait Staff

Most Romantic

Best Shrimp & Grits

The Olde Pink House

There is a handful or less of establishments in Savannah that can truly make the claim to be just as popular with locals as with tourists. The Olde Pink House fits that bill, frequented by brunching churchgoers and eager Ohioans alike, many of whom enjoy the signature Shrimp & Grits, always a competitive dish in Savannah and the Lowcountry. The cool bar renovation is a master added touch, and the service is friendly and top-notch.

Runner-up, Fine & Romantic:> Elizabeth on 37th

Runner-up, Waitstaff: Green Truck Pub

Runner-up, Shrimp & Grits: 5 Spot

Best Family Restaurant

Best Outdoor Dining

B&D Burgers

If you're downtown with a passel of hungry young'uns and you're trying to figure out where to take everybody to make everyone happy, just walk into B&D, either on Broughton or their new Congress Street location.

Runner-up, Family: Crab Shack

Runner-up, Outdoor: Bona Bella Yacht Club

Best Downtown Restaurant

Best Takeout Restaurant

Best Caterer

Zunzi's

This has been a breakout year for the little South African takeout joint that could, with national press and a new location planned for the old Isaac's on Drayton location.

Runner-up, Downtown: Olde Pink House

Runner-up, Takeout: PJ Thai

Runner-up, Catering: Nick Mueller

Best Food Event

Savannah Jewish Food Festival

Often referred to simply as "Shalom Y'all," the annual Jewish Food Festival fills the senses with the tastes and aromas of classics like matzoh ball soup, blintzes and challah. The Fest celebrates its 25th edition this October.

Runner-up: Greek Festival

Best Chef

Roberto Leoci

Best Italian Restaurant

Leoci's Trattoria

Roberto and his place haven't been in town long — by Savannah standards — but they've taken the place by storm like tiramisu from heaven. A boisterous atmosphere combines with succulent Italian faves like Tagliatelle Carbonara and a delightful seafood risotto, with most all the pasta made fresh on site.

Runner-up, Chef: Brian Palefsky

Runner-up, Italian: Bella's

Best Southside Restaurant

Tangerine Fusion and Sushi Bar

One of the few Southside spots that really has a devoted citywide following, Tangerine is the place to go for sushi, and perhaps oddly, super good dessert.

Best Islands Restaurant

Basil's Pizza and Deli

Don't be fooled: You'll get great pizza here, no doubt, but it's actually an awesome Greek diner, with authentic takes on Hellenic favorites. The gyro pizza is to die for. Service is friendly and generous on the refills, and the beer list is great too.

Runner-up: Ele Fine Fusion

Best Tybee Restaurant

North Beach Grill

As if you're on the edge of the world, this rambling seaside shack offers some of the tastiest Caribbean style eats this side of, well, the Caribbean.

Runner-up: Crab Shack

Best Westside Restaurant

Cheddar's

It's technically a regional chain, based in Texas, but you wouldn't know it from the extraordinary attention to service and detail and the creative menu options for the various, largely freshly-made dishes.

Runner-up: Mellow Mushroom

Best Pub Food

Molly MacPherson's

Did someone say fish 'n' chips? Bangers 'n' mash? Scottish meatloaf? Get it all here along with dozens and dozens of different single malt Scotches.

Runner-up: Crystal Beer Parlor

Best Mexican Restaurant

Jalapeños

This perennially popular party spot packs 'em in at five locations now, including Richmond Hill and Effingham County.

Runner-up: Juarez

Best Greek Restaurant

Olympia Cafe

This popular River Street spot was originally called the Olympic Cafe until the actual Olympics came to town in 1996 and told them to change their name. Olympia gets the last laugh though — Savannah remembers them a lot more (and more fondly) than the '96 games.

Runner-up: Troy

Best Caribbean Restaurant

Rancho Alegre

 Delectable Cuban dishes, superb mojitos from the full bar, futból on the TV, and the occasional Flamenco show. What's not to love?

Runner-up: Toucan Cafe

Best Thai Restaurant

King & I

 This Southside staple is where to go for curry, stir fry and especially awesome seafood dishes.

Runner-up: PJ Thai

Best Vietnamese

Saigon Bistro

Come pho the pho, stay pho the phun.

Runner-up: Saigon Flavors

Best Tapas

Jazz'd Tapas Bar

Take a tasty walk downstairs to this popular hangout for gourmet finger foods as well as craft cocktails and live tunes.

Runner-up: bar.food

Best Farmer's Market/Food Co-op

Forsyth Farmers Market

One of the great Savannah success stories over the past year, the Market has grown leaps and bounds. With fresh local organice produce and poultry, Saturday mornings and early afternoons have become a staple of many a Savannahian's week.

Runner-up: Savannah Food Co-op

Best Late Night Restaurant

Sweet Melissa's

Perfectly situated in the heart of Savannah's wee-hours entertainment district, people from all walks of life get a slice here at all times of the day.

Runner-up: Kevin Barry's

Best Place for Steak

Ruth's Chris Steak House

Not only a carnivore's dream, but a recent renovation has brought a swank nightspot to the interior as well.

Runner-up: Outback

Best Soul Food

Best Meat and 3

Sisters of the New South

Tantalizingly tasty Southern/Soul Food at this Eastside neighborhood spot.

Runner-up, Both: Sweet Potatoes

Best Pancakes

IHOP

The global domicile of flapjacks.

Runner-up: J. Christopher's

Best Breakfast

Best Brunch

J. Christopher's

Fun, airy place in a restored auto garage turns out to be a great place to take the whole family for an awesome breakfast or brunch. It's a fairly new tradition in a town which takes its traditions seriously.

Runner-up, Breakfast: Sunny Side Up

Runner-up, Brunch: B. Matthews

Best Burger Under $6

Five Guys

Patties made to order, reasonable price, fun atmosphere, free peanuts. Makes ya want to buy two or three.

Runner-up: B&D

Best Wrap

Roly Poly

A staple of the lunchtime crowd downtown just off busy Broughton Street, Roly Poly deals a mean range of wraps, from the Monte Cristo to the Chipotle Steak.

Runner-up: Al Salaam

Best Barbecue

Angel's BBQ

A true Savannah original, most everything Angel's does is distinctive, from the variety of adventurous sauces to the delicious, non-mainstream sides.

Runner-up: Wiley's Championship BBQ

Best Fried Chicken

Best Southern Food

Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room

The legendary Savannah communal eating spot still holds the title in Savannah and easily competes as best fried chicken in all the South.

Runner-up, Both: Sisters of the New South

Best Sub Shop

Jimmy John's

Fresh ingredients and a sharply dressed sandwich are hallmarks of this quick, popular spot downtown that delivers by bike.

Runner-up: Baldino's

Best Wings

Wild Wing Café

Several signature sauces make those wings extra delectable in this popular City Market spot.

Runner-up: Kevin Barry's

Best Ribs

Wiley's Championship BBQ

These mouthwatering, fall-off-the-bone babies are always worth the jaunt to Whitemarsh Island.

Runner-up: Blowin' Smoke (old location)

Best Coffee

Best Coffeehouse

Foxy Loxy

A new winner in this category, Jennifer Jenkins' labor of love has helped rejuvenate the Thomas Square neighborhood with a delightful blend of strong java, freshly made Tex-Mex specialties and live music.

Runner-up, Both: Sentient Bean

Best Desserts

Lulu's Chocolate Bar

Two words, people: RAPTURE SUNDAE. Newly-appointed kitchen manager Natasha Gaskill has also brought a bevy of new baked treats to the bar.

Runner-up: Leopold's

Best Bakery

Back in the Day

Dedication to freshness and an adventurous spirit combine for this nationally-renowned, delicacy-driven business in the Starland District.

Runner-up: Baker's Pride

Best Ice Cream

Leopold's

Gotta be the South's favorite ice cream store. No other way to look at it.

Runner-up: Coldstone Creamery

Best Frozen Yogurt

Lovin' Spoons

Holding down the Southside with WAFFLE CONE WEDNESDAYS.

Runner-up: La'Berry

Best Deli

Best Bagels

Midtown Deli

One of Savannah's truly great food treasures, this unassuming but extremely popular Southside location has served the best bagels and deli food for years to an adoring fan base.

Runner-up, Deli: Al Salaam

Runner-up, Bagels: Panera Bread

Best Seafood Restaurant

The Crab Shack

One of the all-time perennial winners in the history of our Readers Poll, the Crab Shack continues to be the epitome of the Savannah/Lowcountry fresh seafood experience.

Runner-up: Fiddler's Crab House

Best Buffet

Lady & Sons

Thank goodness Paula Deen is still helping to bring tourists to town.

Runner-up: Pirate's House

Best Salad

Kayak Kafe

From Greek to West Indian curried chicken to Spinach & Wild Shrimp, Kayak has a vast range of super-fresh salads to munch on while you peoplewatch.

Runner-up: Green Truck Pub

Best Pizzeria

Best Delivery Pizza

Vinnie Van Go-Go's

One of the pioneer businesses to spearhead downtown Savannah's renaissance — not to mention one of City Market's oldest and most respected anchor institutions — Vinnie's also maintains high standards for really awesome pizza.

Runner-up, Pizzeria: Mellow Mushroom

Runner-up, Delivery: Marco's

Best French Restaurant

Papillotte

Behind this unassuming storefront on Broughton is the home of some authentic Continental cuisine in a tightly focused menu. Don't forget brunch Saturday and Sunday!

Runner-up: Brasserie 528

Best Japanese Restaurant

Ta Ca Sushi and Japanese Fusion

Airy, friendly spot to enjoy sushi and tasty hibachi dinners.

Runner-up: Hirano's

Best Sushi

Sushi Zen

Yoshi & Co. are still the masters of the ancient edible Japanese art.

Runner-up: Ta Ca

Best Indian Restaurant

Taste of India

Mall Boulevard is the home of the most delectable delights from the subcontinent.

Runner-up: Pakwan

Best Chinese Restaurant

Wang II

Still pretty sure no one else has ever won this category in all the years we›ve held the Best of Savannah Readers Poll.

Runner-up: Peking House

Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

Al Salaam Deli

Without doubt the best gyro and falafel for miles around, in a friendly, informal atmosphere at very reasonable prices. Just go already!

Runner-up: The Mirage

Best Vegetarian Restaurant

Vegheads

This very new spot is quarterbacked by Chef David Rowland, who's cooked up some good grub at the famous Grove Park Inn in Asheville, where the first location of Vegheads lives.

Runner-up:Sentient Bean

Best Place to Get Fresh Local Seafood

Russo's

A wonderful old Savannah family institution, with a third generation of Russos helping serve the freshest wild shrimp, scallops, and fish to generations of satisfied customers.

Runner-up: Crab Shack

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Runner-up: The Public

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