I just came off of what could be described as the most grueling stretch of "Eating and Liking" I have ever been on.
I'm not including the weeks when we are shooting my TV show. It's impossible to beat those 14-hour days and all the food that comes along with them. Sometimes, it just borders on obscene.
No, this stretch was a little different. It involved trying dishes on both sides of the Savannah River from Richmond Hill to Bluffton to Hilton Head Island. I'm not complaining - just a fallback to reality after a wild, wild ride.
There were some sure-fire hits along the way. This is definitely a short list to bookmark for a rainy day.
Augies Pub in Richmond Hill
My sources on the Hill all told me about Augies' burger a long time ago.
Sometimes though, it's just tough to get everywhere. People seem to think I swing from spot to spot like Spider-man - eating, liking, repeating.
The reality is, it may take me a little bit of time to get to a particular spot. Augies was one of those.
Now, be forewarned. Augies allows smoking. It's pretty clear once you walk in the door. It can be pretty bad, I'm told.
Regardless, I deal with it and have the burger. Long story short: It was fantastic.
A bit on the undercooked side, but that happens, so I don't complain.
Burger? Very good. Potato salad? Maybe the best I've had in the area.
Yeah, it was that good.
The Richmond Hill crowd knows about this place. It's a popular take-out spot because of the smoke, but otherwise a great stop if your travels take you that way.
Pour Richard's in Bluffton
My gal pal Jill Jauch suggested I stop in Pour Richard's. I judged a contest they had been a part of last year and loved what they prepared.
So one Friday evening a while back, I tried to stop in for a quick bite at the bar. No deal. Sold out. Not even at the bar. All seating was accounted for at 6:15 p.m.
All that does is make me more curious. So I stop back in during the Hilton Head Wine and Food Festival last week. Now I understand why it can be standing-room-only in here.
No pretense. No frills. Just a fantastic - and knowledgeable - staff. It makes a HUGE difference when the staff is not only well versed on the menu, but also familiar with it, and even better, excited about it.
I had enjoyed a few bites at the fest's opening night, so I went light. Filet mignon, shrimp flatbread and a balsamic reduction.
It was nothing short of amazing. My dining partner's flatbread of duck and prosciutto, caramelized onions and goat cheese was even better. The wine list was well thought out and affordable. Pour Richard's is everything you want a great restaurant to be and very much worth the drive.
Other winners in the Lowcountry included Ombra Cucina Rustica (gnocchi with gorgonzola cream, wild mushrooms and crispy prosciutto that will make you cry), Sage Room's herbed duck breast and of course, Mama Orchid's chicken wings at One Hot Mama's.
All of it great.
Tequila's Town on Whitaker Street
Tequila's Town has very quickly become downtown Savannah's go-to spot for Mexican. Juarez and Carlito's still have loyal followings, but Tequila's Town is doing a very nice job.
I will be honest, their "tableside" guacamole service is more style than substance, but it isn't horrible. If they are busy and their "guac" guy is "weeded out," it might be a good idea to pass on it.
That said, they deserve big, huge props for St. Patrick's weekend. I popped in with my family on Sunday night expecting a madhouse. No wait for a table, the chips, salsa and drinks came out very quickly for a full house on a "holiday" weekend and the staff was extraordinarily efficient.
I had the Piggie Burritos.
Carnitas (Mexican slow-roasted pork) in a burrito with queso dip topping and pico de gallo on top. Served with rice and beans.
Absolutely to. Die. For.
I passed some pork off to Tony, my childhood friend from Miami who was visiting, and he said, "That's the real deal right there." I can probably say it was THE best Mexican dish I have had in Savannah.
The rain kept the larger crowds away, but I got a number of reports of good service this weekend. A few bad ones, all relative to how close you were to the "Festival Zone." To be expected, really, and not worth making a big deal out of.
Lots of good eats in the area, and as the weather gets better, we have lots more ahead. AquaCurean will take over The Westin Savannah Harbor in late April. Before that, the Tybee Island Wine Festival is coming, as is Easter. Plenty of reasons (or excuses) to get out and Eat It and Like It.
See you on TV, Jesse