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Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

107 W. Jones St., Savannah, GA - (912) 232-5997
Posted By Michael Stern on October 16, 2003 1:05 PM
West Jones Street is a boulevard of antique brick houses with curving steps and graceful cast iron bannisters. At 10:30 each morning a line begins to form at #107. Although there is no commercial sign outside, the serious student of Roadfood can tell you what is going on. At 11 o'clock, the doors of 107 open and the lunch crowd finds seats at one of the large tables-for-ten shared by strangers. And so begins the daily feast, boarding-house-style.

The tabletops are crowded with platters of fried chicken and cornbread dressing, sweet potato souffles, black-eyed peas, okra gumbo, corn muffins and biscuits. The menu changes daily so regulars can have something different every day (although you can always count on fried chicken). Mrs. Wilkes stopped taking in boarders in 1965, but her tables demand the vigorous exercise of a boarding house reach.

As at any southern feast worth its cracklin' cornbread, there are constellations of vegetable casseroles: great, gooey, buttery bowls full of squash au gratin and scalloped eggplant, cheese grits, corn pudding, pineapple-flavored yams topped with melted marshmallows, creamed corn enriched with bacon drippings, green rice (mixed with broccoli and celery); brown rice (with mushrooms and soy sauce); and the low-country legend, Savannah red rice.

When Mrs. Wilkes first started serving meals in this dining room in 1943, there were many similar places in cities throughout the region, where boarders as well as frugal local citizens gathered to enjoy the special pleasure of a meal shared with neighbors and strangers. Now, the take-some-and-pass-the-bowl style of the old boarding house is a rarity. Mrs. Wilkes passed away in 2003, but her establishment remains a prized opportunity to indulge in the delicious food – and the cordial foodways – of a culinary tradition that values sociability as much as a good macaroni salad.
5 star rating
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Posted By Steven Barrett on December 31, 2013 8:15 PM
Oh. My. God. We finished our meal five hours ago, and I'm still stuffed to the gills. There's not much I can say that hasn't already been said, but here goes nothin':
1) The wait to get in was over an hour and a half - but it was absolutely worth it.
2) The star of the show was the fried chicken - crunchy, flaky crust with moist, tender interior. But the pulled pork was a close second, though it obviously wasn't pit-smoked.
3) There were at least fifteen side dishes on our table and they were of excellent quality across the board. Some were transcendent, like the candied yams, collard greens, and red rice. Only the beef stew was ordinary.
4) The beverage list is very limited: (extremely) sweet tea is standard, with unsweetened tea and water the only other choices.
5) The hours listed are 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. They keep letting people in after 2, so don't panic if you're already in line, but don't show up at the last minute and expect to get in.

This is an experience you can pretty much only get here, so don't pass it up if you're in the area.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
fried chicken
Sweet potatoes
Red rice
Red rice
Bananna Pudding
pulled pork
collared greens
Okra with tomatoes
beef stew

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Posted By L. Darryl Armstrong on August 10, 2011 2:14 PM
An experience within an experience. Mrs. Wilkes is one of those charming Southern places that, if you are in Savannah, you can't afford to miss.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
fried chicken
Bananna Pudding
collared greens
beef stew

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Posted By Allen Choate on April 15, 2011 6:07 PM
We had lunch at Mrs. Wilkes during Savannah's house and garden tour season in March. The line stretched for blocks and it took us an hour and a half to get seated and fed, but it was pleasant and the food is worth waiting for. Mrs. Wilkes deserves its reputation. The sheer variety and quantity of food put on the table is overwhelming, but the excellent quality of each dish makes this place legendary.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
pulled pork
beef stew
collared greens

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Posted By Lynn Tyson on January 11, 2007 11:41 AM
My husband and I visited Mrs. Wilkes. The food was very good: fried chicken was great and the vegetables were to die for. The freshest tasting okra, great squash casserole, etc. And this was autumn, so I have to think the veggies in the middle of summer would be even better.

However, I do have a complaint about service, one which I did hear from others. This was the most rushed lunch I've ever had. The second we sat down the food was all placed on the table and you dig in. Yes, it is family style, but the pace of the service is very rushed. Locals are friendly, but they scarfed down three pieces of chicken in about five minutes. If you are like me and would like to take a breath every few minutes, you'll soon find the dishes being removed, dessert being brought and boom, you're out the door. I estimate we were in and out in less than 25 minutes. I told my husband that next time I'm going to take my time and ask to be moved to another table to finish my meal. We're here in the area again and I may try it again. I'll repost if we do go again.

In Savannah, we had good meals at Bistro Savannah (not Roadfood-type though) and good pizza at Vinnie Van GoGo.


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