There’s nothing like good southern comfort food, but it can be hard to find. I went to visit my friend Steven in Savannah, GA, and I refused to leave until I got some delicious southern food. According to Steven, people think Paula Deen’s restaurant, The Lady and Sons, is the best place to get southern food when visiting Savannah. However, people native to Savannah know that Mrs. Wilkes serves the best southern food in the whole city. Steven told me that they’re only open Monday through Friday from 11:00am until 2:00pm, and they’re always packed. He explained that the wait is worth it and we should go there, and I happily agreed.
We arrived at 10:30am – half an hour before they open – and the line was already down the street. I’ll leave if I go to a restaurant and they say it’s a 30 minute wait, but I decided to put up with waiting. If that many people are waiting to get in, and the restaurant can afford to have such limited hours, it has to be good. We ended up waiting an hour and a half to get a table.
They seat everyone at tables to 10, so you eat with the people you sat in line with. When you sit down, all the food is already on the table and is served family style. For meats, they serve fried chicken, sausage, beef stew and meat loaf. On the vegetable side, it’s quit stacked. They offer: cabbage, snap peas, macaroni and cheese, butter beans, black-eyed peas, rutabega, squash, rice and gravy, mashed potatoes, candied yams, pickled beets, red rice, collard greens, okra and tomatoes, brown rice, potato salad, apple salad, macaroni salad, english peas and noodles, baked beans, and cole slaw. It’s important to note, though, that not all foods are served daily.
As you can see, I wasn’t kidding when I said the menu is quite stacked. All the food is ready in bowls when you’re seated, so you can dig on it. And don’t fret, if you run out of something, they will happily refill it for you. There is also a glass of sweet tea waiting for you when you sit down, but they also serve water and lemonade. Once we were all seated, we slowly passed the bowls around and took tiny helpings of everything until we had full plates.
I took a little of almost everything, and it was all delicious. There wasn’t a single thing that wasn’t good, but there are certain foods that stuck out more than others. To start off, I had the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m not one for fried chicken, but it was so good I had to take another helping. It was perfectly crispy and juicy, while not being tasting too heavy or oily. The BBQ sauce on the sausage was also amazing. When I was walking to our table, I noticed that they sell it and I was tempted to purchase a bottle when I left. Their collard greens were also good enough to convert any veggie-hater into a herbivore. Their mashed potatoes got the best of me. I kept putting more on my plate while my stomach said, “no” and my taste buds screamed, “yes.” The waitress also brought out biscuits and cornbread, which I obviously had to try. I tried both and they were both moist, buttery and flavorful. I ate like I was eating Thanksgiving dinner, because everything just tasted good and didn’t disappoint. Steven was right – the wait was worth it.
Just when I thought I couldn’t put any more food in my tummy, they brought out dessert. This was dangerous for me, because I can’t say no to dessert. The options were peach cobbler or banana cream pie. I wanted to try both, so Steven and I split them. The peach cobbler was scrumptious, but the banana cream pie really won my heart. They bring out little bowls of dessert, which is ideal because they know how full everyone is. The banana cream pie was so addicting that I wanted to take some to-go, but they don’t allow you to take any of the food with you.
While we were sitting and digesting, Mrs. Wilkes herself was walking around. The restaurant has been open since 1943, so she is the descent of the original Mrs. Wilkes. She came over to our table to talk to us, and I inquired about what they do with the leftover food. She explained that they put all of the food together in separate containers, and the staff takes what they want at the end of the day. She said by doing that, they actually don’t throw out as much food as you would think. She also went on to explain that the kitchen is full of generational cooks – the ladies who work in the kitchen learned how to cook the food by their mothers and grandmothers who also worked there. It’s no wonder the food is so delicious.
When we had all finished eating more than we should, we were instructed to take our plates and glasses to the kitchen – very family style, which followed the theme of the whole experience. We then went to the front to pay, and it’s $20 a head. They have a tip jar at the front where you can leave a tip, if you want.
For the amount of food you can get (plus how much you end up eating), the $20 is completely worth it. The restaurant had a very homey feel to it, and you feel like you’re in somebody’s house eating a Thanksgiving meal while there. The atmosphere was very welcoming, and all of the staff treated you like family. They’re doing booming business, which is well deserved for how good the food is, so it makes sense why they have such limited house. Steven also explained to me that they serve everybody, so you won’t be sent home if you’re still in line at 2:00 pm. They also have a hotel not far from the restaurant, and you get a free meal if you’re a guest there. My experience was overall extremely enjoyable, and I left waddling out from how full I was.
107 W Jones St, Savannah, GA 31401
Mon-Fri 11:00am – 2:00pm