Yummy Eats Down South & A Minor Rant

We once again traveled to Savannah for the Savannah Book Festival, and along with seeing family and checking out some great authors’ talks, we enjoyed delicious food along the way.

As soon as H knew that we were planning a trip to Savannah, she put in a request to go to downtown Savannah to eat at the Fox & Fig Cafe, a super-delicious vegan restaurant. We have eaten there multiple times, but this most recent visit was particularly tasty. I’m not sure if it’s because it was a beautiful day and we could comfortably dine outside in February (!!!!) or if it’s because it’s the first time we weren’t dining with a whole slew of extended family, so I was paying more attention to the food than on previous visits.

Cute W, J, and I ordered three dishes to share among ourselves. Below, the near bowl is their Chipotle Mac, made with a cashew cheese sauce. Extremely delicious. Apparently one of my sisters has declared it the best macaroni and cheese she’s ever had, and while I wouldn’t go that far, it is tasty with the added bonus that you don’t feel vaguely gross and greasy after consuming it. Farther away, those are nachos. Apparently they included some cashew cheese, too, but the bean chili supplied the gooey mess that one expects from nachos. They’re not typical nachos, but yummy.

And finally, check out the gorgeous Plant Food Picnic. There are pickled apples and onions, edamame, and tasty spreads. But the real stand-out was the gluten free cauliflower toast points, which legitimately did taste like some of the best bread ever. In general I am opposed to making everything out of cauliflower. I often think that we, as a society, are asking too much service from this cruciferous vegetable. But these were fantastic.

After visiting Savannah, we headed north, and along the way, Cute W once again made an awesome Yelp find with this burger and chicken sandwich place, Napkins.

It was very strange because we turned right off the highway, basically in the middle of nowhere, and there were a couple of warehouse-looking buildings that turned out to be a little dining cluster. We purchased our chicken sandwiches at a window in a small building that felt more like a snack stand than a restaurant, but of course in These Days Of Covid, we’d much rather sit outside, anyway. And there were tons of picnic tables that were shared with a nearby bar/restaurant, festive lights strung up for evening, and a huge open space with trees and a playground that made it the kind of place that you wish you could go meet your friends at and then stay for hours while the kids run around.

No, I didn’t take any food-specific pictures because we were starving and the food was delicious and messy.

We stopped along the way in Washington, DC to have dinner with college friends, then we played tourist the next day. That started with another breakfast courtesy of Yelp. We headed to one of the locations of Toastique, a relatively new chain of restaurants (and hey, if anyone wants to open a franchise local to us, please, please do!).

First of all, the place was so lovely that I had to take a picture of the service counter.

I ordered a Greek toast (below), J had a Tomato Buratta toast, and Cute W had a 3 Cheese Italian toast and we shared a fab-u-lous Superfruit Smoothie.

Another super-tasty meal that did not make us feel like we were rolling out of the restaurant, so that was awesome.

After some walking around and a visit to the National Museum of African American History & Culture (more on that later), we stopped for lunch before heading back up north at yet another excellent restaurant, Rice Bar.

And here is where, I’m sorry, but I have to complain about the Capital Region restaurant scene just a little bit. Prior to living here, we were in New York City, and yes, the rent is murderous, but you can find delicious and relatively inexpensive food hither, thither, and yon. When we first moved here, the offerings were dreadful. Cute W asked his new coworkers about great restaurants and it was just a series of mediocre pub-style and Italian restaurants. These days we have some places we really enjoy (and I tell you about them), but there’s a lot of “meh” out there, and, even worse, expensive “meh.” Recently we were excited to try a new restaurant nearby. The owner seems well intentioned and the interior is super-cute, but the food was not something I’d want to eat for half the price we paid for it. And, chatting with friends, the reaction seemed universal: yeah, it doesn’t actually taste good to me, either, but we want to support local restaurants, so I’ll probably go again. Insert deep sigh here.

In particular, I’d like to make a plea for more Build-Your-Own Service restaurants in the Capital Region. I was looking for a name for what I mean, and I found “Build-Your-Own” in this article. Basically, you know how for Subway or Chipotle or Blaze Pizza, you basically walk along and ask for what you want, and then they’ve assembled a relatively tasty, customized, quick, and not-too-expensive (okay, excepting Chipotle, but lordy it’s tasty) meal just for you? On our travels we have encountered multiple version of this Mediterranean-style, like Eons Greek Food for Life in New Jersey and Kairos Mediterranean in North Carolina. These Greek-Mediterranean variations on the theme are particularly awesome for our family because the food is very vegetarian-friendly (hello, falafel and protein-packed salads), it’s very healthful, and we can get all sorts of variations quickly and easily. But is there such a place near here? I don’t know, is there? I haven’t heard about it! If there is, please let me know so that I can go! –okay, y’all this is funny, because as I wrote that last sentence, Cute W walked in, and I set my computer aside, and within five minutes he was saying, “I wish we had one of those Mediterranean places near us!” because we’d both had Chipotle leftovers for lunch and were feeling like dinnertime was arriving too soon after that heaviness.

And I brought this up now because Rice Bar offered that same Build-Your-Own concept applied to Bibimbap-style bowls and noodle bowls with optional miso broth, and it was really quick and delicious and vegetable-packed and filling without feeling like way too much before we got in the car to sit still for hours.

And we all thought, “Why? Why can’t we have something handy like this near us?”

If I am missing any hidden gems and new places that are close-ish to me, please let me know. And if you have ever contemplated opening a franchise in the Capital District and you need The Universe to give you a push, just call me Miss Universe.

Look at this news story, y’all! I need to ask The Universe for more! I’m manifesting!

8 Comments

  1. Mary Ellen

    I loved every word of this post! I don’t have a franchise idea but I Will still call you Miss Universe.

  2. Claire

    I’ve always been pretty happy with the local restaurants. El Mariachi is excellent Mexican cuisine, there are lots of good Italian restaurants, and some good pub-style with great ambience (such as the Century House). I love the riverfront options as well as the ones that are set in historic buildings, including warehouses. Ala Shanghai, according to friends of mine who have immigrated from China, is authentic Chinese cuisine. I think we have pretty good options considering that this is not a metropolitan area.

  3. Maggie

    Katie!! This morning on Facebook I saw an announcement that “the first Mediterranean bowl eatery in Upstate NY” is coming to Jay St. Marketplace!

  4. @Mary Ellen – as long as I don’t need a sash
    @Aliza – the struggle is real! If only someone would open a cute cafe by the co-op….
    @Sarah – thank you, I’ll try it!
    @Claire – I’ll have to try Ala Shanghai
    @Maggie – I saw that, too! I was like, “I totally manifested this!” And there’s some sort of healthful-smoothie-and-bowl place coming to Upper Union St., too!
    @Nana – at least when you’re hungry, you can nab some of those cauliflower toasts — weirdly delicious! love right back atcha!

  5. Claire

    If you do, maybe we can meet up and actually meet in person! I live within walking distance of Ala Shanghai.

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