Considered the best breakfast in the Savannah area for 30 years and counting, The Breakfast Club (1500 Butler Ave., 912/786-5984, www.tybeeisland.com , daily 6:30 a.m.–1 p.m., $5–15), with its brisk, diner atmosphere and hearty, Polish sausage–filled omelets, is like a little bit of Chicago in the South. Lines start early for a chance to enjoy such house specialties as Helen’s Solidarity, the Athena Omelet, and the Chicago Bear Burger, but don’t worry—you’ll inevitably strike up a conversation with someone interesting while you wait.
Set in a large former fishing camp overlooking Chimney Creek, The Crab Shack (40 Estill Hammock Rd., 912/786-9857, www.thecrabshack.com , Mon.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sun. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., $6–30) is a favorite local seafood place and also something of an attraction in itself. Don’t expect gourmet fare or quiet seaside dining; the emphasis is on mounds of fresh, tasty seafood, heavy on the raw bar action, all in a casual and boisterous outdoor atmosphere.
Getting there is a little tricky: Take U.S. 80 to Tybee Island , cross the bridge over Lazaretto Creek, and begin looking for Estill Hammock Road to Chimney Creek on your right. Take Estill Hammock and veer right. After that, it’s hard to miss.
If you’re hanging out on the south end near the Pier, you can’t miss the three-story pink building with the open decks and the words “Time to Eat” in six-foot letters across the top of the facade. That’s not the name of the restaurant—it’s actually Fannie’s on the Beach (1613 Strand Ave., 912/786-6109, www.fanniesonthebeach.com , Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri.–Sun. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., $8–24) a great-for-all-ages restaurant and bar with a menu that’s a cut above the usual tavern fare. You can’t go wrong with any of their fine, rich, cheese-heavy pizzas; my favorite is the spinach and feta with sun-dried tomatoes. Sunday brunches noon–3 p.m. are a local favorite.
One of my favorite restaurants anywhere, the Hunter House (1701 Butler Ave., 912/786-7515, www.hunterhouseinn.com , Mon.–Sat. from 6 p.m., $20–30), boasts the one-of-a-kind talents of legendary local chef Espy Geissler. With equal mastery of continental cuisine and Southern classics alike, Espy never fails to amaze with his perfectly textured sauces, delightful presentation, and attention to detail. In fact, the story goes that Espy got his job at the Hunter House, also a small inn, because owner John Hunter got tired of hearing him complain about the food. So he hired him, and the rest is culinary history.
The dining room is elegant without being overwhelming, romantic without being cloying, keeping just enough seaside touches to remind you that you are, after all, on Tybee. The tiny but perfect bar, off in a side dining room, is often cheerfully manned by John Hunter himself, who makes a point of visiting each table. Start with the seafood bisque or the succulent fried green tomatoes. Listen closely to the specials, but know that any seafood entrée is a good bet. To get here, take U.S. 80 onto Tybee until you veer right at the Atlantic Ocean. Now called Butler Avenue, this road takes you all the way past Tybrisa (16th Street). Look for the Hunter House on your right.