Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room

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Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room is located in a former boarding house known as The Wilkes House.

Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room is a restaurant offering Southern home cooking in Savannah, Georgia. Situated in a historic house dated to 1870, it is one of the most popular dining venues in the city, and was run for 59 years by Sema Wilkes until her death in 2002. It serves traditional Southern cuisine.


Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room is housed on the ground floor of a historic house, built in 1870, on West Jones Street.[1] The restaurant, described by author William Schemmel as "a treasure hidden away in a historic district town-house,"[2] was run for 59 years by Sema Wilkes, from 1943 until her death in 2002 at age 95.[3] During her life she also published several cookbooks.[3] Her family continues to run the restaurant today, but it is now only open for lunch until 2 pm.[4]

Mrs. Wilkes and her restaurant have frequently been profiled in newspaper and magazine stories.[3] Japanese chef Hoshinao Naguma was once apprenticed to the restaurant.[5]


Entrance to Mrs. Wilke's Dining Room

Mrs. Wilkes' is noted for its homestyle traditions, in which guests are escorted in shifts of ten into the dining room, where a variety of dishes are freshly laid on one of several long tables.[6][7] There is no menu; dishes are selected by the restaurant and change daily.[6] Travel Holiday in 1993 recalled that the "tables were set with steaming bowls and platters of tasty Southern food".[8] Jeff Gordinier of The New York Times noted in a 2015 article: "it’s no secret that visitors mad for 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' make a beeline for Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room for fried chicken, candied yams and macaroni and cheese".[9]

The guests sit at the table and pass the dishes around to one another in the style of a family.[6][10] There are usually long queues waiting to get in.[6]

Notable guests[edit]


  1. ^ McKee, Gwendolyn (1994). Savannah, where to go and what to do with children. Me and My Friend Publishers. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-9642753-0-0.
  2. ^ Schemmel, William (January 1, 2003). Off the Beaten Path Georgia: A Guide to Unique Places. Globe Pequot Press. ISBN 978-0-7627-2375-1.
  3. ^ a b c d "'Everyone just loved that lady' Sema Wilkes Restaurateur 1907-2002". Savannah Morning News. November 1, 2002. Archived from the original on November 17, 2002. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  4. ^ Leon, Sarah (April 17, 2015). "Savannah In Style". Condé Nast. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  5. ^ Harman, Jeanne; Harman, Harry E. (October 1992). Georgia at its best. Rutledge Hill Press. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-55853-202-1.
  6. ^ a b c d Cathy Swift; Van Robbins; John Miltiades (2008), Pigging Out in Savannah, p. 28, ISBN 9780595486328
  7. ^ Peffer, Randall S.; Miller, Debra (2004). Savannah, Charleston & the Carolina Coast. Lonely Planet. p. 80.
  8. ^ Travel Holiday. Travel Magazine, Incorporated. February 1993. p. 6.
  9. ^ "At the Grey in Savannah, History Takes Another Turn". The New York Times. July 29, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  10. ^ "Tybee Island: A quiet family getaway". Greenville Online. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  11. ^ Jeanne and Harry Harman (1992), Georgia at its Best, pp. 69–70, ISBN 1558532021
  12. ^ Lesley Conn (March 2, 2010). "President Obama surprises diners at Mrs. Wilkes". Savannah Morning News. Archived from the original on March 5, 2010. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  13. ^ "With Stripper Scenes Wrapped, the Magic Mike XXL Cast Feasts on Southern Food in Savannah". October 31, 2014. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2015.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°4′21″N 81°5′45″W / 32.07250°N 81.09583°W / 32.07250; -81.09583