Good Times, Cold Beer and Food to Write Home About
Before the Crystal Beer Parlor was famous for slinging some of the best fare in town, it was a small, family-owned and operated grocery, then a Prohibition-era speakeasy run by a rumored bootlegger by the name of William “Blocko” Manning. The Crystal itself opened during the Great Depression, which seems like the worst possible timing for a new business venture.
And yet, Savannah’s oldest restaurant has more than endured — it has flourished. Here, the past is kept alive with memorabilia of the restaurant’s former lives and Savannah’s early years lining the walls. In 1933, hamburgers cost 30 cents and draft beer was just 10 cents a glass. “Times sure have changed,” says owner John Nichols. “But I’m proud to be a part of such a rich and colorful piece of Savannah’s past.”
Today, Crystal remains a beloved Savannah institution, known far and wide for its consistently delicious offerings.
There are the thick, juicy, freshly made hamburgers, which beckon the faithful back again and again; a mouthwatering, creamy crab stew with a side of sherry that earns rave reviews every time; perfectly crisp, handmade onion rings that diners can’t get enough of and an original recipe fried poundcake that “must be eaten to be believed” — if you have any room left, that is. Other fan favorites include the Shrimp and Grits, a giant pretzel served warm with smoked gouda cheese sauce, the towering Classic Club Sandwich with fresh roasted turkey breast and the Pimento Pig Sandwich, piled with smoked pulled pork, pimento cheese and pickles on buttered and grilled sourdough. Plus, the Crystal Beer Parlor offers a number of popular vegetarian, soy-free and gluten-free options.
If the food menu sounds extensive, the beverage selection may be even more so.
Behind the beautifully restored wooden bar is an enormous variety of craft and artisan beers from pilsners to pale ales, with 26 beers on tap and a long list of local brews and classic favorites. The full bar boasts a vast selection of spirits and wine, with classic cocktails like the Rum Runnin’ Punch, the Coastal Grand Margarita and the Tybee Island Sunset.
Though the Crystal Beer Parlor is firmly rooted in tradition, some changes have been afoot recently. There is now a gift shop, The Crystal Trading Co., where patrons can buy the restaurant’s popular souvenirs plus unique jewelry, toys and home décor items. It has also converted some of its parking space into an airy, covered outdoor seating area with socially distanced tables. In an effort to keep employees and patrons safe, masks are required when not seated at a table. You can now call in or order online at crystalbeerparlor.com for pickup.
The Crystal Beer Parlor is located in the heart of Savannah’s National Landmark Historic District on the west end of one of the city’s most impressive streets. It is open from Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., with weekday happy hours and Monday night trivia. Though there is often a line out the door, visitors say it moves fast. Don’t miss it!
by Dani Ray
The Crystal Beer Parlor
301 West Jones St.