Carey Hilliards — Statesboro/Savannah, GA

After spending a lovely evening and then having a wonderful, home-cooked breakfast with my Aunt (who I’ll get to see again on this trip, I just wanted to check in on her early in my visit since she’s been a little under the weather lately … so if nothing else, I wanted to give her a hug to make her hopefully feel a little better), I ran down the highway to Statesboro GA … to visit some of my oldest and dearest friends:

Honestly, making the last two stops was NOT part of my original plan. I’d originally planned to go straight to Chattanooga, and THEN travel back down and make a loop through GA and SC … but right about the time I found out that my Aunt wasn’t feeling well, I also found out that the husband of my best friends in Statesboro had a mild heart attack.

I haven’t been to Statesboro  in a while … or “the ‘boro” as we’ve always called it, a small Georgia town whose claim to fame is the National Championship football team at Georgia Southern, and that Taj Mahal song made famous by the Allman Brothers: Statesboro Blues. I lived there on and off from 1976-1982, back during my music business years when we roamed the entire East Coast with Rock & Roll bands, using Statesboro as our base of operations. I met these friends back during that same time–back when I was a snot-nosed seventeen year old–and they’re been my closest friends ever since: almost 35 years now.

I couldn’t imagine being that close to them … and waiting another week to see them … so I rearranged my original plan (the beauty of flying by the seat of your pants) and added my Aunt and my friends into the trip before I went to Chattanooga to meet with a client … so I could make sure for myself that they were okay first. Then I’d just plan to see them both again before I turn my journey northward for the final leg home. That way, it will be like I’ve seen them twice :)

Once I got through with all the hugs and finding out exactly what had happened to my friend and his heart attack (scary stuff … he’s only 56) … we finally started talking about what we’d like to do for dinner. As luck would have it, they told me that one of my favorite restaurant chains from my hometown of Savannah GA has opened a restaurant there, too. My friend’s wife and I left him and their son home to fend for themselves that evening (which made them happy, I’m sure … no moms fluttering about watching everything they do) … so we didn’t have to worry about being a bad influence on the 56-year-old man who just had the heart attack … or the 25-year-old who’s dieting. Needless to say, I voted instantly that we go to Carey Hilliards!

Hilliards is a chain with five locations in the Savannah area, and now one in Statesboro, too. I’ve rarely seen much difference between the taste and quality of the food at the different locations … so I’m just going to give you the main Carey Hilliards website link, and you can find your best location from there.

Hilliards always boasts that their claim to fame is their BBQ, and some people do swear by it. Their iconic BBQ plate features smoky chopped pork, served—in typical Georgia style—with toast, sauce, raw onions and dill pickle chips—basically a deconstructed BBQ sandwich—with a side of Brunswick Stew and French fries (or your choice of another side) to round it out. It’s definitely good BBQ in my book–just not the best I could get in that area back when I lived there–so I’ve only eaten it a few times. They also serve ribs, steaks, sandwiches and burgers … and, as I discovered when we were seated at our table, something called Fried Banana Pudding, too. I didn’t try it (you’ll see why in a second) … but it looked awe-inspiring :)

Nope, I didn’t try the fried banana pudding. If you’ll excuse the pun … I had bigger fish to fry! :)

Simply put … I love Carey Hilliards for the SEAFOOD! Don’t get me wrong: there are better seafood restaurants in the area, some that make amazing food … but none where you can get seafood that good … that fast … over that length of time during the day (Hilliards has great hours: at most locations, they’re open from 11-midnight during the week, 11-1am on Fridays and Saturdays) … and that consistent, all wrapped into one.

I ordered what I always order: the Captain’s Platter :)

Isn’t that a beautiful plate of seafood? I enjoyed deviled crab, boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, fried oysters, fried scallops, and a HUGE piece of fried flounder (nearly an inch thick), all served with coleslaw, hushpuppies and a baked potato … for $18.99. Needless to say, there was NO WAY I could eat it all … but I gave it all I had :)

My friend decided to be much more conservative with what she ordered, and you can’t beat Carey Hilliard’s fried flounder … no matter how big a plate you get.

Honestly, I tried to eat myself sick! I know I live in the land of seafood in Seattle … but there’s just something about the flavor of Carey Hilliard’s food for me. It’s part that it’s excellent food–and Hilliard’s hasn’t suffered from my near-12-year absence–but it’s part nostalgia for me, too. I grew up eating their food, and it will always taste excellent to me … because it still tastes the same as it did when I was a child. And we’re almost the same age, Carey Hilliard’s and I: they just turned 50 this year :)

So, final score: I’ve got to give them a B+. As much as I’d like to bump that score up higher for old times sake … I can’t lie to you and tell you it’s the best seafood (or BBQ or sandwiches or whatever) that you’ve ever put in your mouth … because it’s not. I thought that at one time (at least, that it was the best short of the now-defunct Williams Seafood in Savannah) … but I’ve traveled too far and tasted too much over the years to give them that honor anymore. However, I can tell you that I love their food … and that you won’t leave hungry. That’s still high praise from me :)

About Lane

Just a canner ... on this food journey called life :)
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