Okay… so my blog on the misunderstood Philadelphia football fans went over like a lead balloon. The one on hurricane preparation had as much staying power as tropical storm Erika. I get it. Stick to what I know and don’t stray from the box… that’s what you’re telling me right? Stick to sailing, pretty anchorages, lovely sunsets and the fluff, the circumstance that is “cruising” on a sailboat. I can’t do it. To quote the great orator Popeye, “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.” A tear forms and gently rolls down the cheek.
But we are not cruising like some are cruising. We are not in the islands or the Med or any other glamourous locations that cry out for bikini shots and greasy bodies. We are still state-side and spent hurricane season (or most of it anyway) in St. Simons Island, Georgia. Woooooah! I know what your thinking. “Where? St. What? Never heard of it.” Well Google it.
It’s a cool place but it’s like a lot of other small coastal island towns that have been over-run by tourists and trinkets, pizza joints, pubs and coffee shops. The scenery is gorgeous with majestic live oak trees covered in spanish moss looming over quaint streets and alley ways.
Residents cruise the island in souped up golf-carts decorated with flames and laden with beach chairs. Men meander around the village in Bermuda shorts and pink Ralph Lauren Polo shirts. Ray Bans rule and it feels much like a frat party reunion except everyone is a little older, better behaved but still clinging to 1984 fashion trends. Think Breakfast Club meets Martha’s Vineyard.
Sadly, the food was mediocre at best and it pains me to say that. Believe me… we tried so many local joints believing the next one would be better than the last but it was not to be. Nachos Mexican was one of the best places we ate. Their specialty dish, the Shrimp Diablo, was indeed special. Their corn tortillas were so moist and delicate I could have eaten an entire stack with nothing on them. I commented to our server and he said they made them fresh from scratch every day. They were amazing. Worth the trip.
The rest of the food we ate left us underwhelmed. Barbecue, surf and turf, salads, whatever… it just wasn’t that great. We hoped to find something that knocked us out.
And that’s where Brunswick comes in.
Brunswick, Georgia is a small town, just before you cross the causeway bridges onto St. Simons Island. At first glance it looks like a town whose best years are behind it. A run-down and all-but-deserted main street might make one turn around and head right on outta there as fast as possible.
I thought the same thing when we went to visit the Lover’s Oak, a local attraction hidden in the historic district. It’s a tree that’s documented to have been on the same spot and fully grown at the time of the signing of our country’s Declaration of Independence. Amazing right?! Well check this out, turns out this particular oak tree has been dated back to the twelfth century! Not kidding. Legend has it that Native Americans met there to… oh, just click the link and read about it!
It’s standing right in the middle of an intersection but alive and well. Sprawling across the sky with a history so rich I wished I could sit amongst it’s limbs and let it whisper its tales to me.
I left the Lover’s Oak to wander Brunswick’s streets to see for myself what was happening and it slowly began to reveal itself a bit. The “all-but-deserted” Main Street actually contained life.
Small photography studios, galleries and cafes were tucked neatly into the original brick facades and didn’t blurt out their utilitarianism. The entire town appeared quite unspectacular at best until, that is, the First Friday of the month rolls around.
Many small towns have celebrations like this where locals gather in the small town square and hang out as food vendors pawn their gastronomic delights and bands play familiar cover tunes jazzed-up or dressed down – whatever the case may be.
This town though… has something special going on. Coincidentally, in the square stands a large oak. Nothing like the Lover’s Oak mind you, but impressive none-the-less. I bet it’s a couple hundred years old at least and could weave some tales of its own.
On this night children of all ages and colors were dancing, running and screaming under it’s limbs as the band played Pink Floyd as if done by Nora Jones. Cops laughed and joked with residents as spectators rather than enforcers.
Old timers adorned in WWII embossed caps sat on benches watching a young, hippy-girl dance contemporary numbers with her hula hoop and a biker club handed out literature on the local no-kill animal shelter.
The vibe was amazing. Young and old mingled and cajoled. Tattooed, pierced girls sipped beers with handsomely dressed middle-aged folk as Jack Russell terriers socialized with mutts and rescued Greyhounds.
Mel and I both sat in complete amazement. These days, with so much negative in the news about young vs. old, black vs. white, cops against citizens, this was a Mecca of love and community. The complete antithesis of all that is “wrong” in America.
Add to this one of the coolest bar / restaurants I’ve ever been in, and you have the making of a really great little town and an emerging “scene” of some sort. Tipsy McSway’s is a bar… no wait, its a restaurant… it’s a music venue… shit… who cares what it is! It’s worth the diversion to Brunswick, Georgia. If the Lover’s Oak and First Friday celebrations aren’t enough, chuck in some Tipsy’s and that will solve everything. Or complicate it as the case may be.
Melody and I have a long-standing game of judging two things when we travel, burgers and pizza. We have the reigning champs on our list, and every time we visit a new town, we seek out new contenders and possible upsets. We rarely find worthy opponents for our consistent top performers. Oh… but that’s before Tipsy’s!
The menu at this place is short and sweet. Pub food dressed up a bit. Great beers on hand and a great and colorful staff of bearded brew slingers and tatted up bar maids. The atmosphere is relaxed and the minute you walk in, you are local.
The burger here upended my top favorite of all-time and it pains me to say that, because the “Tell Tale Heart Burger” at Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan’s Island outside Charleston was it for me. The pinnacle of creative cow patty on a bun…then… I met the Tipsy burger.
A glorious burger topped with bacon, fried onion ring, dill pickle slices, arugula, bbq sauce and monterey jack cheese cooked to perfection that will almost make you cry it’s so good.
As a starter, do the Disco Chips which were delicicously perfect hand cut french fries topped with queso, blue cheese crumbles and scallions for $8. The small order! Trust me on this… Small Disco Chips and a Tipsy Burger. That’s what you order. Get a cold beer, turn off your phone and don’t make any plans for the evening except maybe to walk five or ten miles.
The Tipsy burger had just become my new number one, and when I voiced that out loud, or as audible as could be with my mouth stuffed with the last morsel of Tipsy languishing on my palate, Melody’s face told the true tale of the tape. “REALLY?! Wow! Better than Poe’s?!”
Defeat is not pretty and neither is the truth.
St. Simons? Eh… I could go back there and be ok with it or I can not go back and be just as ok. Brunswick? I will definitely go back. I will pick the First Friday of whatever month and make my plan. A plan that will definitely involve my tantalizing temptress… Ms. McSway.
Peace out friends, and don’t forget to scroll down below and leave us a comment! We love hearing from everyone!