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Treat your taste buds -- and your wallet
Some off-the-beaten-path restaurants
Geneva Geneva's fine ‘home plates' are so good she has two names (this plate's the Baby Fry);

Keeping your body fueled for all–nighters (and your social life) can sometimes grow monotonous. You’ve hit the fast food joints so many times that you’re a regular, the thought of another pack of ramen noodles is disgusting and you’re down to your last 10–spot.

What to do?

Try the local cuisine... and I don’t just mean the ubiquitous shrimp–and–grits options.

Savannah’s growing Latino community has finally spawned restaurants that aren’t the typical lava –puddle of refried beans.

For starters, carpool south to sample the huge buffet of La Comarca, 4811 Ogeechee Road. The banner says “No Tex–Mex” and they mean it. The changing buffet menu features genuine Mexican dishes and condiments, as well as house made corn tortillas. Ask a server and they’ll help you traverse the steam table — and teach you how to dress out the pork skin stew authentically. Take cash — no credit or debit cards.

Less over the top and even more backcountry Mexican is Mi Vida Loca, 143 E. Montgomery Cross Road. The menu isn’t so intimidating — burritos, sopas, tacos — all look familiar but come loaded with slow cooked pork, stewed chicken or even tongue. Housemade hot sauce on each table can be subtle, if dipped from the top, or take–you–head–off hot if taken from the bottom of the bowl.

Want to experiment with Mexican cooking? Both of these eateries also back nicely stocked little markets brimming with all kinds of authentic ingredients and accessories.

La Xalapena, 2324 Skidaway Road, delivers a comforting bowl of warm tortilla chips and salsa, but that’s where its similarity to the chain Mexican restaurants ends. The menu offers a nicely recognizable collection of south–of–the–border dishes, but ask about daily specials. Soups, stews and an occasional tamale can be found here, and at bargain prices.

Equally interesting, especially to youse guys from north of the Mason–Dixon Line, are the Soul food and meat–n–three joints.

Geneva Geneva’s Home Plate, 2812 Bee Road, sits in the shadow of Grayson Stadium but is Mecca for fried chicken.

The “baby fry” with two sides and a mini-loaf of cornbread won’t kill the budget but will leave you recharged. It’s a huge menu, so everyone should find something, but its strength is in the Southern–style dishes.

Marandy’s, corner of Skidaway Road and Eisenhower Drive, stock in trade is carryout, but there are plenty of eat–in seats. The menu changes daily: ox tails (seriously, it’s just beef), fried whiting fish, smothered pork chops and plenty of rib–sticking side dishes guarantee a solid meal and allow you to say, “Yes mom, I’m eating my vegetables.”

Skip a veggie one day though, and order Marandy’s Red Velvet Cake. This true, Southern confection is as real as it gets and is big enough to share.

Other piping hot steam tables to hit include Masada Cafe at International House of Prayer, 2301 W. Bay St., and Nevaeh, corner of Bull Street and Victory Drive.

Two locations of Rancho Alegre, 44 Posey St. or 402 MLK Jr. Blvd., have menus of Cuban–inspired dishes. The downtown location frequently has live music and offers a more substantial bar and wine list.

Lastly, the city’s sole Korean restaurant, Kim Chi II, 149 E. Montgomery Cross Road, isn’t a cheapie, but a great ethnic date–night destination. Assorted kimchi start each meal and then the menu opens into a wonderfully authentic range of choices – from simple to sizzlin’ hot!