10 Best Restaurants of 2019: #5 G. Michael's Bistro & Bar

G.A. Benton
Duck breast

This versatile powerhouse—it’s a special-occasion restaurant and a neighborhood hangout—is all about pampering. So don’t expect to find a tofu-and-quinoa bowl here—unless that lily is gilded with high-quality seafood, zesty house-made sausage and the characteristic low-country touches that keep regulars returning to 

G. Michael’s upscale yet festive confines. The servers are truly the straws that stir the drinks: They’re courteous but warm, knowledgeable but not stuffy and personable but not intrusive.

On Service

An experienced staff creates a place where everybody knows your name.

“When I see certain regulars outside heading to the restaurant, I’ll start preparing what I expect they’ll need—like I’ll drop one ice cube into a rocks glass, or I’ll sugar half the rim of a martini glass. There’s one couple that, when I spot them, I’ll immediately tell the kitchen to fire a special veggie plate. It’s no longer on our menu, but we know they’ll want it, so we make it for them,” Alicia Evans says from behind the handsome wooden bar in G. Michael’s on a recent evening.

Evans—a nine-year G. Michael’s veteran who waits tables, tends bar and sometimes manages the restaurant—exemplifies a great wait staff of tenured professionals clad in ties, white button-downs and long aprons.

As usual, the just-completed happy hour has been busy, because $6 classic cocktails and elaborate $8 small plates—such as sausage-stuffed broiled quail with a wild-rice salad, or killer pulled lamb crostini—generally attract a throng. The crowd is especially large, as it includes a group that received email notifications about a fried-chicken-with-Tabasco-gastrique special.

“People dream about that chicken—and our shrimp and grits, of course,“ Evans says.

Between attending to first-name-basis customers, Evans explains how she always works St. Patrick’s Day to get reacquainted with an out-of-town couple who met here years ago, and invariably celebrate their March 17 anniversary at “G. Mike’s.”

As I write that in my notebook, a woman approaches and politely says, “I’m a regular, and I’d like to add that Alicia is amazing. I trust her implicitly—I always have her pair wines with my food.”

When I rise soon after to leave, I hear Evans knowingly ask, “Ready for some chocolate chip ice cream, Dave?”

“Yes!” a grinning man replies.

“I got you.”

Read about our other Best Restaurants of 2019:

1. Veritas

2. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

3. Watershed Kitchen & Bar

4. Service Bar

6. Comune

7. Refectory Restaurant & Wine Shop

8. Gallerie Bar & Bistro

9. The Guild House

10. Ambrose and Eve

595 S. Third St., German Village


G. Michael's Bistro & Bar