Great food doesn't have to be expensive when you're dining in Augusta; you just need to know when to go.
Check out the lunch menu at French Market Grille West in Martinez, and you can dine well for about half the price of a nighttime visit.
Lunch Buddy Donna and I visited on a recent Saturday and for right at $20 (including tip) we were able to entertain our taste buds with some top-notch Cajun favorites.
The folks at the Boll Weevil Cafe have concocted a red, white and blue cake for the Fourth of July that's well worth checking out.
It's alternating layers of berry cake and red velvet cake with a blue icing. Like all their desserts, its sugary perfection.
A slice is $5.99 and it's the perfect size for two to share. Check it out on Sunday when you're downtown for the fireworks and you can get a dessert for $4.59.
Boll Weevil is at 10 Ninth St., at Riverwalk Augusta. Call (706) 722-7772.
You can satisfy a craving for top-notch Japanese cuisine on the cheap and in a hurry at Domo Japanese Grill, 1522 North Leg Road.
Domo earned high marks from Lunch Buddy Donna and me on a recent frantic weekday visit.
The restaurant has the look of a fast food outlet, and it's indeed fast but good. You order at the counter and your food is taken to your booth.
The diversity in foods in Augusta is amazing, with something for every palate. There's everything from all types of barbecue (Carolina Gold and Georgia Red), to upscale eclectic at Cadwallader's in Martinez.
That diversity is one of the reasons dining out seems to be the favorite recreational activity in Augusta. Why stay at home when there is so much good food available for different tastes?
According to our Readers' Choice competition, Dino's Chicago Express has the best hot dog in Augusta. I've got to agree. This Chicago-style dog is a culinary delight.
Lunch Buddy Donna and I visited the Furys Ferry Dino's on a recent weekday, our first visit in several years. It had been a somewhat regular staple for takeout meals for us, but we had just sort of fallen out of the Dino's habit. Our loss.
This time, we dined in. I wanted to revisit the hot dog, since Dino's topped that category, and Donna had a gyro salad. We were both pleased with the food - and the value.
If you're pressed for time, the Vallarta Mexican Restaurants have always been great choices for a quick meal. The Wrightsboro Road restaurant continued to meet that expectation on a recent Sunday.
Chips and salsa were on the table before Lunch Buddy Donna, Longtime Lunch Companion Susan and I were settled in our seats . Our drinks were in hand while we were still perusing menus, and our food was delivered within 10 minutes. We were out of there in 45 minutes, and that includes some post-meal table talk.
The diversity of ethnic cuisines available in the Augusta area is amazing. The latest addition is Turk, available at Shishkebab Restaurant in the old Huddle House on North Belair Road across from Lowe's in Evans.
Lunch Buddy Donna and I visited on a recent Wednesday and shared a lamb shish kebab ( $ 7.95) and gyro wrap ($5.95).
This was great food, perfectly seasoned and pleasingly presented.
Salt and sugar are staples of the Southern cook, and that was evident on the lunch buffet one recent Sunday at Andrew's Restaurant in Doubletree Hotel Augusta.
This is one of the nicest-looking lunch buffets in Augusta, and it's reasonably priced at $10 . It's authentic soul-pleasing fare of greens, Southern meats and starches, but on a recent Sunday it was laden with sugar and salt.
They must have a great business school at Augusta State University: One of my Luncheonettes graduated from there recently, and bless his heart, chose a reasonable excursion for his celebratory meal: Fujiyama Steakhouse and Sushi Bar on Washington Road.
Luncheonette Tharon knows value when he sees it. You get good food, a show and great company at a bargain price. We fed seven for $85.70, including drinks, a glass of wine for the grad, and a 20 percent tip.
You can get a cheap and tasty introduction to Thai cuisine by ordering off the weekday lunch menu at Thai Kitchen in Evans.
The lunch menu is pared down but inexpensive, with an entree, a drink and spring roll costing less than the Lunch Money goal of $10 each, including tip.
If you're up to a splurge, though, add a cup of soup to your meal. Thai Kitchen's coconut milk-and-curry chicken soup is one of the best soups in Augusta. It's not listed on the lunch menu, but you can ask for it. We added soup and, with tip, paid $25.29.