In town for the Masters Tournament? Foodwise, there’s no doubt that some of the best food in Augusta is right there on the course. The pimento cheese sandwiches. The barbecue. The Azaleas. (If you haven’t experienced an Azalea, the signature drink of the tournament, go find one. It’s delicious!).
Maybe it’s the fact that the tournament’s only once a year that adds that extra savor – but the good news is, there’s a lot of great food to be had off the course too. Happily for us locals, it’s available all year round. So, consider this a guide to just some of the top food destinations in the area. (You’re welcome to post your comments online with your dining recommendations.)
BEST OVERALL: Sheehan’s Irish Pub, 2571 Central Ave. (corner of Central and Monte Sano). Don’t let the name fool you. Sheehan’s is upscale dining in a casual pub atmosphere. Looking for a great meal? You will not get anything less at Sheehan’s – from the shrimp and grits cake to the mussels and the Hello Dolly sundae.
BEST ITALIAN: Luigi’s, 590 Broad St., downtown Augusta; or Casa Bella, 120 Chesterfield St. SE, Aiken. Luigi’s in downtown Augusta is a longtime Masters tradition. Crowds throng there for their simple plates of good Italian, Greek or American fare. Located inside a beautiful Southern plantation home in downtown Aiken, Casa Bella features an elegant atmosphere and rustic, authentic Italian flavors, including their classic antipasto, chicken saltimbocca and seafood risotto.
BEST SUSHI: Takosushi, 437 Highland Ave., Augusta; 1202 Town Park Lane, Evans; 210 The Alley, Aiken; or Matsu Sige, 3836 Washington Road.
Sushi, above all, must be fresh – and the pearlescent, intensely hued slices of fish at Takosushi and Matsu Sige are insanely fresh and delicious. Head to Takosushi for out-of-the-box rolls such as the spicy Volcano Roll or the Crazy Roll, fat with shrimp tempura, shrimp and crab. Matsu Sige offers a more traditional sushi and sashimi experience, with classic rolls and nigiri.
BEST BARBECUE: Sconyers,
2250 Sconyers Way; or Goolsby’s,
4460 Washington Road.
Open just Thursdays to Saturdays, Sconyers is it when it comes to classic Southern pit-cooked barbecue – moist and flavorful. Add their unbeatable hash, a scoop of potato salad and two slices of squishy white bread, and that’s a meal. Goolsby’s buffet line presents a sliced to order, unbelievably tender pork tenderloin that’s not classically barbecue but is oh so good.
BEST SOUTHERN: Madison Day Kitchen, 1269 Wrightsboro Road (inside the United House of Prayer); Honey from the Rock, 2621 Washington Road (part of Whole Life Ministries).
Looking for “our” cuisine? Stop by Madison Day Kitchen (open for all three meal times Masters Week) and Honey from the Rock (lunch only, Monday-Thursday) for the best Southern food in town. Served buffet-style with your choice of meat and two veggies, plus bread, this is Southern cooking at its best. Dessert is optional but almost required when you get a look at their delicious selection of cakes and pies.
BEST BURGER: Cotton Patch,
816 Cotton Lane, downtown Augusta.
Sometimes all you want is a good burger, and the Cotton Patch always delivers. It’s a full half-pound of meat on a steamed bun with your choice of toppings. Go basic with mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion, or add a fried green tomato, pineapple and pepper jack cheese, or a pile of bacon and cheese. Fat fries or onion rings are required.
BEST BRUNCH: Casa Blanca Café, 936 Broad St. (inside the White’s building).
The crowds start gathering early every second Sunday for Casa Blanca’s once-a-month buffet brunch. Make your reservations to guarantee a seat for their rich and creamy scrambled eggs with leeks, sausages, banana-and-cream cheese-stuffed French toast and more.
BEST SALAD: Fat Man’s Café,
1450 Greene St., Enterprise Mill.
Fat Man’s is known for its great Southern food, but it also boasts a great salad. Fresh greens come topped with tomatoes, cheese, bacon, a sliced hardboiled egg, and your choice of grilled or fried chicken. Raisins and peanuts are optional – but if you’ve never had it, you should try it! Top it all off with your choice of dressing.
BEST DESSERT: Lil’ Dutch Bakery, 3830 Washington Road; Delightful Bites, 3801 Washington Road; Tutti Frutti, 1141 Agerton Lane.
Go to the Lil’ Dutch Bakery for moist red velvet and other cakes by the slice; head across the street to Delightful Bites on Friday or Saturday Masters Week for their decadent cupcakes (chocolate peanut butter cream or white chocolate raspberry with almonds among many other flavors); or stop by Tutti Frutti to fill a bucket with light, creamy yogurt and your choice of dozens of toppings.
• For tapas, check out Bee’s Knees, 211 10th St., which serves an amazing sangria).
• The hands-down best mac and cheese in the area is at Frog Hollow Tavern, 1282 Broad St., made lasagna-style with thick smoked gouda between each layer.
• Sawasdee, 730 Augusta Road, Warrenville, has a delicious Thai coconut soup that is worth the drive.
• Nestle on the comfortable couch and sip a creamy iced coffee at Sit-A-Spell Coffeehouse, 903 Broad St.
• For great seafood, look no further than the plump fried shrimp at Beamie’s at the River, 865 Reynolds St.
• And for the kids, grab some chicken fingers from Wife Saver (multiple locations), our local fried chicken franchise that is still going strong after 40-plus years.
There are dozens more restaurants that could make this “Best” list. To find them, go out and try them. Just remember during Masters Week to call ahead because hours may vary and reservations might be recommended.