While the bars, shops and restaurants on and around Washington Road have profited mightily from the en masse migration of golf visitors every April, very few of those visitors have found their way to one of Augusta’s best-kept secrets – downtown.
This year, some traffic from Augusta National Golf Club is being directed within a stone’s throw of Broad Street’s many attractions. Here are some highlights for visitors unaccustomed with the area and for locals who might find they’ve been missing some things.
SOUL BAR (984 Broad St.) – When people speak of the resurgence of Augusta’s downtown, they often point to Soul Bar as the font from which all subsequent success stories flow. Now, nearly 20 years after the day it opened its doors, Soul Bar has become the spot locals congregate to meet friends, hear music and, yes, enjoy a couple cold ones.
SKY CITY (1157 Broad St.) – This larger live music venue was opened by Team Soul Bar several years ago. Stop by Friday for the legendary ’80s Night dance party and Saturday for the cover wonder that is Yacht Rock Schooner.
STILL WATER TAP ROOM (974 Broad St.) – Originally opened with an eye on booking Americana and bluegrass acts, Still Water has become the downtown destination for folks looking to share a (relatively) quiet beer. While occasional acts still take the stage, it’s collection of sidewalk rocking chairs are a far more popular attraction.
THE PLAYGROUND (978 Broad St.) – This venue relocated to swankier digs a few years ago. As a result it has become an intimate rock ‘n’ roll bar with an intensely faithful clientele.
FIREHOUSE (1145 Broad St.) – There’s nothing complicated about the Firehouse formula. Good cheap drinks, comfortable seats and an attitude of inclusiveness toward all customers. That’s the way a bar should be.
JOE’S UNDERGROUND (144 Eighth St.) – It’s easy to miss – being underground and all – but you would be hard-pressed to find a regular visitor to downtown Augusta who hasn’t spent at least one evening in this little gem.
AND DON’T MISS ….
• The Loft (927 Broad St.)
• Club Rehab (913 Broad St.)
• Wheels Corner Pub (879 Broad St.)
• The Eagle’s Nest (640 Broad St.)
• The Fox’s Lair (349 Telfair St.)
• 1102 Bar and Grill (1102 Broad St.)
• Metro Pub and Coffee House (1054 Broad St.)
SPORTS CENTER (594 Broad St.) – This unassuming beer bar is a fine spot to grab a frosty goblet of something domestic, but the real appeal is the burgers. Grilled on the spot, they are a wonder to behold – and eat. The onion rings are also a fan favorite.
LUIGI’S (590 Broad St.) Located right next door, this Italian/Greek mainstay has been a fixture since 1949. Well-known by regular visitors, it can be a good place to spot golfers loading up on carbs.
NACHO MAMA’S (976 Broad St.) – Behold the wonder of the well-packed burrito. Large and in charge, Nacho’s signature dish is a brick-sized wonder of meat-and-bean construction. It’s quick, simple and most memorable.
THE ROOSTER’S BEAK (215 10th St.) – If you believe a proper taco can only be made with a handful of ground beef and a little lettuce, look elsewhere. The Beak’s imaginative takes on the Mexican staple include Asian marinated pork, fried chicken and a BLT.
KNUCKLE SANDWICHES (1149 Broad St.) – The menu is small and simple, much like the restaurant itself. The food, however, is a knockout. The PBR-B-Que, a pork sandwich braised in Pabst Blue Ribbon, is a local favorite.
THE SUNSHINE BAKERY (1209 Broad St.) – The deli that time forgot – thankfully. Great sandwiches, superior soups and a lemonade iced tea that is incredibly refreshing have made this quiet lunch spot an Augusta favorite for almost 65 years.
AND DON’T MISS …
• Soy Noodle House (1032 Broad St.)
• Sandwich City (302 10th St.)
• Blue Sky Kitchen (990 Broad St.)
• Casa Blanca Cafe (936 Broad St.)
• Frog Hollow Tavern (1282 Broad St.)
• The Bee’s Knees (211 10th St.)
GAARTDENSITY GALLERY (1155 Broad St.) – This small gallery dedicated to young and emerging local artists is a fantastic place not only to look for art, but to discover artists. Check out the exhibition by Augusta favorite Leonard ‘Porkchop’ Zimmerman, opening April 6.
ART ON BROAD (1028 Broad St.) – A gallery that feels a lot like a living room, Art on Broad specializes in work by local and regional artists. The walls are always full and the fine folks that run the place are always welcoming.
VINTAGE OOOLLEE (1121 Broad St.) – Store owner Ooollee Bricker has a gift for finding true fashion treasures in the forgotten and discarded. Want to be the best dressed at any event? Check in with Ooollee. She also has a costume rental business, in case “best dressed” means arriving in a gorilla costume.
PYRAMID MUSIC (824 Broad St.) – This is what a record store should look, feel and, yes, smell like. Browse through the stacks of vintage vinyl or pick up the latest soul side. This independent record store stands, quite fittingly, opposite the statue of James Brown.
SUNDREES URBAN MARKET (930 Broad St.) – At long last, downtown Augusta has an authentic bodega. Stop in for hand-pulled growlers of beer, a cupcake or last-minute essentials. The handmade cajun sandwiches in the back are also worthy of investigation.
AFICIANADOS (307 Eighth St.) – Purveyors of fine wines, imported and craft beers and cigars, this relatively new retailer seems like the perfect spot for tournament tourists to pick up a few party supplies. The selection is outstanding.
AND DON’T MISS …
• Zimmerman Gallery (1006 Broad St.)
• Gallery On the Row (1016 Broad St.)
• Rock Bottom Music (758 Broad St.)
• Merry’s Trash and Treasures (1236 Broad St.)
• Marketplace Antiques (1208 Broad St.)