As residents of any good southern town, we love visitors. Even more, we love letting guests in on the secrets of our town.
So if you’ve just arrived and are on the lookout for some great places to eat, drink and relax, look no further. From coffee to cocktails, breakfast to late-night noshing, this list has everything you need.
Chef Todd Schafer upset everyone in Augusta, and Masters guests from around the world, when he shuttered Bistro 491, an institution when it came to fine dining in Augusta. Lightning usually doesn’t strike twice in the same place, but it has for Schafer. His Abel Brown, a take on modern southern cuisine and oyster bars, is a revelation from start to finish. Getting a table here during the week will be iffy, but if you can squeeze in at the bar, or the oyster bar, do it. Whatever else you decide on (and it’s all good), be sure to try the broiled oysters with roasted jalapeno lime butter and parmesan.
Call 706-738-6491 or visit abelbrownaugusta.com
This new spot on The Hill is tiny, but it certainly has made a big splash since opening last October. Why? Well, for one thing small means intimate. This is a spot where, if you don’t happen to know your barstool neighbor, you will very shortly. A good selection on tap and knowledgeable servers make drinking fun (or funner than usual). A lovely beer garden and a small but delectable menu of grilled cheeses and tater tots round out all that Arsenal has to offer.
Call 706-925-2960 or visit arsenaltaproom.com
Don’t let the name and the number of televisions fool you: Augusta Athletic Sports Bar is much more than its name implies. Sure, it does have 24 televisions and will be showing the Masters Tournament pretty much non-stop for the rest of the weekend, but it’s also a great place to have a drink, mingle with other golf fans and enjoy some great snacks and sandwiches. In fact: they’ll be offering food at half-price this weekend. Perfect if you spent to much in the gift shop during your trip to the National!
Call 706-622-6206 or visit augustasportsbar.com
Up until recently, the Hill’s newest hot spot has only been open for lunch. This week, Masters guests get to see what locals have already come to love… but only at dinner. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30-10 p.m., this sister to Sheehan’s Irish Pub is a lovely little place that serves beautiful salads and wonderful sandwiches. Dinner, we’ve heard, includes incredible baked oysters, which go perfectly with a po boy sandwich and a cocktail. We’d suggest either a Jalapeno Ginger Margarita or a Becks Old Fashioned.
Call 706-922-1501 or visit facebook.com/BecksAugustaGa/
Locals and visitors alike have loved the Bee’s Knees ever since it opened almost 15 years ago, and there’s plenty of reasons why. Their small plates menu has given guests favorites like the Avocado Chop Chop and the Buffalo Tempeh, and their large plate meals are still shareable, although we’ve yet to encounter someone willing to give up a bite of their coconut curry panang. Whether sitting at an outside table enjoying their famous sangria one evening or indulging in weekend brunch or Happy Sunday drink specials, you’ll want to visit downtown’s original upscale eatery.
Call 706-828-3600 or visit beeskneestapas.com
Columbia County’s Bird Dog Grille offers two things: great food and live music. Neither disappoints. The outside patio is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights for live music and Bird Dog offers trivia on Thursdays. As for the food? Well, their fried pickles are legendary in this area, and you can’t go wrong with the Peri Peri Chicken Bowl, one of their many sandwiches or a salad.
Call 706-814-5007 or visit birddoggrille.com
Usually, this casual spot in Surrey Center that is home to a fantastic patio area is only open for breakfast and lunch. Masters guests, however, got lucky: This week, Bodega is open from 7:30 in the morning until dinner service ends… whenever. Details on the dinner menu are a closely guarded secret, but if they offer the Mediterranean Duo salad at night, get it. Or just visit at lunch. The dish has a little bit of everything, including shrimp salad, tuna, hummus and pita and loads of vegetables, and it pairs perfectly with a nice glass of white or a margarita made with no mixes whatsoever: just lots of fresh juice. Visit in the morning for a fantastic breakfast sandwich and a strong cup of coffee, or just have a gelato while you browse the shop.
Call 706-426-6661 or visit bodegaultima.com
Freshly roasted in-house, coffee is the prime attraction at this cheerful and welcoming café on Central. But Buona also offers fabulous teas, pastries, sweet treats, sandwiches and even its own Happily Caffeinated swag. Go for the whatever quiche variety they have on hand (they’re all great), and a cup or two of the best coffee in town.
Call 706-869-4074 or visit buonacaffe.com
Self-described “white tablecloth restaurant with a casual atmosphere,” Cadwallader’s is the epitome of a grand night out, replete with stellar service and a wine selection that will meet the needs of any oenophile. The restaurant takes pride in serving fresh, local ingredients and inspired dishes that go beyond typical Augusta fare, including veal, pheasant and bison strip loin steak. Call ahead for reservations.
Call 706-860-7444 or visit cadwalladerscafe.com
Calvert’s is the epitome of fine dining in Augusta, and an institution where many of the city’s chefs have gotten their start. Open 39 years, most locals keep Calvert’s sacred by only visiting on special occasions. This quietly elegant spot will liven up considerably this week with an influx of visitors eager to once again taste the traditional continental cuisine Calvert’s offers. Pray they can fit you in if you haven’t already made reservations.
Call 706-738-4514 or visit calvertsrestaurant.com
Chef Sean Wight added Craft & Vine to his Frog Hollow Hospitality Group three years ago, unsure if Augusta was ready for a Prohibition-era themed cocktail bar that served upscale food. Turns out, the city and its visitors have embraced the knowledgeable bartenders and impressive menu. Could it be because it’s one of the few places downtown where you can indulge in a little late-night noshing with your drinks? It probably has something to do with it.
Call 706-496-8442 or visit craftandvine.com
Hammond’s Ferry residents in North Augusta were overjoyed when DiVino opened last year. Indeed, all of the area was happy to have an authentic Italian spot nearby. The owners and chef are all natives of Florence, Italy, and their hometown influence shows. Pastas and breads are made in house, the wine selection is varied and the staff bends over backwards to make your experience a wonderful one. The simple Spagetti Cacio e Pepe (with black pepper and cheese) is sublime, the pizzas are delicious and, although we haven’t been yet, we hear the Sunday brunch is fantastic. Espresso French Toast? Yes, please!
Call 803-426-8675 or visit divino-augusta.com
Open near the Augusta Common downtown, Dr. Unk’s is the perfect place to pregame before all the events at the Common this week. Open six days a week from 4 p.m. until, this is a great place to party because they offer daily happy hours from 4-9 p.m. and serve Fat Tuesday frozen drinks, including the really popular 190 Octane or, as it’s probably better known, hunch punch. Yum!
Call 706-426-7071 or visit facebook.com/drunks.divebar/
The New Orleans vibe that Bryan Mitchell cultivated at his former restaurant, the Cotton Patch, is alive and well at Eli’s American Grille, his new dining spot in Columbia County. It may be new, but the shrimp and pimento cheese grits is already a menu favorite, as is the deep-fried southern pecan pie with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. If you can resist those two, try a burger. The Dixie Burger, with fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese and buffalo cream sauce, is especially good.
Call 706-524-7152 or visit elisamerican.com
Farmhaus is a counter-service burger and milkshake spot, but it’s so much more than that. Since opening in 2012, there’s almost always a (quickly moving) line and Chef Sean Wight is set to open a Columbia County outpost of the restaurant last year. The Haus Burgers, especially the Farmstyle with bacon and a sunny side up egg, are enormously popular, but we suggest you build your own. Better yet, check the special board for the burger of the month or check out one of their new grilled cheese sandwiches. And don’t forget a boozy shake or craft cocktail to complete your meal.
Call 706-496-8771 or visit farmhausburger.com
Fat Man’s has been in the Usry family since the 1940s and has been a lunch tradition for Augustans pretty much ever since. Miss Pearl is still serving up her famous real meals, but sandwiches, soups, salads and specials, or “speshuls” as they call them, are also available. And how about this as a bonus: you can eat out by the canal or take a stroll afterwards. Open daily from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Call 706-733-1740 or visit fatmans.com
Finch & Fifth aims to serve creative dishes and craft cocktails in a laid-back environment, and they’ve earned a reputation as a neighborhood hangout on the strength of both their food and drinks. Serving lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, this Surrey Center spot is known for its charcuterie and cheese plates, boiled peanut hummus and its Brussels sprouts slaw. Try anything you order with a Gin Jitszu (their take on a gin and tonic) and you can’t go wrong.
Call 706-364-5300 or visit finchandfifth.com
Nestled in the heart of a neighborhood right next to downtown is the Olde Town Inn. In the basement of that inn is the Fox’s Lair Lounge, one of the best kept secrets in the area. Locals are well familiar with this cozy spot to grab a drink, hang out with friends and listen to some great music, but, for visitors, it might be a bit of a hunt to find. Take the time to do so, however, and you won’t be sorry. The staff is the epitome of Southern hospitality and the setting is so charming you may never want to leave.
Call 706-828-5600 or visit oldetowninnaugusta.com
When Augustans want a taste of the Big Easy, they head to French Market Grille West in Columbia County. Here, you’ll find Jim Beck presiding over a kitchen that serves some of the best Creole and Cajun dishes around. We like to start off with some red beans and rice, along with a shrimp remoulade salad. If you’re not watching your weight, the honey-pecan fried chicken tastes and good as it smells. If you want something lighter, try the Shrimp Creole Orleans or something from the “Smart Choice” section of the menu. And if you’re in the mood for spicy, try the Barbequed Shrimp. Just make sure you have a beer or a Cajun Martini (in a Mason Jar, no less) on hand to cool you off.
Call 706-855-5111 or visit frenchmarketwest.com
Chef Sean Wight began his downtown takeover with Frog Hollow Tavern, a fine-dining restaurant that’s sure to be packed this Masters Week. The upscale spot relies on local products as much as they can, changes its menu almost daily and barrel ages cocktails to give its guests and experience they won’t soon forget. Don’t have a reservation? Keep your fingers crossed for an open spot at the small bar.
Call 706-364-6906 or visit froghollowtavern.com
This neighborhood spot in North Augusta is owned by Chef Manuel Verney-Carron, who also owns Manuel’s Bread Café down the street. Unlike his more upscale restaurant, however, the Larder is a hangout, a place that serves breakfast, lunch and tapas at dinner, but that also has a great bar and a pantry if you want to take something with you. While you’re there, try a Mexican Mule with spiced honey tequila and some Casino Baked Oysters. To take with you? How about some homemade macaroons? They’re divine.
Call 803-341-9273 or visit hflarder.com
Don’t go to Helga’s expecting fancy or upscale. Do go to Helga’s if you want to drink some great beer, meet some interesting people and test your wits in a game of trivia. And don’t forget to eat, although with the menu items written on construction paper and taped to the walls behind the bar, we don’t think you’ll be able to.
Call 706-736-2880 or visit helgaspubandgrill.com
If you happen to be downtown and feel like experiencing a blast from the past, visit Hildebrandt’s on 6th Street, a market and deli that opened in Augusta way back in 1879. Browse through the market as you head back to see Luanne and the folks in this part German, part Southern deli that’s open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. We suggest putting yourself in the staff’s hands and asking them to choose your four meats and two cheeses in the King Louis sandwich. Sides and desserts change daily, but we highly recommend the broccoli or German potato salads, as well as the lemon cream cheese squares.
Call 706-722-7756 or visit dasdeli.us
The food is great at Hive, that’s a given. But what Eric and Kristi Kinlaw have done for craft beer in Augusta is other-worldly. They strive to bring beers you just can’t find without traveling. Regional and limited-release offerings dominate their extensive menu, so you’ll always surprised when you stop in. But beer isn’t the only thing they offer on tap: you’ll also find wine, cocktails, kombucha, coffee, soft drinks and ciders. Speaking of ciders, try the Argus Ginger Perry if they still have it. It’s light, has a bit of a bite from the ginger and is not sweet at all. Perfect for sipping, with the added bonus of it not weighing you down.
Call 706-836-3661 or visit hiveaugusta.com
Since opening in a former gun store at the corner of Monte Sano and Wrightsboro roads, The Indian Queen has become the place to hang out on the Hill. Specializing in classic cocktails featuring house-made syrups and juices, this is a great place to have a nice drink and settle in for a conversation with a friend or two. Especially since they’ve expanded their deck so that it now has a courtyard vibe.
Call 706-303-8723 or visit theindianqueen.com
Laziza is a popular hot spot for lunch or dinner. Located in Evans, the bright and cheerful café offers authentic Mediterranean and middle-eastern fare including baklava, baba gannoush, tabbouleh salad and stuffed grape leaves. The food is made fresh and the service is fast and friendly — this staff pick has to be the succulent chicken shawarma.
Call 706-504-4303 or visit lazizagrill.com
You can’t go wrong with the pizza, pretzels, salads and even the hummus at this laid-back, hippie-inspired restaurant with three area locations. All three are owned by restaurateur Shawn Ledford, but each has its own personality. They all share an impressive beer collection and a welcoming atmosphere, however. And, believe it or not, they also offer a damn fine burger.
Call 706-828-5578 (Augusta), 706-364-6756 (Evans) or 803-474-8454 (Aiken), or visit mellowmushroom.com
There are many, many reasons why we love Metro. For one, it’s open at 10 a.m. and stays open until well into the night, so it’s a great place for those who enjoy day drinking, but who also need options for their designated drivers. The coffee drinks here are damned good and they’ll even make them for you, maybe with a little bit of grumbling, but that’s okay, at night. The atmosphere is relaxed during the day, but tends to get rowdier as the night progresses. It’s a great place to end up after you have dinner at the owners’ restaurant next door, Whiskey Bar (Kitchen).
This is a restaurant that is near and dear to many a local’s heart. Nacho Mama’s serves up gigantic burritos and strong (really strong) margaritas in a friendly atmosphere with an eclectic, downtown vibe, and has been doing so for more than 20 years. Order at the counter and the staff will yell out your name when your food is ready. Or just sit at the bar and relax. One other tip: Get anything that has the mango habanero salsa on it (and ask for extra) and go ahead and splurge for the top-shelf margarita. Both are worth it.
Call 706-724-0501 or visit nachomamasaugusta.com
Inspired by Italian cuisine, Oliviana’s menu runs the gamut of traditional fare; fresh seafood, pasta and pizza cooked to order. The restaurant offers light and airy spaces and yields a relaxing atmosphere — it’s a lovely place to eat simple, well-prepared, fresh Italian food. Big tip too big to ignore: Oliviana’s juicy homemade meatballs are incredible. And so is their Tiramisu. Just do it.
Call 706-723-1242 or visit olivianaitaliano.com
A beloved landmark known for its magnificent verandah, the bar and grill provide diners and guests with an elegant but comfortable place to dine or just hang out. This week, the dining room offers a buffet dinner from 5-10 p.m. each night, and the cigar bar is open from 7-11 p.m. In honor of the occasion, they’ve also developed a special drink, On the Green, that includes a tropical mix of rums, Blue Curacao, melon liqueur, sour mix and pineapple juice. Take one of these to their Pi in the Sky rooftop bar and enjoy fantastic views of the city.
Call 706-737-8888 or visit curiocollection3.hilton.com
A locally owned restaurant with three area locations (four if you count Columbia, S.C.), the Pizza Joint is a great place to hit if you just want a slice and a beer. Of course, you may change your mind once you see their sandwiches (the Billy Club is a personal favorite), calzones and even the salads (get the Greek or the Sicilian chef’s), but the Tree Hugger is an incredibly good slice of pizza even if it doesn’t have meat on it.
Call 706-774-0037 (Augusta), 706-447-4992 (Evans) or 803-648-9074 (Aiken), or visit thepizzajoint.net
Augusta is nowhere near the ocean, but you’ll feel like you are when you visit this restaurant, an institution for locals and out-of-town guests alike. Seafood, of course, is the name of the game here and their buffalo grilled shrimp are pretty tasty. Not in the mood for seafood? They have a damn good burger on the menu as well.
Call 706-860-2337 (Augusta) or 706-868-6850 (Evans), or visit rhineharts.com
Opened by mother-daughter brewing team Brey and Anne Sloan in 2016, Riverwatch Brewery has made its home in the farmers market area near downtown. Masters Week tours are from 2-9 p.m. each day through Saturday. Pay for a tour and get six pours of their fantastic beers, plus a commemorative glass. They also have a bottle tour special in honor of the tournament and really cool logo ball markers. The atmosphere is laid back here, with a great deck that is both pet and family friendly. Our suggestion? Don’t miss the Through the Green Vienna Lager, but don’t skip the Cautionary Tale IPA (even if you don’t like IPAs, you’ll enjoy this one) and, if they still have the Queen Maeve Irish Red, get it!
Call 706-421-7177 or visit riverwatchbrewery.com
The second brewery to open in the Augusta area in the past couple of years also features special Masters Week hours. Through Thursday, they’re open from 3-8 p.m., Friday they’re open 3-9 p.m. and Saturday they’re open 1-9 p.m. Prices include tours, pours of their five styles and a relaxed atmosphere in which to spend some time.
Call 706-426-8212 or visit savannahriverbrew.com
Shannon’s is an old-school bar and lounge that has undergone a facelift in recent years. Here, the drinks are inexpensive, the food is incredibly good and they have one of the best bartenders in town on staff. So if you encounter Aaron Brock, tip him well and tell him the Metro Spirit sent you. He’ll give us our cut later.
Call 706-814-7760 or visit facebook.com/shannonsbargrill/
The Soul Bar’s younger sister, Sky City is a live music venue and bar next to Mellow Mushroom on Broad Street. Thanks to a digital PA, the sound for live music is amazing and has attracted some impressive talent, from Vintage Trouble and Drivin’ n Cryin’ to Cage the Elephant. Thursday night, it is home to the Major Rager After Party featuring Funk You and Schema.
Call 706-945-1270 or visit skycityaugusta.com
The sushi here is fantastic and the drinks aren’t too shabby either. Sole has two happy hours, from 4-7 p.m. and then from 10:30 p.m.-2 a.m., which makes it the ideal place to get together with friends. But what really makes Sole the place to go is it’s large, open patio outfitted with games (pool, cornhole), a firepit, tables and other seating. Outfitted with holiday type lights and often projecting sports or movies onto the wall, it’s just a wonderful place to spend time with friends and family.
Call 706-432-9898 or visit solesushi.com
We are the home of James Brown, and nobody honors the Godfather of Soul like the Soul Bar. The finest combination of dirty beats, a variety of great beers and some amazing live music, the Soul Bar has a vibe like no other bar downtown. Extremely laid back, this place has been keeping downtown Augusta funky since 1995 — check out the bar’s impressive collection of James Brown era memorabilia and the local art.
Call 706-724-8880 or visit facebook.com/SoulBarAugusta
Music promoter George Claussen opened this restaurant with business partner Brian Brittingham two years ago and, since then, it has garnered rave reviews for its barbecue, homemade sauces (named after the songs of the bands they love so much) and anti-craft cocktail thinking. This, they believe, is food and drinks you serve at a backyard barbecue and the restaurant has that vibe as well. Insider tip: Many declare Southbound’s Almost Famous wings to be the best chicken wings they’ve ever had.
Call 706-733-5464 or visit southboundsmokehouse.com
There’s no place like Stillwater anywhere in Augusta. From the moment you see the rocking chairs out front, you know this is a place to relax with a good beer. Featuring 24 beers and ciders on tap, the selections are listed on a chalkboard opposite the bar; that chalkboard makes an appearance on their Facebook page, if you want to check out the rotating selection before you head over. It’s also why everyone seems to be looking t the ceiling. Make a point to visit on the nights when they have live music; Stillwater books some of the best local and regional Americana and bluegrass acts around.
Call 706-826-9857 or visit facebook.com/stillwatertaproomaugusta/
With two locations in Martinez and North Augusta, Sunrise Grill is the place in the Augusta area to get your breakfast fix. Seriously, we cannot extoll the virtues of this place enough. The staff is exceptionally friendly, even though they’re always busy there’s usually a spot or two at the counter you can grab, and the menu has something for everyone. Open from 6 a.m.-2 p.m., they have a lunch menu but, honestly, we never stray from breakfast. Whether it’s their signature corned beef hash omelet, their Eggs Benedict or the sweet potato pancakes, everything here is delicious… and served with strong, piping hot coffee.
Call 706-228-4883 (Augusta) or 803-202-9898 (North Augusta), or visit sunrisegrill.com
Kevin Goldsmith’s signature restaurant started in Surrey Center, and that location is still our favorite. The restaurant, where “Far East Meets Southwest,” delivers expert takes on Asian and Hispanic classics like sushi, takos, salads and even posole. A recent addition of the Tako Burger has already become a favorite and it’s not really a surprise. After all, the 100 percent Angus blend is made from short rib, brisket and chuck, and you can get it topped with everything from guac to pork belly. Perfect with a beer or a cocktail.
Call 706-736-9191 (Augusta), 706-863-0606 (Evans) or 803-642-8899 (Aiken), or visit tako-sushi.com
A Masters favorite since the beginning of time (it seems like anyway, even though it’s only been open since the ‘80s), TBonz is a steakhouse that offers quality meats and accompaniments, but in an atmosphere that’s welcoming to one and all. If it’s your first time, we highly recommend the drunken ribeye with bourbon sauce. Start the meal with Tommy’s Texas Cheese Fries and save room for a piece of their homemade peanut butter pie.
Call 706-737-8325 (Augusta) or 706-814-7083 (Evans), or visit tbonzofaugusta.com
If you’re looking for some beer to take home with you and a six pack just won’t do, this is your place. A growler store featuring 20 beers of all kinds on tap, Tip Top Taps has knowledgeable employees who love to talk beer and will even give you a sample or two before filling up your howler or growler.
Call 706-860-2320 or tiptoptaps.com
A restaurant from the guys who brought us Metro Coffeehouse & Pub, the name might put the “Kitchen” in parentheses, but the food here definitely doesn’t take a back seat to anything. WBK offers small plates, Asian choices and salads, but the real stars of this menu are the burgers. If you’re looking for something different, try the TCB, an Elvis-inspired creation that features peanut butter, banana, bacon, and honey. You’ll be surprised how good it is. Our favorite, however, is named after their next-door neighbor. The Metro includes sautéed mushrooms and swiss cheese and is heavenly, especially when paired with waffle fries dipped in remoulade sauce. Pair it with a whiskey, from which they have more than 200 to choose.
Call 706-814-6159 or visit whiskeybarkitchen.com
Wild Wing is the place to party with live music during Masters Week, so much so that they have two stages of live music each night: one inside and one outside on their beautiful new deck. Great chicken wings, live music, lots of beer: what could be better?
Call 706-364-9453 or visit wildwingcafe.com
Located halfway between Augusta and Evans, Willie Jewell’s offers old-school barbecue for lunch and dinner. They offer platters, salads, snacks and kids’ meals, but we like to stick to the basics: a pulled pork sandwich topped with the Low Country Gold sauce (they also offer Hickory Heaven, Sweet & Sassy and Hot Momma) with a side of Brunswick stew. Desserts are trickier because we usually want one of each: banana pudding, bread pudding, peach cobbler and pecan pie.
Call 762-222-8587 or visit williejewells.com