Pro Tips: 10 Top Augusta Restaurants
©Lauren Carnes Photography
Better than Par
Augusta is home to the Masters Tournament, perhaps the most-legendary tournament of the four major pro-golf championships, where international superstars compete for that coveted green jacket, and where spectators nosh on Southern pimento-cheese sandwiches. Beyond the links, Augusta is developing a reputation for its restaurant scene, blending contemporary Southern hospitality with a focus on local ingredients. From stellar small plates to low-country classics like shrimp and grits, these dishes are the culinary masters of the city — ideal to check out during Masters week and beyond.
Photos courtesy of Lauren Carnes Photography, Eric Kinlaw, Abel Brown, Joe White, The Boll Weevil Cafe & Sweetery, Frog Hollow Tavern
Wood-Fired Pizza at Craft & Vine
Whimsical small plates and amply blistered wood-fired pizzas are the draw at this downtown craft-cocktail den and restaurant. Bring a group to order a wide selection of the excellent charcuterie and cheeses (particularly those from Georgia), as well as shared plates like wood-fired pretzel bites with pimento cheese fondue and housemade pork rinds dusted with Aleppo pepper. Pizza options vary by season, and offerings could include duck confit and Brussels sprouts in winter or asparagus in spring. The Spicy is particularly popular, scattered with fresh mozzarella, soppressata and whole Calabrian hot peppers (which those averse to heat should pick off before eating). Pair the meal with clever libations like the Pink Dogwood: Southern Comfort (aged with honey, stone fruit, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves) mixed with fresh lime juice, Cointreau and cranberry juice.
Anson Mills Johnny Cake at Abel Brown
In an airy, contemporary space that’s equal parts sleek oyster bar and cozy country kitchen, Abel Brown charms with Southern hospitality. Oysters are offered on the half shell or broiled with roasted jalapeno-lime butter; don’t miss the fried oyster sliders in buttery brioche rolls when they pop up as specials. Other daily seafood specials include peekytoe crab cakes. Balance the seafood with classic Southern flavors in the Anson Mills Johnny Cake. The savory skillet cornmeal-buttermilk pancake is served with well-spiced pimento cheese (aka “the caviar of the South”). During Masters week, Abel Brown will offer caviar service starring University of Georgia’s Siberian Sturgeon Caviar.
Almost Famous Wings at Southbound Smokehouse
With its authentic barbecue, chill vibes and live music, Southbound Smokehouse is a party waiting to happen. Kick off your night with an order of Almost Famous Wings, dry-rubbed in a proprietary spice blend, slow-smoked for hours, flash-fried until crisp and served with a tangy, mayo-based Alabama white barbecue sauce (if Buffalo-style wings are more your thing, get the Famous Wings). Move on to the pulled-to-order smoked barbecue pork, which you can get on everything from nachos to sliders to tacos. Doctor it up with housemade sauces like the sweet-spicy Friend of the Devil (named for a Grateful Dead song) and the mustard-based Heart of Gold (named after a Neil Young tune). For a taste of everything, order The Godfather, a platter with one-third of a rack of ribs, three Almost Famous Wings, smoked chicken and pulled pork, plus two sides (the Hash and Rice and the Fleetwood Mac and Cheese are both winners) and sliced white bread. Slay thirst with the latest brew from Savannah-based Southbound Brewery.
Pintxos at Füse
The eclectic, ever-changing menu at this casual downtown hot spot reflects Chef Eric Draper’s seasonal whims and global culinary approach. Start your journey with a sampling of Spanish-inspired pintxos: planks of bread that feature creative toppings. Highlights include classic Spanish boquerones (white anchovies) with olive oil and dill; mushroom-almond pâté with local mushrooms and aged Spanish cheese; and the Southern-leaning combo of pulled pork and pimento cheese with pickled jalapeno. Continue your world tour with the perennially popular Moroccan-spiced lamb burger, crowned with a tangle of beer-braised onions and cheddar, and the huarache, which features Mexican-style pulled chicken atop a crispy corn tortilla with crema, cilantro spread and pickled sweet pepper. The chalkboard menu showcases the rotating selection of 30-plus craft beers on tap. For dessert, pair a favorite with housemade ice cream for a beer float.
Roast Pork Ultima Banh Mi at Bodega Ultima
Whether you’re looking to sip La Colombe coffee with a house-baked croissant on a sun-drenched patio or you're simply jonesing for a soup-and-sandwich fix, Bodega Ultima has you covered. For the latter, the Vietnamese-inspired Roast Pork Ultima Banh Mi is ideal, with thinly sliced roasted pork loin piled onto a sturdy hoagie roll atop tangy Brussels sprouts slaw, tomato, cucumber and bacon, all capped with a fried egg. For lighter fare, try the Smoked Salmon BLT made with house-cured lox, or get the Mediterranean Duo Salad with a cup of gazpacho. While a set drink list is still in the works, the bar is fully stocked. Order personal favorites, or ask for cocktails incorporating housemade gelato, such as a lemon-ice-spiked French75.
Red Velvet Delight at The Boll Weevil Café and Sweetery
The Boll Weevil has baked up a reputation as the best bakery in town, thanks to a fantastic assortment of heavenly layer cakes, all-American cheesecakes and homey pies, all served in generous helpings. The cake slice to try is the Red Velvet Delight, which has the requisite layers of classic moist red velvet cake and fluffy cream cheese icing, but bucks tradition with cake layers sandwiching a dense slice of white chocolate cheesecake. (There’s also a classic red velvet cake for the purists out there.) For another taste of the South, go for the hummingbird cake with its layers of banana-pineapple spice cake and luscious cream cheese icing. The portions are perfect for sharing, plus you can always walk off your indulgence along the scenic Augusta Riverwalk bordering the Savannah River, just steps away.
Slow-Cooked NC Heritage Pork Shoulder at De Novo
Though it’s located in North Augusta, S.C., contemporary American restaurant De Novo is just a 10-minute drive across the Savannah River, making it a welcome reprieve from the Masters week throngs. Its strip-mall location belies the creative, upscale Southern-inflected cooking that Chef Jeremy Collins dishes out at every turn. The must-order entree is the Slow-Cooked NC Heritage Pork Shoulder finished with a bourbon-sorghum glaze and served over ethereal whipped potatoes, with crispy onions and a side of sweetly spicy collard greens braised in smoked tomato jam. Round out the meal with a starter of house-smoked pork belly and jalapeno pimento cheese, or try the South Carolina shrimp and stone-ground grits. Save room for one of the seasonal desserts, like bubbling-hot apple cobbler or homemade peach ice cream.
Georgia Craft Beer at Hive Growler Bar
After a day spent on the greens (or simply fending off the muggy Georgia heat), wet your whistle at the Hive. With about 60 craft beers on tap, there’s plenty for aficionados to geek out over, along with seasonal cocktails, wine and sake on tap. Georgia breweries represent more than half of the beers — choices from Atlanta’s Orpheus Brewing and Kennesaw’s Burnt Hickory Brewery are particularly excellent, along with Augusta locals Riverwatch Brewery and Savannah River Brewing Co. Order bar snacks like fried housemade pickles or soft pretzels with smoky white cheddar fondue. The kitchen also makes shrimp, chicken or oyster po’ boys (opt for kale slaw on the side) and gourmet, grass-fed beef burgers piled with bourbon-caramelized onions. As a bonus, guests who find a beer they love can take it home — along with on-tap artisan soda, kombucha or cold-press coffee — in a growler.
Veggie Burger at Humanitree House Juice Joint & Gallery
Come for the organic cold-pressed juices, smoothies and vegan eats, but stay for the art gallery vibes and relaxed atmosphere. From the tightly edited lunch menu, the veggie burger is a must-order — co-owner Denise Tucker spent three years perfecting the texture of the beet, black bean and black rice patty, and the result is a meatless triumph. There’s a daily soup option to accompany the burger, but insiders go for the raw kale salad, massaged in a secret apple-cider-based dressing. Make lunch extra virtuous with a green juice, like the Green Party Lemonade or the best-selling Green Goddess, packed with kale, spinach and cucumber, and sweetened with pineapple and apple. The vibrant murals canvassing the walls, tables and doors were done by co-owner and artist Baruti Tucker, who paints with only his fingers. Check out the adjoining gallery space to see more of Tucker’s work, as well as works from other local artists.
Smoked Gouda Mac ‘n Cheese at Frog Hollow Tavern
There’s a lot to love on the menu at this upscale downtown institution, including barrel-aged cocktails and the locally sourced ingredients, many of which come from Chef Sean Wight’s farm. But the dish with the tastiest notoriety is the decadent Smoked Gouda Mac ‘n Cheese, a lasagna-style mac with layers of fresh pasta sheets, an herb-infused savory custard, paper-thin onion slices, smoked Gouda and sharp cheddar, baked until bubbly and golden. Other menu stalwarts include the braised Berkshire pork shoulder, served with the legendary mac and vinegar-braised collards, as well as wild-caught shrimp, and grits with andouille sausage. Don’t overlook the seasonal specials; if the pork chop is an option, don’t think twice.