Best of Augusta 2020

It’s comforting to remember that even in 2020, by popular acclaim the worst year most of us have ever had the misfortune to endure, there are still plenty of bests to offset all the worsts. Please enjoy all the proof the following pages provide.


 

DINING

Breakfast
You say working from home means you aren’t up before sunrise anymore? Don’t worry. The clock may say brunch, but
Sunrise Grill will still serve you the best breakfast in town. Next most popular are Ruth’s Family Kitchen and downtown’s (that is, either Augusta or Aiken) New Moon Cafe.

Brunch
The real tragedy here is that brunch at Edgar’s Grille, anointed as #1 by our readers, happens but once a week. Another potential tragedy: forgetting to remove your mask before that first delicious bite. Manuel’s Bread Café and The Partridge Inn also receive high marks.

Lunch
Ah, something that happens daily. That’s more like it. And the menu at Village Deli is so extensive – 5 solid pages – that you can sample different good things there six days out of every seven. Edgar’s Grille shows up again here, as does TBonz Steakhouse.

Business Lunch
No offense intended, but a proper business lunch should not happen in a strip mall eatery. The setting should suggest empires a-building, a place like
Augustino’s. At least that’s what readers suggest. TBonz Steakhouse takes first runner-up, followed by The Pinnacle Club, offering a superb setting for members’ business lunches (not to mention dinner) at the highest level (seriously) for more than 50 years.

Asian Restaurant
In ordinary times, you might hop on a plane to central China to satisfy your craving for good Chinese food. This year, you’ll have to be content with Hunan Café, but readers say don’t despair: you’re in for a treat. Alas, it’s just as hard to travel to Japan right now too, so take readers up on their suggestions to also try Toki Japanese Steakhouse and Fujiyama Japanese Steak House.

Mexican Restaurant
Locations of Taqueria El Rey are popping up here and there across the area, so there’s no excuse for not visiting the best. Monterrey Mexican Restaurant and Vallarta Restaurante Mexicano (not sure what that translates to in English) are also short listed by readers.

Indian Restaurant
Know what will be crazy? If scientists discover in a month or two that curry is the most effective weapon against COVID-19. If so, Curry Hut will be even more popular than it is now. Visit today and beat the rush! Taj of India and Namaste offer tasty karma too.

Italian Restaurant
Italy made the news across the globe earlier this year for being a hot spot. Meanwhile in Augusta, Oliviana Ristorante has been a hot spot since the day it opened. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Italian Specialties scores 2nd, and Luigi’s (not too far away from their 75th Anniversary), takes 3rd.

Appetizers
Craft & Vine has earned a gold medal from readers for waking up taste buds. That’s the job of appetizers, right? C&V doesn’t even open until 5 pm, but it’s worth the wait. Other taste bud alarm clocks of note: The Bee’s Knees and Finch & Fifth.

Barbecue
Sconyers Bar-B-Que may well be the most handsome restaurant in the river region, but people don’t go there for that. It’s the barbecue that has made Sconyers rather legendary. If by chance you’ve never had a Sconyers experience, put on your stretchy pants and head over. Willie Jewell’s Old School Bar-B-Q is first runner-up, and Southbound Smokehouse follows.

Ribs
This splinter faction of the barbecue world also marches to the beat of Sconyers, says the voice of the people. Shane’s Rib Shack is what you might call second rib, and TBonz Steakhouse third.

Wings
Despite its untamed name, Wild Wing Cafe has clearly corralled the secret recipe for wonderful wings. And now they’ve gone and done it in Grovetown, too. TBonz Steakhouse and Southbound Smokehouse offer some pretty fly wings too, say our readers.

Seafood
“Beyond Casual” is the most accurate slogan in all the world, and it’s the property of our own hometown eatery, Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar. Boys and girls, we are on the map. T’s Restaurant and Abel Brown are also on board as top vote getters in this category.

Sushi
Some say it’s almost criminal to eat the sushi creations at Takosushi, the reader favorite, because they’re like little sculptures. Preserve art! But never fear: eat these and they’ll make more, pinkie promise. Other A-list edible sculptures are offered at Solé Augusta and Izumi Japanese Restaurant.

Steak
Considering the dietary importance of protein, choosing TBonz Steakhouse (as readers did), is a very wise decision. Voters also have no beef (figuratively speaking) with Calvert’s Restaurant and Cadwalladers Cafe.

Catfish
This being an election year, the catfish vote has been actively courted by every candidate. The incumbent often has a natural advantage, and sure enough,
T’s Restaurant will serve another year as your top choice. Second place goes to Old McDonald’s Fish Camp, and Café 209 wins third.

Fried Chicken
WifeSaver takes the gold again when it comes to fried chicken in this town. It’s the ultimate comfort food, and we have certainly needed that while at home. Pick some up today to combat the COVID blues. Researchers from the CDC (Chicken, Delicious Chicken) also recommend Maryland Fried Chicken and Frog & The Hen.

Soup
Many people think Sunshine Bakery is a division of Sunrise Grill, but they are not related beyond the connection between sunrise and sunshine (which, admittedly, is quite significant). Yes, Sunshine Bakery stands alone, especially in the world of soup (also, admittedly, quite significant). California Dreaming, right here in Georgia (Fun Fact: they tried Georgia Dreaming and it just didn’t work), takes the silver tureen, and Village Deli gets the bronze.

Pizza
Money can’t buy happiness. But it can buy pizza, an important distinction. Your fellow readers suggest Mellow Mushroom is the best place to allocate the pizza portion of your household budget. Pizza Joint and Pizza Central are the other two toppings in this category.

Burrito
Your Numero Uno is everyone’s favorite one-link chain restaurant: Nacho Mama’s. Diablo’s Southwest Grill (6 area locations) wins second place, and Monterrey Mexican Restaurant (did you know they have almost 70 locations across the country?) wins third.

Hot dog
You know what they always say about hot dogs: they taste best at the old ball yard. But when the old ball yard isn’t available — like during pandemics, for example — then they always say SnoCap has the best hot dogs. This is a food that’s all about atmosphere. Two other top dogs are Farmhaus and Village Deli.

Hamburger
The word hamburger originally comes from Germany’s second-largest city, so it’s no coincidence that Farmhaus wins this election. (Note the German spelling of house. See what they did there?) Whiskey Bar Kitchen and Gary’s Hamburgers also made the medals stand.

French Fries
Before the invention of French fries, you might have had a hard time convincing people that elongated potato pieces would ever be a big hit. But they are, and have been for a long time. One history notes that Thomas Jefferson had “potatoes served in the French manner” at a White House dinner in 1802. Your top three 218 years later:

1. McDonald’s
2. Farmhaus
3. Whiskey Bar Kitchen

Sandwiches
If you’re going to be punched in the mouth, it’s best to let Knuckle Sandwiches do it. But we assure you, it’s a good punch in the mouth. Hildebrandt’s continues to do what they’ve done so well since 1879, and Village Deli earns third.

Salad
Just any old collection of mixed greens does not rise to the occasion, but The Southern Salad does. Veg out or veg in, your choice. California Dreaming and TBonz Steakhouse will also gladly trade some of their greens for some of yours.

Dessert
With a name like The Boll Weevil Cafe and Sweetery — is sweetery even a word? — they aren’t being exactly subtle about it. Just give in and go. You won’t regret it. (Ok, ok, you might. But in a good way.) Neighbors French Market Grille and Abel Brown Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar also offer sweet dreams.

Bakery
The big winner is actually lil’ – the Lil’ Dutch Bakery, to be precise. They pour the time and energy they save by dropping those three extraneous letters into their delicious goodies. Second place goes to The Boll Weevil, and third to Taylor-Made Kakes. You’ve never heard of Taylor-Made? Get with the program! She has more than 11,000 followers on Facebook!

Donuts
Some things in the world of 2020 can be enjoyed just as well online. Not donuts. There is no substitute for the real thing, and voters recommend Krispy Kreme, Belair Donuts and Heroes Donuts, in that order.

Ice Cream
Rumor has it that Bruster’s Ice Cream, your fave, offers vanilla. That may be a hoax, but we do know for sure that they have Chocolate Butter Batter Brickle Banana Chip Cheesecake Swirl Crunch. Cold Stone Creamery and Pink Dipper also have one or two flavors.

Coffee
The world’s most popular beverage (just barely edging out vodka and scotch), coffee is item #1 on the menu at Buona Caffe, the top reader choice. Ubora and New Moon Cafe are other key suppliers to feed your addiction.

Iced Tea
Just think: you could have been born in some desolate corner of the world where they don’t have WifeSaver and their superb iced tea. Count your blessings, people. McDonald’s gets 2nd and Chick-fil-A 3rd.

Wine Merchant
In a virtual repeat of last year’s election results, Toast Wine & Beverage, The White Horse Wine & Spirits, and Cork & Flame take the top three spots. When you’ve found a winner, stick with it.

Wine Menu
When a restaurateur formerly owned a wine store, you can be pretty sure he knows his stuff, and so it is with Cork & Flame, the top reader choice. Craft & Vine and Frog Hollow Tavern are very worthy also-rans.

Beer Selection (Take Home)
There are big box brews and local lagers being produced all over the world, and Toast Wine & Beverage and Beverage Outlet take home the gold and silver as the best places to sample the planet’s offerings.

Beer Menu
Which brings us to the World of Beer. Literally. It’s a huge planet we live on, but the World of Beer is conveniently located right here on Washington Road. Even better, readers say they have the best beer menu available. Arsenal Tap Room and The Hive score second and third.

Craft cocktail
A quality craft cocktail is 50% science, 50% art, and 50% flavor. If you doubt this formula, inquire within at Craft & Vine for all the supporting evidence you’ll need. Downtown’s shiny new Pineapple Ink Tavern earns the silver medal (go see why!), while Finch & Fifth takes the bronze.

Happy Hour
In these challenging times, we need more than just an hour of happiness, so Finch & Fifth invites you to stay as long as you’d like (within reason). TBonz Steakhouse is also trying to do its part, as is Solé Augusta.

Caterer
Appropriately enough, Tastefully Yours wins the category. When you hire a caterer, you definitely want tasty, and you want it yours, not somebody else’s. FatMan’s Café and Berry’s Catering battle for second and third.

Friendly Service
Winning this category is a true key to success, and this year the honor goes to Chick-fil-A, proving once again that haute service can trump haute cuisine any day of the week (except Sunday). TBonz Steakhouse and Buona Caffe also place well in this noteworthy category.

Down-Home Cooking
In a year that has seen way too much actual down-home cooking, Goolsby’s is the best there is, say the ballots, at offering non-down-home cooked down-home cooking. And who doesn’t need that right now? Honey From the Rock and WifeSaver complete the top three.

Outdoor Dining
Dining al fresco has always been pleasant, but it hasn’t been potentially life-saving until this year. Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar has plenty of socially distanced tables waiting for you. Solé Augusta and Pizza Joint also have a spread-out spread ready for hungry customers.

New Restaurant
Your top pick, Pineapple Ink Tavern, may be new, but there is plenty of experience back in the kitchen. That experience pays off on your plate and then your taste buds. Readers also said a big “yes jo” to Nojo, a.k.a. Noble Jones. Try it! MeiMei’s Dim Sum House in Grovetown scores third place.

Downtown Restaurant
You cannot go wrong at any of these fine finalists: Whiskey Bar Kitchen in first, Frog Hollow Tavern in second, or Solé Augusta in third.

Neighborhood Restaurant
If one of these establishments isn’t in your neighborhood, call a Realtor (circle R and everything) today! Sheehan’s Irish Pub is on top, followed closely by Manuel’s Bread Café, and finally Beck’s, whom we hope to promptly see post-pandemic.

Best Hidden Gem
You could get lost the first time you search for Rae’s Coastal Café, but only if you don’t have GPS. With or without navigation, though, the votes say you’ll have no trouble finding your way back a second time. And a third and a fourth…Knuckle Sandwiches and Pineapple Ink Tavern are anything but hard to find, so don’t overlook those gems either.

Best Overall Restaurant
We conclude the dining categories with the one grouping that embraces the best of the best. The gold medal, blue ribbon trophy goes to Frog Hollow Tavern. Congratulations! Next, readers like TBonz Steakhouse, and they complete the classiest classification with Cork & Flame. Our (and readers’) compliments to all three.

 


 

ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT

Local Male Vocalist
There is no doubt Trey McLaughlin can sing. But how well? Well enough to be #1 in this worthy field of finalists. In second is last year’s #1, Ryan Abel. He even sounds great singing through a mask. Russell Joel Brown is third. Is Augusta sharing him with Broadway, or is Broadway sharing him with us?

Local Female Vocalist
The ballots sing the praises of Tyreon
Williams
as the winner of the Augusta version of The Voice. Bethany Davis and ChaVonne Campbell are the first and second A-list alternates.

Local R&B Group
Being a group, The Lady & The Gents no doubt stand safely within separate 6-foot circles, but the music still comes out in perfect harmony. Tre Sounds (fronted by the aforementioned ChaVonne Campbell as lead singer) wins the silver medal, and Sounds Unlimited earns the bronze.

Local Jazz Band
The Lady & The Gents’ playbook includes lots of all-time great jazz classics. You can’t go wrong with that formula. Perennial favorite Garden City Jazz wins second.

Local Country Band
Kenny George Band released their new album, “Forgotten South,” just in time to meet a little virus flying in from China. But thankfully, music is immune to infection. Find them on YouTube and elsewhere, and look for their next live gig. Harlem Sons and Whiskey Run are scond and third.

Local Rock/Alternative Band
Ed Turner and Number 9 is quite possibly Augusta’s favorite musical group of any kind. They certainly are in this category, and we have the votes to prove it. Anybody’s Guess and Bethany Davis & the Southside Boys are the warm-up acts in second and third.

Local Bluegrass Band
The Mason Jars play classic bluegrass, which probably explains their name: they preserve the traditions of the genre. The ever-popular Eryn Eubanks is next up, followed by Bethany Davis and the Southside Boys.

Local Contemporary Christian Band
We have seen this name before: Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar band, take this trophy. Repeat winners Eryn Eubanks and the Family Fold, and Ryan Abel round out the category.

Local Performing Arts Group
Winners in this category, by a strange coincidence, all share the same first name. The curtain goes up to first reveal Augusta Players. Augusta Choral Society and Augusta Mini Theatre also fill ballot boxes — and seats.

Singles Spot
Have you noticed it’s not easy to meet people during a global pandemic? Lockdowns do make things a little more challenging. Enter Garden City Social. Notice anything unusual about their name? It’s not Garden City Social Distancing, thank goodness. Along with their downtown neighbors Solé Augusta and The Scene Nightclub, you’ve got three options for singles endorsed by our expert panel.

Late-night Spot
Earlier this summer The Indian Queen marked its 8th birthday. So they aren’t even legal yet, but even so they are the reader favorite. People love Southbound Smokehouse (in second) for a multiplicity of reasons: live music, good food, and refreshing libations. Metro Coffeehouse just keeps being a place people like to go.

Live Music Bar
Metro Coffeehouse (see previous sentence). They’re tops in this category. Southbound Smokehouse and Wild Wing Cafe offer alternate stages because variety is a good thing.

Sports Bar
Wild Wing Cafe offers the complete package: good food and drinks of course, but they’re your #1 sports bar and #3 bar for live music. So while you’re eating, drinking and boot scootin’, you can also keep an eye on the scoreboard. How efficient of you. Broad Street’s classic Sports Center and Buffalo Wild Wings are your primo alternates.

 


 

MEDIA

Local TV Station
Sure, we miss the old Barnes & Noble, the former tenant at WJBF’s Television Park studio. But on the plus side we do have the new Barnes & Noble and WJBF. Readers say that’s a win-win. Next year’s probable winner, with their shiny new home and everything, is WRDW, and readers say Channel 3 belongs to WFXG.

Local TV News Anchor (Female)
Normally it would be highly inappropriate to call a woman an anchor, let alone tell her she’s the best. But we hope incumbent Jennie Montgomery cherishes this victory. If for any reason she is unable to complete her reign, first runner-up and colleague Dee Griffin is ready to step in. Barclay Bishop makes it a clean sweep for WJBF’s distaff staff.

Local TV News Anchor (Male)
The award for best news male anchor goes to Jennie’s on-air other half Brad Means of WJBF. Good job. Which reminds us, Richard Rogers of WRDW walks away with second place. Back at WJBF, John Hart scoops up third.

Local TV Weather Anchor
Veteran weatherman Jay Jefferies of WFXG, he of more than 30 years’ experience, gets the trophy this year, while WRDW’s Riley Hale takes home the silver. Readers gave George Myers a standing ovation in third as he headed off into retirement.

Local TV Morning Anchor
Her job description is only three words: rise and shine. Readers say Barclay Bishop of WJBF is performing quite well. First place, in fact. Her co-anchor Mary Morrison shares the early morning light, and the matutinal Monique Williams of WRDW wins third.

Local Media Sports Reporter
No one wants a Best of Augusta victory quite as much as a sports reporter, so this win is especially sweet for WJBF’s Colin Cody. Colleague John Hart takes second place, and if you’re thinking, “Hey, I thought he was a news anchor,” you don’t know John. His middle name is actually Sports. Really. Kevin Faigle of WRDW, recently retired from the broadcast world but still in the area, got third.

Local Media Reporter
George Eskola (WJBF) can be Mr Hard-Nosed Investigative Reporter, or he can be Out There Somewhere. Either way, he’s your favorite. The golden one, Meredith Anderson of WRDW, is silver this time, and her colleague Liz Owens wins the bronze.

Local Writer/Columnist
Sylvia Cooper was your favorite Augusta Chronicle writer when you voted. These days, after a 30-year run, she is your favorite former Augusta Chronicle writer.
If there is any more senior writer at the Chronicle than Bill Kirby, we’d be surprised. He’s your #2 man. Damon Cline, who can make a bond referendum for an industrial park into a fascinating paragraph, places third.

Local Radio Station
WKXC, better known as Kicks 99, takes top honors, possibly on the basis of the Guitar Pull alone. What a great annual tradition. Thanks, Kicks! WAFJ and WGAC place second and third.

Local Talk Radio Personality
WGAC’s Austin Rhodes, aka, “The Guy With the Lock on #1,” is, you guessed it, Number One. Word on the street is he has trademarked the term “Twenty-Eight-Peat.” Mary Liz Nolan, also of the WGAC family, is poised to overtake him from her perch in second. In third is the one radio personality with the word Best in her name! Cher Best sends her voice out into the universe from WKSP, better known as 96.3 Kiss-FM.

Local Radio Morning Show
No one can even speak to you until you’ve had that first cup of coffee — except the Kicks 99 Wake Up Crew. Not a bad choice. Fatz and Cher at Kiss-FM are your first alternates (who you turn to during commercials on Kicks), and John and April at WAFJ place 3rd.

Local News Story
Readers in Augusta said Covid-19 is this year’s top news story. Funny thing is, people in roughly 28 million other cities and towns said it was their top local story too. Weird. Augusta’s Cyber Center is next up, and in third is Truck hits Olive Road underpass, Truck hits Olive Road underpass, Truck hits Olive Road underpass, Truck hits Olive Road underpass, Truck hits Olive Road underpass, Truck hits Olive Road underpass…Uh oh! That story is stuck on repeat!

Best Part of Augusta Magazine
Your favorite feature in this publication is Best of Augusta, so save this copy for future reading when you need a nice pick-me-up. Those delicious photographs and recipes in Taste places next, and we close Best like we do every issue: with Around Town.


 

SHOPPING/LEISURE

Men’s Clothing Store
Low Country Clothier is riding high, enjoying your votes as the #1 men’s shop in our fair city. Boardroom Clothing Company is still up there (2nd) even though boardroom attire in 2020 is sometimes pajamas (well, pajama bottoms, anyway). Jos A. Bank Clothiers takes third.

Women’s Boutique
The Swank Co. earns the first of its numerous imaginary gold, silver and bronze medallions in this category.  We hope they have plenty of empty space in their imaginary trophy case. SOHO and Brittany Boutique are the other two reader-recommended finalists.

Women’s Shoe Store
Ladies, if you’re looking for the perfect pair of shoes, Shoes at Surrey is the winner! Their knowledgeable staff is ready to help.The Swank Co. is never far behind, it seems, and here they are in 2nd. For the fleet of foot, Fleet Feet is there for you.

Place to Buy Handbags
Take your old handbag to your friends and ours at The Swank Co. Presumably it contains your cash or plastic. Use same to purchase a stylish new handbag. Find the old purse to a new home on Let It Go. Another silver for SOHO, and Shoes at Surrey is the third of three at the top.

Fitness/Outdoor Store
Readers, we like the way you think: surely you love Cabela’s, perhaps the logical first choice here, but your heart is with local businesses first. Well played. Escape Outdoors, therefore, takes the win. The outdoors is like the world’s biggest escape room, you know? Fleet Feet and Half Moon Outfitters complete your top faves.

Consignment store (Furniture)
From the antique silk Persian rugs on the floor to that original Van Gogh (that someone thought was a print worth only $49.95), Consign Design is your top choice for furnishings of the pre-owned variety. Romantic Farmhouse and Second Time Around are also winners.

Consignment store (Clothing)
Assuming the duds are in primo shape, who cares if they aren’t new as long as they’re new to you? That’s all that really matters, right? Hence the success of Encore Consignment, your top choice. Uptown Cheapskate is second in this second-hand category. Well that certainly makes sense.

Supermarket
We must say, Publix has really had their act together during this pandemic, and readers noticed too, rewarding them with the Super-Duper Supermarket designation. The Fresh Market and Sprouts Farmers Market are apparently merely duper among readers who eat.

Organic Food/Products
Because chemicals are generally considered to be less than tasty, there is a demand for organic food. Sprouts Farmers Market fills that need best, say voters. Naturally, The Fresh Market and Good Earth Produce & Garden Center are also great.

Produce
According to our readers, Good Earth Produce & Garden Center needs a new name. They modestly named the place Good Earth; readers say Best Earth is more accurate. Sprouts Farmers Market and The Fresh Market are best-adjacent.

Nursery/Garden Shop
Houseplants? Trees and shrubs for the yard? Bedford Greenhouses probably has what you’re looking for. Call ahead and ask for Isabelle if you aren’t sure, but an in-person visit never disappoints. Good Earth Produce & Garden Center wins second; Greenbrier Nursery & Gifts takes third.

Gifts
When they say Cudos2U (as readers did), they’re saying “Congratulations to U for being so generous!” Good job, u! The Swank Co. is sittin’ swanky in second. Sacred Heart Cultural Center is a great idea in third.

Place to Shop for Husband/Boyfriend
Are you thinking maybe some 2x4s and a DIY oil change kit? Please lie down until that thought goes away. Ready to try again? This time, proceed to Rivers & Glen Trading Company. Ask for Glen. He’ll take care of you. Low Country Clothier is another good reader nomination. Escape Outdoors is third. Their slogan: Get your adventure on. Well, his adventure.

Place to Shop for Wife/Girlfriend
Golfers covet the green jacket. Augusta ladies covet the green box from Windsor Fine Jewelers. They’re your hands down favorite every single time. For other gifts for the women in your life, The Swank Co. and Sacred Heart Gift Shop are also endorsed by readers.

Home Furnishings
Judging by the vote totals, Weinberger’s Furniture is kind of a big deal, which means it’s probably also a good deal. Merry’s Home Furnishings places second, and Savvy Shopper, that place across from Applebee’s on Washington Road, scores third.

Antiques
Even if Mema didn’t have one, sometimes you want one anyway. The place to go is obviously Mema Had One. Buy two so Mema has one too. This time Savvy Shopper wins the silver medal. Days Gone By is third.

Fine Jewelry
Windsor Fine Jewelers are the finest jewelers, according to the ballots. We actually weighed them and Windsor’s votes tallied up a couple hundred thousand carats. Wow! Crown Jewelers wears the silver crown signifying secondary excellence, which is still pretty excellent. Friedman’s Jewelers comes next.

Costume Jewelry
The Swank Co. is the epitome of swankiness in the costume jewelry department, say readers. If Swanksville isn’t calling your name for some reason, try the Sacred Heart Gift Shop, say readers. Or stop by SOHO, the other jewelry box filler suggested by readers.

 


 

MISCELLANEOUS

Car Wash
It’s not just people who need to sanitize these days. It’s important for cars too, and Sparkle Express is the recommended spot, say voters. LuLu’s and Tidal Wave are 2nd and 3rd.

Barber
Long before quarantine hair was a thing, Durden’s Barbershop was doing its thing. When you go there, you step back in time a little bit and come out with today’s latest style. Cool how they can do that. Yankee Clippers and Old Tyme Tattoo & Barbershop are your second and third choices.

Local Charity
There is only one bank in town that allows almost anyone to make withrawals: Golden Harvest Food Bank. No wonder they’re best among voters. WLJ Angel Gowns come next, helping families cope with the loss of newborns. Let’s hope we have very little need for their services. Salvation Army is third.

Special Event Facility
If you could book a palace for a special event, that would be sweet. But you’ve got to admit, Sacred Heart Cultural Center is the next best thing. Look at the place! Remember Columbia County’s Lady Antebellum Pavillion? When the band changed its name to Lady A, the county removed more than ntebellum; they too off Lady A too, and replaced it with Columbia County Amphitheater. Of course, that has to go too (along with the name of the county) because it honors Christopher Columbus. My, how things change. Legends Club placed third.

Tourist Attraction
Ok, so maybe no tourists will come to town for this year’s Masters Tournament. But it’s still Augusta’s #1 tourist attraction. And maybe they’ll allow life-size cardboard cutouts of badge-holders on the course like the Braves do. The river takes second and third in the person of 2.) the Augusta Canal and 3.) Riverwalk.

Historic Landmark
The James Brown statue is hot, especially since they cut down the trees shading it last year. Sacred Heart Cultural Center is next, followed by the hidden gem known as the Lucy C. Laney Museum.

Place You Wish Was Still Here
The Fat Man’s dynasty still exists, but Fat Man’s Forest is just a fond memory; the fondest, in fact. Fort Discovery also holds a special place in reader’s hearts. The Haunted Pillar had a great run, but now it can only haunt our memories.

Florist
Things are coming up roses (and various other flowers) for Martina’s Flowers. Flowers on Broad and Ladybugs Flowers complete the bouquet.

Photographer
As the vote totals developed, Rick Milton Photography appeared in first place. Yolanda Rouse Photography and Rachel Tesch Photography are two other great options if your goal is to avoid awkward family photos.

First Date Spot
A leisurely stroll along the Savannah on Riverwalk could be life-changing, you never know. We like how readers are thinking. It isn’t, “for a first date, better keep the investment low.” No, they suggest Solé Augusta and Oliviana Ristorante as additional great venues for that tone-setting first date.

Bridal Shop
If things work well (see above) put Elegant Bridals on your must-see list. House of the Bride also works, say readers, because grooms need to learn as early as possible that it’s all about her. There is no House of the Groom, guys. Tiffinie Bleu Bridal Boutique wins 3rd.

Bank/Financial Institution
Coming in first as the reader favorite (after Golden Harvest Food Bank, of course) is Queensborough National Bank & Trust. SRP Federal Credit Union and Wells Fargo are also good for the money.

Realtor
You can type nothing more than “Venus Augusta” into your Googler, and the world wide web will deliver Meybohm Real Estate’s
Venus Morris Griffin to your screen. Shannon Rollings and Ross Trulock are second and third. You can’t work from home if you don’t have a home, right? Call a realtor today!

Fitness Center/Gym
Call your top choice, Planet Fitness, to ask about their proposals for things like global warming, population control and acid rain. They may have nothing, but they can probably still help you personally. Gold’s Gym and Oxygen Fitness also compete.

Day Spa
The owner of  Tuscany Italian Spa might well say, “I’m Leigh Ann Keels and I improve this massage.” She probably wouldn’t say that, but she might. Second place goes to Retreat Spa & Salon, and Serenity Massage & Wellness Spa wins third.

Hair Salon
Back in the day the Bliss Salon building was the home of Hill Drug. In other words, this location has always been about helping people feel good, inside and out. Halo Salon & Spa and His & Her Hair Salon complete the top three.

Place to Swim
Swimming is the perfect exercise, which is why we all do it regularly. We do, don’t we? Well if not, get in the swim at the Family Y, recommend voters. The Augusta Aquatic Center is in lane 2, and the Kroc Center is in lane 3.

Golf Course
You say you want to follow in Bobby Jones’ footsteps but your invitation to become a member of Augusta National got lost in the mail? Then Forest Hills Golf Club is for you. The River Club is one shot back, and The Patch, also known (by no one) as the Augusta Municipal Golf Course, takes third.

Tennis Courts
In our litigious society, if you must take someone to court, take them to Newman Tennis Center. The votes say Westlake and Petersburg Racquet Club complete the local list of our highest courts.

Yoga Studio
Relax. Take a deep breath. Space Yoga Studio will take you where you need to go. Oxygen Fitness Studio is your next choice. Third place goes to Deepwater Yoga, where no water is involved. The name comes from the perpetual calm in the deep waters of the ocean no matter what’s happening on the surface.

Place to Walk Your Dog
Fun Fact: the Augusta Canal is a great place to walk your dog even if you don’t have a dog. Just pretend. North Augusta’s Greeneway is another excellent option, and readers also endorse Pendleton King Park.

Best Local Arts Festival
Speaking of pretending, lets pretend that Arts in the Heart was great again this year. The art! The performances! The food! The best yet! The same goes for the Augusta Greek Festival, except we don’t have to pretend: at press time it’s still on schedule for October 9-11. Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Music Festival, another perrenial favorite, also hopes to be back next year.

Fundraising Event
The nationwide Zoom country music concert that locally raised $100,000 for the Golden Harvest Food Bank in April might have been a worthy candidate, but voters like hometown events best. Like the Sacred Heart Garden Festival, for instance. And the Miracle Mile Walk. And It’s Spooky to Be Hungry.

Appears in the October 2020 issue of Augusta Magazine.

Have feedback or a story idea? Our publisher would love to hear from you!

13 + 11 =

Previous Issues

Best of Augusta 2020 Winners

E-Newsletter

Physicians’ Directory 2019

Check out our Physicians’ Directory App today!

Android Users Click Here

Related Articles

How to Shop Safe This Holiday Season, Online and In-Store

Make sure you know what scams to watch out for when shopping online this holiday season. (©Kite_rin/Shutterstock) By Jennifer McKee According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are predicted to spend slightly under $1,000 this holiday season—slightly less...

Black Friday Product and Travel Deals We Love

Cabo's calling! Score your own private getaway with Acre Resorts' great Black Friday deal. (©Gina & Ryan Photography) By Jennifer McKee In keeping with the strange year that has been 2020, may retailers are choosing to or have already started their Black Friday...