When the azaleas are blossoming to near peakness, and downtown fountains are spurting sun-splashed sprays of green, that means it's almost Masters time in Augusta.
And even if you're here for the Augusta National's famed concession stand, ($4 for 16 ounces of domestic beer and $1.50 for an egg salad sandwich that tastes unlike any other), eventually you'll have to leave the course, as perfectly manicured as it is, and when you do, the following list is your crib sheet, a guide to where to find restaurants and nightlife in Augusta, Georgia, culled from the opinions of local editors and tastemakers.
Where to Eat: The Best Restaurants in Augusta, Ga.
Abel Brown Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar: Looking for where the locals go for upscale, relaxed dining? Try Abel Brown. Chef and owner Todd Schafer has brought together a well-appointed wine list with a menu that prominently features oysters, salmon, steaks and salads. A location around the corner from both Augusta National and Augusta Country Club certainly doesn’t hurt. 491 Highland Ave., 706.738.6491
Augustino’s: Tucked into the side of the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center, Augustino's is an upscale Italian-Southern staple with steaks that shouldn’t be missed. Under the direction of Chef Laponzina, expect Southern twists on classic Italian dishes. Two 10th St., 706.823.6521
Bodega Ultima: This quaint bodega coffee shop boasts a luxe dark-wood interior with a full-service bar for lunch and coffee selections. Try goat yogurt, salmon BLTs or a creamy espresso drink. If you’re not feeling a coffee, grab a beer or a snifter of your choice of liquor from the bar—the whiskey selection is impressive. 353 Highland Ave., 706.426.6661
The Bee’s Knees: This Spanish-style tapas restaurant highly encourages sharing, and it’s a good thing—you’re going to want to taste everything. They offer alternative menu options for the vegetarian or vegan in the crowd, and the extensive selection of wines, beers and more has a drink to expertly complement any dish you might choose. 211 10th St., 706.828.3600
The Boll Weevil Cafe and Sweetery: Wear your stretchy pants to take in a slice of cake from this award-winning restaurant and bakery—or “sweetery”—that specializes in variations of giant cakes piled high with frosting, whipped cream and sweet sauces. 10 James Brown Blvd., 706.722.7772
Craft & Vine: As the newest jewel in the Frog Hollow Hospitality Group, this upscale, tapas-specializing cocktail bar is on every haute cuisine seeker’s list in Augusta. The forward-thinking eatery also specializes in wood-fired pizza. 1204 Broad St., 706.496.8442
Finch & Fifth: Escape Augusta’s noisy hubs for secluded Surrey Center. If you’ve got a taste for classy wine tastings, creative cocktails and elevated Southern dishes, stop in at Finch & Fifth. A hip bistro and bar, Finch & Fifth is the locals’ hub for hanging out and knocking back in good, Southern company. 379 Highland Ave., 706.364.5300
Frog Hollow Tavern: Located right downtown, Frog Hollow combines fine dining at surprisingly affordable prices and regionally sourced ingredients from nearby farms. The 100-plus-bottle wine list is focused on sustainable, organic and biodynamic practices. 1282 Broad St., 706.364.6906
Farmhaus Burgers: The sister restaurant to Frog Hollow Tavern, Farmhaus holds to the same sustainable and regional responsibility practices as Frog Hollow. You’ll find a laid-back atmosphere and a completely burger-centric menu. Dine-in patrons should plan to queue; it's an order-at-the-counter type of place. You won’t hear locals complaining, though—the food here is definitely worth the time in line, and the beer selection is surprisingly good. 1204 Broad St., 706.496.8771
French Market Grille: This Cajun-inspired hot spot features Louisiana favorites and a happy hour starting at 4:30 pm. Catering and carry-out are available, and they feature a gluten-free menu. The locally owned restaurant has been voted “Best Restaurant in Augusta” for 14 years. Plus, its convenient location is close to the Masters and right in the midst of a quaint shopping center. Closed on Sunday. Surrey Center, 425 Highland Ave., 706.737.4865
Füse: Specializing in craft beverages, meals and small plates, Füse opens the culinary door for visitors and residents alike. Tuck into bone-in chicken and then sample Morrocan-spiced lamb burgers. Although the establishment is closed on Tuesdays, nearly every other day of the week you can nab a special cocktail or meal discount. 1002 Broad St., 706. 305.1029
Luigi’s: This locally owned gem has been around since the 1940s and is currently run by the fourth generation of Ballas’. What makes this gem really shine though is the Masters’ memorabilia that peppers the walls of the little-Italy-esque restaurant. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner with special Sunday hours during the Masters Tournament. Take a table by the wall, under gorgeous murals that wrap up the wall and around the ceiling. Tip: Don’t forget quarters for the tableside jukeboxes that play classics from the likes of Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. 590 Broad St., 706.722.4056
Manuel’s Bread Cafe: Head over the river and through the Hammond’s Ferry—North Augusta’s hamlet of Charleston Row Houses, green spaces and fine dining—for a French meal that can’t be paralleled anywhere around. The ingredients at Manuel's, including the goat’s milk and chicken dishes, are sourced locally from Blue Clay Farm, owned by Manuel’s right in Hammond’s Ferry. Try French classics like frog legs—in fresh chervil, cilantro and thyme-lemon cream—or tried-and-true steak frite. Tip: The little hamlet where this restaurant is located is also where Tiger Woods has been known to rent a home during his visits to the tournament. 505 Railroad Ave. Ste. 100, North Augusta, South Carolina, 803.380.1323
Oliviana Bar Italiano & Pizzeria: Known lovingly as Oliviana’s, this fine-dining pizzeria is perfect for date night or drinks with your golf buds. The interior is dark-wood tables and room-length bar—happy hour from 3-7 pm. If carbs and pasta are your cravings, you can’t miss the primi piatta selections. 399 Highland Ave., 706.723.1242
Partridge Inn: An Augusta icon since 1910, this historic, full-service hotel—which recently became part of the Curio Collection by Hilton—is also home to the P.I. Bar and Grill. Enjoy a delicious Sunday brunch featuring shrimp and grits and other Southern favorites. Friday and Saturday nights feature live entertainment with no cover charge, and a delicious lunch buffet is available every weekday with southern staples that change daily. Don’t miss the famous Long Island iced tea. 2110 Walton Way, 706.737.8888
The Pizza Joint: Looking for the staples of post-sporting-event dining, you know, pizza and beer? The Pizza Joint is the place. While there's also Mellow Mushroom downtown, this is the local pizza restaurant company (although some locals would argue that Mellow Mushroom does pizza better, we still try to keep our dollars local). They also have locations in Evans and in the heart of Aiken, in case you're staying closer to either nearby town. 1245 Broad St., 706.774.0037
Rae’s Coastal Café: Rae’s is known in Augusta for a blend of Jamaican dishes and fresh seafood. The house salad is revered and the jerk chicken is the staple. Call ahead for a table and plan to visit Tuesday through Sunday as Rae’s is closed on Mondays. 3208 W. Wimbledon Drive, 706.738.1313
Rhinehart's Oyster Bar: In the seafood mood during your Augusta journey? "Beyond casual" is how they describe this bar and restaurant, a few blocks west of I-20, where old dollar bills from years of past patronage are stapled, taped and glued to the walls. Heaps of peel-and-eat shrimp, fried shrimp and crab legs are served to patrons at old picnic tables inside, and there's plenty of outdoors seating as well. Keep your eyes open: You may just see 1979 Masters champ Fuzzy Zoeller making his annual appearance.
3051 Washington Road, 706.860.2337; 305 North Bel Air Road, Evans, Georgia, 706.868.6850
Sheehan’s Irish Pub: Voted one of the best neighborhood restaurants, Sheehan’s serves up delicious meals you might not expect in a pub, like honey-lacquered duck and apple raspberry salad. You can also enjoy Southern classics like shrimp and grits or the crowd-pleasing oysters. 2571 Central Ave., 706.364.1234
Solé Augusta: One of Augusta’s sushi bars, Solé, has a diverse menu to fit all palates. Enjoy fresh sashimi alongside cooked-to-order bleu cheese burgers, maple-glazed salmon or specialty sushi rolls. 1033 Broad St., 706.432.9898
Southbound Smokehouse: The casual vibe of this locally owned barbecue joint sets every visit off on the right foot. Appetizers such as the fried pickles, “almost-famous wings” and soul rolls give you a bite before the tacos, pulled pork platters and elevated comfort food bring patrons back regularly. Stay for the beer and diverse live music acts. 1855 Central Ave., 706.733.5464
TakoSushi: Located in the Surrey Center, near Augusta National, TakoSushi is a local restaurant with a strong following, mainly for its drinks (much more than sake) and the Japanese-meets-Southwestern cuisine mix, all presented in a casual environment, whether you’re ready to eat and run or want to relax with friends for food and another round. You'll also find a location in Aiken, South Carolina. 437 Highland Ave., 706.736.9191
Where to Party: Nightlife in Augusta, Ga.
Hive Growler Bar: Known around town as “The Hive”, this corner bar and tasting experience is a beer-lover’s delight. There are 78 taps that rotate out regularly—which you can see in real time—with 59 brews, 7 on-tap wines, kombucha and sake. Order appetizers from the bar or scamper next door to The Hive’s sister restaurant, Bee’s Knees (see listing above). 215 10th St., 706.836.3661
The Indian Queen: In a refurbished gun store, The Indian Queen is “all texture” with log walls, a sleek bar and full-bodied craft cocktails to order. You can find a trendy selection of beer and wine if sipping is your style. We’d suggest making this the first stop or the last round of the night as there’s no food service at the Queen. 2502 Wrightsboro Road, 706.303.8723
Stillwater: The Stillwater Tap Room has an excellent selection of beers on tap and features live entertainment. Pull up a stool, get a pour of a craft beer and listen to bluegrass and classic Americana music. 974 Broad St., 706.826.9857
Soul Bar: A James Brown themed dive bar in downtown, the Soul Bar is replete with memorabilia representing "The Godfather of Soul." Think cheap drinks, energetic dancing and general late-night fun with a younger crowd. 984 Broad St., 706.724.8880