It’s pretty special to know that the White House — well, the First Lady at least — evidently reads our magazine. We don’t even mind that she stole (OK, borrowed) the concept behind Best of Augusta for her “Be Best” campaign. All the winners who follow took her challenge to heart.

 


 

DINING

Breakfast
Let’s get this party started early — at sunrise, in fact. That may not be the time you like to eat breakfast best, but it’s definitely the place: Sunrise Grill, that is. And if you do happen to be a morning person, they open at 6 a.m. Your secondary and thirdary faves are Metro Diner and Waffle House.

Appetizers
Later in the day there are other ways to get a party started. Like at Craft & Vine, where readers say the best appetizers in the River Region are crafted & served. Other worthy places to get something delicious started include The Bee’s Knees and Bonefish Grill. Let’s light this candle!

Down-Home Cooking
No one wants something that tastes like it was made in a New Jersey factory. That’s why people tuck their napkins under their chins at Honey From the Rock and chow down like it’s Sunday, even when it isn’t. Goolsby’s and Ruth’s are two more non-uptown options.

Hamburger
It would be considered rude to pick up a slab of meat in your hands and start to chew on it. So the real magic is in the bun. It allows us to do the aforementioned, in public, even. And we all do it, millions of times every day, especially at Farmhaus, according to your votes. Whiskey Bar Kitchen and Gary’s round out the best burgers.

Barbecue
The unofficially official food of the South presents in a variety of meats,  but whatever its variations, they can all be found at Sconyers Bar-B-Que. Of course, everyone has their own religion. Some believe in Southbound Smokehouse, others Shane’s Rib Shack.

Ribs
If barbecue is a religion, ribs is a sect. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. These days, most worshippers pay homage at Shane’s Rib Shack, while the holiest shrine for others is Southbound Smokehouse. Sconyers is the third party in this trinity.

Seafood
Did you know seafoodarian is a real word? It is indeed, and it’s easier to remember than pescetarian. Whichever word you prefer, seafood lovers prefer Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar, which proves they’re a casual bunch. T’s Restaurant hooks the second-highest vote total, followed by Bonefish Grill.

Sushi
Readers say the spring rolls are outstanding at Takosushi, but why wait that long? Try them this fall at the fastest growing sushi chain in the Southeast: from its Augusta beginnings, Takosushi has grown to Evans, Aiken, Greenville, Columbia and Asheville. In second, the one-link chain called Solé Augusta; Miyabi takes third.

Steak
Ah, the food that goes with everything, like steak and ale, steak and shake, steak and eggs…we could go on. But we’d prefer to be seated at Tbonz Steakhouse before doing so. Readers say they do steak best. So order a steak with a side of ale, eggs and a shake. Let us know how it goes. Frog Hollow and Outback Steakhouse take the runner-up spots.

Catfish
The top feeder of this bottom feeder is T’s Restaurant because, after all, you can’t spell catfish without T, right? Old McDonald’s Fish Camp has nary a T, and it cost them: they finish in second. Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar takes third.

Fried Chicken
Our earlier references to barbecue being almost a religion was meant as no disrespect to fried chicken, which also enjoys cult status in these parts. According to readers, the #1 chicken chapel is your nearest Wife Saver, where a name change to Spouse Saver is rumored to be in the works. MFC, not KFC (Maryland Fried Chicken), and Honey From the Rock complete the top three.

Soup
Soup has an interesting history: if you think soup isn’t enough for a meal, recall that it comes from the Latin word suppa, and in fact, in France in the 1700s, restaurant was the word for soup. When someone opened up an eatery serving it in Paris, the name caught on as an eating establishment. You can look it up. So what are the best restaurants serving soup? 1. Panera Bread. 2. Sunshine Bakery. 3. Laziza Mediterranean Grill.

Hot Dog
To be frank, the wiener in this category, recipient of the coveted Golden Hot-Diggety-Dog Award, is Sonic. Drive in and see for yourself. Farmhaus wins Top Dog #2. Or, you can simultaneously enjoy the bronze medal dog and the ambience of the Costco food court. Try it this week, or wait until your anniversary or another special occasion.

Burrito
Twisted Burrito, say your ballots, is the most burritocentric establishment in the greater Augusta area. Twisted Burrito, in fact, is why the Augusta area is sometimes called “greater.” Nacho Mama’s, in second, makes ‘em just like mama used to (if your mama was a burrito virtuoso). Diablo’s Southwest Grill takes third place.

Sandwich
The winner: a place that Augustans have loved for parts of three centuries. Do not adjust your magazine. Three centuries! That can only mean one place: Hildebrandt’s, where the family’s fourth generation will make you a sandwich to write home about. Or perhaps tweet about. Second place: a knockout blow from Knuckle Sandwiches. Third place: Arsenal Taproom.

Bread
From the previous entry it’s plain to see how important bread is. There’s nothing plain about it. No wonder your fellow readers recommend Panera Bread; they want you to enjoy the best. Manuel’s Bread Café and Logan’s Roadhouse slice up the second and third place votes.

Salad
Readers green-light California Dreaming as the top greenhouse. Get your crunch on! Second place goes to Fat Man’s Café, which probably won’t win next year: Fat Man’s own The Southern Salad, born after the close of Best voting, may well harvest a victory. Zaxby’s zalads reap third place.

Dessert
The term “guilty pleasure” is unknown at The Boll Weevil, your top purveyor of desserts. Remember that, and operate by the same philosophy in your life. Next up, Evans’ Rooted Coffee House, followed by Eli’s American Café. All’s well that ends well.

Bakery
Baked Alaska gets a lot of publicity, but don’t forget about baked Georgia. There’s the weather, of course, but there’s also The Sweet Suites Bakery in Grovetown. It’s worth the search — and you only have to do it (search) the first time. After that your GPS will drive you there even when you have other ideas. Lil’ Dutch Bakery and Smallcakes Cupcakery complete the triple-decker of top bakeries.

Donuts
There are people who think donuts are complete junk food. These are the people who only buy (and eat) half a dozen at a time. Yeah, we all do donuts. The donuttiest, according to the ballots, are sold by Belair Donuts. Mmm-mm. Krispy Kreme takes first runner-up; and the late Kim’s Donuts gets third place in memoriam.

Ice Cream
As is the case with donuts, ice cream is universally loved. People scream for it, right? Especially if Bruster’s are the scoopers (which is actually a line from a rap song). Coldstone Creamery adds a second scoop, and the old reliable, Pink Dipper, puts their cherry on top in third.

Coffee
As long as we’re talking desserts and other sweets, this is a perfect time to note that plenty of folks say coffee is the perfect partner to pie, cake, ice cream, et cetera. For the best, the ballots send you to Rooted Coffee House. Conveniently, they also serve silver-medal desserts. Buona Caffé, brews up second place. Both of them beat Starbucks (in third)!

Iced Tea
Iced tea isn’t the national drink, but perhaps it should be. In which case Wife Saver would probably become a government department, maybe the ITO for short. Once again the new kid, Rooted Coffee House in Evans, shows up to claim another medal. Third place goes to McDonald’s.

Wine Merchant
Box or bottle, cap or cork, red or white (or rosé), may we propose a toast? Toast Wine & Beverage, that is. It’s your favorite. White Horse Wine and Spirits is another worthy option, say the ballots, followed by North Augusta’s Wine World.

Wine Menu
What can introduce, accompany, and follow a great meal — other than fries. Fine wine. And what can introduce, accompany, and follow a great wine? An exceptional meal. You’ve got to have both. Ah, but where? Craft & Vine, quickly resurrected after a summer fire, gets the good word. Their last name is Vine, after all. Just up the street, Frog Hollow Tavern comes up next, and readers give Olive Garden third.

Happy Hour
Making the world a little bit happier one hour at a time is the mission of millions of taverns, but only one can reign as Best of Augusta, and that distinction belongs to Solé Augusta for the coming year. The almost-winner is Craft & Vine, and the almost-almost winner is The Hive. These three are probably Porkchop’s favorite places.

Beer Selection
The winner: Arsenal Tap Room + Kitchen, where their website announces, “Craft Beer at it’s (sic) finest.”  They agree with you and you with them! The Hive scores the silver schooner and World of Beer earns the bronze beer stein (and yes, they have a breakfast menu – on Sundays). Heady stuff!

Outdoor Dining
That’s not an empty lot next to Solé Augusta. That’s their – and your – dining terrace. Ask their maitre d’, Mr. Al Fresco, for an outside table on your next visit. Pizza Joint has vote-worthy outdoor tables, too, as does Arsenal Tap Room + Kitchen.

Craft Cocktail
Craft cocktail…Craft & Vine…see what they did there? Voters went for this word association game and gave them primo status. The Indian Queen is the bar who would be king except, you know, for that name thing. But they are throne-adjacent. Finch & Third is home to the third-place mixologists. Correction: Finch & Fifth.

Brunch
Edgar’s Grille gets an “A” in Brunch, and they deserve it. Your votes install Rooted Coffee House securely in second place, and Metro Diner offers a third excellent option. It was a long week. You earned this fuel and you need it: tomorrow is Monday. Sorry.

Lunch
Looking for that perfect lunch spot? Readers say look no further than Honey from the Rock. Not in the mood for country cooking. Rhinehart’s takes home the second place price, followed by the Pizza Joint in third.

Business Lunch
Now it is Monday. Or one of the four days following it. These are the days we use to earn our weekends. Plans need to be hatched. Napkins need to be sketched on. Deals need to be made. Augustino’s is a good place to do all of the above, say the votes, while simultaneously enjoying a handsome meal. Your first alternate: French Market Grill. Excellent choice. Rooted Coffee House? Your third option.

Japanese Restaurant
From half a world away comes the best the Land of the Rising Sun has to offer, served just for you by Miyabi Kyoto Japanese Steak House. If you ask nicely they’ll even let you watch them cook your order. Toki Japanese Steakhouse and Miyako Sushi and Steakhouse also earn your accolades.

Asian Restaurant
For the rest of the Orient, New Ming Wah brings China to our plates and our palates, as does Dragon Express. In third, Hunan Café offers the best of Thai, Malaysian, Chinese and Korean cuisine. Sounds delicious. Tastes even more delicious.

Mexican Restaurant
Readers say Taqueria El Rey is so ¡fantastico! that even their exclamation points flipped! Mi Rancho, which means “my guacamole-stuffed fajita de pollo con queso taco grande,” wins second place; Poblanos wins third.

Indian Restaurant
Grab your appetite, a handful of rupees, and head to Curry Hut. Do that and you’ll have the backing of a majority of your peers. Taj of India also got plenty of endorsements, and so did Lahore Express, tucked away on Shartom Drive, where they offer both Indian and Pakistani cuisine.

Pizza
This category is a bit of a misnomer, since there is no such thing as bad pizza. So the competition here is picking the best from among the best, which turns out to be Mellow Mushroom. The people have spoken. The Pizza Joint earns the title of first runner-up, and Pizza Central, newly relocated to Columbia County, wins third.

Italian Restaurant
We asked you to put in a good word for your favorite Italian restaurant, and you responded. The good word was Oliviana. If you can’t make it to Italy, at least visit Oliviana. Another good word is Luigi’s, celebrating their 69th year serving Augusta. Appropriately enough, three words in third: Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

Downtown Restaurant
Downtown offers lots of dining options, from funky casual to upscale elegance. Voters opted for the classier end of the spectrum for their top choice, Frog Hollow Tavern, and for third place, the Craft & Vine branch of the Frog Hollow family. In between, a decidedly less casual but no less delicious choice: Whiskey Bar (Kitchen).

Neighborhood Restaurant
If you’re willing to drive far enough, every restaurant is a neighborhood restaurant. It’s more about the vibe than the ZIP code. By that measure, Sheehan’s Irish Pub is just the ticket. Just around the corner, Arsenal Tap Room + Kitchen takes second, and Rooted Coffee House adds another trophy to their shelf in third.

Hidden Gem Restaurant
These are those exceptional places that are either off the beaten path, or perhaps they just don’t come to mind like the big players do. But they’re worth remembering and searching out, starting with Rae’s Coastal Café, tucked away off the side of a side street. Rooted Coffee House is out of the way if you live all the way on the other side of the CSRA; as for Solé Augusta, it’s all too easy to drive by a hundred times and not notice it. Fix that!

New Restaurant
If we had to guess, many people never heard of Rooted Coffee House before picking up this magazine. But enough other people did to give it the gold in this coveted category. Metro Diner takes the silver, and Flying Biscuit Café, famous for their biscuit-free menu, gets the bronze.

Special Occasion Restaurant
If a restaurant appears in this category, it’s the kind of place people visit on special occasions — and on ordinary occasions they want to make special. It’s an enviable category in which to win, place, or show. The winner is Frog Hollow Tavern! Second place goes to Calvert’s, and third to its Surrey Center neighbor, Abel Brown Southern Kitchen.

Friendly Service
Proving you don’t need soft lighting and fine linen to offer sterling service, Chick-fil-A gets the victory. Congratulations! Rooted Coffee House makes yet another appearance, this time in second place. They’re obviously doing a lot of things right. Frog Hollow Tavern completes the top three.

Best Restaurant Overall
The granddaddy of them all, this is the crowning achievement in area dining, and readers bestow the laurel wreath upon Frog Hollow Tavern. Well done. Keep up the good work. Ditto to second-place finisher Abel Brown Southern Kitchen, and also to Solé Augusta in third.

Wings
According to the ballots, the wings at Wild Wing Café are pretty fly. Their many fans are affectionately known as wing nuts. Elsewhere, Wing Stop and Tbonz Steakhouse have enough fans to take birdhouse numbers 2 and 3.

 


 

ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT

Local R&B Band
The Lady and The Gents lay claim to the top R&B (short for Rhythm & Best) band, followed by the Mainstreet Band and the lovely and talented Funmilayo Ngozi. Support live local music!

Local Vocalist, Male
Your top local vocal turns out to be rockabilly singer and guitarist Dwight Bradham,Jr. The silver microphone goes to a voice we won’t be hearing again, the late singer/songwriter Phillip Lee Jr. Ryan Abel, proud owner of some serious, serious pipes, gets third.

Local Vocalist, Female
Speaking of serious pipes, you need to catch Bethany Davis, lead singer for The Southside Boys. She does not disappoint. Betsy Jamison wins second, and the familiar voice of Celia Gary sounds forth in third.

Local Jazz Band
Readers show their knowledge by giving top billing to the Mike Frost Band. Mike, the band’s bassist, studied under Weather Report’s late Jaco Pastorius, the self-styled greatest bass player in the world. That looks good on a resume, but it sounds even better. The Lady and The Gents take second; Karen Gordon and Garden City Jazz get their smoove on in third.

Local Country Band
Harlem Sons is pickin’ and grinnin’ all the way to first place. Bethany Davis scores second, and Eyrn Eubanks & The Family Fold gets third. She’s just one woman, but voters say she qualifies as a band.

Local Rock/Alternative Band
Your choice here is King Cat and The Elders. If that doesn’t ring a bell it should: their lead guitar and vocalist is Dwight Bradham Jr., the aforementioned Best Male Vocalist winner. The white guys of Black Dawg are the runners-up, and the well-traveled pros of Funk You complete the set list in third.

Local Contemporary Christian Band/Vocalist
The good news (get it?): Dayz to Come repeats as winner here. Funmilayo Ngozi scores second, and someone she often sings with, Trey McLaughlin, takes third.

Performing Arts Group
Augusta workers who enjoy supporting the arts like to watch performances by Augusta Players. See what we did there? We couldn’t do it if it weren’t true. Staying with the thespian theme, readers voted for Storyland Theatre next. The Augusta Symphony in its sweet new home, the Miller Theater, earns third.

Singles Spot
Ready to meet your future partner? Readers suggest Metro Coffee House as a possible rendezvous spot for your unsuspecting mate. Or perhaps you’re not on the make, you’d just like to be someplace where your singleness is not going to make you feel out of place. Indian Queen – the bar, not the person – is another possibility. Finally, readers also suggest Solé Augusta.

Late Night Spot
Nothing against bed, but in the long history of the Best, “bed” has gotten quite a few votes in this category. For the record, by late night spot we mean outside of the house, not in it. Exhibit #1: Solé Augusta. It’s your top choice. Indian Queen snags another runner-up slot, and Chevy’s Nite Club makes the third winner.

Live Music Bar
Sky City is still a department store, but these days its only department is music, being Augusta’s #1 live music venue by reader vote (prior to announcing its closing). Metro Coffeehouse wins second place, and relative newcomer Southbound Smokehouse is voted into third.

Sports Bar
Your selections begin with Wild Wing Café. Well played, readers. They’ve got the total package: the food, the drinks, the music and the screens. Carolina Ale House is your second choice, and Robbie’s Sports Bar is third, a place so coveted that it’s rumored the Augusta National wants to buy it.

Bar to Watch People
The great thing about your first choice, Metro Coffeehouse, is its acres of plate glass windows. So you can people-watch inside Metro, or just stare at the people inside from the sidewalk. The choice is yours. Solé Augusta wins second place and Chevy’s Nite Club third.

 


 

MEDIA

Local TV Station
It might be our imagination, but it seems like two stations trade victories in this category one year to the next. Well, this year it seems to be ABC affiliate WJBF’s turn. The clickers have spoken. WFXG (aka Fox 54) is where we click first during commercials on WJBF, followed by CBS affiliate WRDW.

Local TV News Anchor/Female
Ladies first, right? Readers give Jennie Montgomery of WJBF the golden tiara. May she wear it proudly on the air. We’ll be watching to see. The votes added up to a second-place win for Stephanie Lopez of WFXG. Mary Morrison of WJBF is third.

Local TV News Anchor/Male
From among their many choices, readers award WJBF’s Brad Means the top spot. Kudos, sir! WFXG again scores second place: their CE Huffman takes that spot. Readers apparently couldn’t wait for the weather category to vote for Jay Jefferies, giving him third place as an anchor. Way to go, Jay!

Local TV Morning Anchor
Mary Morrison’s professionalism earns her another gold medal for WJBF. Plus she seems to have discovered the secret of never aging. How does she do it? Stephanie Lopez of WFXG takes another second, and Barclay Bishop of WJBF scoops up third.

TV Weather Anchor
Ok, now you can vote for Jay Jefferies of WFXG without confusion – and that’s just what you did. Congratulations again, Jay. Hope you win in sports, too. Second place: George Myers of WJBF. Third place: Kevin Coskren of WRDW.

Local TV Reporter
The one and only George Eskola of WJBF rides his unique style to victory. Good job! Reporter/anchor Kelly Wiley of WRDW earns runner-up honors, and reporter/anchor Ashley Campbell of WJBF takes third.

Local Sports Reporter
Readers say their favorite is Jessica Eley of WRDW. Go team Jessica! Since summer voting, Nathan Palm of WJBF has gone on to other fields of play elsewhere. Ashley Brown of third-place fame may not be on the air these days, but he definitely hasn’t hung up his cleats and still knows 98 percent of all sports facts.

Local Radio Station
We can’t talk and drive like we used to, but we can still listen to other people talk. That’s the concept behind WGAC, and it’s the station readers listen to most, behind the wheel and otherwise. When we’re in the mood for some tunes, our next choice is Kicks99 (WKXC). WAFJ (88.3) wins third place.

Local Radio Personality
Voting with your iPods, battery-powered transistor radios, car radio dials, satellite radio settings and other streaming devices, you chose Austin Rhodes, currently celebrating 25 years (and 48,361,627,593 words) on the air. Colleague Mary Liz Nolan is a close second, and Cher Best of 96.3 Kiss FM gives you the lift you need on the afternoon drive.

Local Radio Morning Show
For that perfect balance of music and fun, readers recommend Mike, Jenny and Dub of the Kicks99 Wake Up Crew. The syndicated Kidd Kraddick Morning Show on HD 98.3 gets the silver medal, and Mary Liz Nolan takes third, a one-woman show unto herself.

Local Writer/Columnist
Do you like reading tales of Augusta’s historic past? How about the current travels of your fellow CSRA-ians? Do you like a daily joke? Well, that explains the win by The Augusta Chronicle’s Bill Kirby. He’s got that formula down. Sylvia Cooper, your second choice, takes the frequently contentious and gridlocked world of local politics and somehow actually makes it entertaining. It’s a gift. Austin Rhodes takes third for his weekly analysis of whatever’s on his mind – and ours.

Best Part of Augusta Magazine
You say the best is the best, the Best of Augusta being your fave feature. That certainly makes a lot of sense. After all, if the Best weren’t the best, what would be? Maybe it would be your next favorite, our main feature articles. You also voted Around Town into the Top Three. Can we have a vote? Is it legal for the magazine to vote on its favorite feature? Yes it is, because we make the rules. Our vote goes to you, our readers. Thanks, y’all!

 


 

SHOPPING

Nursery/Garden Shop
What about non-edible produce? That’s the specialty of Sanderlin’s Green Houses in Appling. Across town, Griffin’s Greenhouses takes the green-tinged silver medal, and Good Earth Produce & Garden Center will give you tasty goodies for your table or your yard.

Children’s Clothing
Every tot deserves the chance to be posh, which is why Posh Tots is again the reader favorite. Go forth and poshify. Kid-to-Kid, kind of a recycling place for clothes, toys and other kid gear, gets the second-place vote. Rhea Lana’s on Augusta West Parkway has been consigned the third-highest vote total.

Women’s Shoes
We should pair this with a new category: closet remodelers. Knock out a wall here, add some shelving there, and you might have enough room for all your Shoes at Surrey purchases. DSW takes two, because you always buy shoes in pairs. Funny how that works. The Swank Company reappears for a shoe-shopping bronze medal.

Women’s Boutique
Their name says it all: The Swank Company. Oh yeah! Second goes to Brittany (the Boutique or the House of Elegance), whether it’s for a wedding, the prom, or just lounging about in fashionable perfection. Capsule, draping well-appointed ladies in fine threads on Walton Way Extension, makes it three for three in this category: all local Augusta originals, just the way we like it.

Place To Buy Purses
The Swank Company rules here, ladies. And gentlemen, be sure to ask about their man bags. Shoes at Surrey is also a great place for doing the shoe/purse ensemble thing. Not matching is totally gauche. Bardot Boutique is another quality purse purveyor.   

Place to shop for Husband/Boyfriend
To listen to Brian Kemp ads, you would think all guys want are shotguns and chainsaws. But our readers suggest a more refined recipient, the kind of guy who would appreciate something from Low Country Clothier, Rivers & Glen Trading Co., or perhaps JoS. A. Bank.

Fitness/Outdoor Store
Locally owned Escape Outdoors helps its customers escape the indoors. Flee for your lives. Really. Cabela’s isn’t locally owned, but at least it’s local. We’re glad. Dick’s Sporting Goods helps every one of its customers be a good sport.

Consignment Shop/Furniture
Somewhere nearby, someone has something they no longer want that you need. It could be a lamp, a chair, maybe an oil painting on velvet of dogs playing cards. That is exactly what they carry at Bargain Hunters of Augusta. Get thee there. Consign Design and Savvy Shopper also help find new homes for cool stuff.

Consignment Shop/Clothing
The local outpost of a national chain, Rhea Lana’s gets top honors. It’s a give-and-take kind of place. The second of two winners in this category, Final Cut, takes second-hand seriously with a second-place finish.

Men’s Clothing Store
Customers of Low Country Clothier display sartorial splendor like no others, according to the votes. JoS. A. Bank, in second, has created a new trend of capitalizing the first and third letters of your abbreviated name. Like if your name is Brody, you would write it BrO. It works for girls too: MaD. for Madeline, LoL. for Lola, and so on. In third, Boardroom Clothing Company is this year marking its 30th year of superior service to well-dressed gentlemen.

Supermarket
You say you’ve never been to a consignment shop? Fair enough, but no one says that about supermarkets. We can possibly survive without an oil painting on velvet, but not without food. So this is a very important category. The voice of the people endorses Publix as tops, followed by Kroger and Sprouts Farmers Market.

Organic Food & Products
As you might expect, one of the area’s newest toys, Sprouts Farmers Market, wins the prize here. Earth Fare takes the harvest of second-place votes. Fresh Market wins third, naturally.

Produce
Let’s all raise a celery stalk in praise of Good Earth Produce & Garden Center on Davis Road. Not to mention the good earth itself. They’re both pretty amazing. New kid on the block (literally) Sprouts Farmers Market comes next. Those stores are entirely produce-oriented. But just one aisle in one store rules third place, the produce aisle in Publix.

Gifts
The Swank Company is the giver, so when you’re ready to give, get there. And remember to buy yourself something nice too. Anything Goes gifts is in second. Charm House Boutique is so charming that it won third.

Christmas Decorations
Believe it or not, Christmas Tree Shops (singular…yeah, it looks plural, but it isn’t) is apparently the ideal place to get decorations (plural). Who knew? Southern Landscaping and Gifts is another great place, especially if someone you know and love has a roll of sod on their wish list. Mish Mash Interiors can also get you in the holiday spirit.

Home Furnishings
If Weinberger’s Furniture doesn’t have it, what with their vast main store, their outlet store and their frequent tent sales… It sounds highly improbable, but if it did happen you could always check the West End Collective or Andrews Gallery. Those are your first, second and third choices.

Place To Shop for Wife/Girlfriend
Well, well, well. Here’s a surprise: the winner is Windsor Fine Jewelers. Actually, it comes as no shock at all. The real surprise is that they didn’t win second and third too. Those slots go to The Swank Company and Art on Broad. Great suggestions, one and all.

Antiques
Like a solid old oak bookcase, maybe? The West End Collective could be just the ticket. Oh, you say you have an old maple bookcase you no longer need? Ditto. Another place to check out is Mema Had One. You aren’t getting any younger, after all. You’ve got to build up your estate for that inevitable future estate sale, right? Days Gone By is the third-place winner.

Fine Jewelry
Take this category name and simply add Windsor and you’ve got the headline. Windsor is the exact opposite of a big box store. Jared, no last or middle name, comes in second, but he likes people to say The Galleria Of Jewelry after his name. It’s great when a little guy can elbow his way in sometimes too. Like Treasures Old & New, the Grovetown jewelers, in third.

Costume Jewelry
Your million-dollar jewels are being polished at Windsor? Put The Swank Company’s costume jewelry on instead. Capsule also offers some nice sparklies that don’t require a rider on your insurance policy. Ditto for Treasures Old & New Jewelers.

 

 


 

LEISURE

Fitness Center/Gym
You know those tabloid headlines that promise you can drop 20 or 30 pounds instantly? Here’s the secret: Go to the Family Y (your top choice). Pick up a 20 or 30 lb. weight. Then drop it. Voila! As Yoda once said, “There is no why; there is only Y.” Or something like that. Burn Boot Camp wins second, and the Kroc Center takes third.

Day Spa
Where do you go the day after you start at the gym? Tuscany: A Classic Italian Spa. It’s in Evans too, which is so much more convenient than Italy. Retreat Spa & Salon is first runner-up and Cucumber & Mint follows.

Place To Swim
There are tons of options. Strike that. Gallons of options. From among them you chose the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center first, followed by the Wheeler Y, which offers both indoor and outdoor swimming. That’s always nice. The Augusta Aquatics Center is a most worthy third.

Golf Course/Public
Soon to observe its 100th anniversary, and the course marking the beginning of Bobby Jones’ 1930 Grand Slam, Forest Hills is the place where most golfers yell “Fore!” when they really mean “One!” They yell “Two!” at Gordon Lakes and “Three!” at Jones Creek.

Place to Play Pool
Get over to Robbie’s Sports Bar quick, before the Augusta National buys it and turns it into a private billiards club for National members only. Riverfront Pub & Sports, conveniently located next door to the legendary Discotheque, wins second place, and the west side’s Rack & Grill has about a half acre of green felt awaiting your arrival.

Tennis Courts
Newman Tennis Center gets the most love from readers (not tennis love, though). Petersburg Racquet Club wins the second set. Forest Hills Racquet Club, just off Wimbledon Drive, takes the third.

Yoga Studio
Space Yoga Studio said, “make me one,” and readers obliged. Oh Yeah Yoga is excited to be second, so no downward dog there. It’s no stretch to say that hOMe Downtown Yoga, where no one gets bent out of shape, is third. Wait, wait. It is a stretch.

Place To Ride a Bicycle
Did you know training wheels aren’t called training wheels anymore? “Stabilizers,” the new term, is way less humiliating. So even if you’ve never learned how to ride, get some stabilizers on that baby and head for the Augusta Canal. If North Augusta is more convenient, make the Greeneway your destination. Readers voted for “Savannah Rapids Pavilion” in third.

Best-Kept Recreational Secret
Shhhh! Don’t tell anybody about the Augusta Canal towpath. It’s a secret! Ditto for Pendleton King Park and the Kroc Center. Can we trust you to keep quiet?

Place To Walk Your Dog
The top spot: the Augusta Canal. You say you don’t have a dog? Then walk your dogs along the Augusta Canal. Just make sure you’re wearing appropriate shoes. Freshly-saved Pendleton King Park is also a great pet-friendly destination. The North Augusta Greeneway is third. Can’t decide? Ask your dog.

Fundraising Event
The 3 Bridges 5K combines a beautiful river levee trail with cool spring weather and proceeds that benefit the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area. What’s not to like? Answer: nothing. The Jingle Jam 10K (benefiting SafeHomes) comes in second, and the mighty tasty Art of Chocolate (benefiting Child Enrichment and thousands of abused and neglected children) wins third.

Weekend Getaway
There are so many worthy options just down the road in every direction that only one of the following is a repeat from last year. Your first choice is Savannah. Nice! Option #2: Hilton Head. Nice (just watch out for gators)! Option #3: Greenville, S.C. Nice! And it’s the closest of the three, closer even than Atlanta.

Local Festival
The best fest is Arts in the Heart of Augusta, and it’s easy to see why: tons of art of every description coupled with cuisine from the world over. Good choice. The Greek Festival may feature just one country, but even so it’s good enough for second place. Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que (third) was such a party it took Evans Towne Center months to recover. Now that is a party.

 


 

MISCELLANEOUS

Special Event Facility
If you needed to rent someplace to make a great event even greater, where would it be? Your friends and neighbors propose The Barn at Sanderlin’s Horse Farm. Notice it’s not a barn; it’s the barn. That tells you everything you need to know. Enterprise Mill is also a pretty cool venue. In third: the James Brown Arena. Not that you would rent it, just that it’s your third-fave special event facility.

Car Wash
Have you ever thought that it’s odd that we “wash” our cars rather than clean them? That’s the kind of esoteric thinking and attention to detail they specialize in at Sparkle Express, which might explain why they’re your top pick. Not that second-placer Tidal Wave isn’t almost equally awesome. In third, none other than Dazzling Car Care by Leon.

Barber
Is your barber a barber? Or is she a barbette? Excellence is all that matters, not gender, and according to our polling results, Yankee Clippers is the home of tonsorialists par excellence. Durden’s Barber Shop takes the silver scissors (what they were already using anyway), and Russell’s Corner is third.

Local Charity
You chose WLJ Angel Gowns, a local charity that provides free wraps and gowns made from donated fabrics (often wedding dresses and formalwear) for infants who do not survive birth. Let’s pray their services are seldom required. United Way of the CSRA is your next favorite, followed by the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Tourist Attraction
Downtown gets your vote as best, and it’s getting more attractive all the time (with exceptions…read on). The Masters Tournament obviously belongs on this list, being as it is a truly global destination. Does anybody know how many countries are represented in the gallery? It’s got to be a ton. Third place: the James Brown statue, which used to stand in a nice shady oasis of cool until someone got happy with a chainsaw more than a year ago. We’re still waiting for the replacement landscaping.

New Civic Project
The winner is a dream brought to reality that many Augustans thought they would never see, and that had been dangled as “coming soon” for many years. Well, the Miller Theater has been reborn in all its original splendor and then some. All that’s left to do now is for us to support it through our attendance. The United Way’s “Bridge the Gap” campaign, an effort to replace lost funding, earns second-place honors. CityServe, an unusual city-wide collaboration of private parties to get things done (like landscaping projects at schools, litter cleanup in parks, etc., etc.), gets a well-deserved third.

Place You Wish Were Still Here
We still miss Fat Man’s Forest on Laney-Walker Boulevard. It was definitely a one-of-a-kind place. Squeaky’s Tip-Top is another spot with a unique and unusual place in Augusta’s history. Of much more recent vintage is your third reminiscence: Whole Foods.

Historic Landmark
Good job, readers. You say it’s Sacred Heart Cultural Center. What a remarkable edifice it is. The aforementioned James Brown statue is another unique and noteworthy Augusta landmark. Lastly, the Augusta Canal headgates are your third-best landmark.

 

Article appears in the October 2018 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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