Best of Augusta
How’s this for a Far East far out: Two of the top three are locally owned. Sandwiched in second is a non-local franchise: the most excellent P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (Augusta Mall). Shangri-La Asian Cuisine (2933 Washington Rd.) takes the victory and Sho Chin’s Asian Kitchen (4466 Washington Rd.) wins third. Congratulations to all.
If you’re looking for a great place to savor the delicacies of Japan, we have a capital idea: Miyabi Kyoto Japanese Steak House (1315 Augusta West Pkwy.). Kyoto means “capital,” after all. We’re not sure if Kurama (Japanese Seafood, 2834 Washington Rd.) means “second place” in Japanese, but that’s what it means to readers. Matsu Sige Japanese Cuisine (3836 Washington Rd.) rounds out the top three.
Readers suggest the best place to “thai” one on is Mai Thai in Evans (4272 Washington Rd.). Another worthy option is Thai Jong (2810 Washington Rd.). Heck, their first name is Thai, which ought to tell you something right there. Ditto for Thai Kitchen (4357 Washington Rd.). For the record, they have a dining room too.
Some may favor the more politically correct “Hispanic Restaurant,” but we’re traditionalists around these parts. All finalists are long-time faves, beginning with Poblano’s Mexican Grill (663 N. Belair Rd., 341 Baston Rd.), then Monterrey (multiple locations), followed by Vallarta (multiple locations) in third place. All are experts in south of the border cuisine, including that classic Mexican dish that defines the genre, number 15.
There’s nothing quite like a savory dish with a subcontinental flair prepared by your number one Indian restaurant, Bombay Central (3112 Washington Rd.). Taj of India (502 Furys Ferry Rd.) and India Café (503 Shartom Dr.) round out your top three choices.
It’s weird that certain countries have exported their cuisine all over the world, while others apparently don’t have anything to offer. Italy may be atop the exporters list (and Norwegian cooking at the bottom). Their top local export is Carrabba’s Italian Grill (2832 Washington Rd.), say people like the one holding the magazine in your hands. Downtown’s venerable Luigi’s (590 Broad St.) holds second place and relative newcomer Macaroni Grill (275 Robert C. Daniel Pkwy.) takes the bronze.
As long as we’re downtown already, we might as well drop off Luigi’s gold medal for its reader poll win as number one downtown restaurant. Blue Sky Kitchen (990 Broad St.) can get away with serving dinner one night a month (First Friday) and still score a silver medal. But who sees blue skies at night anyway? It’s a lunch place, hence the name. That’s the story we’re going with. Nacho Mama’s (976 Broad St.) is not your mama’s, true, but you still like it enough for third place.
Ideally, the winner will be in your neighborhood. If not, call a cab and head to Village Deli (2803 Wrightsboro Rd.). Somewhere there’s a village missing its deli and we’ve got it. Nearby, Sheehan’s Irish Pub (2571 Central Ave.) takes the overflow from the Village, saving people a trip to Ireland. French Market Grille West (368 Furys Ferry Rd.) serves the western front in style.
Assuming it’s autumn, winter or spring, head for Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar (3051 Washington Rd., 305 N. Belair Rd.). Readers also like Manuel’s Bread Café (505 Railroad Ave.) in North Augusta and downtown’s Cotton Patch (816 Cotton Ln.). Order a certain soft drink as your beverage and you can dine al fresca.
Obviously, Chick-Fil-A is disqualified right off the bat. That leaves the Partridge Inn (2110 Walton Way) all alone in the catbird seat, uh, pew. Crums on Central (1855 Central Ave.) does more than sweep up the crumbs of Partridge; it places second, and the Doubletree Hotel (2651 Perimeter Pkwy.) wins the bronze.
They’re anything but uptown at Goolsby’s (4460 Washington Rd.). Rumor has it they actually prepare the food at their home for that authentic down-home flavor, then whisk it to the restaurant for diners. If that’s true, it’s pure genius. Honey From the Rock Café (2621 Washington Rd.) and Willie Sue’s (500 Oxbow Dr.) complete the down-homiest eateries.
Would you eat liver and onions 365 nights a year? Possibly. But a plethora of persons do eat the same breakfast every morning year-round. All the more reason to seek out the best breakfast, which the ballots say is offered by Sunrise Grill (3830 Washington Rd., 404 E. Martintown Rd., North Augusta). This is not the most ruthless category, as evidenced by Ruth’s Family Restaurant’s (3843 Washington Rd.) second-place finish. Waffle House (492 CSRA locations) takes third.
The Pinnacle Club (699 Broad St.) is only a private dining club if you’re not a member. So join already and start enjoying its amenities. The economy will thank you. California Dreaming (3241 Washington Rd.) gets the silver medal, which is only fair: The winner of Best of Los Angeles in this category is Georgia On My Mind. In third: Manuel’s Bread Café.
If you’re all about getting a fine meal started right, get thee to the somewhat eponymously named (Bee’s Knees 211 10th St.). California Dreaming also has excellent appetite whetters, with Bonefish Grill (2911 Washington Rd.) rounding out the top three.
Winning this category here in the South is like being named best mush maker in Alaska. Aren’t you glad you live in the South? We have no mush, but we do have Sconyers Bar-B-Que (2250 Sconyers Way). Nuff said. Edmunds Bar-B-Que (3935 Washington Rd.) is our Second Swine, if you will. And if you won’t, well, there’s still Shane’s Rib Shack (4446 Washington Rd.) in third.
A friend of ours won’t eat any meat that comes from a part of the animal’s anatomy he can recognize. Sadly, he’s missing out on Sconyers Bar-B-Que ribs. Dude! At Shane’s Rib Shack, rib is practically their middle name, so a silver medal is no surprise. Sticky Fingers (277 Robert C. Daniel Pkwy.) takes home third from the Augusta Magazine drive-up window.
Thankfully, Red Robin did not win this category. Somehow that would just be wrong. Instead, the aptly named Wild Wing Café (3035 Washington Rd.) takes the honors. Wing Stop (multiple locations) and Wife Saver (multiple locations) also get high-flying reader rankings.
For all those who believe in evolution, this category includes the fish before they developed wings. (For after, see previous category.) Of course, fish is just the tip of the iceberg in great seafood. Just ask your server at T’s Restaurant (3416 Mike Padgett Hwy.), the reader fave. Bonefish Grill has the silver medal. Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar? Beyond second. Third, in fact.
All the little kids who liked to play with their food grew up to be great sushi chefs, like those at Takosushi (437 Highland Ave., Surrey Center), your top choice. Matsu Sige and Miyabi Kyoto also employ some real cut ups, say your votes.
Other than bacon, no meat says manly quite like a perfectly grilled steak. Of course, in these days of gender equality, steak is an equal opportunity satisfier, just like T-Bonz Steakhouse of Augusta (2856 Washington Rd., 1654 Gordon Hwy.) is. Yes, they won again, which for them isn’t exactly rare. Well done! Logan’s Roadhouse (269 Robert C. Daniel Pkwy.) will also do this food group proud. Outback Steakhouse (2949 Washington Rd.) wins third.
If you love catfish—and seriously, who doesn’t?—take your craving to T’s Restaurant, where readers award them an “A” in catfish. Old McDonald Fish Camp (355 Currytown Rd., North Augusta) also has many cat fanciers in its camp. Wife Saver completes your top three choices.
Trying to cut down on fried food? Sure you are and good luck with that. When you’re ready to throw in the towel (like maybe later today?), Wife Saver gets the recommendation of a majority of readers, at least in the chicken category. Café 209 (4 Eighth St.) will also fry one up just right for you. Maryland Fried Chicken (12 Broad St.)—or MFC if they follow the example of KFC —takes third.
Rapidly say soup a few dozen times (preferably in private) and you’ll realize just what a silly word it is, but it’s serious business at California Dreaming. Sunshine Bakery ((1209 Broad St.) and Panera Bread (254 Robert C. Daniel Pkwy., 4237 Washington Rd., Evans) take second and third, respectively, as places where serving a bunch of stuff thrown into a bowl of hot water is genuinely delicious.
The incumbent, Yo Pizza (2803 Wrightsboro Rd.), has fended off all challengers to keep its crown for another year. Mellow Mushroom (1167 Broad St., 4348 Washington Rd., Evans) is first runner-up if for any reason Yo Pizza cannot complete its reign. Pizza Joint (multiple locations) wins a well-deserved next runner-up.
Pizza Delivery/Take Out
It’s not DiGiorno, it’s Pizza Hut, and it’s mmm gooood in first place, say most readers. Third place goes to, correction, comes from Little Caesar’s. Locally owned Pizza Central muscles in between the big guys in second for a pizza sandwich.
The gourmand in you may sniff at the humble hot dog. The solution? Order a frankfurter. In fact, order it from Village Deli, the local nirvana for finicky frankfurter aficionados. Papa N Sons-A Bite of Chicago (4446 Washington Rd., 500 Furys Ferry Rd.) and its related incarnations takes second. Third place goes to a brand name: Nathan’s (served at Bruster’s, multiple locations).
The word means “little donkey,” but don’t think about that when they’re rolling up a fat one for you at Moe’s Southwest Grill (4239 Washington Rd., 2745 Washington Rd.), your numero uno burrito builder. Nacho Mama’s and Vallarta Mexican Restaurant take dose and trace. (Obviously we don’t speak Mexican too well.)
What do you want, Earl? Pastrami? PB&J? Steak? Club? Reuben? Dagwood? Cheesesteak? Open face? Hot? Cold? Submarine? A melt? French Dip? Cuban? BLT? Sandwiches offer incredible variety, so if you’re good at making them—like your votes say My Friend’s Place (353 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) is—then you’re good indeed. Panera Bread is also upper crust, while Village Deli takes third place.
Sold by the billions, these little numbers may well be the most-scarfed food item of all time. Five Guys Burgers and Fries (2805 Washington Rd.) is the local epicurean epicenter in Burger World, at least according to the ballots we saw. Village Deli grabs another medal, this one a silver. In a burger battle royale, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (4241 Washington Rd.) and downtown’s Sports Center (594 Broad St.) tie for third.
Like Adam’s rib, bread is the bare bones upon which sandwiches—and many other tasty delights—are built. Grab a loaf or three at Panera, where their employees are quite literally the staff of life. Manuel’s Bread Café gets the first runner-up, and we have another tie in third, this one between Atlanta Bread Co. (255 Robert C. Daniel Pkwy.) and Publix (multiple locations).
Back in the old days, salads were the stuff of small side dishes and skimpy calorie counts. Today, a simple salad can pack more punch than three banana splits and a four-gallon chocolate fudge sundae. That is the very definition of progress. Of course, there are side dish salads and then there are entrée salads. Both are the best at California Dreaming, say the people. Rae’s Coastal Café (3208 West Wimbledon Dr.) and Fatz Café (464 N. Belair Rd.) also win green. Well, silver and bronze technically.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve just eaten. Rule number one: Save room for dessert, preferably at Boll Weevil (10 Ninth St.). They serve appetizers, entrees and desserts, but Boll Weevil has built its reputation on the principle that what is eaten last is remembered first. Hence their Best Dessert victory. Sweet. French Market Grille (425 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) has a legendary dessert reputation too. Theirs is built on the peanut butter pie principle. In third, the Pinnacle Club, built on the 16 stories up principle.
Pastries & Cookies
These are the items that are placed artistically around your main dessert, and if they’re from A Piece of Cake (4115 Washington Rd.), they are worthy additions indeed to the final chapter of your meal. Publix Bakery gets high marks as well, with Sunshine Bakery and Edible Artistry (103 Maple Dr., 193 Baston Rd.) all battered up for a third-place tie.
This is the item alongside your main dessert and artfully arranged pastries and cookies. Or inside your waffle cone. Or spilling over the top of the bowl, dripping chocolate, butterscotch, caramel, fruit toppings or perhaps all three. Obviously we’re talking Bruster’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream. Yay-ya. Honey From the Rock also gets a big scoop of votes; Cold Stone Creamery (210 Robert C. Daniel Pkwy.) wins third-place honors.
It’s usually a two-horse race here and this year is no exception. The ballots basically say all donuts are good donuts (well, except anchovy-carrot donuts), but there can be only one winner (unless there’s a tie, which there isn’t). And so without further ado, because there has been plenty of ado already, it’s Krispy Kreme (multiple locations), the official donut of Masters Tournament champions in first, Dunkin’ Donuts (3024 Washington Rd.) in second.
Kind of like donuts on a health food diet, bagels are best at Einstein Bros. Bagels (2807 Washington Rd.), which probably sounds like a no-brainer to Einstein fans. Panera Bread also offers splendid bagels, say the ballots. And in third, Dunkin’ Donuts sells great bagels too.
If there’s anything better than a good restaurant, it’s an extra good deal at a good restaurant. Your fellow readers say such a combo platter is on the bill of fare at Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar. Something’s on special every day. Calvert’s (475 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) offers its legendary sunset dinners for two. Third place: French Market Grille West.
Sheehan’s John Beck takes the golden toque, no small honor. Have outstanding food will travel, and travel well. Vera Stewart of Very Vera takes second place and Jennifer Shuford’s Tastefully Yours wins the coveted bronze.
What a crucially important category this is and what an honor for Villa Europa (3044 Deans Bridge Rd.) to take home the biggest tip. Your votes say Calvert’s restaurant gets the silver medal and none other than Moe’s Southwest Grill takes third. Yes, friendly service is vital whether the lighting is flickering fluorescents or flickering candles.
Place To Go When Someone Else Is Paying
Is there a bad place to go when someone else is paying? No. But there are great places. The reader choice is Calvert’s restaurant. Enjoy and please order anything you wish. Bistro 491 (491 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) is a worthy alternate choice. La Maison on Telfair (404 Telfair St.) completes your fantasy trio.
The results here are a virtual carbon copy (for those of you who may remember carbon paper) of the previous category: Calvert’s, Bistro 491 and La Maison on Telfair. Long live romance.
Special Occasion Restaurant
Not every special occasion involves romance. Or the other guy picking up the tab. For all those, your votes shake out as follows: the most votes go in Calvert’s restaurant column, which makes them the specialest restaurant in town. Congrats! La Maison on Telfair and Bistro 491 finish two and three. They’re all special. Just don’t let them be occasional.
A lot goes into crafting something as ethereal as atmosphere: lighting, seating comfort, music, temperature and, yes, the palette (of foods and the colors chosen to decorate). The award for this achievement as done best goes to Calvert’s restaurant. Good job. La Maison on Telfair and Cadwallader’s Cafe (106 Davis Rd.), worthy choices both, are silver and bronze.
Possibly new, possibly simply overlooked. Maybe swanky, maybe not, but worth discovering. May we have the menu please? In third place, downtown’s Rooster’s Beak (215 Tenth St.) shouldn’t be too hard to find. First runner-up: the venerable Villa Europa. Remember them next time it’s the old, “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” And in first place: Daddy O’s Steak Subs (3336 Wrightsboro Rd.). Seek and ye shall be rewarded, say the ballots.
Get your gourmet tacos on and feed the beak at Rooster’s Beak. Among new restaurant in Augusta, your peers say it’s peerless. Also downtown, Soy Noodle House (1032 Broad St.) takes the silver soy sauce and its Broad Street neighbor Du Jour Fine Foods (1128 Broad St.), home to awesome sandwich builds as well as soups and salads, completes a downtown sweep for this category.
This one’s the big kahuna, or more specifically, the big shrimp po’ boy. That’s your first clue to who won. The second clue: Its initials are French Market Grille. They’ve got an entire mantel crammed with these RO trophies. Calvert’s elevates Surrey Center’s status a bit higher still with its second-place finish and Villa Europa completes the top three.
It’s way too tempting to say readers toasted Toast Wine and Beverage (417 Furys Ferry Rd.), but we’ll resist the urge to go there. Lame puns are simply not our style, in case you hadn’t noticed. Let us simply announce Toast as the winner, followed by Vineyard Wine Market (not the church) at 4414 Evans to Locks Rd. and Harvard Wine & Beverage (110 Old Evans Rd.).
The perfect accompaniment to a fine meal, a wine list is your chance to elevate a simply good meal to a superb meal. No pressure there, so choose well. For starters, choose Villa Europa, the place your fellow readers anoint as holder of the best wine menu in town. Quite the battle for second place, where Calvert’s and Cadwallader’s duel mano-a-mano (which means “cork to cork”) to a tie. We would expect nothing less. In third place all by itself: French Market Grille West.
Wine by the Glass
Splitting hairs? Wine menu versus wine by the glass? Perhaps, but let us not quibble. After all, in vino veritas, and these days we need all the veritas we can get (not to mention vino). French Market Grille wins this competition and its scion, French Market Grille West, takes third. In between is another FMG offshoot, Calvert’s. Cheers to all.
Repeat: take home. Not for drinking in the parking lot. People frown on such behavior. Toast has the endorsement of the greatest preponderance of readers, then Harvard Wine & Beverage, followed by Publix Supermarket, Aisle 14.
Strap on the olde thinking cap and you’ll get this one: If we give you “blank & beer,” most people will fill in the blank with pizza. We know: It was on Family Feud one time. Pizza Joint wins this category. Go there and order a round. And a round. They go together. Second place: Somewhere in Augusta (2820 Washington Rd.). Third place: Still Water Taproom (974 Broad St.).
If you want to be a bartender, you’d better know how to mix a few hundred different libations. But here we single out margaritas and martinis (see next). Why? Because they’re tops in popularity. And Monterrey is tops on your list in margarita-making. Vallarta and Poblano’s battle for second and third, respectively.
Nothing says urbane sophistication quite like a martini. Even if you don’t like them, you can fake it nicely with an olive swimming in a martini glass of water. But readers suggest you imbibe the real thing (responsibly, of course) at French Market Grille. Bonefish has a martini-worthy mixologist or two on staff as well. The Bee’s Knees and the Partridge Inn mix it up in a third-place tie.
We are the Saudi Arabia of iced tea. If we could just figure out some way to pour it into our gas tanks… For the time being, we’re left to pouring the stuff down our throats, which isn’t such a bad deal, especially if you’re getting it from Wife Saver. They’re your favorite brewers. Sunshine Bakery and McAlister’s Deli (Augusta Mall) complete the top three.
Here’s a famous quote: “Coffee is to wake up, coffee is to work with, coffee is to live with, coffee is life.” That is probably the corporate slogan at Starbucks (multiple locations), your top coffee purveyor. Surrey Center’s Aroma (379 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) perks up in second place; Earth Fare (368 Furys Ferry Rd.) takes third.
Ah yes, men’s clothing. When we really get dressed up we sport many shades of gray, black, brown and dark blue. We’re like peacocks. Very, very somber peacocks. That doesn’t mean we don’t look sharp, especially if our threads come from Jos. A. Bank (383 Highland Ave., Surrey Center). That is the reader favorite. The Boardroom (3604 Verandah Dr.) and Macy’s at Augusta Mall (presumably the men’s department) score second and third place.
The entire rainbow is available in women’s clothing. If you don’t believe us, at least believe your own ballots and check out the array at Summerville Rags (1502 Monte Sano Ave.). Then call your contractor to discuss plans for your newly expanded walk-in closets. While you’re at it, build wings for Stein Mart (2834 Washington Rd.) and Talbots (491 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) too.
For that special occasion and the unique outfit to match, grab some plastic, head to Summerville Rags and re-enact the shopping scene from Pretty Woman. In second place, you could go Mainstream (4446 Washington Rd.) and why not? Soho (435 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) wins third.
Hand-me-downs have to start someplace, right? Begin the clothing food chain that will endure for generations of the—your name here—family with a trip to Posh Tots (343 Highland Ave., Surrey Center). Kid to Kid (4414 Evans to Locks Rd.), owned by five-year-olds from the sounds of it, takes second. Dillard’s (Augusta Mall) has next-best.
Place To Buy Shoes
Everyone needs at least two shoes, right? Unless you’re a female-type person, in which case two dozen is cutting it a wee bit close. Rectify that situation with a trip to Shoes at Surrey (487 Highland Ave., Surrey Center). Shoe Studio (2701 Washington Rd.) is another low-down customer favorite. Stein Mart is the very sole of the winners in third.
Because everybody’s gotta eat, everybody should go to Publix in the opinion of our readers. They say even the broccoli is good at Publix. Kroger and Earth Fare (368 Furys Ferry Rd.) place second and third. Super markets!
The next time the Queen stops by for high tea, don’t be caught serving Oreos and powdered milk again. Plan ahead and have the gourmet (pronounced “gore-may”) victuals ready and waiting. Ask the folks at Fresh Market (2701 Washington Rd.) what you need and they’ll fix you right up. Readers suggest Earth Fare and Publix, in that order, as gourmet alternatives.
Organic Products & Foods
As its name would suggest, Earth Fare offers the earthiest fare and readers agree. They voted Fresh Market into second place and Publix into third.
And now for something complexly different: food not from this earth. From the seas, in fact. Island Seafood (2304 Lumpkin Rd.) is the place to drop a hook, say the voters. And remember, fish is considered brain food, so they know whereof they speak. Fresh Market takes the silvery award. Publix and Earth Fare (oddly enough) battle to a third-place draw.
Not a fried anything in sight? It must be the produce section at Fresh Market. Second banana (and a number of other fruits and vegetables) is none other than the Saturday Market on the River. Support the little guy. Peas, for instance. Publix reaps third.
Take your kids to Bedford Greenhouses (1023 Oleander Dr.). It’s a nursery, right? What are the kids saying these days? LOL? But seriously, folks, second place goes to Green Thumb West Nursery and Garden (9110 Davis Rd.). Appling’s Sanderlin Green Houses (2539 Scotts Ferry Rd., Appling) gets the green bronze.
Yes, believe it or not, the printed word still exists, even though texts outnumber books 48 million to one. Wait, now it’s 49 million. Our Best in Books Award goes to Barnes & Noble (Augusta Mall). Chapter 2: Borders Books, Music, Movies and Cafe (257 Robert C. Daniel Jr. Pkwy.). 3: Books-A-Million (2834 Washington Rd.). 50 million now.
Even though they don’t offer Augusta Magazine gift subscriptions (obviously the best gift), readers still installed Cudos! (1257 Augusta West Pkwy.) in the top spot. The Swank Company (351 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) isn’t swanky; they’re swank, plain and simple. Design Images (459 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) is another worthy place to buy stuff you’re going to give away.
This category isn’t for municipal decorations; this one’s for in-store (on display, on sale or both) and the award goes to Cudos! Kudos to them. Hobby Lobby (230 Robert C. Daniel Jr. Pkwy.) is in the adjoining manger; Martina’s Flowers and Gifts (3830 Washington Rd.) wins third.
Place To Shop for
Okay, enough with the jokes about butcher shops and Hooters gift certificates. Our readers are a little more astute and sophisticated than all that. They say buy him something that bounces. That’ll occupy him for hours. Academy Sports (4210 Washington Rd.) is your top choice. The Boardroom (3604 Verandah Dr.) takes second. Excellent choice, as is Rivers & Glen Trading Company (387 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) in third. Ask for Glen. He’ll take good care of you.
Place To Shop for Wife/Girlfriend
It’s tough to shop for the woman who already has everything she wants in life. You, in other words. Everything else is just gravy. Well, they don’t sell gravy at Windsor Fine Jewelers (2635 Washington Rd.) last time we checked, but they’ve got the next best thing in endless array. Summerville Rags takes second place. If you buy something for her there, buy at least three sizes smaller than hers and she’ll love you even more. In third place: Cudos!
Place To Buy Green
The Greenway Store (4336 Washington Rd.). Duh. They even sell little floor mats so when you come in from cleaning the chimney you can minimize your carbon footprints. Earth Fare and New Life Natural Foods (2825 Washington Rd.) earn second and third place. We’ve been personally asked to give all three a big shout out from planet Earth. Done.
Weinberger’s Furniture and Mattress Showcase (3137 Washington Rd.) is your choice as best. They’re already parading out the young family stars of the next generation of Weinberger’s TV ads. Can they do that? Yes they can! Andrews Gallery (2831 Washington Rd.) wins the second place prize, which is a roomful of furniture! (Contact Andrews Gallery for details.) Semi-new kid on the block—Rooms To Go (475 Bobby Jones Expwy.)—rounds out the top three.
Ok, this makes no sense at all, but the winner, Antique Market, is in a new store. It sounds impossible, but it’s true. Look for them in Le Pavilion (106 Pleasant Home Rd.). Merry’s Trash & Treasures (1236 Broad St.) remains ensconced on Broad St. downtown, so ask about their sconces. Distinctly Different Antiques (345 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) is. They win third.
Is there any other kind? Of course. That’s why you need to shop at a reputable jeweler, a place like Windsor Fine Jewelers, according to a majority of balloters. Tell ‘em Jerry sent you. Tops in also-rans: Estate Jewelry Center (367 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) and the Jeweler’s Bench (1462 Jackson Rd.).
You choose Hobby Lobby. Wait ’til you see the rest of the store! Shoes at Surrey tells you everything you need to know: the all-important what and where. For that, they win the silver medal. In third, all hail the Apple Store (Augusta Mall). Take a bite today.
Remember olden times when there were only three stations? It has come full circle. We’ve got three finalists: WJBF (Channel 6) gets your endorsement for the top spot. WAGT (Channel 26) takes second place. And WRDW (Channel 12) gets third. Thank goodness we can surf all three without having to leave our recliners. How did we survive without remotes?
TV News Personality
The news is that Brad Means (WJBF) has a new nickname: The Anchor. Yes, the anchor, according to the ballots. No word on his pro wrestling career yet, but we’ll keep you posted. Liz Hill (WAGT) wins silver. (No news about her wrestling career either.) Richard Rogers (WRDW) scores third.
TV Sports Personality
Chris Kane is a good sport. So good, you say, that he’s your favorite sportscaster. Rah rah rah! WRDW’s Kevin Faigle finishes second in a two-man race.
TV Weather Personality
George Myers of WJBF gets to hold the coveted Umbrella One for the coming year. He gets to wear the silk sash too. And the tiara. Longtime weather colleague (albeit at WRDW), Bob Smith emerges from retirement as he often does, this time to accept The Silver Lining, symbolic of second place. That leaves Jeff Rucker to capably hold down the third and final spot.
Best TV Hair
What would Walter Cronkite say about this category? The same thing Brad Means does, which is: “Hey, no fair!” As a general rule, more hair than scalp should be visible to contend in this category. Take Jennie Montgomery (WJBF), for example. She’s obviously giving her best and it pays: She’s number one. In a fierce Battle of the Blondes, Barclay Bishop of WJBF takes second place and Paige Tucker of WAGT locks up third.
Local Radio Station
Not too long ago, WBBQ (104.3 FM) was the number one radio station in the nation. These days, they’re the first runner-up in Augusta radio. The golden microphones have been moved to WGAC (580 AM News Talk Radio), at least for the coming year. Third place, meanwhile, belongs to WAFJ (88.3 FM).
Talk Radio Personality
WGAC’s victory as Best Radio Station was your first clue and here are the rest: Tops in talk radio is the big mighty himself, Austin Rhodes, followed by Harley Drew and Mary Liz Nolan. Yes, it’s a clean sweep for WGAC. Congratulations!
Morning Radio Show
You get three guesses who won this one, and the first two don’t count. That’s correct: Harley Drew and Mary Liz Nolan take home this trophy too. John and Cleve hold down the 6 to 9 a.m. slot and WAFJ (88.3 FM) and they hold down second place too.
Local News Story
What was hot and what was not in the past year? The downtown baseball stadium controversy divided people like the Savannah divides the CSRA. You’re on one side or the other. The TEE Center took second and third went to those Harrisburg landlords, the ones who place ads like this one: “For rent, nuisance property, conv. access for suspicious comings and goings at all hours; spacious sidewalks for picketers and news crews; no yard work req.—or desired.”
There is a veritable plethora of area publications, which makes The Augusta Chronicle’s clean sweep an impressive one: Don Rhodes grabs the Quill of Quality for his writings. Bill Kirby and Sylvia Cooper take second and third honors. Write on!
You’re the star of our feature fave: “Around Town.” Hey, is that you? Buy five or six copies for your grandparents, workmates and neighbors. Second place goes to the other side of the camera. Your hats and ours are off to salute the artists behind the cameras. You’re actually reading third place: the annual Best of Augusta issue.
Unexpectedly, no votes for that infomercial contraption you hook over your closet door after three easy payments of $19.95 each. Instead, voters opted for the Family Y (multiple locations), where fitness is a family value. And just in time, there’s a shiny new Family Y on Belair Road. The other finalists: The Omni Club (4408 Evans to Locks Rd., 3637 Walton Way Ext.) in second place followed by Health Central (945 Broad St., 1350 Walton Way). Now go forth and exercise.
This probably falls under the Beauty portion of the Fitness/Beauty category (or the Cosmetic Fitness portion), but in any case, Jon Ric Medical Spa & Salon (229 Furys Ferry Rd.) lands atop the heap. It’s the best, say readers. They also say Retreat (4246 Washington Rd.) lives up to its name (in second place), while Tuscany A Classic Italian Spa (608 Ponder Place Dr.) takes third.
Lots of people aspire to be losers, and many of them seek out the assistance of Kath Engler at the Family Y. For still others less isn’t more; they aspire to be bigger and more muscular. She helps them too. Demetrius Jones wins the silver; Jack Kern of Fitness Partners effortlessly hoists the bronze medal.
Place To Swim
It’s the ol’ swimming hole gone Hollywood: the Family Y wins. Augusta’s Aquatic Center (3157 Damascus Rd.) takes second. Is there no representative from the great outdoors? Fear not: Lake Thurmond, all eight zillion gallons of it, wins third place.
Best in town by actual vote is beautiful and historic Forest Hills Golf Course (1500 Comfort Rd.). Hone your skills there and you could be the next Tiger Woods. But let’s hope not. Jones Creek (777 Jones Creek Dr.) and Bartram Trail (470 Bartram Trail Club Dr.) golf clubs will split second-place prize money, which puts The Patch (2023 Highland Ave.), Augusta’s venerable municipal course, in third.
What happens at West Lake Country Club (3556 West Lake Dr.)—like you whiffing on three tee shots in a row—stays at West Lake. That’s the advantage of a private club. Masters-adjacent Augusta Country Club (655 Milledge Rd.) takes second, a single stroke ahead of Champions Retreat (37 Champions Pkwy.).
Order in the court! Order in the court! Okay, okay. Calm down. Here’s your order in the court: first, Newman Tennis Center (3103 Wrightsboro Rd.), the reader favorite. The other finalists, in order, are Forest Hills Racquet and Swim Club (3206 W. Wimbledon Dr.) and Petersburg Racquet Club (421 The Pass).
Place To Ride a Bike
We have some fantastic venues in the area for bike riders, who put the kickstand up at the Augusta Canal first and foremost. Next is North Augusta’s Greeneway, a place so environmentally friendly that they put three Es in its name. Voters say Riverwalk is third-best biking spot.
Best-Kept Recreational Secret
Number one honors go to Augusta Canal boat rides (1450 Greene St.), providing a nice reminder that recreation can sometimes involve zero physical activity. Phinizy Swamp Nature Park (1858 Lock and Dam Rd.) keeps the communing with nature theme going in second place; the lovely and talented North Augusta Greeneway reappears in third.
Place To Exercise
on a Rainy Day
Family Y wins, but we’ll assume that doesn’t include the pool. After all, you’d get completely soaked swimming there on a rainy day. Omni Club is another place to burn those extra pounds you haven’t used lately. Home wins third because getting all that stuff off the treadmill can provide a decent workout.
Let’s say you’ve got a gerbil or a guppy that isn’t quite ready for its close-up. Or maybe it deserves a makeover as a reward for good behavior. D’Tail’s Pet Grooming (1275 Marks Church Rd.) gets the coveted Golden Groomer Award. Animal House Grooming (2917 Riverwest Dr.) is the runner-up, so to speak. Connie’s Happy Tails (106 Shaw Dr.) takes third. Tails are their specialty. On a budget? Ask about their “tail-only” grooming option.
The tip-top truck wash, van wash, crossover wash, SUV wash, taxi wash, hot rod wash and, oh, car wash is Top Notch Car Wash (multiple locations), perhaps because actual human beings are on the premises. Lulu’s Exterior Express (232 Bobby Jones Expwy, 3129 Peach Orchard Rd.) and Sparkle Express Wash (4993 Washington Rd., 204 Edgefield Rd., North Augusta) take second and third, respectively.
Like a step back in time (except in the haircut department), Durden’s Barber and Hair Styling (1405 Monte Sano Ave.) will take a little off the top and send you on your way as least looking like a better man. Quite the sweet deal. Daniel Village Barber Shop (2522 Wrightsboro Rd.) wins the silver scissors. Omar’s Barbershop and Day Spa (3741 Washington Rd.) sweeps up third and passes the shavings on to you. (Not really.)
Place To Buy Cheap Gas
Let’s rephrase that: inexpensive gas. Some people find the term “cheap gas” to be offensive. Kroger (multiple locations) is the place to go for all your oil sheik-stiffing needs. (Not really. But it might make you feel better to imagine that.) Readers say Greg’s Gas Plus (multiple locations) in second place should have been named Greg’s Gas Minus; Circle K (multiple locations) scores third.
Because we all may need them one of these days, we, the citizens of Augusta, voted Golden Harvest Food Bank into the top spot. The Salvation Army and its soon-to-be Kroc Center wait in the wings, anticipating a resounding victory next year. Child Enrichment Center is our third-most favoritist charitable charity.
Rearrange the letters in fundraiser and what have you got? Dear fun, sir. And that’s what the Morris Museum Gala is all about. It’s your state of the art fundraiser. In second, it’s the Ronald McDonald Plane Pull. Did your team lose? Get a 747 ASAP and start practicing for next year. Historic Augusta’s Cotton Ball takes third.
They have millions of little twinklers out in the woods somewhere near Grovetown at Lights of the South (633 Louisville Rd.), your favorite display. Downtown Augusta and Hopelands Gardens (101 Dupree Pl.) in Aiken couldn’t be more different places, but they share the medals stand in second and third place.
Best Thing To Happen to Augusta
Readers showed their character by choosing a noble trio of best-worthy things. Thing one is the Kroc Center, a building apace as we speak and sure to serve the community well or countless years to come. Thing two has the most stories in Augusta and if you’re thinking Port Royal, you’re thinking too hard. The new library has the most stories. Thing three: the TEE Center, which should welcome many guests to our fair city.
Best Reason To Visit Columbia County
Lake Thurmond gets the nod here. If you’re not a lake person you can sometimes forget it’s there, and how close and convenient it is. We’re a fortunate place to have such an asset. Patriot’s Park, once in the middle of absolutely nowhere, somehow seems to be a lot more centrally located than it used to be. Shopping is your third-best reason for visiting Columbia County.
Best Reason To Visit Richmond County
Downtown Augusta wins, filled as it is with unique and unusual shops, one-of-a-kind eateries and inviting parks. In addition (in second), it’s home to a bevy of museums and cultural attractions: the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, the Augusta Canal Interpretive Center, the Morris Museum of Art, Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History and the Augusta Museum of History, plus (in third) performance venues like the Imperial Theatre Bell Auditorium and James Brown Arena and (hopefully soon) the Miller Theater, where arts performances abound all year, especially during the Westobou Festival.
People have loved Sacred Heart Cultural Center (1301 Greene St.) for a hundred years. It’s a monumental piece of architecture and your favorite. President Woodrow Wilson’s Boyhood Home (419 Seventh St.) is runner-up, kind of like Teddy Roosevelt was in the election of 1912. Sibley Mill (1717 Goodrich St.) and its soaring brick tower wins third place.
Hot Local Issue
What will it be this year? Trains crawling around during rush hour, blocking traffic? The Confederate flag at Riverwalk? No free Masters badges for Augusta residents? Turns out it’s the TEE Center, the very same project that voters said was Top Three in things to happen to Augusta. Where our baseball stadium will be—or stay—takes second (base). Over at third, Save The Patch. Could the venerable course be closed and sold by the city? Stay tuned.
New Civic Project
Literally billions of dollars in brand new construction are sprinkled across the CSRA: St. Sebastian Way, the completed I-20 widening project and MCG’s new dental school come to mind. So does the Kroc Center, which topped the ballots, followed by the TEE Center and downtown’s brand spanking new headquarters library.
So you think you can vote, do you? You can and you chose quite well, avoiding a major family squabble. You see, the first place votes are a dead heat between Augusta native Josh Kelley and his younger brother Charles. Crisis averted. Josh is a musician noted for hit songs like “Amazing” and “Only You” and is married to actress Katherine Heigl. His brother Charles, no slouch himself, is half of the Antebellum portion of the extremely successful country music trio Lady Antebellum. So You Think You Can Dance finalist Kathryn McCormick takes second place all by herself. Rounding out the category: the one and only Austin Rhodes. We do have some celebritays, do we not?
Place To Throw Darts
Surrey Tavern (471 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) is looking sharp in this category, real sharp. People also get the DTs (dart throwers) at Robbie’s Sports Bar (2834 Washington Rd.). “Sports” is obviously code for “darts.” Third goes to Somewhere in Augusta (2820 Washington Rd.).
Place To Play Pool
No votes for the Augusta Aquatic Center. Instead, Robbie’s Sports Bar wins. “Sports” is obviously code for “pool.” Lower Broad Street’s authentic Sports Center (594 Broad St. next to Luigi’s) takes the 2-Ball in the corner pocket. Metro Coffeehouse (1054 Broad St.): third place.
Columbia County’s Patriot’s Park is a sterling facility, a fact readers rewarded by electing it to First Place (or as we sometimes say, “Best”). Pendleton King Park (1738 Pine Tree Rd.) is a perennial favorite, a classic, a golden, uh, make that a silver oldie. Diamond Lakes Regional Park (103 Diamond Lakes Way) takes the bronze.
Let’s see...what brings people from out of town to Augusta? Got it! The Masters Tournament! We fully expect free badges for helping the tournament with this free publicity. Artists’ Row takes second place. Take your visiting guests for a gallery tour. They’ll be impressed. Third: Cruise, walk or bicycle along the Augusta Canal.
There was this guy who made a really cool chalk painting on the sidewalk during First Friday one time, but readers ignored him and instead named Symphony Orchestra Augusta’s Pops Concert Series as best. Good call. Augusta Players gets curtain call number two and the stage also provides us with the Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre (Third Ave. #32100) in third.
Arts in the Heart withstood a furious charge by Westobou to retain its title. While all that was going on, the Greek Festival snuck into third place.
Place to Spend a Rainy Afternoon
Here are your results:
2nd: At the movies
3rd: At Augusta Mall
4th: Singing in the rain
5th: Splashing in puddles
6th: Dancing in the rain
Place To Get Back to Nature
Assuming you ever left, you can reconnect at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park. If you’ve never been, rectify that situation this fall without fail. Augusta Canal and Lake Thurmond (second and third) happen to be man made, but we won’t tell if you don’t.
Place To Walk Your Dog
Readers like the Augusta Canal best, possibly because it’s easy to convince yourself that you and your dog are fertilizing nature. How noble. Try the same thing on your street and the neighbors may not be quite so appreciative. Bark Park at Pendleton King gets second place; North Augusta’s Greeneway wins third.
The slight economic downturn doesn’t mean one must abandon one’s social life. One could go to Riverwalk, the number one destination for the frugal romantic. Another suggestion: concerts at the Appleby Library (2260 Walton Way). Finally, one word: picnic.
Place To Propose Marriage
Riverwalk is a quiet and romantic setting for just such a proposal, say the ballots. Alternately, readers say aboard a boat on the lake, perhaps under the setting sun. Remember to bring plenty of bait. See how she does cleaning the fish. Third place: on the verandah at the Partridge Inn, an excellent suggestion.
Place To Get Married
If she said yes—and if she’s good at cleaning fish—the best place is church, believe it or not. Go figure. Then comes Sacred Heart, certainly a memorable place to begin life together. In third, readers say give them a ring at Aiken’s Rose Hill Estate (221 Greenville St., N.W.).
Place To Break Off a Relationship
We’ve come full circle in 10 short sentences: We’re back at Riverwalk, a quiet and romantic setting for just such an occasion. It’s all-purpose. Readers actually voted “the I-20 bridge” into second place, but we’re relatively sure they’re kidding. In third a bit of a surprise: church. We were expecting “in court” to make the top three.
Where do people in Atlanta go when they want to get out of town? Augusta, of course. The least we can do is return the favor, say readers. Second-best destination is Charleston. The award-winning Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia takes a well-deserved third place.
Ladies first, and readers display their musical savvy by handing Ilhwa Gallo the gold medal, even though she’s pure silk. She’s the front man, so to speak, for the trio Eleventhe Hour. Unrelated sisters Dee Hemingway and Tutu Devyne score second and third.
The familiar pipes of Pat Blanchard win top honors again, beating out another familiar name in third, Shaun Piazza. Elbowing into second is North Augusta’s own singer/songwriter Carey Murdock. We hereby claim him for Augusta.
Live entertainment is a great source of R&R, and R&B is to R&R what Playback is to the best: They’re almost synonymous. Venerable faves Preston and Weston are the prime warm-up act. The Tony Howard Band opens the bill in third.
Few other musical genres can be so mellow and soothing in one song and so on-fire in another. That’s why we love all that jazz, particularly when played by the Garden City Jazz Band in first chair. Jazz Collective and the ASU Jazz Ensemble also rank in second and third respectively.
Reader poll results put John Kolbeck in first place. If you’re thinking “John Kolbeck” doesn’t sound like the name of a band, well, it would be hard to name an Augusta band that John hasn’t played with, produced or influenced. Look up “one man band” and see whose picture is there. Jeremy Graham Band wins second; Crosstie Walkers take third.
If you’ve got an aural fixation, My Instant Lunch is the cure for your hunger according to most readers and we agree. Look for these guys—even if it isn’t technically lunchtime—and once you find where they’re playing, listen to these guys. Great Day in the Morning gets the silver. They make for a great night out. Shaun Piazza reappears here to grab another bronze medal.
You’ve heard of comfort food? The musical equivalent is bluegrass. Taste Eryn Eubanks and the Family Fold and you’ll agree. The Carl Purdy Band dishes more of that real purdy bluegrass. The Mason Jars keep it fresh in third.
Compared to old tyme gospel, contemporary is the kind of stuff your parents might not have allowed you to listen to back in the ’60s. But the Swanee Quintet has stayed with the tried and true classics since they started in the 1940s (with a few new members added over the years). Eryn Eubanks takes another medal (ok, so they’re imaginary, but still…) in this category, and the Macedonia Male Chorus of Martinez wins the bronze.
You just can’t beat some trumpets, a few bass drums, and half a dozen tubas played by people huffing around a huge field. Readers offer the Lucy-Laney band as Exhibit number one. Josey and Lakeside are Exhibits two and three. Now march!
Number one honors go to Leonard Zimmerman. Never heard of him? Well, artists are supposed to be seen, not heard. See Leonard Zimmerman at Wierhouse Creative (1124 Broad St.) or on the mural wrapped around the Augusta waterworks (look for the yellow robot and the red rubber duck). Silver and bronze: sculptress Kathleen Girdler-Engler and painter Bea Kuhlke.
If you’re a boomer and you can’t find your almost-grown kid who refuses to move out, readers say he’s probably at the Vue. Call and have him paged. That’ll provide a nudge toward the door for sure. The Country Club (2834 Washington Rd.) wins second. Soul Bar (984 Broad St.) takes third.
Like a singles spot for the more mobile. An avalanche of boot scooters propels the Country Club into the top spot, followed by the Vue (469 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) and Tropicabana (1251 Broad St.). Good places all to make a move. Several, in fact.
If you’re thinking waffles and hot coffee, you’ve come to the wrong category. This is more the adult beverage kind of place, led by downtown’s Firehouse Bar (1145 Broad St.). But just to prove they aren’t your sole bar, Soul Bar wins second. Helga’s (2015 Central Ave.) out there in the countryside is third.
Live Music Bar
Sky City is the venue of choice among pollsters and with good reason. They’ve had a sterling list of bookings. You heard it here: Sky City (1157 Broad St.) is a great place to support live music. And so is Stillwater Tap Room (974 Broad St.). Surrey Tavern (471 Highland Ave., Surrey Center) completes your top three.
We could all use an extra happy hour or two, yes? Get thee to Stillwater Tap Room and let the cares of the day seep away, perhaps to the accompaniment of some great live music. Soul Bar and Bistro 491 serve up second and third.
Sometimes it’s the mirror, but at Wild Wing Café, your top choice, it’s the best bar to watch people because of the layout, kind of a 360-degree thing. Check it out if you haven’t already. Sky City and Cadillac’s (3328 Washington Rd.) follow in second and third.
In first place: Bar on Broad (925 Broad St.). Not just any bar on Broad Street but the actual place named Bar on Broad. After a long day or a long week, H.D. Lounge (1204 Ellis St.) could be just the ticket. They didn’t come up with that name by accident. Club Rehab (913 Broad St.) wins third.
Place To Be Seen
You’d think it might be Wild Wing (see above), but the winner is a little thing called the Masters Tournament. What would be even cooler than being seen there would be winning the thing. The Best of Augusta Bash has almost as many teeming throngs as the Masters. Another good place to be seen: the Country Club.