It’s our favorite issue of the year! Whether your new to Augusta or a long-time resident, the Best of Augusta has something for everyone. We invite you to discover the area’s top stores, restaurants, recreation spots and much more as chosen by you, our readers.


 

DINING

Breakfast
You know what nutritionists always say: The most important restaurant of the day is Sunrise Grill. It is your top pick for bacon and eggs, corn flakes, and other morning faves, including that all-important first gallon of coffee. Ruth’s Family Restaurant is first runner-up, followed by Surrey Center’s Bodega Ultima.

Appetizers
You’ve placed your order in your favorite restaurant, which in this category happens to be Craft & Vine. Now what? Ah, yes! Stare at your phone until your entree arrives. Of course, that never happens in real life, does it? And why not? Because you ordered appetizers! The best ones in town at that. The Bee’s Knees and Finch & Fifth complete the tempting trio of tantalizingly tasty starters.

Barbecue
The debate rages on about how to spell barbecue. Three letters? Or eight? Hyphenated or not? Q or no q? But in this part of the world, no matter how you spell it, you use the letters S-C-O-N-Y-E-R-S. We have notified Merriam-Webster. Readers may not have gone whole hog for Southbound Smokehouse, but it was close enough for second place. Willie Jewell’s Old School Bar-B-Q wins third.

Ribs
There are many ways to judge ribs. There’s flavor, naturally. But there’s also the napkin factor. Some people go through a dozen before they’re even warmed up. Others prefer the no-napkin approach to literally finger-lickin’-good ribs. Whatever camp you’re in, fellow ribsters recommend Sconyers as the source of prime ribs. Southbound Smokehouse takes home another silver medal, and Big Daddy’s Bar & Grill scores the bronze.

Wings
In this era of fractious left-wing and right-wing ideologies, can we all just get along? Let’s unite under the Wild Wing Cafe banner and bring the wings together, shall we? Yes, we shall. The ballots say birds of a feather can also flock together and do the wing thing at Southbound Smokehouse and TBonz.

Seafood
From the skies where chickens majestically soar we travel deep underwater for our next category. There we find a trove of ballots for Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar, submerged, breaded, deep fried, yet still crisp and legible. Curious, indeed. The venerable T’s Restaurant scores second place, while Beck’s makes for a most seaworthy option in third.

Sushi
Imagine a faraway island where they invent a delicacy so delicious that it’s enjoyed as far away as Augusta, Georgia. You are imagining sushi, the Japanese dish imported to the aptly named Takosushi. It’s your favorite sushi source outside of Japan. Second-fave outside of Japan: Solé Augusta; third: Izumi Japanese Restaurant.

Steak
We all have a stake in the outcome of this category: we all like steak. Even vegetarians have cheat days, right? So when the urge hits, sink your teeth into a tender steak from TBonz. That’s what your fellow carnivores suggest. Another sterling suggestion they made: Edgar’s Grille. And still another: Frog Hollow Tavern.

Fried Chicken
Let’s say you just arrived from Mars half an hour ago. You’ve never experienced fried chicken. Where do you go? Voters say WifeSaver. If you can make it from Mars to Earth, you can surely find your way to their nearest location. In second, Maryland Fried Chicken is so good that fried is actually their middle name. The legendary Augusta institution known as Fat Man’s Cafe (in Enterprise Mill) wins the bronze medal.

Soup
Is it soup yet? If you’re at Sunshine Bakery, the answer is always yes. So forget Soup of the Day. As reigning Supreme Soup Server 2019, it’s Soup of the Year at Sunshine. Another superior soup kitchen is Inner Bean, say voters. Ditto for California Dreaming.

Pizza
Pizza is a little bit like soup, you know? There are a zillion kinds of soup, and the same is true of pizza. The possible combinations of crust types and ingredients number into the quadrillions, yet Mellow Mushroom has mastered them all. The ballots say so. Pizza Joint is another premier pizza preparer, and Giuseppe’s is the #3 place to feed your appetite.

Hot Dog
Some would call hot dogs a guilty pleasure. People! Lose the guilt! In all of mankind’s history, no one on their deathbed has ever said, “I wish I had eaten fewer hot dogs.” No one! Ever! So get over to Sno-Cap and satisfy your craving. Or, say your fellow readers, Farmhaus. Or Gary’s Hamburgers. (Sometimes when Gary says hamburger he really means hot dog.)

Burrito
“You had me at burrito,” goes that famous movie line. So saddle up, y’all, and head to Nacho Mama’s for what voters say is the optimal burrito experience. And let’s be honest: we all want an optimal burrito experience. Diablo’s Southwest Grill comes up second, Twisted Burrito takes third.

Sandwiches
The Earl himself would have loved Hildebrandt’s. Heck, he probably did. The place has been around long enough. And for good reason: they’re very good at what they do. Village Deli (located in the Village) is your next favorite. Then comes the one-link chain known as Knuckle Sandwiches.

Hamburgers
Where’s the beef? According to readers, it’s at Farmhaus. Or to put it another way, readers have absolutely no beef with Farmhaus. Whiskey Bar Kitchen is another place with major grill cred. Gary’s Hamburgers gets the nod in third.

French Fries
There comes a time in everyone’s life — usually a couple times a week, in fact — when french fries are crucially important. When a lonely burger sits all by itself on a platter. When one’s sodium intake plummets to three times the recommended maximum. When a day of the week ends in Y. When those situations unexpectedly strike, get to Farmhaus pronto, say readers. They also recommend Knuckle Sandwiches’ fries. The fries at Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar round out the top three.

Down-Home Cooking
For food just like mom used to make (unless by chance your mother was Little Debbie), readers recommend Honey From the Rock. WifeSaver came up second in the voting, and Ruth’s Family Kitchen, often confused with Ruth’s Chris Steak House, wins third place.

Catfish
This category has nothing to do with the online scam known as catfishing. This is about one of the tastiest fish around, and the proof is served up every day (well, except for Sundays and Mondays) at T’s Restaurant. It’s their specialty. Old McDonald’s Fish Camp is a logical voter choice for second place, but you may be surprised to know that readers ranked Village Deli third.

Salad
Well, salad certainly knows how to spoil a french fry party. Now we have to talk about healthy stuff. In all fairness, though, salads can be downright delicious with all their bright colors and varied flavors and crunchy goodness. Just ask the salad creators at The Southern Salad. Ask nicely and they’ll build one for you. California Dreaming and Rae’s Coastal Cafe represent the rest of the best salad stars.

Dessert
Always save room for dessert. You know that old saying, “Life is short. Eat dessert first”? Are you going to have a piece of chocolate cake and then follow that up with salad, lasagna, and garlic bread? No, you are not. So like we said, always save room for dessert. Readers recommend The Boll Weevil for happy endings. Two other splendid options: Edgar’s Grille and French Market Grille.

Bakery
When it comes to baked goodies, what’s your favorite? Cinnamon rolls? Sugar cookies? Pecan pie? Red velvet cake? Brownies? If your answer is all of the above, you voted correctly in choosing Two Moms Kitchen as best bakery. They do have all of the above and a lot more, including casseroles. Voters are also partial to The Boll Weevil and Lil’ Dutch Bakery. You know the saying, “it’s all good”? It’s true.

Doughnuts
Scholars and linguists continue to debate whether doughnut or donut is correct. We say let them talk on. That just means more donuts – and doughnuts – for the rest of us. Number 1 in your book is Krispy Kreme, aka Krispy de la Krem. But isn’t that name already taken by a rapper? Either way, Belair Donuts is first runner-up and Dunkin’ Donuts is third.

Ice Cream
Speaking of debates, what is the obvious solution to global warming? More ice cream. Duh. So get to Bruster’s before it all melts! You can also get the scoop at Pink Dipper, or grill and chill at Dairy Queen in third.

Coffee
We’ve all heard a lot about fake news in the past year, but did you know there’s also fake coffee? Indeed there is. It’s called decaf. They do serve it at your top pick, Buona Caffe, but they also serve the real thing. Your top two alternates: Inner Bean, then Rooted Coffee House.

Iced Tea
Speaking of fake news, despite what you may have heard, actor and rapper Ice-T did not invent iced tea. Ditto for Ice Cube. It was Snoop, wasn’t it? Anyway, WifeSaver puts a lid on the victory in this category. Literally. McDonald’s takes home the silver medal (please pull forward and we’ll bring it out to you) and Chick-fil-A wins the bronze.

Wine Menu
By contrast, this is your go-to source for non-to-go wine, the kind you savor with a fine meal. Or perhaps beforehand as kind of a liquid appetizer. Or afterward with dessert. Whatever the case, the place to go (but again, not to-go) is Craft & Vine, say the experts. Edgar’s Grille and Frog Hollow Tavern finish nicely in second and third.

Beer Selection/Take Home
There’s a reason beer comes in six-packs instead of a big jug: so it’s easier to carry home. That plastic thing? That isn’t designed to hold the cans together. It’s the handle. So go to Toast Wine & Beverage and get a handle on your favorite brewskis. Beverage Outlet and Savannah River Brewing are also among the reader faves.

Beer Menu
This category automatically eliminates places like That Flippin’ Egg and Sunrise Grill. Beer and pancakes just never caught on, strangely enough. But The Hive has caught on as owner of the #1 Beer Menu in the area. The aptly named World of Beer scores second place, and Arsenal Tap Room wins third.

Wine Merchant
Your favorite go-to source for to-go wine is Toast Wine & Beverage. Runner-up is The White Horse Wine & Spirits, followed by Columbia County’s transformed Cork & Flame, once upon a time The Vineyard Wine Market, now an upscale restaurant that still offers fine wines.

Craft Cocktail
You’re probably thinking some restaurant up at the lake will win this category, right? But we’re talking about craft as a skill, not a boat. See the diff? Even so, the winner, Craft & Vine is not too far from the riverfront. Finch & Fifth takes a fifth and uses it to outpour Edgar’s Grille for the runner-up spot.

Happy Hour
Yes, happy can come in a bottle. But the stuff is so potent it’s usually served only by the glass. Your favorite purveyor of this happiness is Edgar’s Grille. And the ampersand twins, Craft & Vine and Finch & Fifth take second and third, respectively. Remember, let’s always get happy responsibly.

Friendly Service
This is a vital category whether the menu features prime rib or corn dogs. Or, as it turns out, chicken nuggets. That’s a hint that the winner is Chick-fil-A. That is quite a feather in any chicken’s cap. Edgar’s Grille is next-best, followed by Honey From the Rock.

Outdoor Dining
When someone whispers those three little words in your ear – “low humidity today” – it’s the perfect opportunity to savor the great outdoors at Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar, the reader favorite. Downtown’s Solé Augusta and its sweet little patio earn it second place, and Manuel’s Bread Cafe follows, sidewalk style.

Brunch
Anyone ever tell you that you can’t have it both ways? Oh yes you can! Scientists have invented a way to combine breakfast and lunch into a single meal! It’s true. They call it “brunch.” If you don’t believe us, check in at Edgar’s Grille any Sunday between 10:30 and 2:00. You’ll see. Science is amazing! Two more reader-endorsed options: Manuel’s Bread Cafe and Finch & Fifth.

Lunch
As you saw above, Honey From the Rock is tops in down-home cooking. And they’re only open from 11 am to 2 pm. Ergo, they pretty much rock lunchtime, as the vote totals in this category also attest. Second place: Fat Man’s Cafe, keepers of the family flame since the 1940s. Third place: Edgar’s Grille.

Business Lunch
This isn’t simply lunch. It’s a business lunch. There is a difference. For one thing, the winner here is Augustino’s. They serve lunch to the president and CEO. The vice president eats middays at French Market Grille, and the CFO dines at Fat Man’s Cafe.

Asian Restaurant
Ironically enough, the premier Far East restaurant is far west: Izumi Japanese Restaurant in Evans. Hunan Cafe was awarded the silver medal by readers, and Miyako won the bronze.

Mexican Restaurant
Taqueria el Rey is the king, both in name and in balloting. Long live el rey. Poblano’s is numero dos, and Salsa’s is nipping at Poblano’s heels. So it was almost a Mexican standoff, but not quite.

Indian Restaurant
Curry Hut does a reprise of last years’ victory, what is known as a two-peat. So does Taj of India in second place. In third, Namaste Indian Street Food. Since some people have trouble saying this word correctly, now is the perfect time for a quick namaste pronunciation lesson. Imagine you’re dining at Namaste and your companion asks, “You ready to leave?” Your reply will be, and we quote, “Namaste a little while longer.” There. You know how it’s pronounced.

Italian Restaurant
Since the Hoover Administration, if we recall correctly, Luigi’s has been filling plates with the savory tastes of Italy. Thank you for your service. It’s delicious. Oliviana isn’t nearly as old, but they make up for it with superb rustic farm-fresh Italian food. And let us not forget Giuseppe’s in third.

Downtown Restaurant
With options aplenty, winning here is a distinct honor, one that goes to Frog Hollow Tavern, ranked #1 among 385 Augusta restaurants on TripAdvisor and first in this Best of Augusta category. Also on the medals stand is Whiskey Bar Kitchen, then The Bee’s Knees. Worthy options one and all.

Catering
They may be a venerable presence in this city, but Fat Man’s keeps the food and the vibe fresh year after year, in the cafe and for their road show. Caterer #2 by vote is Roux’s Catering, and Tastefully Yours tastefully rounds out the top trio.

Sports Bar
Wild Wing Cafe gets the win, not just for their food and not just for their dozens of screens tuned to all the games, but also for their loyal support of local live music. The place is the complete package. Sports Center downtown is such a timeless classic that it needs to show up in some of the Hollywood productions being filmed around here. Third place goes to the always sporty Buffalo Wild Wings.

Neighborhood Restaurant
Did you know Sheehan’s Irish Pub and Beck’s are sister restaurants? They are indeed, and just to prove there’s no sibling rivalry, Beck’s let Sheehan’s have first place. Beck’s is happy enough with second. Maybe next year they’ll switch. Third place most definitely has that neighborhood vibe working: Manuel’s Bread Cafe.

Hidden Gem Restaurant
You know that seasonal promotion where Windsor Jewelers hides something precious out there somewhere? This is a completely different thing. Here, gem is used metaphorically. So there’s no need to worry about biting down on a ruby, for instance, in your shrimp & grits at Rae’s Coastal Cafe, your foremost hidden gem. Edgar’s Grille is hidden in plain sight so well that not everyone who drives past it every day knows it’s there. And finally, Knuckle Sandwiches has taken the tiny house concept and applied it to their restaurant. But obviously they still make a big impact.

New Restaurant (Less than a year)
The restaurant scene is always jumping with new arrivals and departures, and the very best of the newbies, say voters, is Frog & The Hen Market & Eatery. The Market part refers to their World’s Smallest Grocery Store section where you can buy good stuff for your cupboards at home. Broad Street’s The Southern Salad crunches the competition for a second-place showing, while Cork & Flame brings its excellence to Columbia County.

Best Restaurant Overall
This is the gold medal category, and the gold medal winner is Abel Brown Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar, where the food, libations, service and atmosphere all combine for top honors. Frog Hollow Tavern and Edgar’s Grille share the well-deserved spotlight in 2nd and 3rd. Congratulations to all three.

 


 

ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT

Male Vocalist
Whether you’ve heard him solo, with Number 9, or in church, your favorite pipes belong to Ryan Abel. Keith Gregory has been a favorite for years, and he is again this year. Third place is a tie between Trey McLaughlin and Gordon Carver.

Female Vocalist
The Bethany Davis portion of Bethany Davis and The Southside Boys is the well-deserved gold medalist of this category. Sorry, Southside Boys. We discriminate on the basis of gender here. Tyreon Williams and Eryn Eubanks could join up with Bethany and make a nice trio.

R&B Group
The Lady (one) & The Gents (six of ‘em) are your favorites, thanks to their smooth blend of R&B and jazz with an Old Hollywood flair. Yesterday’s Dream – perhaps you’ve seen them perform at Arts in the Heart – wins second place, and Sounds Unlimited third.

Jazz
We did mention that The Lady & The Gents blends jazz with their R&B, and sure enough, they scoop up another blue ribbon in this category. In musical lingo that’s called double-dipping. Perennial favorites Garden City Jazz are your next favorite, and the one and only Bill Karp comes in first in the third place division.

Country Band
The Harlem Sons is hereby officially crowned Best of Augusta. Whiskey Run earns second place, and despite the loss of their drummer Bucky Brown last year, the Kenny George Band carries on making music people love.

Rock/Alternative Band
King Cat and the Elders flavors their rock with a double shot of rockabilly. It works so well they’re #1. Anybody’s Guess comes next, but they’re a lot more of a sure thing than their name suggests. Check ‘em out at their next show. The quality of live entertainment around here must be stellar when Ed Turner and Number 9 come in third. And it is. Support live local music!

Bluegrass Band
Eryn Eubanks – solo, or with The Family Fold – is the winner among readers (and listeners). The Mason Jars are all about classic Americana for the ears. Third place goes to The Henrys, a group with more than one Henry. That’s why it’s “Henrys” instead of “Henry’s.” This band is apostrophe-free. Say that six times fast.

Contemporary Christian Band
Sometimes Sunday morning services sound a lot like a high decibel concert. Just ask Days to Come, your top pick. Don’t forget to take out your earplugs to hear their answer. Trey McLaughin and the Sounds of Zamar come in second; Eryn Eubanks reappears in third.

Singles Spot
It’s not like anyone is standing at the door of The Indian Queen checking marital status. Well, not usually anyway. Which could be one reason why it’s your top pick. Chevy’s comes in second; Solé Augusta is third. We should note that the singles in the various spots listed may be on the younger side or the older side depending on the location you choose.

Late-Night Spot
Garden City Social – no, not Social; that’s something completely different – is the late night king. If you aren’t into late night, they are also open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. Their hours on those days are midnight to 2 a.m. The Indian Queen welcomes you after dark – way after dark. And Southbound Smokehouse also keeps late hours.

Live Music Bar
You have to applaud the bands that ply their trade on local stages, but let’s also have a round of applause for the venues themselves. Without them, every band would be a garage band. So let’s raise a glass (and in a few rare cases a pair of earplugs) to Stillwater Taproom, Southbound Smokehouse and Wild Wing Cafe, your first, second and third best indie stages.

Performing Arts Group
The Augusta Players have been around for awhile, and there’s a reason for that. Success, as they say, breeds Best of Augusta votes. The Augusta Broadway Singers – TABS for short – does choral arrangements of the great classics. No wonder they’re among the select few. Storyland Theatre wins third.

 


 

MEDIA

Local TV Station
What makes one station better than another? It might be their community involvement, their on-air news personalities, or perhaps even network programming. Or it could be a numbers thing, like maybe people favor the number 6 over the number 12, or even 11. Locally, that numbers thing translates to your favorites: WJBF, followed by WRDW, followed by WFXG.

Local TV News Anchor/Female
Remember the old TV show Queen for a Day? Then you are definitely a seasoned viewer. But WJBF’s Jennie Montgomery is queen for a year! It doesn’t hold a candle to Queen Elizabeth’s 65 years, but still. Laura Warren of WRDW is sort of like the queen’s lady-in-waiting, and since this category is not time-of-day specific, Barclay Bishop completes the royal court.

Local TV News Anchor/Male
WJBF is not a station of modest means; it’s a station of the very best Means, say readers. Brad Means, to be specific. Richard Rogers wears the silver crown, matching his handsomely silvering hair quite nicely. Readers give Jay Jeffries of WFXG third place.

Local TV News Anchor/Morning
Mary Morrison of WJBF is the very definition of a morning person. At least we hope she is. Can you imagine if she absolutely hates getting up early? If so, she hides it very well. So well that viewers have given her the Miss Golden Ray of Morning Sunshine Award. Sidekick Barclay Bishop doesn’t rain on any parades either. In third, the lovely and talented Monique Williams of WRDW is another trusted source of daytime news.

Local TV News Anchor/Weather
You gotta love George Myers (of WJBF). Really. You have to. And we do. All of us. We love you, George. Remember that. Jay Jeffries, in his proper weather category this time, takes second place, and Tim Strong (WRDW) has what he always has: a Strong showing.

Local TV Reporter
One thing is certain: planet-wide, there is a grand total of only one George Eskola (WJBF). And aren’t we glad he’s in Augusta? Readers are. And now for something completely different: Stephanie Lopez of WFXG in second place. Investigative and consumer affairs reporter Liz Owens of WRDW wins third.

Local Sports Reporter
When was the last time you saw three teams compete in a single game? Never. Which may be why readers made this a two-man race between Kevin Faigle (WRDW) and John Hart (WJBF). It’s Kevin Faigle at the buzzer!

Local Radio Station
If HE>I (and we’re pretty sure He was last time we checked) it’s no surprise that Christian music station WAFJ 88.3 comes out on top. In second, Kicks 99 lets us get our Nashville on, right here in Augusta. And when you’re not in the mood for music, there’s always WGAC (95.1).

Local Talk Radio Personality
There are apparently no term limits in the often political world of talk radio, because voters have reelected Austin Rhodes (of WGAC) to yet another term. Fun fact: he has now passed Franklin D. Roosevelt for first place all alone. Your next-best personality is Cleve Walker, who arrives in your earbuds from WAFJ. Mary Liz Nolan (WGAC), kind of the radio version of Mary Morrison, takes third.

Local Radio Morning Show
For that perfect combination of entertainment and information, most readers rise & shine to the Kicks 99 Wake Up Crew. WAFJ’s Morning Show with John & April scores second place, and the WGAC team of Mary Liz, Steve Smith, and John Patrick rounds out the top three.

Local News Story
This might sound dumb, but your #1 news story was the viral sensation of Ft. Gordon soldiers marching to the beat of the kid’s song “Baby Shark.” This is a truly wonderful thing: other cities would have to name some huge scandal or terrible tragedy. Not here, thankfully. In second place, more good news: the Cyber Center downtown. And finally, the lock and dam and all of the questions about its future was third.

Local Writer/Columnist
It’s a clean sweep for The Augusta Chronicle, beginning with Bill Kirby and his vast knowledge of Augusta lore. Next up, the very current chronicles of what just happened?, mostly at the Marble Palace, written by Sylvia Cooper. And then comes Don Rhodes, who has met and written about just about every celebrity in every field for nearly 50 years.

Best Part of Augusta Magazine
We asked readers an obvious question: what is the “best” part of this magazine (we actually did air quotes when we asked). They actually rolled their eyes, said “Duh,” and then proceeded to tell us that The Best is The Best. SMH! Why didn’t we think of that? Well, it’s still useful information. The other two “best parts” are in general, the magazine’s local flavor, and very specifically, the local flavor of Around Town, where exceptional Humans of Augusta are caught in the act around town.

 


 

SHOPPING/LEISURE

Fitness Center/Gym
Ever notice that if you take the T out of fitness, you almost spell finesse? And we all want a little more finesse, so let’s put the T back in there and head to the Y. Bring the whole gang: it’s the Family Y. Also rans (get it?) include Evans Fitness Center and Gold’s Gym.

Hair Salon
According to readers, Bliss Salon & Spa is the premium source of hair-related bliss. What about bald people? Bliss may not be able to help you there, but by all means call anyway. It never hurts to ask. D.J. & Co.
Salon is your second salon, while His & Hers gets third place.

Day Spa
Remember as an infant when you were Pampered? Well, day spas specialize in pampering of a completely different sort. It’s all about tranquility and relaxation, like what is on the menu every day at Tuscany Italian Spa. Go there and be transformed. At Retreat Spa and Salon, the name kinda says it all. D.J. & Co. Salon reprises its silver hair salon medal with a bronze here.

Place to Swim
Not that we need to cool off around here or anything. No, not at all. We swim surely for the physical fitness benefits at the the Family Y. They’ve got the coolest-poolest combo working well. The Kroc Center is another reader favorite, and the Augusta Aquatic Center is what might be called third-wettest.

Golf Course/Public
As many people have found out the hard way, golf course can easily become golf curse. It’s just one letter off. If that has ever happened to you, call the pro at Forest Hills, the poll favorite. Take some lessons and get that O back in there where it belongs. River Golf Club and Bartram Trail also offer vowel restoration services. Of course, many golfers have all their vowels intact. Congratulations.

Tennis Courts
We know it sounds contradictory, but readers have only love for Newman Tennis Center. Forest Hills and Patriots Park are two other favorite places where a lot of networking takes place.

Yoga Studio
Yoga is built from the Sanskrit word for union, while Space Yoga Studio is built on Monte Sano Avenue. So the similarities are obvious. Oxygen Fitness is the first alternate, and is Oh Yeah Yoga third? Oh yeah.

Place to Walk Your Dog
Around the block is okay for ordinary occasions, but for those special Who’s a good boy? moments, go ahead and splurge on a walk along the Augusta Canal. Take man’s best friend there and you will become dog’s best friend. See how that works? Option 2: Riverwalk. Savannah Rapids, basically the western end of Option 1, is your 3rd-favorite option.

Local Festival
Arts in the Heart, a 3-day extravaganza of art, music and food, is easy to love, and readers do. Sometimes the “R” in heart is missing that weekend, but it’s better than, say, the Augusta Frostbite Festival. Readers are also partial to the annual Greek Festival, as well as Banjo-B-Que.

Fundraising Event
All too often there is no F-U-N in fundraising. Safe Homes of Augusta knew that. So they had two choices: either throw in the towel on fun and just go with Draising, or put the fun back into fundraising. The ballots prove they went with the latter in their Fake It to Make It lip sync challenge. What a blast! The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man and Woman of the Year is another splendid event for a worthy cause. Spooky To Be Hungry is a scary-good benefit for Golden Harvest Food Bank.

Weekend Getaway
After all your donations to various fundraising events, the trip to Tahiti will have to wait at least a couple weeks. In the meantime what are the best local options? People who know recommend a jaunt to Charleston. And this time, make sure it’s South Carolina. (No offense, West Virginia.) Their second suggestion is Savannah, always lovely this time of year, followed by Hilton Head Island. Send us a postcard!

Men’s Clothing Store
Clothes make the man, as they used to say. These days, the gender-neutral saying is clothes make the person. This category isn’t even about men. It’s all about the best clothing store for a certain type of person. Turns out, that type of person prefers Boardroom Clothing Company above all others. Second-best: Jos. A. Bank, where they leave “eph” off their signs and pass the savings on to you. Third place goes to Low Country Clothier.

Women’s Boutique
Ah, another category for a certain type of person. These types are different. Very different. They prefer The Swank Company. So do we. For starters we absolutely love the name. Always have. These people also like SOHO. And at the end of the day (and the category), there is only One. It’s in Surrey Center. The question, though: are you in the camp that says One like “won” or those who say “Oh-nay”?

Women’s Shoes
First, look for a place that has shoes in its name. That helps narrow things down. Hopefully it’s located near several primo boutiques so you don’t have to run all over town to complete the perfect ensemble. A place like Surrey Center, for example. A place named Shoes at Surrey would be ideal. It would probably win Best of Augusta in this category, in fact. The next place you let your feet carry you is The Swank Company, and The Ivy Boutique in Evans completes the trio that’s tops in shoes.

Place to Buy Handbags
Speaking of the perfect ensemble, as long as you’re already at Shoes at Surrey, you should know that they are, say the ballots, the premiere purse purveyor and the home of humdinger handbags. Other worthy selections are presented at The Swank Company and SOHO.

Fitness/Outdoor Store
Rivers & Glen Trading Company is just ever-so-slightly more outdoorsy than fitnessy. They’re also holding more votes than anybody else in this category. Second and third place go to Escape Outdoors and Fleet Feet, respectively, and both of them are just a wee bit more fitness-centric than Rivers & Glen.

Furniture Consignment
Where can you find that $2995 love seat for $29.95? Uh, no place. But that doesn’t mean you can’t score some serious deals at Savvy Shopper. Consign Design not only has a cool name, but enough first class decor to rank as #2 in the voting. Romantic Farmhouse is #3.

Clothing Consignment
Here’s the dilemma: basically you’re cheap, but you’re also definitely the uptown type. Believe it or not, there’s a store just for you! It’s called Uptown Cheapskate, and trust us when we tell you they mean no offense. But if you’re totally offended, try Kid-to-Kid, or the place where they look at used clothing and yell out “Encore!” That would be Encore Consignments.

Supermarket
From that first produce aisle all the way through to frozen foods, your pick is Publix. The public has spoken. The Publix public. Kroger is your next favorite. Why? Because they sell stuff we like to eat. Ditto for Fresh Market. Yum!

Organic Food/Products
The winner by definition must offer a tantalizing array of natural products. But natural alone isn’t enough; gravel is all-natural, after all. It must be wholesome and natural and edible. Tasty, in fact. That tall order, say the balloteers, is filled nicely by Sprouts. Earth Fare is the silver medalist and Good Earth wins the bronze.

Produce
Ever hear someone say “Why don’t you grow a pear?” Next time you hear that, score one for the local guy and shop at Good Earth. It’s the only Earth we have, after all, so go there while you still can. Their neighbor, Sprouts, wins second place, and third, the produce aisle at your nearest Publix. In season, they all sell pears. There’s no need to grow your own, friends.

Nursery/Garden Shop
But if you wanted to (grow your own, that is), you could do no better than to visit Sanderlin’s Greenhouses. Ask about their pear tree special. At #2, Bedford Greenhouses is the top in-town option (visit once and you’ll see why), followed by Good Earth, where they sell fruits, vegetables, and the plants that makes them.

Gifts
Many of us know from personal experience that The Swank Company is a great place to buy stuff to give away, because it makes it so much easier to justify keeping it. It’s too nice to give away. But you see, that’s the whole point. So keep going there. Just buy two of everything. Cudos2U gets second place and Whole Life Christian Bookstore came in third.

Place to Shop for Husband/Boyfriend
Looking to treat that special guy in your life? Head on over to the Boardroom Clothing Company off Wheeler Road in the Verandah. Buy him whatever his little heart desires. Encourage him to splurge.
Repeat the same process at Rivers & Glen Trading Company and Escape Outdoors, suggest our voters. Three great stores sure to have something for every man.

Place to Shop for Wife/Girlfriend
Looking to surprise the lady in your life with the perfect gift? Start your day at Windsor Fine Jewelers for the big reveal: the surprise shopping spree of her life! We promise she won’t be disappointed. Then for a memorable double encore, repeat at The Swank Company and One.

Home Furnishings
When a company tries to rebrand itself, the results are usually mixed. Take the old Merry’s Trash & Treasures. Their new name is Merry’s Home Furnishings. Has the new name caught on? Voters say even though Trash is gone, the Treasures remain. Well, at least they tried. Weinberger’s Furniture and Andrews Gallery are readers’ second and third favorites.

Antiques
Next time you hear “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore,” drive directly to West End Collective and get it from the time when they did make it like that. It’s their specialty. Mema Had One is second (hand). Knowing her, she probably had several actually. Savvy Shopper invites you to come in and prove that you are.

Fine Jewelry
To acquire fine jewelry one must find a fine jeweler. And it’s a huge time saver when things are properly labeled. For example: Windsor Fine Jewelers. There you go. You now have a Fine Jeweler. The final step is next: acquire your fine jewelry. Readers also endorse CrownJewelers (The Augusta ones, not the British ones) as well as Martinez Gold.

Costume Jewelry
You might never refer to your 2-carat diamond and sapphire brooch as “bling,” but that name does fit the lesser sparklies you got at The Swank Company, your first choice. Windsor Fine Jewelers offers something for every budget, says their second-place finish here. And SOHO takes home another rhinestone-encrusted third place trophy.

 


 

MISCELLANEOUS

Car Wash
Got the car wash blues? Maybe you need to find a new car wash. Readers (and to be honest, we got a number of votes from actual cars) award 5 stars to Sparkle Express. Drive there and ease your pain. Lulu’s and Tidal Wave are your other top choices.

Barber Shop
Apparently Augusta has a barber shop district, because all the finalists here are within shouting distance of one another. First up comes Durden’s Monte Sano Barber Shop. Right around the corner from them is Yankee Clippers on Central (we are told they will also cut hair for Red Sox fans); and then a hop and a skip from them is Daniel Village Barber Shop on Wrightsboro Road (but not in Daniel Village).

Local Charity
There’s this thing about humans: we have to eat every day. And when we don’t bad things happen. So no wonder looking out for each another through the good offices of Golden Harvest Food Bank is your best local charity. Goodwill Industries comes next, because who doesn’t want to discover an actual Picasso from someone’s attic for ten bucks? Salvation Army takes third.

Special Events Facilty
Choosing the right venue can make any event a special one, and readers headline their list of the top three with that landmark we call Enterprise Mill. Good choice. Next up, the often overlooked Snelling Center, which is on the other side of the wall from Edgar’s Grille, a name you have seen repeatedly in these winner’s lists. Third place goes to the beautiful Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

Tourist Attraction
The good thing about the Augusta Canal, your favorite, is that it gets everybody up and moving out in the great outdoors, whether by kayak, bicycle or on foot. #2 on the list might be first if it wasn’t off limits 50 weeks a year. It’s called the Augusta National, home of the Masters Tournament and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Third place: take your guests for a stroll along Riverwalk.

Historic Landmark
Even though someone thought it was actually a good idea to break out the chain saws and transform James Brown Plaza from a cool and shady bower to a sun-baked island surrounded by asphalt, the James Brown statue still manages to be the reader favorite. In second place, the amazing Rosemary Hall bed & breakfast in North Augusta. Then the brick palace that is Sacred Heart Cultural Center.

Place You Wish Was Still Here
When it comes to the place we miss the most – Fat Man’s Forest – the #1 question is obvious: why did it go away? Why isn’t it still here? When you need a bouquet of roses, a rubber chicken, some candy cigarettes, a sympathy card, a clown costume and a bag of boiled peanuts, and you want to get it all in one stop, where are we supposed to go these days? If Squeaky’s Tip Top was still open it might be condemned, but that doesn’t mean we can’t miss it. And plenty of people do. Third place: the noble experiment that was Fort Discovery.

Photographer
Although your favorite, Britt Croft, is based in South Carolina’s Low Country, she includes Augusta in her viewfinder, so we’ll certify your votes and declare her the winner. Second place goes to Justin and Cali Cook, known professionally as Aurora Adeleigh. In third place: a tie, a photo finish, between Laura Fulmer Photography and Ivey Gibb Photography.

First Date Spot
Ah, the all-important place to launch a whole new branch of the family tree – or kill it like a James Brown Plaza shade tree. Which will it be? Well, if you listen to fellow readers, your best shot is to book a cozy table at Abel Brown (yes, they accept reservations). That will get things going nicely. Frog Hollow Tavern is a most worthy second option, and Solé Augusta is third. Notice: there is not a florescent light or kid’s playground in sight.

Bridal Shop
We know, it seems a bit sudden and hasty; it isn’t. It’s just the way this issue is laid out. A suitable interval of time has passed, and now it’s time to navigate the proverbial aisle. House of the Bride will help you prepare. Correction: help her prepare. Your next choice is Elegant Bridals, and Tiffinie Bleu Bridal Boutique scores third.

Florist
Surrey Center’s Charleston Street came out smelling like a rose in the voting. And there’s probably an Augusta Street Florist in Charleston. The name Flowers on Broad tells you what they do and where they are. And we can tell you they are Augusta’s silver-medal florist. Martina’s Flowers and Gifts in third  is the final flower finalist.

Bank/Financial Institution
We know what you’re thinking: prenups. No! Again, it’s just a quirk of layout. And that should be at an attorney anyway. We’re looking for the bank you like best, the one with the crispest bills in town. You have bestowed that honor upon Queensborough National Bank & Trust (ignore the “national” part; they’re Georgia through and through). Your second choice is South State Bank, and in third, the financial institution that has roughly 50,000 green stickers on vehicles around town, SRP Federal Credit Union.

Realtor
Your top realtor is Venus Morris Griffin of Meybohm Real Estate. She is far more than just a pretty face. Her story is truly inspiring, which is why she is a realtor and a motivational speaker of note. Edwin Douglass of Blanchard & Calhoun also gets high honors in what is definitely a crowded field. Shannon Rollings (of, you guessed it, Shannon Rollings Real Estate) wins third.

Appears in the October 2019 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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