These are exciting times for food lovers in Augusta, GA, as more and more locally owned restaurants pop up throughout the city, shaping its growing dining scene like never before. From unmissable burger joints to fine dining options, Augusta’s restaurants can cater to any palate and any pocket, making it a foodie destination to rival Savannah and Athens. Find out where to eat in Augusta with our gourmet guide to the 10 best restaurants in the city.
Nacho Mamas’ Godfather Buritto
Courtesy Nacho Mamas
Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
The first thing to know about Nacho Mama’s is that it is a Mexican restaurant, but that is easily guessed from its name. The second thing to know is that the list of offerings here is utterly satisfying. Tacos, nachos, burritos, quesadillas, all these Mexican staples are on the menu, and each one served in remarkable varieties. Get acquainted with Nacho Mama’s experience with one of the house’s flagship bites, like the Step Daddy nachos (with pinto beans, pico, monterey jack and mango salsa) or the Godfather burrito (pulled pork, guacamole, black beans and mango habanero). The savoury food, served in hearty portions, is complemented by cool art and posters on the wall and a convivial atmosphere.
The ‘tavern’ in Frog Hollow‘s name does not do justice to this stylish restaurant and bar. Frog Hollow is known and recommended for its relaxed yet hip ambiance, somewhat unique for Augusta’s dining scene, its alert, knowledgeable waiting staff, and a robust, value driven wine list. But above all, the restaurant earned its reputation through its high quality food. The kitchen takes pride in crafting the menu using only regionally grown produce, where the freshness of the ingredients is felt at every flavorful bite. A favourite among the restaurant’s patrons is the large plate of braised Berkshire pork shoulder, smoked gouda mac’n’cheese and vinegar-braised collards.
A boll weevil is a cotton-eating bug, but Boll Weevil is a café and bakery in Augusta’s riverfront area, named after the insect because the café’s main building originally served as a cotton warehouse. Boll Weevil serves both lunch and dinner, but it is best known and cherished among locals as one of the best spots in town to enjoy a good cup of coffee and, above all, a scrumptious dessert. All Boll Weevil’s cakes, cheesecakes and pies are baked fresh and lovingly prepared in house. Among the most popular choices are the Red Velvet, a Southern classic, and the 7th Heaven, a cake featuring sinful layers of dark chocolate and butter cream icing.
Everybody knows that tapas, the collective name for a great range of tasty, small dishes to be had as appetisers or even instead of a traditional meal, are an original feat of Spanish cooking. The folks at Bee’s Knees Tapas know it too, but they have extended the tapas philosophy to include several bites typical of other countries in their menu. Next to Spain’s classic tapas such as cheese and olives or fried calamari, Bee’s Knees also offers, among others, Japanese dishes like tempura and sashimi carpaccio, or Mexican bites such as quesadillas, nachos and tacos. Locals recommend the Avocado Chop Chop, a baked half-avocado with shrimp and Japanese aioli.
Take a seat at 5 O’Clock Bistro for a slice of Paris right in the heart of Augusta. This restaurant is styled after France’s bistros, from which it derives the cosy, charming atmosphere that makes dining here a joy. The European vibe runs through the menu as well, which includes traditional highlights of French gastronomy like the delicious bouillabaisse. But chefs David Ross and Barbara Howard also offer classics of Southern cooking, albeit interpreted with a personal touch, such as their signature plate of shellfish and grits. All the exquisite dishes served at 5 O’Clock Bistro are prepared with the freshest of ingredients and the menu is constantly updated to reflect the seasonal availability of produce.
La Maison on Telfair Restaurant | Courtesy La Maison on Telfair
Not many cuisines are more different from each other than those of Far East Asia and South Western USA, but this didn’t stop Kevin Goldsmith from trying his hand at an adventurous fusion of the two. The outcome, served at Takosushi, is surprisingly good, a creative and savoury combination of flavours in eclectic preparations that don’t disappoint. The locals like to begin their meal with the tempura asparagus from the selection of starters. Then, the choice gets trickier as several menus tempt the guests with an incredible variety of tantalising dishes featuring the most diverse ingredients; but the Cary’s Roll with tuna, salmon, escolar, tilapia and cream cheese is another frequent choice among Takosushi’s regulars.
La Maison on Telfair offers a memorable fine-dining experience to Augusta’s gourmets. The restaurant is housed in a charming, historical mansion built in the 19th century, a captivating setting where today chef Heinz Sowinski – a man with European roots who came to America when he was 19 – tempts his guests with exquisite recipes prepared with the knowledge and confidence of a professional with extensive experience in cooking. La Maison treasures a prized collection of over 5,000 bottles of wines, making it impossible not to find the right pair for chef Heinz’s masterful creations. Those looking for a more casual but no less distinguished dining scenario should try Veritas, the wine and tapas bar in La Maison on Telfair.
Whiskey Bar is a bar in downtown Augusta boasting a great selection of whiskeys, of course. What the bar’s name doesn’t reveal is that Whiskey Bar also has a kitchen, one that cranks out incredibly good burgers at that. Customers can choose between crafting the burgers themselves, but that is not often necessary considering the amazing choice of burgers listed on the menu. Options include the Teriyaki, a mouth-watering French roll with fresh grilled pineapple, smoked gouda and teriyaki sauce (soy-based); or the flavourful Elway, a croissant bun with onion rings, barbecue sauce, applewood smoked bacon and sharp cheddar. The attentive service and fun atmosphere only add to the experience.
Buona Caffe Artisan Roasted Coffee is a local coffee company started in 2010 by John and Pat Curry. The duo started selling their excellent coffee by the bag, but soon decided that while they were making a great product, it was an even better idea to share it with their fellow citizens. Thus Buona Caffe (‘good coffee’ in Italian) became a popular coffee and espresso bar in central Augusta. The bar offers many exciting types of coffee, including the affogato (espresso poured over vanilla bean ice cream), or the refreshing midnight oil blend. In addition to the beverages, at Buona Caffe customers can taste a range of homemade sweet treats.
Rhinehart’s serves oysters, it’s true, but don’t make snap judgments: the place looks like, to quote owners Craig and Amy, a ‘broken down beach shack’, and smart dress is by all means not obligatory. From oyster stew to clam chowder, from the spicy boiled shrimp to the Cajun grilled tilapia, Rhinehart’s likes to spoil its loyal customers with the freshest fish, irresistible snacks of fried seafood, and a convivial, beyond casual atmosphere. A local staple famous for high-quality seafood, this spot is not to be missed.