Are you heading to Augusta, Georgia for The Masters? Or just a weekend getaway?
I lived in Augusta for eight years prior to moving to Atlanta in 2006!
That’s eight times I lived through Masters Week in Augusta.
That’s eight times I watched the small city and it’s surrounding areas fill to capacity with over 500,000 spectators, fans, scalpers, merchandise sellers, media, caddies and golfers.
And every year I was asked two questions repeatedly: “Where do the locals go? What are some of the off-the-beaten-path gems in Augusta?”
Let’s start with something that we all have to do at least three times a day… eat.
Now if you are out and about inside The Augusta National then you, of course, will be eating the incredibly affordable, world famous, delicious pimento cheese sandwich, or possibly a chicken sandwich.
But if you take a day or two off from the course, or if it rains, then you’ll absolutely need to know where to go for your other meals.
I’d say Augusta has “mastered” southern cooking. Cooking that we yet to find in our international city of Atlanta. Get your belts loosened and check out these delicious local favorites and enjoy the things to do near by:
1) Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar – This place will make your head sweat happiness with southern casual seafood.
Blow out that flip flop and watch for pop tops and grab a basket of shrimp and an ice cold beer.
This place encourages you to write your name on the wall. You just may see a celebrity name here or there… or a celebrity sitting beside you at a shared picnic table.
From their website:
- You don’t have to wear a tie or pantyhose to eat oysters.
- Ice-cold beer makes the world a friendlier place.
- People won’t get nervous if your restaurant looks like a broken down beach shack.
- You don’t get dishpan hands if you use paper plates.
- If most everything on your menu is under $9.00, men will bring their wives.
Rhinehart’s moister oysters, homebaked bread and attentive, hardworking staff quickly became a hit in Augusta. People began to tell their friends (or relatives if they couldn’t afford friends) to look for Rhinehart’s for good food and great fun…
Check them out here: http://www.rhineharts.com/index.cfm
2) Sconyers Bar-B-Que – Nowhere in the south is like it. This place has a signature mild smokey red sauce that is served over incredibly tender pork…pork that has been in the pit since yesterday. Nothing mass produced, all pit cooked. You must try the “hash”. It’s nothing like “stew”. We are not in New England, this “hash” stuff has yet to be found anywhere in our travels. Sconyers has been a local treasure for 4 generations. It’s a little bit of a drive, about 30 minutes, but worth it.
From their website:
In Augusta, Sconyers is the place for real, old fashioned, oak and hickory, pit-cooked BAR-B-QUE. When your taste buds yearn for the honest taste of old- fashioned bar-b-que, Sconyers has to be your choice. Succulent, tender ribs; lean mouth watering tenderloin and flavorful hash … all cooked to perfection from a secret family recipe. Beautiful surroundings, friendly atmosphere and courteous staff.
Barbecue is a Southern tradition. At Sconyers we’ve tried to continue to enrich that tradition by serving only the finest bar-b-que cooked by a recipe handed down through generations of my family. Join in the tradition with us by having bar-b-que at its best at Sconyers. You’ll always be welcome.
Check them out here: http://www.sconyersbar-b-que.com/index.htm
3) Goolsby’s – Southern home cooking. It is a favorite among all the locals offering every southern dish you can think of! Collards, turnips, squash casserole, mac&cheese, stewed tomatoes, black-eyed peas and so much more! It does have a little bit of a cafeteria-like feel to it but if you can get past that, the food is really good. And it is just far enough up Washington Rd, in Evans, that you’ll be out of the golf traffic and probably not have to wait nearly as long for a table as you will closer to the Augusta National.
They do not have a website, but you can find the on Yelp here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/goolsbys-evans
4) Survey Center and French Market Grille– Enjoy the many southern specialty shops and then enjoy a meal at places like, Tako Sushi, Calvert’s and the famous French Market Grille. The French Market Grille is southern Louisiana cooking with a Georgia twist. This area is a MUST for anyone visiting Augusta. It’s right down Berckmans Rd from the main gate of the Augusta National, so the only downside is that there could be long lines and long wait times, depending on what time of day you go. Every spot in Surrey Center is a popular destination for generations of Augustans.
Check out all of the great spots in Surrey Center on their website here: http://surreycenter.com/
5) Boll Weevil Cafe and Sweetery and enjoy River Walk – Now if the weather is nice, and it looks like it will be, you may want to get out and walk the beautiful Riverfront area in downtown Augusta, just off Broad Street. Visit the Augusta History Museum and experience more of the journey as to the history of the south- It is truly surprising how much even the most astute Augustan can learn when visiting this treasure in downtown. The history of the city you are visiting is rich, deep and full of surprises. While downtown, you can even see how Augusta came to be by visiting the Augusta Canal. If your time allows, enjoy a kyack or canoe ride, boats are available to enjoy.
After all that walking (or rowing), grab some decadence at Boll Weevil Bakery. From peach cobbler to death by chocolate cakes, the desserts are worth the walk. Augustan’s have gone to Boll Weevil for decades and many of them just for the incredible desserts. But hey, it’s Masters Week, let your hair down and throw that diet out the window. You won’t regret it!
From their website:
The Boll Weevil Café and Sweetery is a cozy cafe with an eclectic menu featuring more than 30 homemade desserts; a delectable ‘Southern Delights’ menu with southern favorites such as fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits; and an abundance of wines by the glass and bottle.
Once an old cotton warehouse from the 1870’s, and located just steps from the scenic Augusta Riverwalk Park and Amphitheatre, the Boll Weevil Café is a great place to soak in the old and new of Augusta.
The Boll Weevil has been named “Best Desserts” for four years running, Augusta Magazine; “Best Desserts” in Metro Spirit since the magazine’s awards inception; and has been featured in Southern Living and Cooking with Paula Deen.
Get more info on the Boll Weevil Cafe and Sweetery here on their website: http://www.thebollweevil.com/
6) Rae’s Coastal Cafe – Shrimp and grits, oh yeah! You are of course familiar with Rae’s Creek, the beautiful creek running in front of the No. 12 green at Augusta National and featuring the Hogan Bridge and Nelson Bridge, but there’s another Rae’s right down the street. Rae’s Coastal Cafe has yet another spin on southern seafood.
From their website:
Our seafood restaurant has everything you are looking for in a casual dining experience. It’s why so many drive from miles around to eat with us. From our classic Jamaican Jerk Chicken to our signature crab soup, you won’t be disappointed with whatever you choose to order.
We strongly believe that our loyal clients keep coming back to our restaurant not just for the mouth watering food, but also for the welcoming atmosphere and daily drink specials. Even if you are not a fish eater, we have delicious rib eye steaks and more. Everyone can be pleased by the menu at Raes Coastal Café!
Get more info on Rae’s here: http://www.raescoastalcafe.com/
7) WifeSaver Restaurants – Fried Chicken and their sinful Mac n’Cheese. Two things every single Augustan can tell you about and tell you about in great detail. They’ve all had it hundreds of times. It’s the kind of chicken that tastes like our southern grandma would make in her brown paper bag and cast iron skillet. And you must try their banana pudding. If one single food item is on your wishlist for your trip to Augusta, it has to be WifeSaver’s banana pudding.
Check them out here on their website: http://www.wifesaverrestaurants.com/
8) The Partridge Inn Restaurant and Bar– The Partridge Inn is known as “The Grand Hotel of the Classic South,” and is something that every Augustan knows well and holds close to their heart. If any piece of architecture or any spot on the map represents Augusta as much or more than the Augusta National it is The Partridge Inn. Sitting on the beautiful porch or balcony, drinking a Mimosa or an Arnold Palmer, is a fantastic way to wrap up a day.
9) The River Golf Club – We would be remiss if we didn’t mention The River Golf Club. The Club has become a favorite of golf fans from around the world when they visit Augusta each year for The Masters.
From their website:
The River Golf Club has become a favorite of guests around the world during Masters week. The golf club consistently provides outstanding course conditions and service. The pace of play is also a positive at The River Golf Club, as the course only schedules an appropriate amount of play to ensure a proper spacing on the course. We regret that there are no golf cottages or accommodations available for the Masters of 2016. We look forward to serving as your host for golf during this year’s tournament.
Check out The River Golf Club online at: http://rivergolfclub.com/masters_week/masters_week.htm
10) Par-3 House Party – Last but not least, I encourage you to make some local friends, they do some serious partying on Wednesday night. They host private parties in their “Southern Living” styled homes and all the amazing food with famous recipes from “Tea Time at the Masters”. http://www.jlaugusta.org/cookbooks Augustan’s sure know their hospitality and their food.
These are just a few of the things you can do in Augusta when visiting for the Masters or for just a long weekend.
I lived in that beautiful city for eight years and, in fact, I met my wife, Elizabeth, there. She was born and raised in Augusta, and I must admit, she contributed to this article. She has a deep love for many of these places and we thank her for knowledge and passion.
So head down I-20, get off on Washington Road or Riverwatch Parkway and have a blast! Watch some golf, eat at any of these truly Augustan establishments and get to know the city.
You won’t regret it.
- Side note, none of these businesses paid for any advertising in this article. This is just information from two people that lived there for a long time and go back every year for The Masters.