Augusta is, in many ways, like any other city in the United States. The things we want, the things we look for, the things that feel familiar to us – they are all available. The Greater Augusta Area is as franchised and chained as any city of its size and stature. Fret not. But also like most cities, there are certain things only available here and only available to those in know. Here’s a short list of some of the Augusta-centric treats available locally. Enjoy.
Land of Thee T-Shirts – Local creative agency Kruhu started a little side business a couple of years ago printing up Augusta-centric t-shirts. The smart, stylish and often slyly funny shirts are made for – and in – Augusta and have proven pretty popular with the well-heeled.
WifeSaver Banana Pudding – Although better known for its fried chicken, this Augusta-only restaurant is also celebrated by those in the know for its distinctive take on this traditional southern dessert. Like the kid in the ad says – Don’t forget the ‘nana puddin’.
Berkshire Guitars – This small shop’s near-magical mastery of even the most difficult guitar repairs might keep the doors open, but their custom constructions are also more than worthy of investigation. Producing the kind of quality instruments that usually cost far more, Berkshire is quickly becoming a favorite among discerning local musicians.
Buona Caffe – This is not convenience store coffee, grabbed quickly and downed between stoplights on the way to work. Buona Caffe beans demand a certain respect and level of ritual. For those that know how a bean is meant to be treated, stopping into this small coffee shop means waiting patiently while a custom cup is slow dripped. But it’s worth it. Well worth it.
Masters Merch – While that brand new hat or shirt still requires scoring a ticket in April, Augusta enjoys a glut of vintage items year-round. Almost any antique mall will have a booth that features old badges, vintage hats and dozens of dated plastic cups that once held fairway beverages.
Sunrise Grill Sweet Potato Pancakes – There’s no secret ingredient – it’s right there in the name. But this breakfast meal – fine and filling and subtly sweet – certainly seems to transcend its name. Don’t forget the house-brewed cinnamon cream syrup, made especially for this Sunrise special. It’s a perfect pairing.
Happy Buttons – Augusta artist Leonard ‘Porkchop’ Zimmerman will send a sticker emblazoned with his Happy robot to anyone that sends a self-addressed stamped envelope. The buttons, however, are a little bit different. Those can only be procured at downtown bars, restaurants and galleries or, if you can catch him, from the artist himself.
Finch & Fifth Gin Jitszu – One of several signature cocktails available at this casually elegant bar and restaurant – or restaurant and bar, depending on your priorities – the Jitszu features such unlikely ingredients as cucumber, ginger and rhubarb. Not surprisingly, give the Finch level of cocktail expertise, it’s a combination that proves incredibly refreshing.
Flowing Wells Water – Although once reputed to have healing powers, the water that comes from a tap built into a small concrete bunker by the side of Wrightsboro Road isn’t magic. It’s just really, really good. Drawn from an aquifer, the spring water is crisp clean, and, like the best things in life, free.
Frog Hollow Mac and Cheese – This fine dining establishment’s deep-and-decadent take on the childhood classic isn’t always on the seasonally-driven menu, so be prepared to indulge when it is. So much cheese. So many layers of pasta. So good.
Paul Pearman Belt Buckles – Paul Pearman follows two simple rules when producing his much-in-demand mosaic art. It must be functional and it must be beautiful. By far his most popular work are belt buckles incrusted in polished stone, colored glass and occasionally the odd fossil. They have proven popular not only with local collectors, but the like of Keith Richards and Sheryl Crow as well.
T’s Restaurant Hushpuppies – The hushpuppy is not, in itself, that exotic. But if this simple corn fritter has a spiritual home, it is probably the Southside mainstay T’s. Yes, the fried fish and shrimp is pretty incredible, but mention this restaurant to any of its fans and the first thing mentioned will be those pups.
Kricket Krap – Around here, gardeners-in-the-know look one place for fertilizer – crickets. More specifically, they look to Kricket Krap – a locally sourced cricket compost. Founded by Bill Bricker, Bricker Organics – or Bricko for short – produces a variety of compost, plant food and fertilizer products. Still, it’s a cottage industry built on the foundation of Kricket Krap.
Tire City Potters – Local artist Shishir Chokshi has managed to make what was once a small studio tucked into an old tire store – hence the name – off Broad Street into a destination for collectors seeking locally produced art. Not only will patrons find hand-thrown cups, vases and plates available for per-piece purchase, but Chokshi will takes custom orders for dinnerwear sets.
Disc Golf – Everyone knows Augusta is a golf mecca. What kind of golf depends on who you ask. The headquarters for the Professional Disc Golf Association is located in the quiet community of Appling – just a short drive down Washington Road from the Augusta National. The venue features three courses, a practice facility, museum and, if you want to dress – or throw – like a pro, they can hook you up there as well.