In the Central Savannah River Area, billiard parlors and burgers go well together. Downtown Augusta has the raffish Sports Center pool hall with its mighty half-pound patties; across the river in Aiken, City Billiards touts “The Best Cheeseburger You’ll Ever Eat”; and just recently, I learned to love the burgers at the Edgefield Billiard Parlor in the historical town that has been the home of ten South Carolina governors.
It really is a billiard parlor, its walls covered with images of pocket-game practitioners and cues held in racks. Seating is either at a low counter up front, where customers have a view of the open kitchen and carry on conversations among themselves and the staff, or at tables back in the gaming area.
The menu is minimal: burgers, double burgers, cheeseburgers, double cheeseburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, chili dogs, and chicken tenders. Burgers, which are the kitchen’s pride, are fairly thin, making doubles a good idea; and they are cooked well enough that melted cheese and a full complement of condiments add welcome juiciness. For what they are — pool room burgers, which I would call a subset of lunch counter burgers — they are wonderful: beefy, greasy, crusty-edged, and satisfying in a mischievous way that the finest kobe beef cannot touch. No, they are not in the same league as pillowy gourmet burgers or even the semi-gourmet burgers that have become popular in trendy urban areas; but when the itch for one of these bad-ass boys strikes, Edgefield Billiard Parlor scratches it to a fare thee well.
Hot dogs are less wonderful, although they, too, have a wicked appeal when configured with chili, mustard, and crisp onions in a spongy soft bun. I wouldn’t likely come to this place just to eat hot dogs, but when I do come to eat burgers, I’ll always want a chili dog on the side.