In the year since I moved to the CSRA (Central Savannah River Area), I’ve had a merry time exploring the restaurants in and around Augusta, Georgia. Plain and fancy, famous and undiscovered, the choices are boundless – especially when it comes to barbecue. Here at Roadfood.com I’ve reviewed smoke shacks that are gems in the rough (Freeman’s, Perry’s Pig, Waterwheel Grocery) as well as conspicuously successful places such as Shealy’s and Dukes. I figured it was about time to pay attention to the biggest pig parlor of them all and one of the best-known in the South: Sconyer’s.
Open since 1956 and starting small, Sconyer’s today is still in the family and has grown into a huge theme restaurant with a parking lot the size of a football field, waitresses outfitted in rural caps and Victorian bodices, dining room walls that look like a log cabin, and an address on what the city of Augusta has named Sconyers Way. The perfume of hickory smoke wafts out the front door along with background music that is nothing but country classics: Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells.
How’s the barbecue? Portions are enormous. How does it taste? You have a choice of three sauces: mild/sweet, hot, and vinegar-hot. I beat around the bush because I do not think the meats Sconyer’s serves are on a par with its fame. There is more smoke at the front door than in a slab of ribs. Not that the ribs are bad. They come glazed with the good mild/sweet sauce and are tender and meaty. Chipped pork is juicy (but needs more flavor, which sauce can provide); chopped beef packs protein muscle but not a lot of fatty savor. Surprisingly, the low-fat items on the menu are in fact some of the tastiest: tenderloin and turkey. The turkey has a fine, subtle smoke flavor, and while it’s dry as you get it, a good sprinkle of sauce revivifies it. T-loin, which is virtually fatless pork, is soft and juicy, but also benefits from a little excitement in the form of sauce.
Bottom line: there is better barbecue in Augusta. But if you are looking for a well-mannered place staffed with friendly waitresses — a place you could take grandma or an out-of-town guest who might be scared by a rough-around-the-edges barbecue shack — Sconyer’s fills the bill.
Note the limited hours. Sconyer’s is open only Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.