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and now for a laugh, the best of phoenix ;)

  • h


well you know, what's popular isn't always best.

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  1. Most Romantic...the Melting Pot??????

    Thank goodness that's not MY husband's idea of romantic is all I can say!

    1. A complete joke. Best steak is...Ruth Chris? Really? The whole thing is sad testament to Valley dining, IMHO.

      1. Well that's 20 minutes of my life I'll never get back.

        1. I've lived here for 14 years, and I remember seeing my first "Best of Phoenix" list from the New Times. My jaw about hit the floor when I read that people had voted the Olive Garden as best Italian. I hoped at the time that the Valley would grow to have more refined tastes as the city matured. Guess not - there's always the majority who are more comfortable with the known (generic chains!) than the unknown (adventurous, delicious, and unique eateries!). While I am disappointed that some of the best spots don't get wide media recognition, the selfish part of me is happy so these places can stay as the secrets of those "in-the-know."

          1. I liked runner-up as best place worth the wait: CLAIM JUMPER. I hope Seth's fiance doesn't see that... :)

            1. we need to create a "chowhound best of phoenix". someone better at webstuffs than me ought to make a poll.

              as a restuarant, which would you rather have? a chowhound seal of approval or a general readership of azcentral seal of approval?

              3 Replies
              1. re: hzp

                Heh.. Both are valuable datum... Best of Phoenix (or Tucson, in my case) lists all the safe places to take unadventurous clients, great uncles, squeemish guests and other food-zombies.

                Chowhound bests list where to go the rest of the time. ;)

                1. re: hzp

                  Does anyone have a Surveymonkey account?

                  1. re: ThirstyThursday

                    I have one - they offer basic survey functionality for free. Why?

                2. As soon as the nominations come out, these businesses get right on the horn with their customer bases and solicit votes. I know this, because I spent last month voting a couple times a day for my pet boarder until their percentage creeped up. The 'best of' has never meant best of. It means most popular.

                  That said, what's this Island Dogs place? I might have to go try that.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: themis

                    The west valley crowd must have hit the polling hard, because I'd never heard of it either.

                  2. You have got to factor in the "lowest common denominator" aspect. Most of the respondents think that fine-dining is anything other than Denny's. If they had a choice for the "Best Wine in Phoenix," I'll bet that it would be some flavor of Yellow Tail, or at least have a cute animal on the bottle...

                    Consider the source.

                    Now, as somebody suggested, a CH "Best Of," might be a grand idea. Heck, we could hack their site, and place a link to... no, no, just kidding there folks. Nothing to see - move along.

                    Actually, considering the requests for food recs. posted here, we rather do a "Best Of," already, just not in one place. Were I to do one, I'd probably change the categories up a bit from the New Times' list. Heck, one could just take the top of Seth's posts/reviews and you'd have a good start.

                    The alternative weekly in New Orleans used to do a similar bit annually, and the top restaurants were just as laughable and reflected the same bent towards chains, of all levels.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      I work with newspapers all over the country and have seen both good and bad "Best ofs"

                      - Good ones don't allow national chains to be considered.

                      - With local chains, you should only be allowed to vote for one specific location. Oreganos won for best patio - but the one near me has just a few outdoor tables, facing the crammed little parking area. In fact, Oreganos won or contended in several cateogries - most likely due to a wide valley exposure. Similarly, Streets of NY won for best NY Pizza. There's no way they are best, but are probably best spread out.

                      - It seemed restaurant focused, but then best wine selection went to AJs. Huh? Not compared to restaurants. Not compared to our best wine shops. Between grocers? Maybe there's a legit debate.

                      - Who voted? How many? The winner might have gotten 12 votes. Or 12,000 - from an outsourced vendor in India at 1 cent per click. I'm just bringing it up, not implying any scandals!

                      I actually really like the Phoenix New Times awards. They have loads of categories and only let readers vote for some of them. Even then, they make their choices and also share the reader winners. I don;t always agree, but they make an effort to highlight a variety of places and specific fare (even if the eatery is bad at everything else).

                      1. re: tastyjon


                        Can you spell Senjia? Of course you can.

                        BTW, what difference does "Best NY Pizza" make in Phoenix? Why not the "Best Minneapolis Lukefish?" Maybe we could ask for the "Best Philly Cheesesteak," since PHX recently surpassed Philadelphia in some polls and with certain criteria.

                        I am in your camp, regarding some of the aspects of the "Best Of," being a far stretch. Back in NOLA, some of the categories made no sense, what so ever. I find some of the categories here in the same vein. I'd be curious how these are determined/designed in the first place. OTOH, I find many of these of little real use, when choosing a dining location. I'm sure that they are selling "Best Of" plaques to all of the winners, as we type.

                        The idea of a CH "Best Of" is not a bad idea. The folk on this board know good food, and also give points for all of the other aspects of the dining experience.


                    2. It's easy to get upset about this and think it means that Phoenicians have unsophisticated tastes, but I don't think that's a valid conclusion. A few thoughts on this:

                      -- As pointed about above, a lot of the problem has to do with the way the Republic manages this survey, and its dining coverage in general. The voting process, like the unmoderated comments appearing with its restaurant reviews, just invites too much abuse.

                      -- Surveys like this tend to lead to equally bad results in numerous cities around the country.

                      -- When someone claims that results like this would never been seen in New York, Los Angeles,or whatever allegedly more sophisticated place they prefer, I'm skeptical. Often. that claim is based on an apples-and-oranges comparison. The Republic's survey reflects a readership throughout the entire metro area, including far-flung sprawlburbs in which the only restaurants are chains. When people bemoan the selection of the Olive Garden as a reader favorite and say it wouldn't happen elsewhere, they may be thinking of certain elite enclaves rather than an entire metro area. In other words, if you're going to compare New York to Phoenix, it can't be a comparison based only on Manhattan. It would have to take in all five boroughs, plus Long Island, New Jersey, etc. Likewise, a comparison to L.A. can't be based only on the West Side, but should also reflect Riverside, Ventura, etc. There are plenty of Olive Garden fans in those outer suburbs of larger cities.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: silverbear

                        I get what you are saying, silverbear - the data gathering method is an unknown as well as the size of the area surveyed and the demographic of the respondents. But regardless, this is the best of PHOENIX, so I think any votes for national chains should have been tossed out as invalid data by the Republic vote talliers. Using that model, Olive Garden wouldn't make a "best of the city" list in LA, New York, etc.

                        Perhaps the Republic should consider changing the name of the awards to "Favorites in Phoenix." Then it would be accurately portrayed as the popularity contest it is (you can't really vote on a "best" of anything if there isn't a baseline standard to compare against) and votes for national or local chains would make sense.

                        BTW, I love the term "sprawlburbs" - did you coin it? I'm going to have to start using that...it is soooooo fitting. (and funny to boot!)

                        1. re: pickychick

                          Agreed. Maybe the Republic's feature should just be called "Places you go to because you're too busy, stressed, or just plain unimaginative to explore anything better."

                          As for "sprawlburb," I just googled it and see it in limited use, so I don't know if I picked it up somewhere or if it's just a case of parallel invention.

                          1. re: silverbear

                            LOL Can you imagine trying to put THAT on a plaque?

                            1. re: pickychick

                              You can't knock CHAIN RESTAURANTS .....the help is well trained (usually a 2 week training program) The food is consistant from location to location. The value is passed on to the customer based on the large quantity of food that they serve. They have huge marketing budgets....
                              You always know what you are getting!

                              Unfortunately CHAINS are boring, and lack inspiration.

                              The 'Best OF' should have a category for CHAINS and a separate category for independents.
                              It's not fair to lump them all together....as the CHAINS with all their Marketing
                              Might will unfortunately win out.....

                              We are lucky in this sprawling city to have so many wonderful shining stars that have risen to their own glory over the big bad CHAIN RESTAURANT!

                              1. re: ciaogal

                                I actually don't think Chain restaurants are the menace to society that they are sometimes painted to be. For teh consumer they represent a consistent, clean experience at a fair price in most cases. As you note the service is usually decent because of the training programs in place.

                                Myself, I generally prefer a good meal from an independent and local business person but there are very few chains that I refuse to ever set foot in again(Melting Pot and Chili's most notably). When dining with friends, we put the experience and company over the food and so if we're not with similarly inclined friends will agree to the Cheesecake Factory and the like and make the most of it...focusing on the conversation and time with friends over food. .

                                All that said and understanding how this survey came to the results it did I"m still shocked by the Melting Pot as being "Most romantic"...now admittedly i LOATHE this place but...I guess I didn't realize I'm so far off the mainstream...I just can't ever imagine this being an option for a romantic evening! Seriously? romantic??

                                1. re: ziggylu

                                  zigglu...I am in total agreementw/ you , The Melting Pot is NOT ROMANTIC! I find it a very corporate, contrived, dining experience.......

                                2. re: ciaogal

                                  There are certain chains I like and will defend: California Pizza Kitchen, Z Pizza, Chipotle, and Daphne's Greek Cafe are among them.

                                  The problem with these best of ratings is that, as you state, no distinction is made between independents and chains. As a result, even if a majority of respondents prefer an independent in their neighborhood, those votes don't add up because they're scattered among different indy restaurants. The chains, on the other hand, have the advantage of picking up enough votes everywhere to put them over the top. For that reason, I agree that they should go in a separate category in these ratings, just as they do in the Chowhound board structure.

                              2. re: silverbear

                                i think you hit upon it. there is no way that it should be called the "best of phoenix". i cringe whenever i see readers choice ratings systems and quickly pass over them if i'm researching.

                                i wish they would distinctly separate the "readers' choice" and "best of" awards. at least they have a critic's pick section. please just call it reader's choice (everywhere though). see some references to azcentral.com's best.