New Jersey Monthly Annual Readers and Critics Choice poll continues to be unreliable
You've heard complaints about this poll before, so you can stop reading now if you're going to roll your eyes and ask what do I expect. For everyone else...
Case in point, barbecue. Big Ed's won reader's choice for Central Jersey!? WHAT. THE. F. Can Neptune be considered central or too south? Because Local Smoke is excellent and real smoked barbecue, which Uncle Ed's doesn't even attempt to do - and what Ed's does push out of the kitchen is barely edible and possibly unfit for canine consumption. North Jersey reader's selected Texas Smoke. At least they have a smoker but The Wood Pit should have taken this. At least Wood Pit received a critic's choice. So did Dinosaur. The only reason I can think of Dinosaur being a critics choice is because it's new and by the shiny Prudential Center. Their meats have barely a hint of smoke flavor and everything else they serve is Houlihan's quality. I would liked to have seen mentions of either Local Smoke or Jersey Shore BBQ replace Dinosaur. Big Ed's is garbage, Dinosaur is bland and Texas Smoke are barely trying (how about NO smoke flavor, smoke rings or bark on the brisket).
I can go on for a day with the rest of the list. Obviously this is about barbecue because it's listed alphabetically so I was first annoyed here :)
We are only about a mile from Big Ed's and never go there. Whatever the state of the food is, the whole idea that all you can get is an expensive all-you-can-eat meal instead of a reasonably-priced, reasonably-sized meal is enough to keep me away. (As a metric for my idea of reasonable size, I find the 6-ounce steaks at various steak houses to be a reasonable size. YMMV.)
I'm not in New Jersey, but I can say that local reader polls in my area tend to be very unreliable as well. The readers often pick chains and very mediocre type places with bland food. I think that people who really love food may have much higher standards for food than the general public because we know what exactly what particular flavors are desirable in certain foods. We what combinations work together, so we are more likely to notice when flavors and textures are absent, or the wrong flavor or texture is executed with a dish.
What's really amusing about these polls is when the top choice has been closed for a couple years. I've seen that several times.