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Cincinnati Bites
Painting from inside Jalapenos Mex-Mex

Posted Friday, April 2, 2010

CityBeat's annual Best of Cincinnati issue arrived on the stands Wednesday. I enjoy reading the weekly, as I generally find its blend of reporting, insightful commentary, poignant columns and rampant sarcasm a nice accoutrement to my lunch. Year after year, however, I find the reader picks particularly confounding.

In the "Best of Cincinnati - Eats" listing, several food categories will inevitably highlight a nationally-based chain restaurant. Really? That's the best Cincinnatians can come up with? This year, Chipotle shows up as "Best Burrito," while Starbucks is the #1 coffeehouse. And guess what the best new restaurant in Cincinnati is! Why, it's Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a restaurant chain based in Washington, D.C., of course.

Don't get me wrong. I visit chain restaurants as much as the next guy. I just don't think they belong in the Best of Cincinnati listing, even if they are reader-derived picks.

In the issue's accompanying article, "Cincinnati's New Car Smell," John Fox says he was "pleasantly surprised at the diversity" of reader picks. The point of his article is that Cincinnatians need to beat down the mindset of the "Know Nothings," a term Fox coined to describe a vocal minority of people who believe Cincinnati...well...bites. He believes the best way to counter these "Know Nothings," who think there's nothing good that comes from the city and who believe "nothing new ever happens," is to pummel them with facts. While I agree with Fox, the fact remains that "Know Nothings" have successfully infiltrated the Best of Cincinnati listings.

This is a gripe I first voiced via Twitter to fellow food bloggers a few days ago. What does it say of Cincinnatians who chose a national chain restaurant as the top pick for nearly 25% of the food categories? Half of the categories listed at least one chain restaurant as either the top choice or a runner-up pick. That's pretty telling.

C'mon people. Are you seriously telling me Five Guys Burgers and Fries is the best new restaurant in Cincinnati? That Golden Corral has the best buffet? P.F. Chang's is the best Chinese? Chick-Fil-A has the best chicken? And First Watch is the Best Breakfast, with Bob Evans as a runner up?!? If that's as far as your narrow view takes you for culinary options, then you haven't been reading enough food blogs.

No National Chains

The solution seems simple to me. CityBeat prides itself on promoting local fare, and rightfully so. What better way to punctuate this than to disqualify national chain restaurants in next year's Best of Cincinnati reader's poll? I believe doing so will serve two purposes: it will cut down on the amount of "Know Nothing" feedback and it will help broaden the horizons of those interested in acknowledging and experiencing truly local options.

If CityBeat editors absolutely need to include some mention of chain restaurants (for example, I can see how there might be potential advertising revenue implications if they were to completely give national chains the cold shoulder), why not create a new category, "Best National Chain Restaurant?" That should make everyone --including we angry, melodramatic food bloggers-- quite happy.

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  • From Tabitha about Tickle Pickle:
    Haha, love your comment: " If you were deemed "different" in high school, dressed "weird" or regularly got beat up only to go on to have a decidedly higher net worth and confidence level than the rest of your abusive, judgmental peers, Northside is your home away from home." I know I saw a Groupon for Tickle Pickle recently - might have to check if that's still available!
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:33 PM
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    This is definitely going on the list. Thanks for posting. Do they also have margaritas?
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:23 PM
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    This is Israeli couscous, the super tiny stuff is Moroccan. I personally prefer the Israeli (also known as "pearl".)
    posted: Fri., Mar 24th, 2017 @ 4:28 AM
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    We really love having Chilango so close to us in the Kings area!!! We have gone a few times and you are right - the Chicken Tinga is the best chicken taco you can get in Cincinnati!!! Thanks for reviewing this little neighborhood gem!
    posted: Tue., Mar 21st, 2017 @ 9:12 AM
  • From Tabitha about Lalo:
    But...do they have margaritas?
    posted: Thu., Jan 12th, 2017 @ 12:32 PM
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    @MJ: I heard family members of those who'd run Dusmesh now work out of the former Amol India in Clifton. It's called, Grill of India (http://grillofindiaoh.com/).
    posted: Thu., Dec 29th, 2016 @ 11:45 PM
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    It seems Swad has changed hands. Have not see the former Dusmesh owners in my last visit (10/1/2016) and the food is just ok. Wonder where they went this time?
    posted: Wed., Dec 28th, 2016 @ 8:22 AM
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    Hey there,
    I would recommend Basil Thai and Bangkok Terrace. They have wonderful Thai foods there :)
    posted: Sat., Nov 19th, 2016 @ 11:28 AM
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    Looks good - I definitely have been wanting to try this place!
    posted: Wed., Nov 9th, 2016 @ 2:55 PM
  • From Georgia about Maplewood Kitchen and Bar:
    So you order and pay at the counter before you get your food and they expect you to tip? That's not right.
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