Friday, June 10, 2005

Top of [insert town name here]

I'm not a subscriber to 5280 but I do like the occasional copy. They're big on lists, and so am I. The latest list is a their annual "top of the town" roundup of the best of what Denver has to offer. And while it's been going on for a while, the 2005 edition shows what I see as the culmination of a disturbing trend- the editors always pick the local hotspots, one-of-a-kind, unique places like nowhere else in America. And then there is the readers' choice, which is nearly always for some huge, multinational chain that you can find anywhere from Riverside, Calif., to Buffalo, N.Y.

Case in point: coffee.

Even in areas most infiltrated by corporate chains, there is usually at least ONE independent coffeehouse. Even Highlands Ranch has Peaberry's, a Colorado chain. And yet, the readers choice for best coffee in Denver:

Starbucks. (It won best espresso from the readers, too).

Best Italian? Denver is a mining town, and so are many of its surrounding communities. Mining towns brought in huge numbers of Italian immigrants, who besides getting black lung in the coal mines of Erie and Summit County, opened fabulous Italian restaurants, places like The Blue Parrot in Louisville. And yet, the readers' choice for best spaghetti?

Maggiano's. Another chain.

There are some good choices, like Pete's Kitchen for top hash browns, Spicy Pickle for top sandwich. But Christ, Village Inn for top french toast in a town that has The Denver Diner AND a breakfast place staffed by drag queens(every weekend, it's called "petticoat bruncheon" )? Mrs. Fields for top cookie? And the kickers- Gap for best place to buy jeans and McDonalds for top French fries.

I guess I can get why people like consistency, but at the same time, why bother even filling out the form for a survey about the best your town has to offer if you are just gonna vote for stuff you can find anywhere else? Criminy- if you think the best french fries in Denver are at Mickey Ds, you really need to get out more.


  1. We get similar "Best of..." results here, too. My favorite exception: Hamburger King, a downtown hole-in-the-wall institution lunch counter. 8-10 stools, 2 tiny tables, and no matter where you sat you might get hit by a grill splatter. And you walked out smelling like the place. But great cheap burgers.

    Their "Best" award was tossed unceremoniously into a corner, nearly covered up with a month's worth of old newspapers.

  2. Coralville has voted Hardee's best burger! I think more than once.

    Now that's civic pride!

  3. As good as those six-dollar burgers are, they can't possibly hold a candle to The Vine.

    Mmm. The Vine . . .

  4. For the best Italian, might I suggest Pasta Pasta Pasta in Cherry Creek (corner of 3rd & Filmore)?

    It's my father's restaurant ;)