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City Paper is Yelp*


darkstar965
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First and foremost, I have to go on record saying I like City Paper. I really like City Paper. I think City Paper fills what would would otherwise be a terrible void. Its coverage of local politics, art, music, culture and even sports is some great, often eye-opening, usually clever and most always irreverent stuff. It's one of the best and only really good local investigative media outlets we have. Pieces last year on the Gray Administration, Taylor Gourmet and Dan Snyder being just three wonderful examples.

I think the food writing tends to be very good too-even if (and usually because) it is sometimes controversial. The tenured writers like Carman, Shott and maybe just 1 or 2 others, are real pros in this decidedly amateur's eyes.

It's the above admiration and respect that I have for the publication that led me to the topic title above.

*When it comes to the annual "Best of DC" list, and very specifically, I'm just focusing on the food and beverage components here, City Paper is Yelp.

They might not even disagree. After all, the rankings are fueled solely by readers-nearly 200,000 of 'em for 2012, up more than 9% from 2011. I'll go out on a limb here and speculate that there's a high degree of correlation between the groups of people who vote (enthusiastically and repeatedly as they may) in the "Best of DC" survey and those most active on Yelp.

Of course, as with any "Top"or "Best" list, people will disagree and that's a big part of the point; indeed, it's much of the fun.

City Paper's 'Best of DC' rates all kinds of sensible (restaurants, bars, and theaters among them) and silly things (i.e, best restaurant utensil, the only nod received by R24) but, because my focus here is on food & beverage, I'll submit that any "Top" or "Best" list, to be truly valuable, should at least have credibility. It's recommendations should at least be defensible. It should motivate people to visit, experiment and sample things they otherwise might not. It should also educate them about new places, places they don't know, food and drink more broadly. City Paper doesn't meet that test IMHO.

I don't agree with everything in Don's Dining Guide. But I respect all of it and learn from most of it. It's (very) valuable. City Paper's 'Best of DC' list? Not so much.

Exhibits A thru N supporting the above view from the Best of DC issue:

A) Best BBQ: Rocklands (not on the list even as runners up: anything in VA or MD)

BEE) Best Burger: Black & Orange. 2nd runner up? Ray's.

C) Best Cocktail Selection: The Passenger. Not on the list? Any mention of Jeff Faille, Derek Brown or Chantal Tseng. This isn't really in my wheelhouse (I'm not a big cocktail person) but something seems amiss in Denmark.

D) Best Food Truck: Lobster Pound.

E) Notably Missing Category: Best Lobster Roll (which will lead many to wrongly believe that truck is the place to get a lobster roll)

F) Best Guacamole: Rosa Mexicano (OMFG). Full disclosure: I haven't been in years but the memories are painful enough that I may never go again.

G) Best Italian: With much due credit and respect to Dean (Dino got the #1 nod--congrats!), I will note only that neither Fiola nor Ellisir even made runner up status. Bibiana? Nah, they didn't make the cut either.

H) Missing from any list: spots like Palena, Evening Star, Eammons, Marcels, CityZen, Freddy's or Fishnet.

I) Best New Restaurant: Blue44 with Graffiato occupying 2nd runner up status (they did profile Little Serow separately so cool there). No mention of Mintwood though.

J) Best Pizza: Ledo with Two Amys squeaking in at w/ 2nd runner up

K) Best Sandwich Shop: Taylor Gourmet w/ Potbelly 1st runner up (OMFG again)

L) Best Coffee Shop: Tryst, followed by Cap Hill's Ebenezer and Peregrine as 2nd runner up. No mention of Filter, Dolcezza, Chinatown, Sidamo, etc...though the paper seems to have compensated for some of the insane survey results with its own profiles...a nice one here for Qualia under the header of "Best Coffee Shop Not Beholden to Counter Culture" (good!)

M) Best Place to Have the Bartender Pick You a Drink: Marvin. Now I don't know anything about Marvin's bar and I'm sure the tender there is fab but, well, see above cocktail rant and draw your own conclusions

N) There are some good things too but mostly in the beyond-food-&-beverage categories. Like the much-deserved spotlights shone on Pro Photo, Politics & Prose, Current Newspapers, Tom Sherwood and Baked & Wired. Or the disdain shown for fleecing efforts like Parkmobile.

I fully understand that City Paper likely feels it has to do a list like this and that being democratic with the survey is the way to go. 200,000 responses is nothing to sneeze at. Further, this may be their most popular issue of the year, as sad a reality as that might be given all the great stuff they do in every other issue. No doubt City Paper's advertisers love "DC's Best." It's good marketing. It surely helps boost those circulation numbers in a big way. Like Yelp, lots and lots of people probably LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the annual "Best of DC" list.

I'm just not one of them. To me, and for the most part, the "Best of" food/restaurant/bar survey rankings are the sort of pablum wholly unhelpful to readers who care about what they eat or drink. The rankings are bud light, mickey d's and the dozen hot dog trucks on lower 14th St all rolled into one. Yep, when it comes to "Best of DC" restaurant, food and beverage survey results, City Paper is Yelp.

Then again-and this has nothing whatsoever to do with income levels or price points, maybe there just isn't much overlap between those nearly 200.000 survey takers and the 10-20K who regularly visit here.

Lists like City Paper's remind me why donrockwell.com is such a unique, valuable and useful resource (and community).

And that's all I have to say about that. :)

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I glanced at the lists of "Best Of" this week and just felt disheartened. Decided not to even bother examining the rest of it. It is what it is, I suppose; but, I will never get those minutes back perusing all that ridiculous minutiae.

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This website used to be social media; then, it got killed by Facebook.

This website is still based on pure substance; now, it's getting killed by websites with stock photographs in "Top X in Y" click-thru's. (Top 10 sexy new restaurants in America (including Minibar which opened in 2003), Top cupcakes in DC, etc.) which cost those websites pennies to produce. But I'm losing to them, sad as it may sound.

darkstar, thanks for the interesting post, and if you disagree with anything in the Dining Guide, I hope you (and others) write me and tell me what you disagree with. I cannot know what I'm doing wrong unless my mistakes are pointed out to me (preferably gently, quietly). I promise you that, at the minimum, I will think about it a great deal, and hopefully provide an explanation which might include going back and revisiting certain restaurants, perhaps revising my opinion.

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darkstar, thanks for the interesting post, and if you disagree with anything in the Dining Guide, I hope you (and others) write me and tell me what you disagree with. I cannot know what I'm doing wrong unless my mistakes are pointed out to me (preferably gently, quietly). I promise you that, at the minimum, I will think about it a great deal, and hopefully provide an explanation which might include going back and revisiting certain restaurants, perhaps revising my opinion.

Thanks for the above, but I didn't mean the "disagree" point in 'keeping me up at night' or 'gnawing at my side' kinds of ways. Just that I wouldn't think any two people, however expert and experienced, would ever have identical views about something as subjective as restaurants. When something really seems off kilter, out of sorts or whatever then, sure, we PM, post or whatever. My point was about CPs pablum of a list.

Your opinion in these kinds of lists is irrelevant. If you want to boost your favorite places (food, doggy daycare, whatever..) vote with your wallet, and support them.

+1

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these "best of" popularity contests in City Paper, Washingtonian and the Post are marketing opportunities actively hyped by local businesses, imploring their customers to vote, and no doubt having family, friends and employees also voting early and often. <yawn>

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these "best of" popularity contests in City Paper, Washingtonian and the Post are marketing opportunities actively hyped by local businesses, imploring their customers to vote, and no doubt having family, friends and employees also voting early and often. <yawn>

I have not been able to find City Paper as a print paper in a while. It may still be out there somewhere, but I'm not seeing it. A few years ago, they were pleading with people in the print edition to patronize their advertisers so they could continue to put out the paper. I'm sure the "best of" editions are among their most popular (and the voting attracts people to them).

If the "best of" editions keep the paper going, I don't have any complaints. There are some very good reporters working there and I wouldn't want the paper to shut down. It's possible it might become internet-only, but the advertising dollars will still be just as important.

I imagine the personals and "services" ads in the back generate the most business for them, and I have no idea if those are included in the online edition or not. With Craigslist, etc., I can't imagine they have anywhere near as much interest in the ads in the back of the paper as they once did.

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I have not been able to find City Paper as a print paper in a while. It may still be out there somewhere, but I'm not seeing it. A few years ago, they were pleading with people in the print edition to patronize their advertisers so they could continue to put out the paper. I'm sure the "best of" editions are among their most popular (and the voting attracts people to them).

Pat, I'm guessing you live on the hill from your posts here - you can find the "dead tree" version of the City Paper at P&C Market, the corner of Tennessee Ave and East Cap NE, or the Corner of 11th and N Carolina NE. Hope this helps.

- No affiliation with the city paper - just deeply appreciate the work they do, especially their city politics coverage.

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Pat, I'm guessing you live on the hill from your posts here - you can find the "dead tree" version of the City Paper at P&C Market, the corner of Tennessee Ave and East Cap NE, or the Corner of 11th and N Carolina NE. Hope this helps.

- No affiliation with the city paper - just deeply appreciate the work they do, especially their city politics coverage.

Thanks! I feel stupid I haven't noticed it in all those places.

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Don: Time for an update for your best wine list list

Isn't it *amazing* how much the DC dining landscape has changed in six years? When I wrote that article, I had 100% confidence that every restaurant - and I mean every restaurant - in the area was considered, and properly included/excluded and classified. Even in retrospect, the only one I think I missed was Zaytinya which could have been included in the Eclectic and Funky category. I'm very proud of this article because nobody else could have written it. Although it doesn't look like much, it was the result of almost twenty years of study and accumulated knowledge. I don't pat myself on the back often, but I'm patting myself on the back for this one. :) <---- This happy face is being patted on the back.

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