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Who Is Voting for Best of Downtown?

Hello Enthusiasts –

I have a longer post coming, but I couldn’t resist a quick, timely one.

This week’s Downtown News is its annual Best of Downtown issue.  Now, the Downtown News is actually a publication that I typically like.  It covers Downtown-related issues in a balanced way, covers stories that other media usually miss, its politics coverage is pretty good, and it’s free.  Plus, it’s been plugging away for over 20 years so, for that alone, it gets props.

But if you ever needed an incentive to actually vote on, well, anything, pick up this week’s issue.  Apparently, over 3,400 people voted, all online.  Given how many people live, work, and play in Downtown, it’s safe to say that turnout was low.  And given that Downtown News is seen much more as a “free, print” publication and less as something you read online, it seems even more clear that this group was, shall we say, self selected.  Here’s a quick peek at what “won” this year’s Best of Downtown:

Best Tourist Attraction:  LA Live

Best Bar:  The Edison

Best Bar Happy Hour:  The Edison

Best Nightclub:  The Edison

Best Late Night Spot:  Pete’s

Best American:  Pete’s

Best Mac n Cheese:  Pete’s

Best Upscale Restaurant:  Morton’s

Best Dinner:  Morton’s

Best Steakhouse: Morton’s

Best Restaurant Happy Hour:  McCormick & Schmick’s

Best Hotel Bar:  Standard Rooftop

Best Restaurant Beer Selection: The Yard House

Best New Restaurant:  Perch

Best Japanese:  Takami

Now look.  There’s nothing inherently “wrong” with any of these choices.  The Edison’s and Pete’s and Morton’s PR folks are 0n top of their respective games, and I have no doubt they did their best to turn out their votes, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either.  Don’t hate the player, hate the game and all that.

But Downtown newbies – and there are still a lot of them – are going to rely on a publication like this to tell them where to go.  So, for instance, they’re going to go to Mc & Schmick’s if they want a good restaurant happy hour.  WHERE I USED TO GO FOR A $2 HAPPY HOUR BURGER IN 1993.

They’ll think that the Yard House has the best beer selection in Downtown.  Not Wurstkuche (though they did get a mention).  Not LA Brewing Company.  Yard House.

In an area that includes Little Tokyo, and some of the best, most interesting Japanese food in the City, they’ll go to Takami for the “Best” Japanese.  Enough said.

They’ll go to Perch for the food.  If you’ve been to Perch, you already know that, while the food is fiiiiiine, you go first for the view, then for the drinks, THEN for the food.

Perhaps most egregiously, if they want the “Best Dinner in Downtown” – the VERY BEST one – they’ll go to Morton’s.  Words fail me.

Not all the recommendations are so … tiresome.  CorkBar got Best Wine Bar, ArtWalk got “Best Downtown Event” (chalk-related rioting aside), Mendocino Farms got Best Lunch, Umamicatessen got Best Burger, WP 24 got Best Hotel Restaurant, and Bottega Louie got Best Pizza, which may seem a little strange unless you’ve tried their pizza.

But how do these readers know?  How do people relying on a guide like this know which recommendations are legitimate, and which ones are, uh, questionable?

Let me be clear.  I have absolutely nothing against any of these establishments on their own terms.  Morton’s is a perfectly fine steakhouse, The Edison is still a great bar, Perch is a magical Downtown spot, and even Yard House is fine for a burger and a beer before a sporting event at Staples.  But to see so many corporate and/or dated names on this list, to see so many of the new, innovative places nowhere to be found, to see so many places that have continued the Downtown renaissance left off this list, or to see so many places just in the wrong category (I mean, the Standard rooftop is technically a Hotel Bar, but they sort of missed the spirit of the category wth that one) is more than a little bit disappointing, to say the least.  It’s sort of like the Emmys:  I think the same people just win every year.

So NEXT year, your loyal Enthusiast will be leading the charge to get more people to vote – just to prove my earlier point about who votes, I read the Downtown News just about every week, and I had no idea that voting was open.

But in the meantime, if you need a recommendation, just keep doing what most of you do anyway:  ask me.  And keep reading the Downtown News, but for this week’s issue, stick to the articles about the City Hall lawn and the City Attorney’s race.

Happy travels.