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Gazette Readers’ Choice Results…

October 26, 2011

I missed this on Sunday.  Erbelli’s scores with six wins.  Let’s break it down and see if I can finally not be depressed by the results….

Best American RestaurantFood Dance
I’ve never been a huge fan of this category because what is an “American” restaurant.  Aren’t all restaurants in America American?  Splittin hairs…I know.  I like this choice though.  Food Dance is one of the best in Kalamazoo.  1st Runner Up – Full City Cafe.  2nd Runner Up – Finley’s American Grill.  Honorable Mention – Applebees.

Best Chinese Restaurant – Chin Chin
Honestly, I have no idea.  I don’t eat Chinese food.

Beset Family RestaurantErbeli’s
This kind of shows how ambiguous the categories are. I wouldn’t put Erbelli’s in this category.  In their defense, they are family friendly, but not what I think of with a family restaurant.  My pick would Ryske’s which came in as first runner up or any of the East Egg locations.  2nd Runner Up – Theo & Stacy’s  Honorable Mention – Full City Cafe.

Best Italian Restaurant – Erbelli’s
OK, now this time the category fits, but I’m not 100% on board.  Granted, I’ve never had anything other than the pizza, but Zazio’s is really hard to beat in my opinion.  The Gazette readers were obviously not on board and Zazio’s didn’t even make the list.  1st Runner Up – Mangia Mangia  2nd Runner-Up Carrabba’s Italian Grill Honorable Mention – Olive Garden….SERIOUSLY?!!?!  Olive Garden is better than Zazio’s, Bravo! and Comensoli’s?!

Best Mexican Restaurant Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant
I like Los Amigos and wouldn’t argue too much with this pick.  I guess it depends on what the area covered is because if Paw Paw is included, I would include Cancun Mexican Restaurant.  I would also throw Juanitos which surprisingly, to me anyway, didn’t make the list.  1st runner-up Mi Ranchito 2nd Runner-Up La Pinata.  Honorable Mention El Jimador

Best Vegetarian FareFood Dance
I don’t do vegetarian, so I’ll pass on this one.  1st Runner-Up Crow’s Nest 2nd Runner-Up Saffron Honorable Mention – Zooroona

Best Place for a Steak – Webster’s Prime
I’m actually embarrassed to say I’ve never eaten at Webster’s Prime.  J’s not a beef eater, so I feel bad going to a steak house on a night out.  I have had steaks at Outback Steakhouse and Texas Roadhouse which came in as 1st and 2nd Runner Ups and I wouldn’t consider either a great place for a steak.  Honorable Mention goes to Great Lakes Shipping Company which I also haven’t tried yet.

Best Pizza – Erbelli’s
I say this every year.  I just don’t get it.  I like Erbelli’s, but it’s not my favorite pizza.  I like the other three on the list, Cottage Inn, Martini’s, and Bimbo’s much better than I do Erbelli’s.  Picking favorite pizza has always been hard for me because none of them are pizzas that I absolutely crave.

Best Sandwiches – Erbelli’s
Huh?  Not a place I think of when I think sandwiches.  Not wild about the runner ups either.  B’wiched Deli is the 1st Runner Up Panera Bread  came in 2nd while Penn Station East Coast Subs picked up the Honorable Mention.  I’m a big fan of B’wiched, but really surprised that The Strutt is not on the list….Gorilla Gourmet?  Another one I’d put on the list

Best Hamburger Red Robin Gourmet Hamburgers
And, congratulations, Kalamazoo.  You still suck.  Red Robin is not the best burger in Kalamazoo.  It’s not even close.  If you believe it is, I weep for you.  My pick, Louie’s Trophy House Grill, doesn’t even make the list.  The 1st Runner up is Smashburger….also a chain.  2nd Runner Up is a place I’ve never been but will now make it a point to…D & R’s Daily Grind Cafe in Portage.  Honorable Mention goes to Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill which I’m a big fan of.

Best Hotdogs – Coney Island
Don’t eat Hot Dogs.  1st Runner Up is The Root Beer Stand.  2nd Runner Up Treat Street  Honorable Mention – Dogs With Style

Best Fries McDonalds
Well, if best burger didn’t piss me off, this one puts me over the top.  This is flat out embarrassing.  Words cannot describe the disappointment.  I mean…ugh…why even continue….oh, wait it gets worse.  Much, much, much worse.  Every restaurant on this list is a freaking chain.  1st Runner Up – Penn Station East Coast Subs 2nd Runner  Up – Smashburger Honorable Mention – Red Robin.  This is so embarrassing… picks?  Almost every other restaurant in town.  Central City Taphouse and Ray Ray’s Italian Beef and Sausage are my two favorites.

I really have no reason to continue…I’ve lost all faith in humanity, but I’ll forge on…..

Best Desserts – Food Dance
Honestly, I don’t normally eat desserts at restaurants, but I like all of these restaurants 🙂  1st Runner Up – Rykse’s 2nd Runner Up – Bravo! Restaurant & Cafe Honorable Mention – Zazio’s

Best Sports Bar – Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill
I love Burdick’s.  It’s my go to when it comes to finding a place to eat.  Food is great, beer selection is pretty good and service is always great.  My second choice is usually University Roadhouse 1st Runner Up – Main Street Pub 2nd Runner Up – Erbelli’s (sports bar?) Honorable Mention – Buffalo Wild Wings

Best Local Beer – Bell’s Brewery
No argument here. I love Bell’s!  1st Runner Up – Arcadia Brewing Company 2nd Runner Up – Olde Peninsula Honorable Mention – Bravo!

Best Wine Menu – The Wine Loft
I go straight for the beer list.  Not much of a wine drinker.  1st Runner Up – Rustica 2nd Runner Up – Erbelli’s Honorable Mention – Epic Bistro

Best Martini’s – Zazio’s
Again, I go straight for the beer list.  1st Runner Up – Erbelli’s (really?  This is getting a little ridiculous) 2nd Runner Up – LoDo Company Honorable Mention – The Union Cabaret & Grill

Best Brunch – Bravo!
I didn’t know anyone in town really did brunch other than Bravo.  I always just go to breakfast.  1st Runner Up – Food Dance 2nd Runner Up – Full City Cafe Honorable Mention – Brewster’s

Best Breakfast Place – D & R’s Daily Grind
The hours of this place make it hard for me to get there, but they’ve placed in two categories I’m interested in.  My choice would probably be East Egg which didn’t place.   1st Runner Up – Food Dance (great breakfast, but pricey) 2nd Runner Up – Sophia’s House of Pancakes Honorable Mention – Nina’s Cafe (I would place this higher…good food, but service wasn’t great)

Best Coffee Shop – Water Street Coffee Joint
Don’t drink coffee.  I grab a Pepsi as soon as I get up in the morning.  1st Runner Up – Biggby Coffee 2nd Runner Up – Starbucks (of course…I’m surprised it didn’t win) Honorable Mention – Full City Cafe

Best Lunch Place – Erbelli’s
I’m calling Shenanigans.  I don’t know if they gave out free pizzas for votes or what, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they win Best Chinese Restaurant next year.  Again, I like Erbelli’s and I like their lunch buffet, but there are a lot of other places I like to go for lunch.  Kalamazoo Beer Exchange is always a solid choice for lunch as is Fieldstone Grill.  1st Runner Up – Panera Bread 2nd Runner Up – Full City Cafe Honorable Mention – Food Dance

Best Fine Dining – Webster’s Prime
My choice is either Bold or Fandango.  I like the Tapas experience.  1st Runner Up – Rustica 2nd Runner Up – Bravo! Honorable Mention – Zazio’s

Most Romantic Restaurant – Bravo!
The way my brain works is that Fine Dining and Romantic go hand in hand…so to me, they’re the same category.  1st Runner Up -Rustica 2nd Runner Up – Webster’s Prime Honorable Mention – Martell’s

Best Wait Staff – Erbelli’s
You have to go to a place over and over to really be a judge of this.  I think the best service I get consistently is at Burdick’s, but that’s because I eat there more than I do any other place.  I do like this category though because usually the only time you hear about wait staff is when they suck.  There are hundreds of good waiters/waitresses that deserve credit.   1st Runner Up – Full City Cafe 2nd Runner Up – Food Dance Honorable Mention – Bravo!

So, there you have it.  I don’t agree with a lot of what the Gazette’s readers thought, but that’s life.  Their opinions are no less valid than mine.  I was really hoping that when I started this blog I could point out some of Kalamazoo’s great local places, but the chains still win on the categories I spend the most time on…..damn…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2011 3:47 am

    I saw a lot more of restaurants asking for votes this time around. Wouldn’t surprise me if Erbelli’s did some of this. Honestly have had several bad service experiences at Burdicks, but in part because I went on a Sunday. Perhaps the new dining room has fixed some of this. Penn Station does have good fries for a chain, IMHO. Studio Grill was left off of the burger list, and there’s a few categories where I voted for Harvey’s. East Egg may be a bit new, but with several locations, I’d expect it and perhaps Tiffany’s on the breakfast list next year. Sadly, the people who seek out the local restaurants are still seemingly in the minority. People will migrate toward familiar names without realizing they can do so much better for food. Part of the reason I live near downtown. Of course, the contest is in part a popularity contest anyway.

    • SW Michigan Dining permalink*
      October 26, 2011 1:49 pm

      I usually go to Burdick’s West in the Holiday Inn…and usually not on Sunday’s. I love the place though…never had a bad meal.

      I do like Penn Station’s fires…in fact, I just had them for lunch today. I’m just annoyed that everything on that list is a chain.

      I’ve had the burger at Studio Grill and thought it was ok. I liked it, but not sure if it would make my list of a top four.

      I ate at Tiffiniy’s last week and really liked it. I would expect to see it place next year. The problem with breakfast joints in Kalamazoo is that none of them really jump out at me. I think I like East Egg because I like their Eggs Benedict menu.

  2. October 26, 2011 10:04 am

    Tap house should definitely get best fries. I’m assuming it’s just a war of attrition there. Simply not enough people have had them.
    And really, you’ve GOT to go back to Nina’s sometime and give it another chance. It totally beats East Egg, in my opinion. You said it yourself, you have to go over and over again to be a good judge of the wait staff. I can tell you that almost becoming a “regular” at Nina’s has given me a deep love for the place. Most of the wait staff is good but Nick, is great and has great food recommendations!
    Erbelli’s is good and all, but it’s really sad how much it showed up. It’s not THAT good. And Martini’s pizza is far superior.

    • SW Michigan Dining permalink*
      October 26, 2011 1:51 pm

      There were things I liked about both East Egg and Nina’s, but service really did it in for me at Nina’s. I like the space…like the atmosphere…like the food, but we had such a bad experience from a service POV.

      I agree about Erbelli’s. I like it…don’t love it. Definitely not my favorite pizza, but one I do enjoy on occasion.

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