Friday, September 28, 2007

Best of Houston

The Houston Press released their annual Best of Houston issue this week. Want to know where to find the city's best adult video store? How about Houston's best guacamole? The city's best pet psychic? The staff of the Press picks 'em all.

Some of their accolades are spot on. Banh Mi Hoang Son does indeed make the "Best Cheap Sandwich" in town; I know this because I've been a regular customer of theirs for at least fifteen years. They also correctly identified the city's best Thai restaurant, the best Houston Dynamo player, the city's best liquor store and Houston's best landmark (although these last two are really no-brainers). Other Houston Press laurels, however, were a bit off: sorry, but Onion Creek is not the city's best coffeehouse. It's great, you're a yuppie in the Heights who buys into the "Austin is way cooler than Houston" mythology and enjoys mediocre food and lousy service (I'll never forget the time they managed to completely forget my food order). I'll stick to Cafe Artiste near the Menil, thank you.

One award, however, made me wonder exactly how much research the Press's writers do when they compile their annual "Best of" issue. Take the "Best Bar Atmosphere/Decor" award, which I otherwise agree with:

The details give Leon's the character and charm that keep customers coming back to sit at the long wooden bar that stretches across the first room. A second bar is surrounded by comfy leather seating, and the pool room is complete with dead heads — no, not Jerry's — we're talking deer and goats, people.

Completing the appeal is a well-stocked jukebox of new and old hipster favorites. Oh, and they have a shuffleboard table, too.

Yes, Leon's Lounge is a great place. I consider it and the Doghouse Tavern to be my two "neighborhood" bars (even though I no longer live in Midtown) and I go there often. But the write-up makes me wonder if anybody from the Houston Press has actually stepped foot in that place recently. The game trophies in the pool room were removed months ago, as was the shuffleboard (which now hangs on one of the walls; apparently, it was getting warped because people were using it as a place to put their drinks and it was no longer a playable surface).

Speaking of Leon's Lounge, the Press also whiffed on the Best Bartender category: no offense to whomever won the award, but Leon's Jason Green is, hands-down, the city's best bartender.

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