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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let the Second-Guessing Begin: FooBooz lists Philly's 50 Best Bars

Fearless FooBooz has posted a list of Philly's Top 50 Bars. Whining and moaning has commenced already in the comments. Full disclosure: I was a contributor, sent in my top ten list.

Bars that I'm surprised are missing: Eulogy, Triumph, Bridgewaters, Cuba Libre, Belgian Cafe, and Earth, Bread + Brewery. No Irish places, not even The Bards? Where's the love for 150-year-old-but-damned-lively McGillin's? Brauhaus Schmitz, Swift Half: just too new. I will also admit to being pleasantly surprised to see Chick's Cafe and Atlantis on the list; cheers to that. And I can't help thinking that if Teresa's weren't out in those nasty, nasty suburbs, it would have been much higher on the list (a case could be made that it doesn't belong on a list of Philly's top bars at all, of course, but come on).

But really...Eulogy? And yes, I'm fully aware of the irony of me saying that, but it's true. Interesting dynamics here.

Good list, though, and a great map to go with it. Let the games begin; comments are open.


Anonymous said...

So, what was your top ten?

Lew Bryson said...

That would be telling... Let's see some more comments, then I might show my list.

Anonymous said...

"Bars that I'm surprised are missing: Eulogy, Triumph, Bridgewaters, Cuba Libre, Belgian Cafe, and Earth, Bread + Brewery. "

Not surprised at all. Those places are decidedly average. Eulogy is the most overrated place in Philly.

There is no reason for Atlantis to be on that list. It's pretty nasty in there.

Michael Pollack said...

It would be helpful if they gave criteria for what makes a 'best bar.' Just saying a that "that both food and booze played a part in the rankings" does not mean much to me. In the absence of criteria, I pretty much think the whole list is out of whack.

Jay said...

Maybe its because I was there shortly after opening and haven't been back, but I don't see why Theresa's gets so much love. Granted, theres a nice draft selection, but when I was there, service was terrible, the atmosphere felt fake and forced like a starbucks, and food was subpar. Like I said, this was shortly after opening and I haven't been back; have things changed that much?

Lew Bryson said...

I liked Teresa's, and like it when I get to go:

I haven't had a problem with service, and I have to tell you, I don't have the problem there with servers "recognizing" me (must be the 'burbs thing...), so it's probably real. The only complaint I have is that all those flat hard surfaces do make the place noisy; but at least it's conversation roar, not deafening soundsystem.

Emily said...

I don't know...Eulogy is fine and of course the beer is wonderful but I've never had an outstanding experience there. I recommended it to some friends visiting while I was out of town (full list here) and it was the one place they found a little disappointing. Overall I think the list is fantastic--my two favorite bars in Philly (Chick's and the POPE) made it on, and the ones that are good in theory but not in practice (oh, Devil's Den, you are so close to me and your beer list is amazing but your food is so mediocre and your atmosphere vaguely resembles an airport bar) got left off. I say good job, foobooz! My only complaint would be the National Mechanics omission--I appreciate the events they put on (woo science on tap!) and in general poor Old City could use some more representation on that list.

Lew Bryson said...

I've had one really bad experience at Eulogy, several good ones, and two pretty excellent ones. But I hear what you're saying about Devil's Den. My wife and I stopped in, and we left, and we enjoyed it, but...too clean. Strange complaint, maybe, but it sounds like you had a similar problem.

geoffrobinson said...

Wow, we have lots of great bars. I would have put the Grey Lodge a lot higher, but I have no problem with anybody being on the list.

What is really interesting to me is how many bars have opened (& I haven't been too) since my wife was pregnant with my oldest son. Seriously, he isn't even two. A lot of these places are relatively new.

Superfecta said...

I love Teresa's and agree it should have been higher - we always get great beer, great food and great service there.

But leaving off Earth Bread + Brewery was pretty bad - it's quickly become my favorite brewpub in the area.

coolgeek said...

"The real purpose of lists is to get people talking about who should have been or not been on them, though…isn’t it?"

Between the PR people seemingly among the contributors and the absence of bars from the top 10 list you submitted, it's pretty clear that the real purpose of this list is to 1) generate hits for foobooz (especially with the 50 page gallery), and 2) garner Arthur Etchells free food and/or booze

Lew Bryson said...

Slow down, coolgeek. First, only one bar from the list of ten I sent in was not on the list: Bridgewaters, which actually doesn't surprise me, because everyone overlooks that very nice bar (good food, good taps, cool atmo...). The bars I listed as being surprising in their absence from FooBooz's list were ones I'd probably have had in a top 20 list. Well, except for Triumph: I didn't realize we could put brewpubs in.

But for the rest of what you wrote...Of course the purpose is to generate hits for FooBooz. That's how publishing works! Newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, and yeah, websites and blogs try to run interesting, controversial stories, because that means more people read/watch/listen, which means more money, ideally. You think PhillyMag would still be doing their Best of Philly issue if it didn't get them plenty of business?

Look, I'm not blogging because I can't help myself, I'm blogging because it's another way to get my name out there where editors might see it. (It works, too, which is why I'm still doing it after almost three years; it's a lot of work!)

But the "garner Arthur Etchells free food and/or booze" is, I'm sorry, just making you sound pathetic. You've got your panties bunched because Art might get a free drink? In the first place, it doesn't happen nearly as much as some people think. In the second place, Art's like me. He wants to go to the places he wants to go to, and try the food he wants (and believe me, the man's got a wide-ranging palate). So, like me, he isn't sitting around home waiting for someone to offer him a freebie, he's going out and buying dinner. A lot. I'm working on a new edition of my PA Breweries book right now. I visit all the breweries, but I also visit probably 90% of the bars I list in the book as well (the other 10% I rely on people who I know and trust), and I buy a beer in each one, and a meal when it's that time of day. I don't get comped on any of that, I don't get reimbursed. This is how it works when you're a freelancer.

This is not the only similarly snarky comment I've received about this. I let this one through. I'm not going to let through any others. As always, you have a problem, start your own blog. Google makes it really easy, and free, too.