Help Us Win the "Best of Rochester"!
OK, so about a month ago, the City Paper opened the first round of the voting for this year’s “Best of Rochester” feature. I posted on Facebook about how I wanted to get some Open Letter love this year. I suggested voting for a bunch of categories (Three Percent Podcast for “Best Local Podcast,” etc.) and actually managed to get three of our people/books on the list of finalists:
Best Local Author: Chad Post (I argued that since I have “written a book” and since there is no “best publisher” category, this just fit best)
Best Local Poet: Lytton Smith (also would win for “best Icelandic translator”)
Best Locally Written Book: Rochester Knockings by Hubert Haddad (which, in all fairness, is about Rochester and translated by a Rochester author, Jen Grotz)
You can vote by going here. And please do—you have no idea how badly I want to win this thing. And yes, you can vote even if you don’t live in Rochester. And you can vote on every different wifi network you sign onto. Let’s do this Chicago-style!
The one catch is that you have to vote in 40 categories. Easy enough if you live here, or don’t give a shit, but in case you want to make some informed votes, here’s my list of 40 “Best of Rochester” people and places to vote for:
10. Best Bar Food: Tap & Mallet
For a long time, Tap & Mallet was the site of our weekly translation workshop gatherings (what we call “plüb”) and has really good food. Not what you’d think of as “bar food.” Plus they have super-high ABV beers from all over.
13. Best Breakfast Sandwich: Hart’s Local Grocers
My friends Glenn and Jenny are responsible for Hart’s, the only real thriving full-service grocery store in Rochester that isn’t named “Wegmans.” Vote for them, they are good people.
20. Best Mexican Restaurant: Itacate
I’ve never been there, but if La Casa wins, I’ll go ballistic. La Casa used to be awesome, but this guy ruined it (and many other parts of Rochester) for everyone. The only award he deserves is “Biggest Prick of Rochester.”
22. Best Indian Restaurant: Amaya
I genuinely love this place. It’s also the only non-pizza/burger restaurant my kids like to eat at.
24. Best Caribbean Restaurant: Peppa Pot
I believe this is run by one woman. Its hours are sporadic, offerings shift by the day, and it’s fucking delicious.
32. Best Barista: Peter Sapia (Café Sasso)
I don’t know this guy, but he’s the only finalist who doesn’t work at a pretentious coffee place.
34. Best Cheap Eats: Dogtown
I watched my mom wolf down a hot dog with bacon at this place. For $5. It’s awesome.
36. Best New Restaurant: ButaPub
They sponsored Andrés Neuman’s reading the other week AND are hosting our first annual celebration. Automatic win.
47. Best Salon: Fusion Salon
This used to be my hairdressery until my hairdresser branched out on her own. I still like this place and the people who work there.
48. Best Barbershop: Barbetorium
This is part of Fusion Salon. See above.
49. Best Sylist: Andrea Bonawitz (Parlour Hair Salon)
60. Best Regional Brewery: Three Heads
This is the best in the category, although I am personally very disappointed that they chose not to sponsor our celebration. Boo! Hiss! (And yet, I drink their beer every week.)
61. Best Regional Distillery: Black Button
I’m not sure this is true at all. Also, they won’t respond about sponsoring the celebration . . . But, coming up with forty places/people to endorse is damn difficult . . .
62. Best Farmer’s Market: Rochester Public Market
The only one I go to. Fuck the suburbs.
66. Best Geek-Friendly Business: Nox
Sad that my local comic book shop didn’t make it, but whatever, Nox is a new bar that is a self-proclaimed “book bar,” has a number of Open Letter titles on display, and hosts plüb on occasion. This is also where I play trivia on Sunday nights. NERD!
72. Best Local Historic Site: High Falls
The only on the list that’s natural and not created. I’m choosing it for that reason. The Mt. Hope Cemetery is a close second, but I’m turning forty on Saturday and can’t handle thoughts of death at this moment.
73. Best Local Eyesore: Downtown Rochester
I have questions about this. Is it the eyesore that’s actually the coolest? Of the most eyesore-y? So many questions! Just choose the largest area . . . like, all of downtown.
74. Best Local Library Branch: Rochester
Two massive buildings connected by an underground tunnel and complete with a hidden room. Win.
76. Best Neighborhood: Neighborhood of the Arts
Where I live!
79. Best Local Men’s Sports Team: Rochester Red Wings
This is the AAA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Kaija is from Minneapolis, and that’s where our distributor is based. Besides, isn’t a vote for a lacrosse team a vote for bro-splaining?
80. Best Local Women’s Sports Team: Western New York Flash
So, last year, this list came out and I had a massive Twitter breakdown, mostly because the Western New York Flash weren’t a finalist for “Best Local Sports Team.” Jake Clapp from City took it in stride, and assured me that they weren’t sexist, that they don’t influence the write-in voting process at all. Which didn’t make it better since the Flash have the only world-wide recognized athletes in Rochester, like, oh, I don’t know, Abby Fucking Wambach? Still blows my mind they don’t walk away with this award every year . . . Regardless, this year City split the category into two so that the travesty of having the men’s lacrosse team beat Abby can’t happen again. (And yes, I know the WNY Flash traded her away. For Sidney Leroux. Still better than every lacrosse player in the city.)
81. Best Local Recreational Sports League: Hot Shots Volleyball
Hot Shots is the largest indoor volleyball center in the country. (Or was.) That’s cool enough to start, but more importantly, I’m so over the “kids games for adults!” movement, so I want anything other than kickball to win. Anything.
83. Best Local Radio Personality: Evan Dawson
Actually, this should go to Ricky from Rochester, who frequently calls into Evan’s show, but whatever. Rochester apparently doesn’t appreciate the Hoobastank. (If you want to get this joke, listen to the two recent WXXI Connections shows that I was on. You won’t be disappointed.)
89. Best Local Facebook Account: Lollypop Farms
Who doesn’t like a business that posts animal photos?
90. Best Local Twitter Account: @akachela
She had some of the best Super Bowl tweets last year, and is consistently entertaining. Rachel Barnhart always wins this category, which is boring boring boring, so let’s shake things up.
94. Best Local News Story: Truck spills cabbages on I-490
103. Best Music Concert of 2015 (Club/Small Venue): St. Vincent @ Water Street
I was there with every other local hipster. It was great. She will win this category hands down.
104. Best Live Music Venue: Bug Jar
I’m torn on this one. But years ago, I saw El Ten Eleven and Gang Gang Dance play the Bug Jar and both concerts were amazing. The Bug Jar doesn’t book very many interesting bands anymore, but the space is great.
106: Best Local Author: Chad Post
One side-note: Frank De Blase writes for the paper running this competition. That seems unfair and a conflict of interest and I think he should withdraw his nomination. If he wins, I’m calling shenanigans. (I already have my concession speech planned out.)
107. Best Local Poet: Lytton Smith
I also love Jacob Rakovan, but Lytton is our translator, whereas Jacob just gets me drunk on fancy cocktails . . . Then again, Jacob will be pouring special “Fox Sister Cocktails” at our celebration.
108. Best Locally Written Book of 2015: Rochester Knockings by Hubert Haddad
How amazing would it be for Haddad to win? THAT AMAZING. And right after our celebration in honor of the book.
124. Best Local Movie Theater: The Little Theatre
They donated tickets for our upcoming silent auction. They get my endorsement.
129. Best Food and Drink Festival: Food Truck Rodeo
I like to overeat.
130. Best Local Drag Performer: DeeDee Dubois
I believe Naja Marie Aidt saw her perform after her reading last week . . .
131. Best New Bar/Club: Nox
Could put ButaPub in here as well—both are spectacular. But since I can walk to Nox and stumble home, I’ll go with that.
132. Best Bar for Beer: Tap and Mallet
They have an app listing all their current beers! Also, they sometimes hire bartenders who don’t pay attention to what size glass a particular beer is for. I’ve gotten several 16oz pints of 12% ABV beers that were supposed to be $6 per 10oz glass. I like that system.
133. Best Bar for Wine: Flight
The owner of Flight watched the USMNT in the World Cup with me last year and also made fun of the “I Believe That We Can Win” chant. She rules.
134. Best Bar for Craft Cocktails: The Daily Refresher
Remember Jacob Rakovan from up above? He mixes cocktails here and they are amazeeeing.
136. Best Neighborhood Bar: Dicky’s
Where we plüb on a regular basis because the drinks are cheap and they have sports and space. Love this bar.
138. Best Dance Club: Tilt
Where Naja Marie Aidt saw a drag show after her reading. This place is magical. Just ask K.E. Semmel or P.T. Smith, both of whom were taken way outside of their comfort zones.
And that does it! Forty places and people that I want to endorse for the “Best of Rochester.” Now go out and vote!