IT’S ALL SO subjective, so unfair, this Best and Worst business. Who can really say who has the best cheeseburger or the worst laundry service in the entire city? We can. And we do, and have for six years now. And although it truly isn’t fair for D Magazine to arbitrarily dictate what is the best and the worst of our city, one thing is clear: You love i

Our January issue, which always features Best and Worst on the cover, is a perennial best seller on the newsstands. You can’t seem to wait to see who we’ve maligned and magnified. The bests bask in praise, often proclaiming their best designation in their advertising or on their menus, while the worsts curse us, sometimes literally, and ask that age-old question, “What gives you the right?” But the best and worst concept is a consensus hit with the entire community -so popular, in fact, that the Morning News decided to start copying it two years ago and now publishes an annual Best and Worst of its own.

This year, in an effort to abate the number of phone calls I will undoubtedly receive by the time the ink on our pages is thoroughly dry, I’d like to explain the methodology we use each year.

First of all, Best and Worst is a year-round project at D. It always seems as if we spot some of our best nominations in February, when the issue is already out of our hands and onto your coffee tables. If the idea survives the test of time and seems as brilliant in December as it did the previous February, then it is likely to make it into the lineup.

A major source of continuing nominations for Best and Worst is from our friends, acquaintances and even our adversaries, people who know we are always looking for a good best or a bad worst. More than a few nominations have been passed to our staff members over the years by the patrons of Joe Miller’s, the Lem-mon Avenue gathering place that serves as the unofficial press clud.

“I’m a best,” one restaurateur told me over the phone one day. I agreed. He was thinking Best Pasta, however, and I was thinking Best Audacious Act by an Ill-informed Entrepreneur. The man had obviously not heard of Rule One of the Best and Worst Code: We never put anyone in Best and Worst because they simply ask us. The entries that make it into both categories never know beforehand that they are even under consideration. So, please, don’t as

There are several other generic sources we mine each year for Best and Worst. In November, we sent a researcher to the Dallas Better Business Bureau, to pore through the files in search of notable rip-offs. We clip the newspapers all year long, looking for news stories that might yield something that will make it into our January issue. The biggest individual source of information is our continuing dining review effort. Only about half of the restaurants we sample ever make it into our dining listings. Someone from our review staff visits every new restaurant of consequence in Dallas. This, plus our continuing revisits to the restaurants we already list, provides us with the best information available on dining out in the city. When we say someone has the best pizza, it’s because we compared it with virtually all the other pizza in the city.

With all these sources of information, the obvious occurs: We go to press with much more Best and Worst than we can possibly use. That’s when an unofficial Best and Worst Purge Committee tends to form itself, ready to kick out the bad goods and the good bads. We tend to excise the opinionated material for which we don’t have multiple votes among the staff. This year, for instance, I wanted to include, as Worst Auto Repair, the Firestone store at 1720 Greenville. During the course of the year, this place sold me a new battery after telling me my old one had “blown up.” I retrieved my old battery and took it to the City Consumer Affairs Department, which tested it and found that it had never blown up. I was mad and vowed to report this in Best and Worst, but the committee killed it. Unfair, my cohorts said, that’s just based on one experience.

Art Director Fred Woodward and Managing Editor Chris Wohlwend, both, on separate occasions, felt they had been shafted by Glass Cars, 2621 Oak Lawn. They nominated Glass as a worst. I vetoed the idea. “Not fair,” I told them. Perhaps I was really thinking, If you won’t let me use mine, 1 won’t let you use yours. I’ll never tell.

After the committee had done its work, we’d killed almost as many Best and Worst items as we’d printed. I happen to think, however, that some of what we killed was some of our best stuff. It always happens that way. The contents of the cutting-room floor may be valuable some day. So I saved our rejects and sorted through them. Here is a sampling of some of those jewels of wisdom and taste -our staff members’ personal cause célèbres.

-From Amy Cunningham, associate editor: The spring rolls at Siam Restaurant (best). Killed by a senior food critic on the grounds there are no Worst Spring Rolls. How shallo

-From Wohlwend: Best Architecture, the Hyatt Regency Hotel. (“It’s a work of art,” he says.) Killed on the grounds that we used up all the worsts with a cover story in 1980, “Why Dallas Architecture Is So Bad”). Worst Drivers: Dallasites, who, according to Wohlwend, “never use turn signals.” Killed by me because he is dead wron

-From Kathy Hampton, special sections editor: Worst Taste. “Any establishment that spells “Quick” with a “K” or “Photo” with an “F”. Killed by the committee because Kathy spells “Kathy” with a K. And Kathy’s worst irritation-“Men who smell better than me” -was killed because someone, whom we won’t identify, said all men smell better than Kathy.

-Matt Drace, art production manager: Worst Traffic Foul-Up, the alleged Wood-all Rogers “Freeway.” Killed by the committee because each member had a specific intersection downtown that he or she thought was even worse. Since virtually all streets within a half-mile radius of Repub-licBank seem to be under permanent construction, we decided to compromise and eliminate the entire categor

Other eliminated nominees included Best Barber: Serge, a tonsorial artisan who works for Images by Aki. He’s the best haircutter I’ve encountered in 34 years of clippings (slashed by the committee on the grounds that they didn’t like the way my hair looks); and Best Football Rebuilding Program: Coach Ron Meyer, who did what he said he could when he took SMU to a Southwest Conference Championship this year (eliminated because the NCCA didn’t like the way the rebuilding was accomplished and put the Mustangs on probation

As I review these items, it’s clear to me that reviving the remnants of the cutting room was the best idea I’ve had yet. Or maybe the worst.


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