The Austin Chronicle

Page Two

By Louis Black, November 17, 1995, Columns

Polls is polls. We do three major polls each year: the restaurant poll, the results of which you hold in your hand; the Best of Austin, which appears in August; and, of course, The Austin Chronicle Readers Music Poll, the ballots of which will run in January this year instead of starting in December. Nonscientific, the polls all return more than enough votes for a valid random sampling of the readership, yet their measure should always be that this is what our readers who cared to write in thought at this time. Still, looking back over the years, the choices in all the polls hold up remarkably well.

This is the 10th annual Austin Chronicle Readers Restaurant Poll. The critics, at our behest, chip in with their thoughts as well. There are a slew of fine restaurants in Austin: old favorites and -- thanks to the current economic boom -- new favorites and eateries still waiting to be discovered. Regularly, we hear of new and interesting restaurants and try to keep our readers informed. As always, the poll is best used as a map, guiding you around interesting places to try.

Polls are odd beasts. Ideologically, they are great, because the readers get a chance to give their opinion and the writers and critics shut up. They are also good advertising issues, everyone reads them and keeps them, so many businesses want to be included. Sales didn't even cross our mind when we launched our first poll, the now world-famous Austin Chronicle Readers Poll, which appeared only a few months after the Chronicle began publishing in September, 1981. (The results were published in early 1982 and the first music awards show was at Club Foot in March, 1983.) Soon after, however, the music poll became one of our biggest annual issues. Over the years, issues we planned as advertising generators usually fell flat. Such are the mysteries of publishing.

I probably should talk about something else in this column. The KAZI cover story is worth commenting on, but what to say besides KAZI is an ever-improving radio station that is a treasure of the community? Louisa Brinsmade's story, while examining some of the station's controversies, says that already. Perhaps a note about the constant Chronicle staff reshuffling or obscure points of Chronicle letters to the editor decorum (as a rule we don't publish letters replying to Statesman articles, relaying complaints about consumer establishments, or letters that are photocopied with out of town addresses, and so on), but all this talk of food and restaurants just seems to have slowed everything down. n

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