Lists are fun. They categorize our lives, serve as reminders of things to do, stack favorites and remind us of people we're mad at. The fun part of listing is that it often serves as a launch pad for conversation and debate. Because half the fun of a list is arguing about what's not on it, right? Right.
One has to be careful in making lists, however. It's not just wanton fun. People are ready to pounce on a bad list like sharks circling a punctured raft. And we all know what happens when sharks pounce.
Like the time we got news of a "list" of great barbecue joints in the South that omitted Pecan Lodge but included a shack in East Texas that is basically now defunct. That mistake led BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn to offer a one-fingered commentary on that list's quality. The lesson: mind your list well or risk getting the bird -- not the barbecued kind.
So, today OpenTable released their list of 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America. Wow. That's a big ol' canvas, right? When I think of romance, the setting is foremost. And what a bevy of options we have from those amber waves of grain (those all corn fields now?) to purple mountain majesties. And Walmart parking lots.
The first foul on the OpenTable list is that it's alphabetical, which is a cop-out because it lacks one of the "best" features of any list, which is the ... drum roll ... "best." It's like having a beauty pageant and just saying, "Alabama, just get in the front of the line ... West Virginia, you're last." That's no fun. (By the way, Alabama nor West Virginia are on the list. However, it's interesting that Virginia has seven restaurants.)
There were five spots in Texas.
1. Café Central in El Paso located in downtown El Paso.
2. Bella on the River in San Antonio, on the Riverwalk.
3. The Spindletop in Houston.
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5. But, here's the humdinger: Cacharel in Arlington, which is on the seventh floor of an office building just north of Interstate 30, across from Six Flags.
Now, before you get your ruffles in a feather, I'll admit I've never been to the place, and I'm sure the chicken is delicious. But, just considering the "canvas" of America, I was surprised.
Also, if you think about a few other restaurants in Dallas, which were all snubbed for the spot in Arlington .... well.
This is how lists get a bad name, OpenTable. This feels like a straight-up geographic money-play by spreading the attention over different markets. OpenTable sites a search of "romantic" in qualified user reviews as their method. I site a weak list.