Our Best of Dallas® 2012 issue is out and chock-full of our recommendations for great places to eat, shop and drink. This being The Election Year That Never Ends, we've package them all up in a nifty election theme, including debates between staffers over certain picks -- discussions we're sure you'll find way, way more enlightening than other debates coming up in the weeks ahead.
Today, restaurant critic Scott Reitz (0-1) and Web Editor Nick Rallo try to settle which is best, Club Schmitz or Black Swan.*
Scott: Come on. Club Schmitz is a workingman's bar patronized by old fogies who sit on stools and swill Budweisers while talking about the good old days. The Black Swan is for fancy folk who order "libations" with muddled strawberries and flowery liquors. Saloon? It's like a cocktail lounge or something.
Nick: It's true. An honest-to-God dive bar is something special. And I don't have to explain how much I love a bar where the jukebox has an odd, fecal-colored crust on the D1 button, or an old Grandpa Simpson-looking grandpa who's all, "Oh, man, the war in Korea ..." But sometimes you just need Gabe. You need Gabe Sanchez: the best bartender in Dallas. He's the Gandalf of cocktails, sure, but he remembers everyone's drink. Also, your name. Also, he'll wipe the counter longingly while you talk about how the toilet drain of your soul hurts.
Scott: Look, I know Gabe is pretty. I know he bats his his eyes and all your soul hurts melt away. Here's the thing: When you leave the bar, your problems are just as big (if not bigger when you drink that spicy vodka), and on top of them, you're drunk. At Schmitz they don't pretend our bartenders are therapists. We use them as the enablers they are and we're honest about it.
Nick: It's not just Gabe. The Black Swan is The Avengers of Dallas bars: It has all of the superhero powers. Easygoing patio with wooden benches? Check. Cocktails that involve fire? Captain America-themed check. Star Wars-themed Deep Ellum swag? Hulk check. A portrait of Clint Eastwood watches over you omnipotently as you sip Gabe's clove-pierced hot toddy. It's not disingenuous; it's a real speakeasy. You can disappear from stupid life here. Seriously though, that hot toddy is like a Robin Hood arrow.
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Scott: Your comic book metaphor is as old and ragged as the bathroom floors at Schmitz, and half as charming. You're missing the most important barroom superhero of them all, Nick. How much is a pitcher of beer?
Nick: It costs 70 thousand shut-up dollars. No, Swan doesn't do pitchers as far as I know. That said, I bet if you asked Gabe, he'd figure out a vessel to pour a few dozen Dale's Pale Ales in. The man wipes your beer can down with a towel before he hands it over is all I'm saying.
Scott: I could drink an entire pitcher and wipe the foam from my glorious mustache in the time it takes your bartender to pour two cans of Dale's into the plastic pitcher he doesn't have. And I'll use the money I save to get my car out of limbo. It's presently stuck in one of the potholes in Schmitz's parking lot.
*Our clubs editor overruled them both. Best Bar 2012 is The Windmill.