Some people are famous for being famous. No need to elaborate--you know their names, and you probably still shake you head over the source of their popularity.
Well, it's the same in food and nightlife: some places are popular for being popular.
There's no other way to explain it, really. A spot with mediocre food will catch on and become a major drawing card. Bars serving sweet and sour mix with a dash of tequila will be said to have "the best margaritas" by those who should know better.
People attract people. And as long as the place serving wimp-ass drinks or standard fare can keep things going, more power to them. They opened to make a profit, after all--not to satisfy some deep personal desire to achieve culinary perfection.
So, the popular scenes we really can explain, yet somehow can't...
Scenes we can't explain from 2009:
1. Waiting one or two hours for a table
Restaurants with 'no reservations' policies were the rage this year. When Neighborhood Services opened, wait times could extend to two hours. Yet even at Fireside Pies, hour-long waits can be the norm. That's a lot of standing around--which means either local diners don't value their free time or they think Fireside Pies is worth it, for some reason.
2. The patio at Primo's
Year's ago I asked one of Primo's bartenders about the crowds on the restaurant's sidewalk-turned-patio. Just what is the attraction, I inquired. No idea, he replied. But year after year, the mediocre joint with tables jutting onto a sidewalk and exhaust from McKinney Avenue filling the air rates as the most popular spot in the Uptown area.
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3. Hacienda on Henderson
Have to admit that the patio is nice. It made the list because of the spillover mob it drew after opening--when the kitchen was operating at a substandard level and servers couldn't really care less about their guests. Fortunately, management appears to have noticed the restaurant's many problems...after many, many warnings.
Scenes we can't explain from the 00s:
1. The patio at Primo's
See above. Just doesn't make sense. We hear the "people watching" excuse, but that doesn't cut it. Everyone in Uptown looks about the same.
2. Mi Cocina
The food is consistent, but not at a point much above average. There's the monstrosity known as a 'Mambo Taxi,' but otherwise even their top shelf margaritas won't give real drinkers a buzz until round six or seven. So what is the appeal of this highly successful chain? Oh, yeah--crowds.
3. Double Wide
In better economic times, this was a place for--is it 'hipsters' or 'hipster doofuses'?--to gather after a long day at their near six-figure job, don designer trucker hats and pretend to be TPT...that's their term for "trailer park trash." Charming. Of course, now that it wears some age and the recession has driven some of those hipsters into real trailer parks Double Wide feels more like a regular bar.