Stupid Restaurant Lists

National magazine's overblown restaurant critic snubs Houston: Here's why you shouldn't care

National mag's overblown restaurant critic snubs Houston: Who cares?

Esquire Best New Restaurants 2013 cover October 2013
There are good restaurants on this list. None of them are from Houston, and that's ok. Esquire.com

Houston got snubbed, and I don't care.

As soon as I saw that Esquire restaurant critic John Mariani didn't include any Houston spots on his list of 2013's best new restaurants, I knew that someone would write the inevitable "Houston got snubbed" piece. Sure enough, at 6 a.m. this morning, Houston Press food writer Kaitlin Steinberg published a response headed "Houston Snubbed on Esquire's List of Best New Restaurants."

To paraphrase Tammy Metzler, who cares about this stupid list?

 Maybe he sincerely doesn't think any of Houston's new restaurants merit inclusion, or maybe none of them would play ball and fete him like a visiting head of state. 

In a 2011 blog post, Anthony Bourdain all but by name accused Mariani of demanding free food, drinks and travel from restaurants in exchange for his praise. Mariani, of course, denies the charges, but the perception that restaurants have to pay to play with him remains. While I don't know who pays for Mariani's food or hotel rooms, I've heard off the record comments from at least one restaurant owner who knew he was coming.

Maybe he sincerely doesn't think any of Houston's new restaurants merit inclusion, or maybe none of them would play ball and fete him like a visiting head of state. 

Either way, hasn't Houston's dining scene evolved to the point where we no longer need to be validated by national writers who tell us how special we are? Haven't we heard enough times that Houston is one of America's best dining cities to feel secure in our collective self-esteem? I'd much rather live in the city that's the object of John T. Edge's eye than worry about what John Mariani thinks of us.

Hell, he put two restaurants from Dallas on his list, so clearly he can't be trusted.

Steinberg suggests The Pass & Provisions, which made Bon Appetit editor Andrew Knowlton's best new restaurants list, and MF Sushi as candidates for inclusion. I'd even throw globally-influenced raw bar Cove as a candidate. But whether or not John Mariani thinks they're among America's best new restaurants doesn't change that they're good restaurants that are making valuable contributions to Houston's restaurant scene (or will, once MF reopens).

Enough with worrying about snubs.