I just cast my votes for the finalists in the Birmingham News' "Reader's Choice" annual contest, and I'm disappointed at some of the choices on the finalists list in the Food & Drink category.
I cannot believe that Iguana Mexican restaurant in Hoover did not make the finalist list for either best new restaurant or best Mexican. (Come on, they've got Taco Bell as a finalist??!!) Bettola definitely should be on the Best Italian list (Olive Garden!? Give me a break!) And best burger -- all chains! Come on, what about great LOCAL burger places like Chicago Mike's Hot Dogs, Green Valley Drugs, Sammy's Sandwich shop? I wish they would divide the burger category into chain and non-chain like they do with pizza.
I'm also disappointed that Anthony Marini with Local didn't make the list for best chef. Although the choices on there are generally good (unlike some of the other categories), Marini brings to Birmingham an innovative take on food and just recently was chosen to prepare, along with Little Savannah's Clif Holt, a meal at the James Beard House.
And Bhamdining.com didn't make the finalist list for best web site, either! (Thanks to Matt Cuthbert, though, for mentioning Bhamdining.com on his "Get on with your Nightlife" blog post on his picks for "Reader's Choice" finalists.)
Follow-up: Check out this commentary on some of the finalists on Wade on Birmingham.