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Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 07:43 am

Best of Springfield 2009

PHOTO BY DAVID HINE

BEST MARTINI

Dirty Schoolgirl

JP Kelly’s

300 E. Adams St., 753-7933

• 1 oz pomegranate liqueur

1 oz Absolut Raspberry

1 oz lemonade

oz simple syrup

Garnish with a lollipop.

BEST MARTINI (runners-up)

Raspberry Lemon Drop

Pao

2824 Plaza Dr., 546-4660

cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Mix with simple syrup to taste

2 oz Vox Raspberry Vodka

• Shake with ice, pour into

sugar rimmed glass

Pour in a little raspberry liqueur.

Nicotini

Brewhaus

617 E. Washington St., 525-6399

• Requires an infusion jar (airtight

jar with a valve at the bottom)

2 oz nicotine

1 bottle vodka

(citrus vodka works great)

Place nicotine in a cheesecloth. Pour

vodka in infusion jar and steep the

nicotine for two days. Pour into a frozen glass, and serve garnished with an olive.

Rosstini

Ross Isaac

1710 S. MacArthur Blvd., 744-7677

• Rub glass rim with lemon wedge

– set aside for garnish

• Rim with kosher salt

• 2 oz Hendrick’s Gin

• 4 oz cucumber juice

Shake with ice, and garnish with lemon wedge and a slice of cucumber

Mextini

Maya

131 E. Jefferson St., 541-6292

Rim glass with salt

• 1 shot top shelf tequila

• shot Grand Marnier

• lime’s worth of fresh-squeezed

lime juice

Shake well with ice, garnish with

lime wedge.

PHOTOS BY PATRICK YEAGLE

BEST BEER SELECTION

Brewhaus

617 E. Washington St., 525-6399

There are plenty of places in Springfield to grab a beer, but if you want something special, Brewhaus is the bar to visit. With about 300 beers available, it’s easy to see why Brewhaus is a perennial winner for “best beer selection.” When he’s not serving the tasty brews, owner Mike Parkes spends his time researching new ones to make sure the bar always has a unique and evolving drink list. Asked why the bar carries so many beers, Parkes replies simply, “Beer is good. Life without beer would be a terrible life.” Whether it’s a thick stout or a light lager you’re after, Brewhaus has it in spades. Throw in a basket of the free popcorn, and you’ve got a great place to explore the world of beer while you enjoy some good company.

Runner-up: Barrelhead

BEST BARTENDER

Mike Parkes, Brewhaus

617 E Washington St., 525-6399

He does it again. When asked how many times he thinks he’s won, Mike ponders quietly for a moment, then says, “Ten? Maybe more?” Make that 11. Thriving on one of the few recession-proof businesses (“recessions are good for bars”), Parkes can thank his loyal regulars, some of whom have more difficulty being loyal than others. “It’s a destination bar. We have people who come in from Iowa and Minnesota just to drink here.” Being a beer-lover’s Mecca isn’t enough for Parkes and Co. Their mixed drinks and martinis are equally beloved (see their Nicotini in our Best Martini section). “We’re a bartender’s bar. We can make anything. I make new drinks every day.” Why does he still do it after all these years? The answer is simple. “Bartending’s fun.” Slinging beer and mixing drinks is great, but not quite the best part. “That would be the people.” Pause. “Usually the people.”

Runner-up: Lindsay See – Floyd’s Thirst Parlor

BEST WAITPERSON

Kate Catalano, Brewhaus

617 E. Washington St., 525-6399

What do you get when you cross a bubbly personality with an eye for detail? You get Kate Catalano at Brewhaus, the best waitperson in Springfield, according to IT readers. She’s quick to refill your glass, loves recommending new beers and will even take it upon herself to bring you a basket of the bar’s free popcorn. “I feel like people love being greeted with warmth and a smile,” Catalano says cheerfully. “I like to be attentive to my customers.” Catalano has worked at Brewhaus almost four-and-a-half years, and she feels the clientele is great. “They respect all of us,” she says. “I love chatting with the customers. We’re all like family here.”

Runner-up: Jocelyn Praia – Palermo’s Sicilian Cucina

BEST PLACE FOR A FAST, CHEAP LUNCH

Chadito’s

3030 S. Sixth Street, 529-8226

In an economy where companies are laying off workers and reducing salaries, money matters. And, time is valuable. With a few dollars and very little time to spare, head to Chadito’s for a quick meal. Lunch specials include your choice of two hard tacos, a sancho, beef and bean burrito, taco burger, or a cup of chili, and a drink. Upgrade to a dinner special by adding beans and chips, lettuce and tomato salad, and apple strips. Among Chadito’s most popular dishes is its fish taco — breaded tilapia, fried golden brown and placed on a soft shell. While best known for its Mexican dishes, Chadito’s menu also includes hot dogs, burgers, salads and ice cream.

In addition to the small store in Southern View, owner Chad Reese plans to open a new establishment in November inside Chatham’s Shell gas station on Route 4.

A mere eight votes separates Chadito’s from our second place winner, Xochimilco. With three Springfield locations, Xochimilco offers 18 lunch specials. All — with the exception of the fajitas — cost $5.49. Even on a busy day, Xochimilco will deliver your meal piping hot in no time.

Runner-up: Xochimilco

BEST PIZZA

Bernie & Betty’s

1101 S. Spring St., 528-1821

Three words: Pizza Guy Special. It’s what one friendly waitress says Bernie & Betty’s does best. The neighborhood restaurant starts with its famous original thin crust, adds just the right amount of red sauce and spreads a thick layer of sausage, ham, pepperoni, onion, mushrooms, green peppers and mozzarella. Pair the pie with the garlic cheese bread appetizer (you better be hungry, it’s an entire loaf!), and you’ve got a winning combination. Bernie & Betty’s also features the Pizza Guy Favorite, the vegetarian and the ultra cheese specials — on thin crust or San Francisco sourdough — along with sandwiches, pastas and horseshoes.

Runner-up: Gabatoni’s

BEST PLACE TO MEET 10 PEOPLE FOR BREAKFAST

BEST BREAKFAST SPECIALS

Charlie Parker’s

700 North Street, 241-2104

New owner Mike Murphy knew he was purchasing a gem when he bought Charlie Parker’s restaurant last January. And he knew that business as usual — continuing to serve the famous 16-inch pancake and the two-egg, meat, and potato ($5.50) and biscuit and gravy ($5.95) specials — would not only keep Charlie Parker’s regular customers coming back for more, but would continue adding new customers along the way. Whether you are with a party of 10 or dining alone, you are sure to receive your meal in what seems like a matter of minutes. And, that meal will fill you up.

Although drastic changes are not on the menu, Murphy did add a stuffed blueberry French casserole that will knock your socks off and make Charlie Parker’s a frequent breakfast stop. Unfortunately, the fabulous dish is only served on the weekends. If you plan to try the casserole, you’d better get there early because it almost always sells out.

D & J Café, the winner of last year’s best breakfast category, receives second-place honors. Dennis Price, who owns the restaurant along with his brother John, says D & J’s offers the “quickest breakfast you’ll ever find.”

Runner-up: D & J Café

BEST VEGETARIAN MENU

The Feed Store

516 E. Adams, 528-3355

We were pleasantly surprised to see new contenders like The Feed Store, Little Saigon and Café Brio emerge in this category — perhaps that means the capital city’s carnivores and herbivores are finally created equal? Honest Abe would’ve loved to see that. The Feed Store offers seven vegetarian sandwiches, including the Veggie Hero — Swiss and Colby cheeses, cucumbers, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato and red onion on a baguette — and Nuts to Olive You — pecans, olives, pimentos, cream cheese, sprouts and tomato atop pumpernickel. Vegheads can choose from several homemade soups and salads, too. We recommend the minestrone and the zucchini chowder.

Runner-up: Little Saigon



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