General Discussion

The difference between quintessential and best ...


General Discussion

The difference between quintessential and best ...

PaulF | | Jul 25, 2006 11:38 PM

Just wondering if other chowhounds ever have trouble making the distinction between quintessential and best?

What I mean is ... someone logs on to your local board and wonders where the best places to eat are, but at the same time asks for the places that are special or unique or -- quintessential -- to your town.

I live in Los Angeles and frequent that board.

A hamburger stand like Tommys is -- to me -- quintessential Los Angeles. Everyone here has eaten there. It is, as far as I know, a Southern California experience and some feel it's an experience not to be missed.

But while I love (at least, have loved) Tommys hamburgers, I'm not sure I'd call it "the best." First of all, deciding between Tommys and In and Out and Fatburger and any number of one of a kind stands is a matter of taste, not to mention the "betterness" of a gourmet burger that cost 15 dollars.

But many cities have gourment burgers and many have great burgers. Tommy's chili burger is more of an LA experience to me than the others, whether or not it's the best.

Same is true for, I dunno, maybe Musso and Frank's or Dan Tana's. Are they "the best?" Not really. Some people really like them, some don't, actually. But you might see a real live movie star at Musso's or Tana's and can you do that anywhere else?

Now, the search for great chow should be just that. Nothing else should matter, right? But great or best is so highly subjective.

See, if I'm recommending restaurants to visitors who are not on chowhound, I certainly do consider "quintessential" along with "best." I like to recommend places with ocean views or places from old Hollywood/Los Angeles (like Pacific Dining Car), But should it differ for board recs for 'hounds?

I realize the food is the thing. But there is no denying that many, many posts consider service and ambiance and parking and ease of reservation and corkage and any number of factors other than purely and simply the quality of the food.

So, if some level of high quality is a given, when does "quintessential" have an impact on "best" around these parts.

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