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Question of the day: Golden Horseshoe Awards

Wednesday, Dec 6, 2017

* First, our winners from yesterday. The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse-area Bartender goes to Marcena Fleischli

Marcy at Boone’s always keeps my glass full, and she can handle the Happy Hour Rush by herself with ease. The statehouse should really keep her on retainer. Plus she is great conversation. Honestly favorite bartender I have ever had.

She’s definitely good.

* The 2017 Golden Horseshoe Award for Best Statehouse-area Waiter/Waitress goes to Sarah Brillhart at Augie’s Front Burner

She is by far the best waitress in Springfield. She has an eye for detail and makes such a great impression, you will always ask if she is working tonight.

Agreed. Also, she’s the late John Brillhart’s niece, so that helps in my book. Glad to see she was nominated by several people.

* On to today’s categories

* Best political tavern in Springfield

* Best political restaurant in Springfield

Remember, this is about the intensity of the nominations, not the number of the nominations, so make sure to fully explain your votes. And, please, nominate in both categories. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments »
  1. - Jack Kemp - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:14 am:

    Boone’s gets my vote for best political bar, hands down. Not only does it have proximity, but in that same vein it is the perfect place to find many big names and familiar faces. The building is historic, the inside has character, and it’s got one of the nicest beer gardens in town. Plus you can’t beat the half price happy hour. It is Springfield’s place to be on any given session day.

    As for restaurant: Gabatoni’s. It too is a place you’ll often find folks you need to talk to, or just happen to run into old friends. Plus, the service is by far some of the best I’ve ever had at any restaurant, period. It’s a nice family feel with it’s old, drab sort of swag, with outstanding food, and cold beer to boot. I could eat there every week no problem.


  2. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:16 am:

    Fritz’s for both as they have both a bar and back room. Although it was earlier in the year that I utilized them.
    I love Fritz’s for the family atmosphere. Food is great.
    And the thing for me is that ( at least the times I’ve been)
    There aren’t a lot of high level politicos in there. I feel relatively safe. I can be myself without looking around constantly like when I’m at Saputos. I also love meeting people at Hawaiian BBQ. Can’t get enough.


  3. - Book Em - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    Tavern: Now that I’m far, far away from SPI, there are several things I miss. On the rare occasions I’d go for drinks after work, Boone’s was always the place to be. You’d see everyone (whether you wanted to or not). Affordable, good space, great location.

    Political restaurant or no, Augie’s is tops. Great menu with exciting options and love that Thrifty Thursday. Again, you see everyone there. And excellent warm service.


  4. - Give Me A Break - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:31 pm:

    Restaurant: Not the “cutting edge in place” and you can debate quality of the food, but this question simply starts and stops with Saputos. If you want to be seen or want to see who wants to be seen, you go to Saputos. End of discussion.

    Tevern: Boone’s given the location near the Statehouse and the fact it won’t costs you a ton to buy a couple of rounds.


  5. - Downstate Dem - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:52 pm:

    Hands down the best political bar in Springfield is DH Brown’s. Outside of being in the Capitol, it’s the best place to get caught up on what is going on. It’s also the go to place for a lot of political events before session and throughout the year.


  6. - BlondeAmbition - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    My vote goes to DH Browns. Not only do you find elected officials from throughout the state holding court together over various topics, but the atmosphere is inviting to all individuals; whether it is the local regulars, an office party or fundraisers from candidates representing any part of the state. It is a place where you feel safe from somewhat prying eyes and can enjoy a minute or evening to relax from the day’s activities and enjoy the company of colleagues, strangers or the great bar staff. There is a reason this bar has been the venue that is selected by so many as their preferred tavern to frequent. They are in a league of their own.


  7. - Cornfield Cowboy - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 1:06 pm:

    By far DH Browns. 40 years running as others establishments have died, the monument lives on. It’s like an old comfortable shoe that you rely on. Cheers to Alex & Dave for another 40 years!

    Restaurant - Boone’s close in proximity and has a healthy mix of statehouse types after hours.


  8. - Ooops - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 1:12 pm:

    Best political tavern – D.H. Brown’s

    Where former statehouse legends, sitting legislators, and legislative staff from both parties swap war stories over too many beers and a few bowls of popcorn. For decades Brown’s has been a rite of passage for Springfield political types. This place oozes with character and maintains a genuine dive bar feel that can only be achieved through its decades of history.

    Best political restaurant – Saputo’s

    The best tasting, most consistent Italian food in the Springfield area. You never know who you will see walking in and out of the back room here. On evenings when the legislature is in session, Saputo’s is the place to be.


  9. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    Best Political Bar - DH Browns
    There is always a slew of political fundraisers and events at the bar. Beyond that, on any given session night you can walk into the bar to find political types to talk shop.

    Best Political Restaurant - Augies
    I don’t think it is possible to go here without running into people in the political sphere. An added bonus is that Augies has good food and wine options.


  10. - Wannabe - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 1:51 pm:

    DH Browns - because it’s where both policy and political necessity meet. It’s your 1 stop shop.
    They sell beer and liquor for sure but they also run a mail house and offer political printing services to both Rep. & Dem. operations. They rent apartments upstairs to Staff, lobbyists and Members of the GA. If its consultants you need, Browns is where they hang out. It’s an insider trading post for both Republicans and Democrats.
    Joe Gallina’s Pizza- it’s not about the food. You don’t bring your clients there nor have them cater an event, but, for those of us who work at the Capitol, Gallina’s is almost a food group. Definitely hits the spot after somebody opens a tab at Browns!


  11. - Reaganing - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 2:48 pm:

    Butternut hut for a bar. Cheap and divey, what more could you ask for?

    Honestly, I don’t go out to eat enough in springfield. The food here is mostly terrible. Boone’s food should disqualify them from any award ever. If I wanted frozen food put in a fryer I wwould just go to mcdonalds. At least it isn’t pretending.


  12. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 3:02 pm:

    Best political bar - JP Kelly’s. Just as many politicos there during session as down the tracks at Browns, but JP Kelly’s pours a much better pint of Guinness than anywhere else in town.

    Best political restaurant - Alexander’s Steakhouse. Always the opportunity to tell the Speaker how you really feel.


  13. - Conn Smythe - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 3:03 pm:

    Best Bar: Boone’s for proximity.

    Best restaurant: Alexander’s. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to have become the place in the last two sessions. Good food, good, fast service, and short of the pretense of the downtown spots.


  14. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 3:15 pm:

    Bar - JP Kelly’s, consistently filled for the pre-dinner crowd where you can find many of the folks you may need to talk to.

    Restaurant - Hate to say it, but Saputo’s still reigns. The food isn’t the best, but it’s always been the place to see and be seen.

    I’ll note these answers are directed at the question and specifically, “political” - my peer group tends not to frequent any of the political joints…we want to get away from it. We play outside the sandbox.


  15. - IMissBentohs - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    DH Browns for bar as they have a fun environment and the owners seem to have quite the knack to know when to leave you alone and when to give that special attention.

    For restaurant I am torn as I think Springfield has really upped the game … but I will go with Augies because it represents Springfield so well.


  16. - realkewlio - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 3:50 pm:

    * Best political tavern in Springfield- Boone’s because every politic either starts or ends their night there.

    * Best political restaurant in Springfield- Augie’s Front Burner. Last session a whole new crowd started going there, which was refreshing, especially for those of us who have to suffer through Saputos and the Sangamo Club far too often.


  17. - The Other Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 4:06 pm:

    Anyone who tells you they go to Sapputos for the food is a liar. The fact that it’s packed every session night is a testament to it being the best political restaurant in town.

    DH Brown’s set’s the standard. It’s not fair to other bars to be judged in the same category. Where else will a State Rep outbid you on the jukebox when she doesn’t like the song you played coming up through the floor of her apartment? Lots of other bars in town for the tourists and wanna bees. Brown’s is where the big kids hang out.


  18. - The Iron Lady - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 4:18 pm:

    Bar: DH Brown’s has the best vodka lemonade slushies-that happen to be in season at the end of session. Also I have been introduced to some of my new favorite drinks by Alex including vanilla vodka and root beer- very refreshing! Great atmosphere to relax and catch up with old friends and make some new connections.

    Restaurant: Maldaner’s- Wonderful fresh food prepared by Chef Higgins with an ever changing menu, the best service in town, and always a good place to see various elected officials/lobbyists.


  19. - It’s not even a contest - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 5:22 pm:

    DH Brown’s is, hands down, the best political tavern. Why they are the only spot downtown that has figured out that if you serve up free popcorn then your customers will drink a lot more beer is beyond me. Additionally, no one there is trying to snoop on you. It is an honest to goodness place to relax after a long session day, with friendly faces who are looking to do the same as you. If you want to talk shop with someone then there is plenty of seating in the booths in back, or you can head back to the Bureau of the Budget and hash it out over a game of pinball.

    Best political restaurant goes to…Browns as well. I can’t count how many popcorn dinners I have eaten at Browns. If you need more substance for dinner then order a pizza from Gallina’s down the road and Vito will have it to you in no time. I would vote Gallina’s for the restaurant, but I have only ever eaten their pizza in the most political establishment in Springfield - which is DH Browns.


  20. - NotMe - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 5:30 pm:

    Tavern - no question - it’s Browns. Maybe even retire the category. So many others have nailed the vibe in their nominations. It really is the place where all pretense falls away and everyone regardless of title, party or leaning is just a person getting a drink at the end of the day. When you want to do business, the vibe makes it easier. When you just want to chill, that’s their specialty.


  21. - SaulGoodman - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 5:39 pm:

    Best Restaurant: Kelly Cassidy’s apartment. Best place in town for a great home cooked meal, good wine, and great bipartisan conversation in the “cone of silence.” I’d take dinner there over any restaurant in Springfield.

    Best bar: DH Browns - #1 - free popcorn. #2 - shuffleboard. #3 - good drinks, good owner, good bartenders, and a diverae bipartisan crowd


  22. - AnonyMau5 - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 6:38 pm:

    Best Political Bar: DH Brown’s, by a landslide. I concur with all the other nominations. Brown’s is where the political hacks kick back and blow off steam. On any given session night, you’ll find legislators, lobbyists and staff mingling and sharing war stories. And quite often, some actual business gets conducted. Where else are you going to see all the top political staffers from both sides of the aisle enjoying a few cold ones with the ever-present “Green Party” owners Alex and Dave?

    Honorable mention to JP Kelly’s, which being just up the tracks, attracts a lot of the same crowd as Brown’s. Their Bloody Mary’s are the best in town and Ellen is just great.

    Best Political Restaurant: Saputo’s is always the frontrunner. But lately Alexander’s has been packing them in on session nights, much to the Speaker’s chagrin. Having said that, I sure do miss the basement at Sebastian’s.


  23. - Joe - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 7:56 pm:

    Granted: a long time time since I was a regular ‘round ‘da rail, but what happened to Norb Andy’s - - aka Norb’s?


  24. - Mickey Mouse - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 8:35 pm:

    Best Political Bar:
    DH Browns. Dem event in the back with a Rep event in the front…at the same time. And all walks of life mingling in between.

    Best Political Restaurant:
    Rep. Cassidy’s apartment directly above DH Browns. R’s and D’s mingling together like they could give two hoots about their leadership solving the worlds problems one meal at a time.

    Entertainment for both:
    The mice enjoy a good time messing with the management at the best Political bar and then head north to the best Political restaurant and chase Sally the dog. Epic entertainment.


  25. - Anon - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 12:54 am:

    Brown’s casual atmosphere provides staff, legislators and lobbyist a great place to network, relax and have a good time. Definitely the best post-session tavern.

    Fritz’s has an amazing bar, great food and awesome service. It never disappoints.


  26. - Revolver - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 8:57 am:

    Best Political Tavern: Boone’s Saloon. Boone’s has come to represent a microcosm of the statehouse. Each caucus staff clique is represented there, former members have their names on the bathroom walls, and a few lobsters have taken up regular residence. It is THE place for happy hour, and while it doesn’t have the number of events Brown has, it maintains a crowd when there is not one. The best and the worst is there: Boone’s Saloon.

    Best Political Reataurant: Sapputo’s because it is a statement to be there. The food is meh, but the circus is why you go.


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