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America's best restroom: New York toilets are front-runners

August 15, 2011 |  7:52 am

Restroom-2010
It’s that time again when citizens step up and vote for the candidate that makes them the most comfortable, the one they trust to handle the dirty work no matter how heavy the demands.

We’re talking about the America’s Best Restroom competition, now in its 10th year and featuring two toilets from New York City. Other finalists come from California (a winery in Calistoga), Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Illinois, Utah and Virginia. But only Gotham can claim to have a pair of front-runners, perhaps because the city that never sleeps is also the city that never stops needing to make a pit stop.

Like most of the toilets on this year’s list of finalists, the New York thrones each feature unique qualities designed to make nature’s call more soothing than the usual visit to a public restroom. No cracked commodes or misfiring automatic flushing devices here.

At the Brooklyn restaurant Habana Outpost, a glass roof, lush hanging plants and recycled rainwater make a visit to the toilet not only environmentally friendly but also akin to a mini-vacation on a Caribbean island. So says the Brooklyn Paper, which featured the city’s flushing finalists on its front page this week.“I don’t know how we got into the contest, but now I so badly want to win!” Habana Outpost’s owner, Sean Meenan, told the newspaper.

The eatery will face tough competition from across the East River in Manhattan, where another finalist can be found at Ninja New York, an upscale Japanese restaurant whose toilets feature seat warmers along with control pads that permit a variety of washing and drying features.

The contest is sponsored by the Cincinnati-based Cintas Corp., a restroom supply business. The winner will be announced in the fall, and votes will be accepted online until Sept. 19. Finalists also include a casino in Las Vegas, whose features include a chunk of the Berlin Wall, and a Chicago museum with "smaller toilets, for our littlest guests."

Check out the detailed descriptions and photographs here. It's the next best thing to being there.

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--Tina Susman in New York

Photo: The 2010 winner of the restroom contest was from The Fountain on Locust, a St. Louis ice cream parlor where the restrooms feature hand-painted murals and designer mirrors. Credit: Associated Press

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