Using Google or other search engines to plot restaurants on a map
When I input a category search such as "restaurant" into Google Local I come up with a highly selective list of businesses that have evidently paid a premium to have their locations pinpointed on a map. But I want to see, say, every restaurant in San Francisco's Mission District. How?
The Google Maps system is extremely cool and has lots of great uses, but showing all the restaurants in a neighborhood isn't one of them--as far as I know it isn't set up to do this. Use Yahoo! Maps instead for this purpose.
1 a. Start at maps.yahoo.com and type in an address,
b. or alternatively if you type in an address at the main Google page it will come back with links to Yahoo and Mapquest as well as Google's own mapping engine.
2. a. Then, once you have a map of the area at Yahoo Maps, on the right side of the Yahoo map you'll see buttons for different goods and services; "Food and Dining" is usually at the top.
b. Expand this selection (i.e. click the + sign),
c. When the list of restaurant types shows up pick the category you want--although the assignment of particular restaurants to particular categories can be very quirky (e.g. sushi doesn't always show up under Japanese, for some odd reason) so I usually stick to "All Restaurants" and filter the choices myself.
d. You will then get a map of the area with small icons for each establishment. You find out more about each by running your mouse over the icon; click for more detail.
3. For an alternative presentation, in list rather than graphical form, try the following instead. It takes a few more clicks but produces an awesome result.
a. Go down to the bottom of the right column and click on "Find more nearby," next to the little "walking fingers" Yellow Pages logo.
b. Pick your category, either by clicking one that's shown or typing in any category you might want to try. This is a general Yellow Pages so it works for any kind of business, and is extremely useful for all sorts of purposes.
c. If you click "Restaurants" you'll then get a another page of category choices--more choices than in the graphical version described in 2(c) above, but for the same reasons as above I usually stick with the "All Restaurants" category.
d. You'll probably then get a page of "Sponsored Businesses" only, most of them not close to your starting location. This is annoying but don't despair--just click on "All Businesses" at the top of the list, and . . .
e. Voila! You have a list of up to 200 of the nearest restaurants, listed in order of proximity to your starting address. If you're lucky there will even be a link to the restaurant's website, as in Google.
I find this format extremely powerful and useful for picking out the best place near any location. Every so often I just type in my home address to refresh my memory about what's around (and what might be new).
a. The great strength of Yahoo Maps is its comprehensiveness--essentially it gives you everything in the phone book that appears to fit your request. The downside is there's no filtering for quality, and that some of the entries are likely to be out of date or were never right in the first place. For example it shows the closest restaurant to my house is allegedly a coffee shop at an address that's actually an apartment building. Call or otherwise confirm the validity of the info.
b. There are various links to "More information," reviews, etc. Take all this information with a grain of salt--its provenance is often suspect.
c. There are other yellow-pages type services that yield similar results; I use Yahoo! mostly because I'm used to it and also because of that convenient link when you start with the address in Google, but also because as a general matter the Yahoo results seem to be the most complete.
And now, back to my real job . . .