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Most Reliable Restaurant Review Site Outside of Chowhound?

I love Chowhound, but since this is not technically a restaurant review site (rather, more like a "go here, now!" recommendation site), I am wondering what's the most reliable restaurant review site you know outside of chowhound. It doesn't have to be a site that reviews all restaurants everywhere.

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    1. re: PeterL

      I think that is subjective - Yelp is big on the West Coast and hasn't caught on as big on the East Coast.

      1. re: PeterL

        Well it's pretty subjective, but I suppose by reliable I mean that you generally agree with the review after you went and tried the restaurant.

        1. re: PeterL

          I agree. Yelp rocks. And I like that it's subjective. There's no freakin' politics or advertisers to influence individual reviews. Yelp has caught on in NYC...

          1. re: sasabean

            Ah yes...and the lovely reviews of places where people haven't eaten and will tell you they haven't eaten...yet the "stars" count.

            1. re: sasabean

              Yes, it has. It's very easy to use and I'm having a blast. Thanks sasabean.

              1. re: sasabean

                I disagree with 90% of the Yelp reviews of restaurants in my town. (I write a food column for the local paper, so I eat out a lot.) I'm convinced that many "reviews" are written by restaurant owners and their friends and relatives, as they are frequently hyperbolic and bear no relationship to reality. Maybe folks in NYC do it better.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  My experience in Chicago is that Yelp reviews are petty and pretty useless. I dunno if it's competitors, but the number of negative reviews of restaurants I know to be good are just a tad suspicious. But I think the greater problem is a bunch of self-important people finding fault wherever they can. You can go from one review praising the place to another calling it a roachpit. People here may be combative at times, but there's almost no outright dishonesty.

              2. re: PeterL

                I too love Yelp! I am also a fan of Gayot. They are reliable for hotel reviews as well.

                I usually start by going to a town I know well and see what they say. If I think they are good and not just hitting on the obvious, I use them religiously.

                1. re: PeterL

                  I don't rely on Yelp exclusively because the reviews tend to be written by folks without my level of experience and, dare I say, discernment? However, taken with other reviews--local papers, chow, urbanspoon, opentable--it can be useful.

                  1. re: PeterL

                    I use Yelp to pick restaurants -- but when I think about it, I realize that the reviews are not worth much. As an example, the restaurant where I eat out most frequently is Luciano's in Rahway, NJ. I work for the largest employer in town, and this is our default restaurant for business visitors (and my job is focused on external partnerships, so I have a lot of visitors). Looking at the Yelp reviews today, I see they are completely mixed -- some think it's great, some not. In terms of "stars", for the most recent reviews I see 4,2,4,5,4,2,2,4,5,2,5,3,4,4,2,4,4,5,3,1,5,3,5,3,5,5,3,5,2... in other words across the spectrum from 1 to 5. My own experience has been that the place has never been great, though rarely dreadful except sometimes with regard to the service. But over the last few years I've been there many times and I'm somewhat bewildered at the very high and very low scores. How could so many people think it's that good or that awful?? (I will admit that I would not go there on my own dime, but perhaps that's a case of "familiarity breeds contempt").

                  2. Honestly, I don't find any one site to be consistently reliable on its own. I check Zagat regularly, especially when I'm going to a place that is new to me. I also check citysearch and the local newspapers. In San Francisco, I end up at Yelp a lot because it turns up at the top of google searches; i find the reviews there to be generally very annoying and often actually learn more about restaurants I want to visit based upon reviews that the writer clearly intends to be negative.

                    So, for me, the most reliable thing is when the same restaurants start showing up favorably in multiple places. If a restaurant rates well on Zagat, gets a favorable review in the newspaper, shows up with good reviews on City Search, etc...then I can be fairly confident that I, at least, won't be horribly dissapointed.

                    If I had to choose one, it'd be Zagat.

                    1. I don't think there's such a thing as reliable site, only reliable individual reviewers. So any site without bylines is by my lights useless.

                      There may be some good individual reviewers on Yelp, but on average the tone is inexperienced and uncritical.

                      Zagat's not a review site, it's a statistically invalid (due to self-selection) popularity poll. As good a place as any to find the usual suspects.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I agree with you that Zagat is not really all that accurate.

                        Then how do you usually decide which new restaurant to try next?

                        1. re: Dio Seijuro

                          I read my local newspapers--including the freebies, the NYT, and all the food magazines (Saveur, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine) to see what's buzzing locally and nationally. In addition to CH, eGullet is pretty good, though it seems like activity in New England has dropped off. Zagat is kind of like American Idol, a beauty contest but fairly helpful. Gayot has reviews of major cities. A very good blog site is Chez Pim--she gets around. Ultimately, it comes down to going out and trying everything that interests you. The disasters are as interesting as the great meals.

                          1. re: whs

                            I agree that eGullet is almost dead and useless in New England.
                            I don't know another one that is as good after Chowhound. I use eGullet in combination with Chowhound when I go to certain parts of the country. For example there is a lot about Texas BBQ (and more), there on the Texas board.

                          2. re: Dio Seijuro

                            On Chowhound's San Francisco Bay Area board, there are usually reports on new restaurants within a day or two of opening.

                            For preopening news, best sources are tablehopper.com and a weekly column in the SF Chronicle.

                          3. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Oh, no claims about statistical validity or the ability to dig up unknown gems on Zagat. I do, though, find it useful as a means of tracking down a place that is unlikely to dissapoint when I visit a new town.

                            1. re: ccbweb

                              Zagat once ranked Zachary's Pizza among the top 10 for food in the San Francisco area. It's only as reliable as the taste of the people surveyed.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Yes, one has to be careful and not blindly follow whatever is on the "tops" lists. I actually find those a pretty good item to stay away from on Zagat. I do wish they'd reveal how many votes a place has. And the new "Newly Opened" but no ratings listings are pretty annoying, too. It is, as you say, only as reliable as the people rating the restaurants; but that's pretty much true of anything. I'm not a huge proponent of Zagat; but its one of the only more "universal" systems out there so, as I say, it can be helpful navigating a place that is entirely foreign to me. For instance, since I moved to San Francisco last year, I haven't used Zagat to find a single place to eat because there are so many ratings sites for San Francisco and, more importantly, people I know that I can ask. But, when I went to visit Orlando, it steered us to Ran-Getsu for one of the better sushi meals we've had.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  I've had very bad luck using Zagat in NYC. Every restaurant I went to that they held in high regard was a dud. I tried 5 restaurants from their guide before giving up.

                              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                In Chicago Yelp seems to be disproportionately populated by 20-somethings short on experience and knowledge but with very high levels of self-esteem. Metromix (a Chicago Tribune property) and City Search are essentially worthless for reviews here. Metromix is fairly good for addresses and hours for restaurants with press agents in the tourist and yuppie districts. http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/di...

                                The most extensive Chicago area food coverage, both restaurants and food shopping, is LTHForum: http://lthforum.com/bb/index.php

                                1. re: Eldon Kreider

                                  LTH for Chicago is full of all sorts of information that you willnot find on Chowhound. Among other things, they allow posters to include photos on their posts, so you will find all sorts of pictures of unusual or good meals - for example photos of all 24 courses of the Alinea tasing menu.

                                  Also, the moderators allow people to post on a wider range of topics than Chowhound - so the threads often cover a wider range of issues.

                                  As far a reliability goes - Art is in the eye of the beholder. You'll have to form your own opinion there.

                                  1. re: wak

                                    You can post photos on Chowhound, too.


                                    1. re: wak

                                      LTH is excellent, mainly for the high end. I prefer Chowhound, though. Erik, the guy who got the Thai native menus at Spoon and TAC Quick translated, is a treasure. But Nextasy (sp?) on Chowhound is absolutely wonderful. Helpful, accurate and able to find treasures here.

                                2. Citysearch is pretty good. I don't use it much, but most of the posted reviews that I've read have been helpful. Also, their maps are great in that they show you where other, nearby restaurants are.

                                  I don't like Yelp at all. I have not read any helpful posts there.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: slacker

                                    I find CitySearch utterly unreliable. It is not assiduously moderated like Chowhound. I constantly see reviews that are obviously posted by shills, loons, or disgruntled former employees. At least one Boston-area restaurateur uses it to post negative reviews of his nearby competitors.

                                    Lauriston's comment is right on: anonymous reviews are useless. If you don't know something about a poster from a history of reading their stuff, you might be taking advice from someone who loves The Cheesecake Factory. Online opinions can be great sources of intel, but you have to work at them to really make them useful.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      i must agree with you about citysearch. i had a brief flirt with yelp, but it seems to skew very young here in boston and was not worth my time. i enjoy the passion of many of the posters on here, even when i disagree with them.

                                      being in the business a long time, i guess i'm spoiled since most of my intel comes pretty direct, and i'm very picky where i spend my eating out dollars.

                                      1. re: slacker

                                        I'm actually a fan of Yelp. Once you can get past the mentality the site promotes, there are some good tips. For someone who is into the whole gestalt of Chowhound, Yelp is like a shock of cold water ... but there are serious posters there.

                                        The thing with Yelp is you need pay attention to the posters who talk about the food rather than the ambiance or their own personal world.

                                        I really wish Yelp would knock off encouraging the frat-boy type of post. If they ask me one more time "what's your sign" ... and they will ... I may melt down. Who asks that anymore?

                                        So yes, ... Yelp is the most reliable review site outside of Chowhound. I do get burned a lot though by some of those reviews. It happens a lot more frequently than Chowhound. So I am more cautious with Yelp.

                                        The other thing with yelp is you really can't follow up except off-line.

                                        So someone will post an intelligent review and you can't ask them what they mean other than e-mailing. They do have a forum, but good luck that the person who posted the review will see that. The forums aren't that informative, more chatty.

                                        I'm not that comfortable intruding on someone off-line. Also, it doesn't up the knowledge-base in general. I get my info. No one else does.

                                        In SF, Zagat is only useful for the weekly newsletter with openings and closings. They are actually better than the SF Chronicle for that. Also they are good for upcoming holiday events. The reviews really suck and don't say much.

                                        Egullet just doesn't care about the restaurant reviews for the most part. There is no traffic in SF. I get emails when a new topic is posted ... usually one a week and that covers all of California.

                                        Citysearch, a site I once loved from its sidewalk.com days, I use ONLY if there is absolutely no other info on the web.

                                        I wish lthforum expanded beyond Chicago. If they do what they do in areas outside Chicago, I'd rate them above Chowhound.

                                        Boorah, just totally sucks ... sucks, sucks, sucks ... sucks worse than Citysearch.

                                        Everything else isn't that great. They just are not wide-spread enough so only good if there is nothing else on the web about that restaurant.

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          LTH does have a very lively "outside Chicagoland" board, which is excellent. All you have to do is ask about any place in the US or abroad and guaranteed someone will have a reasoned, informative rec

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            Yelp's accuracy can vary depending on the city. I found it wasn't half bad for NYC, but when I moved to DFW I found it to be downright unreliable for international cuisine. The reviewers were giving good restaurants bad reviews, and bad restaurants glowing recommendations.

                                            I realized it had to do with the tastes of the reviewers living in the region and their lack of knowledge about certain cuisines, so I had to research a reviewers other posts on yelp to figure out how much they knew about the food they were eating. If a person raved about the authenticity of sushi rolls with cream cheese in it, I could safely conclude that they know nothing about traditional Japanese cuisine or what it should taste like. On the other hand, if a reviewer reveals that they spent time living in Tokyo and found the sushi at restaurant "X" to be excellent, I'd be more inclined to take their review more seriously.

                                            I've learned to filter out a lot of junk reviews on Yelp. The second I see a negative review where someone complains about not having their water filled, using a coupon, or admits that they were hogging tables waiting for 4 friends who decided to arrive 45 minutes late when the restaurant was busy- I just skip it.

                                          2. re: MC Slim JB

                                            CitySearch isn't genuine reviews. They shake down restaurant owners for money, if they buckle and pay citysearch their requested sum citysearch writes good reviews to endorse the restaurant and removes bad reviews from the general public.

                                        2. Unlike some, I like Zagat. I think it's extremely helpful and very well organized. But I agree that it's not really a review site per se. As for any "review" sites. None. Citysearch and Yelp are touch and go at best. Unless you know what you're looking for already. Then they can be pretty good. But their search functions leave much to be desired in part because they're practically a yellow pages and you sift through the restaurants that pay the most to be featured first before you can find what you're looking for. I think Chowhound is the best for flat-out reviews. However, even Chowhound doesn't allow your search to be filtered by date, which I find bizarre at best, but usually flat out enraging.

                                          1. I google around and find food blogs for cities I'm going to be visiting. It's fairly easy to spot the people who know what they're talking about. I've had particulary good luck with San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              That's normally also my approach. Google it, find 10 different reviews, blogs etc. And based on those informations I decide on new restaurants.

                                              1. re: honkman

                                                I think this approach gets increasingly unreliable over time. Restaurants have woken up to the fact that people search this way, and the number of shill posts and bogus negative reviews of competitors is increasing exponentially. Chowhound may occasionally go overboard in its moderating zeal, but I think it's a small, worthwhile price to pay for the excellent work its moderators do to weed out the specious and the agenda-driven.

                                                The good news is that smart restaurateurs actually read amateur-posting sites like Yelp and Chowhound. They are watching and listening.

                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                  That's good and bad news. It leads to the dumbing down of restaurants ... especially in terms of Yelp. I think once the novelty dies down, there won't be as much saluting the vox populi by restaurants ... at least I hope not. A restaurant should only pay serious attention if there are a lot of negative opinions across most sites. Then they need to sit back and determine if the problem is with them or how they are presenting their food. If they have a unique take on food and people aren't happy about it they should maybe educate their customers rather than dumbing down a menu.

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    I suppose it depends on how restaurant management is using the info it's getting online. I know that many Boston GM types are reading every potential online source of criticism of their places on a daily basis, but that doesn't mean they're modifying their restaurants' core values on the fly. The print and online media is just another source of feedback on how they're doing, input from patrons who leave without airing problems to the manager. You can fix service problems, adjust dishes, reconsider music, etc., without reformulating what the restaurant is all about.

                                                    I suppose if you were a GM who acted on everything he read on Yelp, you'd end up with a restaurant that caters to unworldly college kids and twenty-somethings. I suspect most fine-dining places are smart enough to recognize that's just one demographic of many that you might want to address, but not necessarily build an entire restaurant strategy around.

                                                    In any event, I think the kind of restaurant that spins its compass every time a complaint comes in is destined to fail.

                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                      So funny, this reminds me of a story a cousin just related to me. He and his family went to Italy over spring break this year, and they didn't have a plan for eating, especially since they were visiting several small towns. I asked him what his favorite meal of the trip was, and he proceeded to tell me about a little restaurant in one town where they ate midweek, the place was not terribly busy, and the owner personally came out to present each course, explaining each as best he could with limited English, and providing lots "extras" for the table. Near the very end of the meal, the owner asked if they liked the meal, then said something along the lines of, "If you like, be sure to mention on Trip Advisor"!! My cousin got a big kick out of that. Tiny restaurant in a tiny town, little English spoken, but he knew Trip Advisor!

                                                      BTW, to answer the OP, I use Chowhound and also seek out local customer review sites plus restaurant critics' columns to find good recommendations whenever I'm traveling.

                                            2. In the SF area, I think the best restaurant review site is the archive of Patricia Unterman's Examiner columns. They don't have a search but you can use Google:


                                              1. Regarding sites where users give reviews: one must learn to filter them. Reviews where THEY USE LOTS OF CAPS AND MIPSEL WRODS and use lots of pr*f*n*ty, are probably not ones to give creedence to. If somebody is reviewing dishes that you would like, or writes with a personality similar to yours, you'll likely agree. For example, for myself, when people wax and wane about how inauthentic a restaurant is without addressing how things tasted, I'm guessing they didn't bother thinking about the food after they saw that the hummus was adorned with oil-cured olives rather than kalamata. Also, if there's numerical ratings I generally skip any with the highest or lowest possible rating.

                                                With sites like zagats, you may not always agree, but it's generally consistent, so you have a measuring stick.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: kindofabigdeal

                                                  I think that Yelp is good for a general search but the site has become too much of a social networking site to be taken seriously as a great resource for foodies. Ever notice how almost every place has 3-4 stars? Still it remains as good place to search.

                                                  1. re: kindofabigdeal

                                                    Oh please, please, please re-evalute a restaurant based on hi-lo numerical ratings or stars. Some excellent restaurants go in that territory due to
                                                    - not enough reviews
                                                    - nothing to do with the food
                                                    - how the reviewer rates

                                                    I'll rarely give five stars on Yelp, but that's just me. I feel bad giving a place three stars that has good food, but to me four stars is exceptional. However three stars gets a cooler color. I often see one star reviews on Yelp for the dumbest reasons ... the server was ugly .. there's no parking .. followed by the comment ... 'but the food was amazing' ... and visa versa ... five stars because the owner is a nice guy.

                                                    1. I saw yelp.com coming up a few times, so I checked it out (I live in Atlanta). It's very disapponting. Most of the reviews read like childish babbles. A lot of reviews consist of a one sentence quip! There's probably no moderation whatsoever. :( A five star rating system is in my opinion too crude. too.

                                                      I've read the citysearch reviews also. There seemed to be so few reviews on citysearch, the scoring is oddly calibrated, and when I do see any review, it's also not very helpful (although not as bad as the consistent low quality found on yelp).

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: Dio Seijuro

                                                        I gave up on yelp.com when I read a review in which the reviewer complained that a Vietnamese restaurant was "too Asian" and had "too many Asian people there." Disturbing on so many levels.

                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                          Sorry I just have to say that was too funny...disturbing yes but so funny ;-)

                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                            ccweb - is there any way that was tongue in cheek? Because that sounds like something one of my (Asian) friends would say. And if it wasn't a joke... yeah, that's disturbing.

                                                            1. re: daveena

                                                              Pretty sure it wasn't a joke. I remember re-reading the review several times trying to decide that it wasn't a joke and finally getting my wife to come read it, too. We decidedly, rather reluctantly that it wasn't a joke. Then went to the place that was reviewed because, hey, lots of Asian people in an Asian restaurant is probably a good sign!

                                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                                  Yeah, it was. I've been a few times and I've enjoyed the snacks on offer. Eggettes in Glen Park.

                                                        2. New York magazine has, IMO, the best restaurant reviews (and food section overall) of the mainstream media's online properties. Their reviews tend to be excellent and reliable.


                                                          Also the New Yorker writes nice reviews, but at one per month and not much online presence, I use it more opportunistically; meaning I'll go somewhere that I read about in the New Yorker, but not use it as a resource to read about a place I want to try.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: dhchait

                                                            "The New Yorker" is one of the few magazines we get as a hard copy rather than reading it on-line. There is a restaurant review ("Tables for Two") in just about every isue, not one per month. They appear in a box on one of the pages -- it changes from issue to issue -- in the Goings on About Town section at the front of the magazine. They have rotating reviewers and are very short. Considering this brevity, my problem with them is that too often, the reviewers concentrate too much on peripherals instead of on the food.

                                                            1. re: RGR

                                                              They have a excellent eLetter that you can subscribe to free. Grub Street: http://nymag.com/daily/food/#gs-digest

                                                              and while it's oh-so-NY-centric, it's a great read.

                                                            2. re: dhchait

                                                              I agree on New York Magazine - their food writers are excellent. I rank Adam Platt among the best and the Underground Gourmet writers have also offered some wonderfully well written and insightful reviews.

                                                            3. I start with Chowhound, then check on Zagat and Gayot. Then I further check on Frommers or Fodors. Then I go to the local blogs.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Trixie Too

                                                                I have had good luck with Frommer's; surprisingly good sometimes, particularly in areas OTHER than San Francisco, and outside the US. In a few cases it has helped me find an excellent place that wasn't even mentioned favorably on CH. (at least once in the Middle East, but also in Kona, Hawaii of all places)

                                                                Lonely Planet, OTOH, while an excellent source for other types of travel information, has been dismal for me when looking for restaurants abroad...

                                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                                  Lonely Planet is often terrible in restaurant recommendations. Seems to focus on achieving cheapness and a college student taste, and more than once I've seen they recommend fast food and/or national chain restaurants.

                                                                  1. re: Dio Seijuro

                                                                    But that's exactly the point of Lonely Planet. They're not trying to steer people to the best food in the world, they're trying to give tips on how to go places less expensively and see more of the world. Definitely not the place to look for food recommendations.

                                                                1. re: fatboy44

                                                                  Menupages is great for menus and basic info, but the few reviews seem totally random.

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    That is true but the reviews are written by people that ate at the places I would be interested in. So reviews from them, even though I take some of it with a grain of salt, are to me informative enough to give that place a try or to stay away from it. Zagat's concept has people write in and vote and the rest is all about selling the guide. The problem with Zagat (I find) is that, who's to say the restaurant owners' friends and family weren't the ones behind the reviews / votes. To manipulate ones ranking is all to easy with those publications. That is the reason I would never use Zagat as a guide (few hits but to many misses). Menupages list people's opinions like chowhound does but without the interaction of a discussion board. Of course I do not rely on menupages alone, it is just an additional vehicle to get opinions and at the same time have a complete look at what a restaurants sells.

                                                                    1. re: fatboy44

                                                                      I guess my question would be: how can you whether a random review is trustworthy? If the review is a rave, how do you know the source is not an owner, employee or other friend of the restaurant? If the review is a pan, how do you know the source is not a competitor, disgruntled ex-employee, or raving lunatic? Good or bad, what good is a review from someone whose tastes you know nothing about?

                                                                      I think you're taking a huge gamble in taking reviews from any anonymous or unfamiliar poster at all seriously. I agree that Zagat ratings aren't much use, but I also think most online reviews are similarly untrustworthy.

                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                        I've been thinking about this; and I think it basically comes down to whether what you're reading resonates with you. I look for "reviews" that are somewhat detailed for those details to coincide with things I notice and look for in a restaurant. It doesn't really so much matter which site it is, I'm looking for something that reads as though I might have written it.

                                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                                          That's pretty much how I go about judging a review too. (review a review, that makes me chuckle) It's not about who posted it but how much I agree with the way this person judges food. It needs to be informative, fair, comprehensive, and detailed, preferrably written by someone who has lots of eating out (cooking, even better) experience.

                                                                          At the website level, then, I'm hoping there can be at least some kind of monitoring to filter out obviously silly reviews or suspicious ravings/thrashings. I suppose that'd be too difficult.

                                                                2. In LA I check both LA Times and LA Weekly. I had the most luck with Jonathan Gold's reviews.

                                                                  On the whole though I never find anything really reliable - Chowhound, Gayot, Zagat. Everyone has different tastes, so mainly I am looking for description and pictures of dishes - how they are cooked, freshness of ingredients, etc. Someone's poison can be my paradise, and vice versa.

                                                                  For traveling I had luck with the Great Eats series of book. The restaurants I tried had been solid.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: notmartha

                                                                    Believe it or not, as far as NYC is concerned, I like the Frommer's restaurant picks. For a guide book, they are pretty insightful.

                                                                  2. The only useful place besides Chowhound that I can think of is yelp.com Yelp has been pretty useful in the way that allrecipes.com is useful to me: if enough people say the same thing about a place, I have been able to rely on that information. However, since it skews toward the west coast MySpace generation, I keep that in mind and I mostly use it while in CA to look for cheap and cheerful college town restos, bars, late night joints, fun stuff. Off topic, I found the most amazing thrift store through yelp and for that I am most grateful.

                                                                    While I understand the concept that one good reviewers comments can be more useful than scores of reviews by idiots, I've only found a few reviewers that I like and they don't cover all the restaurants I want to try. This is when I start googling the restaurant and then usually end up at chowhound or yelp.

                                                                    egullet used to be a good supplement to chowhound for my food trips, but boy they have really gone downhill in the last year. The timing coincides with the Chowhound revamp...

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: choctastic

                                                                      The great thing about the west coast MySpace generation is that a lot of them are first-generation Americans who grew up eating food from the countries of their parents' origin... when I read reviews on Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Lao, etc food, I specifically target ones that reference "mom's" and "grandma's" cooking. And - I cringe a little to admit this - but extra credibility points go to ones that are identifiably ESL.

                                                                      1. re: daveena

                                                                        Oh man, you are so right. Those kids may be young but damn they are right on the money a lot of the time, for the reasons you stated. Chalk one up for economic immigration.

                                                                        In general, I think yelp and Chowhound complement each other. The restaurants that get a lot of press from users are different on each site and I like looking at all the different opinions. I'm always fascinated when one site pans a restaurant while another site worships it. One example that comes to mind is Singapore Old Town Cafe in Dublin, CA.

                                                                        1. re: choctastic

                                                                          I'll admit that the posters who reference mom/grandma/etc get extra attention, but MySpace generation?! I'm pretty sure I fall into Daveena's description above, but man it sucks to be lumped into a category defined by MySpace (the devil).

                                                                          1. re: adrienne156

                                                                            What's wrong with Myspace? I wish we had Myspace when I was a kid.

                                                                            I do also like the weeklies (SF Weekly, LA Weekly, OC Weekly, etc) but mostly I just read those when I'm waiting in line for something.

                                                                      2. After reviewing all other choices (some for the second time) I must say, chowhound rules. OK so it is not the straight up review place, but it is still more user friendly, better organized and by far has the best recommendations especially in my area. I liked
                                                                        Yelp, but still no competition. For restaurant reviews just do it the old fashioned way...keep up with your local papers and magazines every month, then try the places and come back and share with us ;-)!

                                                                        1. In the SF bay area I like http://www.jatbar.com/ when I'm looking to eat cheap.

                                                                          1. My answer to such a question has evolved over time along with the Internet itself. 20 years ago the Net (and associated services) had US users numbering in the low hundreds of thousands, far fewer than today, but also with FAR fewer places online to look for information, so those places tended to be lively.

                                                                            In the San Francisco Bay area (with an early concentration of computer-network users) most public online food discussion for 10 years (early 1980s to early 1990s) was on a regional food newsgroup (unmoderated and noncommercial). Its heyday was maybe the early 1990s. (It still exists, but the quality level is nothing like the days of its monopoly.) After browsers appeared in 1993, a dominant Bay Area HTTP-format restaurant-review site operated for a few years, but went elsewhere around the time Chowhound began. (Yelp, by the way, uses the same format as that earlier site, give or take some details.) Now there are multiple large sites and countless personal ones like blogs and Jatbar.

                                                                            When looking for public restaurant advice in unfamiliar cities, I find the most consistent information from local veteran journalistic dining critics. They can offer a consistency that's helpful, even when their tastes aren't mine. Long respected in the Bay Area is Patricia Unterman, whom Robert Lauriston rightly recommended above. (Michael Bauer succeeded her at the SF Chronicle.) Lately silicon valley also has an excellent writer in a freebie paper, Stett Holbrook of the Metro. (Ironically, journalistic regulars are the same sources I used 30 years ago, before all of this computer stuff.)

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: eatzalot

                                                                              so very true. I use to love the reviews in Gourmet Magazine, pre web days.. They always reviewd one on the westcoast and one on the east, mainly New York in every issue.

                                                                            2. www.london-eating.co.uk is very good.
                                                                              I think they've started a NY sister site too.
                                                                              There are some reviews on Tripadvisor as well.

                                                                              1. I don't know how far it has spread, but urbanspoon.com is great here in the NW. It includes the reviews from all local papers (dailies and weeklies) as well as individual reviews and links to food bloggers. Basically all the info you could want with out the work. There was an article recently in the Seattle paper that talked about it spreading, but I can't remember to where.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: dagoose

                                                                                  I like Urban Spoon, too--plenty of restaurants and review, and most of them seem not as deranged as Yelp's.

                                                                                  I only check Yelp if I want to see specific restaurant hours (Urban Spoon only shows breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night). Yelp's reviews are pretty unreliable and often don't mirror my tastes and preferences at all.

                                                                                2. City Search, Yelp and now chowhound- I've used them all.
                                                                                  depends on what i am looking for. and Yelp does post ads

                                                                                  1. I second (or fifty-second) the Yelp recommendation! It allows anyone to review and rate so you can see a whole bunch for each restaurant - and even write some yourself! If you're looking for more "certified" food critics, Zagat Survey is also a great reference.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Chew on That

                                                                                      How are Zagat's reviewers more "certified" - I thought their comments come from the public?

                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                        Zagat has some staff writers but they don't disclose which reviews they write.

                                                                                    2. To consider any site or individual (the Saints Robert L. prays to included) reliable is an leap of faith I'm not willing to make. I like Yelp because of the sheer number of data points and the wide range of perspectives. It always seems like every time a Chowhound "discovers" a new place, five Yelpers have been there already and posted their reactions. RL may find Yelpers "inexperienced and uncritical" but to me that means not jaded and able to approach a new experience with an open mind. Or, in other words, they can't always see the Emperor's New Clothes, poor things! You have to "read" the reviewers on Yelp just as you do here on Chowhound, but the important thing is Yelp gives you a lot of views and the reviewing populace isn't dominated by over-the-hill Yuppies in lockstep, or worse, ornery fossils like me.

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Gary Soup

                                                                                        In the SF area, there are usually a few posts on Yelp before the first one on Chowhound, but since Yelp awards brownie points for being the first to review a place and various other things, you never know whether early posters actually ate there.

                                                                                        1. re: choctastic

                                                                                          The sheer number of reports on Yelp doesn't count for anything since so many of the posters are uncritical or not paying much attention to the food. "LOL strong drinks yeah!"

                                                                                          1. re: Gary Soup

                                                                                            I'm happy to get whatever chowtips I can find, but I'd much rather just go out and eat and try the stuff for myself. Folks come to chowhound to get opinionated chowtips for places to try, not to find authoritative information about what's good or bad. Those using the site in the latter manner aren't using it correctly.

                                                                                            People are welcome to post whatever opinion they want on the food, but no one is forced to eat anything -- everyone should be held accountable for their own eating experience.

                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                              Clearly you're just reading the posts you want to read to bolster your claims. I find plenty of posts that are not of that variety.

                                                                                              1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                I've read reasonable-sounding reviews on Yelp, but they're in the minority. I'd have to skim a lot of often annoying blather in order to figure out which San Francisco-area posters were trustworthy.

                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                  Gary Soup: "It always seems like every time a Chowhound "discovers" a new place, [Yelpers have been there already]." That isn't unique, sometimes I see people on CH "discovering" a place already heavily professionally reviewed and locally famous for years. I also wonder about the comment on Zagat's authority: its whole premise was a vox-populi survey, with unattributed comments by random people of unknown perspective. With Yelp even more so: though it sometimes gives a sense of the restaurant if you read through patiently, the volume of comments I've read there about restaurants that I know, where the comment reflects an eccentric perspective or atypical experience, suggests that for whatever reason, that forum leans toward self-selected opinions of young adults with chips on their shoulders. Even if there are obviously many exceptions. In short I share Gary's problem with online sources as "reliable."

                                                                                        2. For NYC interesting hole-in-the-wall/unusual cuisines/"grandma's cooking: Definitely Sietsema at the Village Voice - and sometimes N. Lalli chimes in - like a July 4th tour last year of Latino street food - yum!

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: fredid

                                                                                            I agree the most perceptive and worthwhile reads often appear in the alternative weeklies, like the work of Sietsema, and J. Gold in LA (we're missing that in SF these days). I don't think that's the point of this thread, though, which is about resources larger than a single individual can generate.

                                                                                          2. The Zagat Discussion Boards have been growing steadily...they are now broken down into different areas of the country if you want to post locally, and I see it as more of an 'adult' place in general...I believe this adds to the usefulness of the Zagat website...Take a run thru. Also follow the New York Times and New York Magazine more or less in my neck of the woods...

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: gutreactions

                                                                                              How funny, how typical.

                                                                                              Yelp is great, I am enjoying it soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much.

                                                                                            2. "It doesn't have to be a site that reviews all restaurants everywhere."

                                                                                              In which case, always my first place to look (as CH doesnt have much in my area):


                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                I've moved on in the last 12 months and, without question in my mind, find that egullet is far and away the most useful site, beating CH on UK restaurants by a country mile.

                                                                                              2. In no particualr order, these are the 25 most active food review sites

                                                                                                1. Zagat.com
                                                                                                2. BooRah.com
                                                                                                3. Yelp.com.com
                                                                                                4. Tripadvisor.com
                                                                                                5. Menuism.com
                                                                                                6. Superpages.com
                                                                                                7. Tupalo.com
                                                                                                8. Foodry.com
                                                                                                9. ChefMoz.com
                                                                                                10. SawyersGuide.com
                                                                                                11. web.UserInstinct.com
                                                                                                12. UrbanSpoon.com
                                                                                                13. Yahoo.com
                                                                                                14. MetroMix.com
                                                                                                15. Chowhound.com
                                                                                                16. RestaurantReportcards.blogspot.com
                                                                                                17. CTNOW.com
                                                                                                18. Fodors.com
                                                                                                19. Dine.com
                                                                                                20. Restaurants.com
                                                                                                21. Gayot.com
                                                                                                22. OpenTable
                                                                                                23. RestReview.com
                                                                                                24. YellowPages.com

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Gourmetguy5757

                                                                                                  Most active according to whose metric of what when?

                                                                                                  Chefmoz.com is inactive, it's just a parked domain.

                                                                                                  I have a hard time believing the Hartford Courant's Web site (ctnow.com) has anywhere near as much food traffic as Chowhouhd.

                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                    Chefmoz.org is the correct adress. However, I don't have any experience with that page. Its somehow related to DMOZ.org which is quite controversal (type 'DMOZ sucks' into google...)

                                                                                                  2. re: Gourmetguy5757

                                                                                                    And most of them no good.

                                                                                                    I find the following annoying ... really, really annoying ... and worthless: BooRah.com. Menuism.com. Superpages.com, web.UserInstinct.com, UrbanSpoon.com, Dine.com, Restaurants.com, YellowPages.com

                                                                                                    For the most part all they do is buy lists of restaurants to populate the databases. They throw on a user review section that is rarely used. The information is often wrong.

                                                                                                    And let me not hold back my wrath for the websites with "menu" in their name where 99.9% of the pages say "No menu for this restaurant yet."

                                                                                                    These are slothful, unreliable sites that just clutter the web with uselesss information that is usually copied from each other.

                                                                                                    I would also question where you are getting your statistics. I know a lot more sites than you mentioned that get more traffic. Maybe you meant Chezmoi.com

                                                                                                  3. Where I live is...the boondocks. And the boondocks applies to lots of places outside of the big cities.
                                                                                                    I've gotten good guidance on chow destinations from a sports forum/board that I frequent. The board is for one particular team, and the participants are spread over much of the eastern USA. (And a few elsewhere.) But for food in obscure towns that most have never heard of out of that state, sports fans travel and they eat and sometimes the food is more memorable than the games.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: bobert1006

                                                                                                        Bobert, I think you mean mouthfulsFOOD.com

                                                                                                        mouthfuls.org is an index for mouthfuls.com which is a sex site...

                                                                                                    1. They are limited to a particular dining establishment type and city respectively, but I think roadfood.com and neworleansmenu.com both are helpful, and well-written by the Sterns and Tom FitzMorris. More than once I have been made extremely happy by my following the advice and recommendations from each of those sites.

                                                                                                      1. I thought the suggestion of a few Hounds to go to Yelp FIRST and do a search of the area and type of food you want and then look them up on Chowhound and go from there was a good one.
                                                                                                        I tried this by entering "Mexican" for 06511, which is downtown New Haven, CT. I got Mexican restaurants all right, but when I selected "most popular", the second listing was a Tea shop/tea retailer! #1 was La Carreta, a small, mostly take-out place where almost without exception they were raving about burritos. Finally, # 3 and #5 are good places and most of the rest I won't eat at again.
                                                                                                        Select #1 reviewed places and you get a vegetarian restaurant at #1! Are most searches this bogus?
                                                                                                        Then I try Thai: Highest rated Thai restaurant is Soul d Cuba. They are not a Thai restaurant, but Cuban/Latin. Go on down the list and the first three are NOT Thai and only about three of the first ten are. Selecting "restaurant and Thai together seems to confuse the program.
                                                                                                        Did you know that Modern Apizza is the highest rated seafood restaurant in New Haven? What a joke!

                                                                                                        While I can muddle through and use it for narrowing down types, locations and names it seems less than perfect at finding them and there are too many five star crap joints. Comments may give you a little information, but I will not be making dining decisions based on ratings.

                                                                                                        1. I would like to report that since my original examination on Yelp 2 years ago, I've grown more familiar with it, joined it, wrote many reviews, and use it frequently now. This after a very negative first impression.

                                                                                                          The one important thing I learned is, it can be very useful if you are able to identify the few trust-worthy reviewers, as the site allows you to "follow" them. The catch is you can't just rely on people's votes on a particular reviews but have to actually read some of their reviews and compare with your own experience. Most of the general rankings are not very useful, and sorting a restaurant's reviews by how well they (the reviews) were received doesn't always work well.

                                                                                                          It is only after you've identified some trust-worthy reviewers and become communicative with them, and through that able to know a few more such reviewers, when you can finally use the site effectively by sorting people whose reviews you trust on top. This is not so useful if you are visiting a new place (since you would not have known who to follow), but very good for trying out a new place in your home city.

                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Dio Seijuro

                                                                                                            And that differs from Chowhound how?

                                                                                                            The same deal here ... identify those with like tastes. You can follow them through your reading list. Since the stuff like star rating is useless and you actually have to read reviews/reports ... what's the diff?

                                                                                                            I realize you feel Chowhound is 'Concierge R Us' rather than a review site, but the newish Restaurant and Bar (aka Places) section is similar to the yelp format, just no star rating ... yet. And if they do add stars, my guess is they won't be any more reliable than any other user-driven rating system. Here's a place record if you haven't looked at one


                                                                                                            What is the advantage of Chowhound is the discussion part. People can't ust drop a review and run. Someone will add a question or identify a shill to the mods to remove. The focus here is on food and not noise and attitude ... yelping.

                                                                                                            You might say that you can follow up through the pm system with trusted posters on yelp. That isn't exactly to your advantage.

                                                                                                            First, it doesn't share info with others, so only a small group gets the scoop. Also ... the real value of Chowhound ... it doesn't open up input to everyone. There are experts outside of your trusted yelp group that will never contribute knowledge outside of your circle.

                                                                                                            I was posting about Laotian restaurants and a poster dropped in on the conversation with so much information that I never would have even be able to articulate or even google.

                                                                                                            That's why you usually get the gringo view on yelp.

                                                                                                            I've seen restaurants trashed on yelp where people just didn't know the culture. Often it is a place where knowledgable Chowhounds have scoped out the good stuff and due to lack of familiarity people don't know what to order so the joint gets a yelp thumbs down because the broccoli beef wasn't the best. That may not be the restaurant's specialty. This happens a lot with Asian restaurants. In fact, a lot of those authentic Laotian places were trashed on yelp.

                                                                                                            I'm still thinking about the vegan who trashed a Brazilian joint ... um, that is not a particularily vegan-friendly cuisine and this person was so incensed they couldn't accomodate him. If a restaurant doesn't carry fake meat or soy cheese ... and 99 percent of the menu are beef and cheese ... well.

                                                                                                            It is not that I dislike yelp. For better or worse if there is no other info on the web about a place, there will be yelp reviews.

                                                                                                            It is just interpreting those reviews that takes effort ... a place with 4-5 stars ... I sort by the lowest rated to see what the faults might be ... and visa versa ...for a hated place, I read the good reviews first. Usually, if a dish gets mentioned over, and over and over as good or bad, you can rely on that. I had some lovely ricotta pancakes that I learned about reading the reviews for a breakfast place on yelp.

                                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                                              Pretty much in agreement with you; I may look at what people on Yelp have to say, yet the interaction here is very important to me. It's is often really nice to have the moderators intervene and take care of impudent and irreverent posters and keep it "about the food".

                                                                                                              For instance,we are in BC, Canada, right now and I did my first saltwater trip in our new boat to Pender Harbour. There is the Garden Bay restaurant (and marina), there, where we had a delightful, yet tediously slow lunch. I heard that the restaurant was for sale and that it had sold not long ago. These background information kind of tidbits are hard to come by on Yelp.
                                                                                                              It really does annoy me that there are those that see Chowhound as "Concierge R Us"; that some want to take and take and not give back. That is not in the spirit of Chowhound. The value of this forum is in the sharing.

                                                                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                I also find it annoying that there are those who only "give back" and never "take." What I mean is that there are those who only give advice and never ask for any. Nobody's THAT knowledgeable.

                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                  How do you know that they didn't just do a search first before asking and found what they needed? They could just be more knowledgable about search tools on the site.

                                                                                                                  1. re: limster

                                                                                                                    I'm talking about those regulars who couldn't possibly know everthing about everything and not everything is here already (confused yet?). Some of the best cooks and dining out-ers also ask for advice. I think there are people here --- as in the rest of the non-CH world --- who don't want to admit they don't know everything. That's all I meant.

                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                      Not saying that "who don't want to admit they don't know everything" don't exist, but that the fraction of those people might be smaller that you first thought. If you judge solely by whether people give or receive advice, you might be misjudging a significant number of people.

                                                                                                                      And then there is the other category, some of whom are chowhounds that I really admire, that just go off in search of the chow that they want. Chowhounding is about treasure hunting, about filling in the gaps in our knowledge, and there are many hounds who actively do that. They don't ask not because they don't want to admit their ignorance, but in that they revel in what they don't know, and because they enjoy the thrill of discovery, which also gives all of us an unbiased viewpoint.

                                                                                                                      Once again, not saying the category of those who "don't want to admit they don't know everything" don't exist (they certainly do!), but that inferring that from what people post or not post is not a reliable process -- this is afterall a very limited medium, and I've been very surprised at how people are very often different from their online persona once I meet them at a chowdown.

                                                                                                                      1. re: limster

                                                                                                                        Good points.

                                                                                                                        I ask for more advice on Home Cooking than elsewhere. For restaurants, I read alot and ask some questions but when I comes right down to dining, it's frequently the place we're walking by that has the right vibe, interesting menu, etc. We may have a few more duds than those who take the safe way, but it suits us.

                                                                                                              2. re: rworange

                                                                                                                What she said.

                                                                                                                Yelp seems to have a significant number of truly clueless posts. My favorites include a harsh review of a traditional (and outstanding) Edo-mae sushi place because the server "did not know anything about the rolls we asked about," a complaint that the staff at a Vietnamese place in Little Saigon "rudely spoke to each other in their own language," and a review of a pizza place that may have mentioned the pizza in passing but spent most of its prose discussing how fat a couple of the other customers were.

                                                                                                                Chowhound provides an opportunity to learn about a dish, or a restaurant, or a cuisine. The give-and-take of a discussion forum just leads to better information than one-off reviews from random people who may or may not have a clue.

                                                                                                            2. While the beow is technically a review site either, it helped alot when we were in NYC recently and covers other cities also:


                                                                                                              1. I live in the Washington, DC, area and rely on the reader reviews from donrockwell.com. They also have an "Intrepid Traveler" section containing reviews of restaurants elsewhere. It's an excellent site.

                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: lscanlon

                                                                                                                  +1, lscanlon. I live in Washington DC too, and reviews on donrockwell.com rock! I'm rather new to the site (so new that I've been nicknamed a "shrimp" in the hierarchy of things-LOL); thus far I've found the info to be reliable and helpful. I also like the "Intrepid Traveler" section. Another site I like is TripAdvisor.com

                                                                                                                  Am not a fan of Yelp.com, which suffers from a serious lack of quality control and professionalism although there are a few individual reviewers whose opinions I trust. Too bad about Yelp. The original concept was great, but its execution is very poor and disappointing.

                                                                                                                  P.S. To the OP: Dio, you ask some great questions on the threads. :)

                                                                                                                  1. re: Gigi007

                                                                                                                    Rockwell is an excellent site and has pretty much taken over the food board culture in the DC area.

                                                                                                                    You are the first person I have noticed who has mentioned TripAdvisor on this thread, (but I probably missed some since I just now scanned the whole thing). Anyway, they are sometimes useful but too many of the higher ranked places are places like Cheesecake Factory and PF Changs, since the folks who add reviews really aren't very food-oriented.

                                                                                                                    Yelp can be useful but has to be taken with a grain of salt. Fortunately I find it is usually possible to spot the reviews to ignore fairly easily---many of the examples cited above exemplify what I'm talking about. The thing I really like about Yelp, and I wish Chowhound had some version of, is the ease with which you can focus on a specific area and quickly see what might be worth checking out, based on the way they list restaurants. I only use it on my iPhone, and it's very easy, when in a new place, to see what's around. I was once hungry while stopped at a stoplight in Coral Gables, where I had never been before, whipped out the phone, got to Yelp, and found a great dim sum place less than a mile away. Press a button and you have a map showing you how to get there from wherever you are. All while stopped at a stoplight. Also address, phone number etc if you need it. Call them with a single tap if you want to. That's how to make good use of IT. Moderators, hear my prayer!

                                                                                                                    1. re: johnb

                                                                                                                      johnb, actually a couple of other posters earlier in the thread also mentioned TripAdvisor. I don't go by their rankings. I look more at individual contributors' postings.

                                                                                                                      I get where you're coming from on the Yelp app and the ease of accessing information. Still, with the exception of certain individual reviewers, I've found Yelp to be far less reliable and useful than reviews and comments on Donrockwell.com and here on Chowhound. I also don't care for some of its business practices.

                                                                                                                      1. re: johnb

                                                                                                                        Not on this thread, but elsewhere, I have suggested that Chowhound have cross referencing and better searching capabilities, like YELP. More easily used features somewhat like the "link to a place". Perhaps you could just enter a zip code that could tie areas together during a search.
                                                                                                                        Being able to link to a place is helpful if it is an area where you can do that and work backwards. That's not really the case with places. For example, if you go to 'Manhattan" and pick Caruso's you don't get to any posts about it. You don't get any more info than you could get on Google with the same amount of effort.
                                                                                                                        It's also a PIA to stop and create a new place and fill out the info, for what little good it does.
                                                                                                                        If the internal search function was better and tied to types of food, more exact locations, "a review", etc. I wouldn't mind all the pop-up ads in the world...

                                                                                                                        I just recently noticed that eGullet reworked their format, but I haven't really investigated it yet to see what is different.

                                                                                                                  2. Urban Spoon seems pretty good for CT... but nothing rivals the thread of conversation of ChowHOUND... the hundreds of responses created by ..oh... lets see.. Bedford Post... could only happen on Chow.. the insults, the anger, the utter DRAMA... of trashing Richard Gere more or less personally, without the benefit of any of the posters actually tasting the food he and Carry have worked so hard to create was pretty much the best and the WORST of what the internet presently has to offer.

                                                                                                                    1. Has anybody tried the new Yahoo Sketch-a-Search app? If so, how well does it work? I've downloaded it, but haven't yet been anyplace where testing it would be feasible.

                                                                                                                      1. I too love Chowhound and read it deeply for my favored towns, but to decide to eat at a restaurant for the first time, I usually hit ALL the review sites, esp. Tripadvisor, but also Yelp and others. Google maps really helps in this regard, not for their own reviews(mostly lame) but because it takes you to the right spot in Tripadvisor and Yelp and combines the reviews. Reading reviews is an art! I read the worst ones first, then the best. I like that Tripadvisor has a helpfulness indicator. That said, you've got to admit that if you take reviews to heart you'd probably skip your favorite restaurants. We try to give anything halfway appetising a try!

                                                                                                                        1. chowhound is best i tried all others

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: terrynuz

                                                                                                                            No doubt, chowhounders have very meaningful reviews. I also like to rely on Urbanspoon and Trip Advisor.

                                                                                                                            1. re: GIOny

                                                                                                                              Whilst I don't discount TripAdvisor when there is nothing else available, it's not a site I would rely on for accurate reviews of restaurants. Many of the contributors seem to have the same level of knowledge and interest in food as I have of astro-physics.

                                                                                                                            2. re: terrynuz

                                                                                                                              I feel much the same as when responding here five and a half years ago.

                                                                                                                              Limitations of Yelp and other such "aggregating" sites aren't so much specific to the site as inherent in that class of survey. Statistics they produce reflect an arbitrary, self-selected set of respondents typically (1) unable to compare alternative businesses even from their personal perspective (whatever it is) because they haven't experienced the alternatives; (2) who often experienced just once, at most, the restaurant from which they then report whatever casual impressions it made (innocent of any sense of obectivity, basic fact-checking, etc.); (3) sometimes "problem" customers themselves, sounding off about a situation they actually created; or, embittered ex-employees, discharged for excellent cause (I know cases) or even workers at competitors urged by managers to badmouth competition (ditto). It is easy enough to read comments on restaurants you know thoroughly, and see the volume of low-quality "reviews" diluting conscientious ones in the statistics.

                                                                                                                              That all refers to the statistics. It is possible though to read selectively, locate informed reliable regular contributors, even follow them. In this practice, the old tradition of the known consistent voice shows itself again, surfacing as a priniciple that transcends changing media.

                                                                                                                              A structural difference between Chowhound and Yelp is that CH promotes direct discussion among contributors. That makes it easier to testify when, and WHY, someone knows what they are talking about, or someone who doesn't.

                                                                                                                            3. In the DC area, you can't beat donrockwell.com for knowledgeable, informative reviews. In fact, I'm often intimated to post reviews there because I feel like my reviews are at the 101 level while many of the posters are at masters or PhD levels!

                                                                                                                              On a semi related note, it's been over 5 years since this thread started and I wonder if people have soured on yelp at all? I was using it a lot about a year ago when we were remodeling our kitchen and yelp had about a 100% record of letting me down. My other take away from yelp is that every single restaurant serves the "greatest xxxx I've ever eaten". Of course, inevitably, a few reviews later you'll see, "that was the worst xxxx I've ever eaten"

                                                                                                                              1. Rehashing this thread. Came across this article today in SF Gate: http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: shellshock24

                                                                                                                                  An old restaurant of historic significance near 14th and Mission?

                                                                                                                                  Chowhound has a similar rule against comments regarding alleged health code violations.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                    Only place I can think of is Woodward Garden

                                                                                                                                    1. re: shellshock24

                                                                                                                                      I guess if you confused the restaurant with its namesake you might think it was of historic significance.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: shellshock24

                                                                                                                                    Thanks for posting, shellshock. I was interested to note an automated review "filter" by OpenTable to screen reviews with potential health/safety allegations, which as the OT manager pointed out, raise a factual-accuracy issue and if inaccurate, can be defamatory.

                                                                                                                                    It contrasts dramatically with my experience of Yelp. Some time back, a popular neighborhood cafe that I know very well acquired a frivolous Yelp review speculating -- speculating! -- on rodent infestation in the kitchen, which besides being wrong, offended the small place's conscientious owner.

                                                                                                                                    He contacted Yelp, which (he told me) sent a long questionnaire. After he submitted it, Yelp in response offered to sell him advertising. He was not interested in (anyone's) advertising, just the removal of the scurrilous post. Nor in the suggestion made to him (he said) that buying advertising would assist with his issue.

                                                                                                                                    Despite the offended owner's complaint (and questionnaire), the "rodent" review remained public for a couple of years before Yelp eventually removed it. (I saved it, along with other memorable cases, like the person who avowedly "rated" a restaurant she hadn't tried, and was soon rewarded with "elite" status -- apropos of Bauer's early remark in the article linked above.)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                      Yelp seems to have gotten better about removing "reviews" posted before restaurants open to the public.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                        Good point, though I was not referring to any of those cases. The one soon-to-be "elite" Yelper posted comments and a numerical rating ("that I would have given had I actually eaten there" or some such remark) for an operating restaurant she admitted not trying.

                                                                                                                                  3. Yelp is great as long as the place has enough reviews where you can filter out the super kiss ass/super lowball reviews and get a general consensus on the place and what the good dishes are.

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                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bunson

                                                                                                                                      Agree. I think Yelp is the best tool. You just need to know how to use it.