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Most Reliable Restaurant Review Site Outside of Chowhound?

Dio Seijuro May 11, 2007 02:38 PM

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. PeterL RE: Dio Seijuro May 11, 2007 02:42 PM

    Reliable how?

    Try Yelp.

    10 Replies
    1. re: PeterL
      Carrie 218 RE: PeterL May 11, 2007 02:42 PM

      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
        Dio Seijuro RE: PeterL May 11, 2007 02:59 PM

        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
          sasabean RE: PeterL Jun 19, 2007 05:10 PM

          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
            ccbweb RE: sasabean Jun 19, 2007 11:45 PM

            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
              dolores RE: sasabean Jun 2, 2008 06:29 AM

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

              1. re: sasabean
                pikawicca RE: sasabean Jun 16, 2009 02:22 PM

                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
                  Pete Oldtown RE: pikawicca Jun 18, 2009 09:43 PM

                  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
                Sal Vanilla RE: PeterL Jun 16, 2009 02:22 PM

                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
                  globalevent RE: PeterL May 26, 2010 04:50 PM

                  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
                    drongo RE: PeterL Jun 4, 2013 04:04 PM

                    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. ccbweb RE: Dio Seijuro May 11, 2007 02:43 PM

                    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. Robert Lauriston RE: Dio Seijuro May 11, 2007 02:58 PM

                      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
                        Dio Seijuro RE: Robert Lauriston May 11, 2007 03:03 PM

                        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
                          whs RE: Dio Seijuro May 11, 2007 03:13 PM

                          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
                            Scargod RE: whs Jul 12, 2009 01:45 PM

                            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
                            Robert Lauriston RE: Dio Seijuro May 12, 2007 09:32 AM

                            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
                            ccbweb RE: Robert Lauriston May 11, 2007 03:15 PM

                            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
                              Robert Lauriston RE: ccbweb May 12, 2007 09:33 AM

                              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
                                ccbweb RE: Robert Lauriston May 12, 2007 08:37 PM

                                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
                                  alkonost RE: Robert Lauriston Jan 2, 2013 10:36 PM

                                  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
                                Eldon Kreider RE: Robert Lauriston May 11, 2007 08:40 PM

                                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
                                  wak RE: Eldon Kreider May 12, 2007 08:24 PM

                                  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
                                    The Dairy Queen RE: wak Jun 22, 2007 02:33 PM

                                    You can post photos on Chowhound, too.


                                    1. re: wak
                                      Pete Oldtown RE: wak Jun 18, 2009 09:59 PM

                                      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. s
                                  slacker RE: Dio Seijuro May 11, 2007 03:10 PM

                                  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
                                    MC Slim JB RE: slacker May 11, 2007 03:37 PM

                                    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
                                      hotoynoodle RE: MC Slim JB May 12, 2007 08:32 AM

                                      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
                                        rworange RE: slacker May 14, 2007 02:16 PM

                                        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
                                          Missus H RE: rworange Sep 8, 2007 12:36 PM

                                          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
                                            alkonost RE: rworange Jan 2, 2013 10:48 PM

                                            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
                                            alkonost RE: MC Slim JB Jan 2, 2013 10:33 PM

                                            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. eateryrow RE: Dio Seijuro May 11, 2007 03:20 PM

                                          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. pikawicca RE: Dio Seijuro May 11, 2007 03:22 PM

                                            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
                                              honkman RE: pikawicca May 11, 2007 03:29 PM

                                              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
                                                MC Slim JB RE: honkman May 12, 2007 08:13 AM

                                                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
                                                  rworange RE: MC Slim JB May 14, 2007 02:22 PM

                                                  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
                                                    MC Slim JB RE: rworange May 15, 2007 06:40 AM

                                                    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
                                                      lisavf RE: MC Slim JB Jun 2, 2008 10:13 AM

                                                      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. Robert Lauriston RE: Dio Seijuro May 12, 2007 09:38 AM

                                              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. k
                                                kindofabigdeal RE: Dio Seijuro May 12, 2007 11:58 AM

                                                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
                                                  Mr_J RE: kindofabigdeal May 12, 2007 12:09 PM

                                                  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
                                                    rworange RE: kindofabigdeal May 14, 2007 02:29 PM

                                                    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.

                                                  2. c
                                                    chrystaldawn RE: Dio Seijuro May 12, 2007 11:56 PM

                                                    I think yelp.com.

                                                    1. Dio Seijuro RE: Dio Seijuro May 13, 2007 01:30 AM

                                                      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
                                                        ccbweb RE: Dio Seijuro May 13, 2007 12:48 PM

                                                        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
                                                          yomyb RE: ccbweb Jun 19, 2007 05:27 PM

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

                                                          1. re: ccbweb
                                                            daveena RE: ccbweb Jun 19, 2007 06:29 PM

                                                            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
                                                              ccbweb RE: daveena Jun 19, 2007 11:49 PM

                                                              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: ccbweb
                                                                susancinsf RE: ccbweb Aug 24, 2007 12:54 PM

                                                                Was it good?

                                                                1. re: susancinsf
                                                                  ccbweb RE: susancinsf Sep 2, 2007 09:50 AM

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

                                                        2. d
                                                          dhchait RE: Dio Seijuro May 13, 2007 12:52 PM

                                                          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
                                                            RGR RE: dhchait May 13, 2007 01:28 PM

                                                            "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
                                                              fullbelly RE: RGR May 14, 2007 04:56 PM

                                                              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
                                                              laylag RE: dhchait May 14, 2007 05:55 PM

                                                              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. Trixie Too RE: Dio Seijuro May 14, 2007 09:58 AM

                                                              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
                                                                susancinsf RE: Trixie Too Aug 24, 2007 12:57 PM

                                                                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
                                                                  Dio Seijuro RE: susancinsf Aug 27, 2007 12:59 PM

                                                                  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
                                                                    ccbweb RE: Dio Seijuro Sep 2, 2007 09:51 AM

                                                                    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.

                                                              2. f
                                                                fatboy44 RE: Dio Seijuro May 16, 2007 07:58 AM

                                                                A very good website is http://www.menupages.com.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: fatboy44
                                                                  Robert Lauriston RE: fatboy44 May 16, 2007 08:56 AM

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

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                    fatboy44 RE: Robert Lauriston May 16, 2007 09:53 AM

                                                                    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
                                                                      MC Slim JB RE: fatboy44 May 16, 2007 11:11 AM

                                                                      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
                                                                        ccbweb RE: MC Slim JB May 16, 2007 11:21 AM

                                                                        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
                                                                          Dio Seijuro RE: ccbweb May 16, 2007 12:35 PM

                                                                          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. notmartha RE: Dio Seijuro May 17, 2007 02:03 PM

                                                                  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
                                                                    BronxBoy RE: notmartha May 17, 2007 03:57 PM

                                                                    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. choctastic RE: Dio Seijuro May 18, 2007 04:40 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                      daveena RE: choctastic Jun 19, 2007 06:33 PM

                                                                      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
                                                                        choctastic RE: daveena Jun 20, 2007 02:20 PM

                                                                        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
                                                                          adrienne156 RE: choctastic Jun 22, 2007 02:20 PM

                                                                          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
                                                                            choctastic RE: adrienne156 Jun 25, 2007 07:51 PM

                                                                            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.

                                                                            1. re: choctastic
                                                                              adrienne156 RE: choctastic Jun 25, 2007 09:18 PM

                                                                              It's the devil.

                                                                              1. re: adrienne156
                                                                                choctastic RE: adrienne156 Jun 25, 2007 11:07 PM

                                                                                LOL. point taken.

                                                                              2. re: choctastic
                                                                                kindofabigdeal RE: choctastic Jun 26, 2007 05:31 AM

                                                                                weeklies are great for solo lunches.

                                                                      2. yomyb RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 19, 2007 06:21 PM

                                                                        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. thirtyeyes RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 20, 2007 12:09 AM

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

                                                                          1. eatzalot RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 22, 2007 01:54 AM

                                                                            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
                                                                              Lori SF RE: eatzalot Jun 24, 2007 09:04 AM

                                                                              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. loisstella RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 22, 2007 03:30 AM

                                                                              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. dagoose RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 22, 2007 01:23 PM

                                                                                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
                                                                                  MsMaryMc RE: dagoose Jan 6, 2013 05:40 PM

                                                                                  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. p
                                                                                  Pancee RE: Dio Seijuro Aug 24, 2007 12:25 PM

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

                                                                                  1. Chew on That RE: Dio Seijuro Aug 28, 2007 04:10 PM

                                                                                    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
                                                                                      MMRuth RE: Chew on That Aug 28, 2007 04:19 PM

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

                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                        Robert Lauriston RE: MMRuth Sep 2, 2007 09:40 AM

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

                                                                                    2. Gary Soup RE: Dio Seijuro Aug 28, 2007 04:37 PM

                                                                                      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
                                                                                        Robert Lauriston RE: Gary Soup Sep 2, 2007 09:42 AM

                                                                                        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
                                                                                          Robert Lauriston RE: choctastic Sep 3, 2007 09:04 AM

                                                                                          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
                                                                                            limster RE: Gary Soup Sep 3, 2007 10:07 AM

                                                                                            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
                                                                                              choctastic RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 3, 2007 05:12 PM

                                                                                              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
                                                                                                Robert Lauriston RE: choctastic Sep 4, 2007 08:40 AM

                                                                                                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
                                                                                                  eatzalot RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 5, 2007 01:30 PM

                                                                                                  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. f
                                                                                          fredid RE: Dio Seijuro Sep 2, 2007 07:12 AM

                                                                                          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
                                                                                            Gary Soup RE: fredid Sep 2, 2007 08:05 AM

                                                                                            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. g
                                                                                            gutreactions RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 2, 2008 05:35 AM

                                                                                            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
                                                                                              dolores RE: gutreactions Jun 2, 2008 06:28 AM

                                                                                              How funny, how typical.

                                                                                              Yelp is great, I am enjoying it soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much.

                                                                                            2. h
                                                                                              Harters RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 2, 2008 09:15 AM

                                                                                              "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
                                                                                                Harters RE: Harters Jun 17, 2009 02:25 PM

                                                                                                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. g
                                                                                                Gourmetguy5757 RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 16, 2009 12:47 PM

                                                                                                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
                                                                                                  Robert Lauriston RE: Gourmetguy5757 Jun 16, 2009 01:49 PM

                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                    venicem RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 29, 2009 03:14 AM

                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                    rworange RE: Gourmetguy5757 Jun 16, 2009 02:49 PM

                                                                                                    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. s
                                                                                                    shallots RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 17, 2009 08:07 AM

                                                                                                    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: shallots
                                                                                                      bobert1006 RE: shallots Jun 17, 2009 10:03 AM


                                                                                                      1. re: bobert1006
                                                                                                        Carrie 218 RE: bobert1006 Jun 18, 2009 05:58 PM

                                                                                                        Bobert, I think you mean mouthfulsFOOD.com

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

                                                                                                    2. m
                                                                                                      Mister F. RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 21, 2009 06:48 PM

                                                                                                      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. Scargod RE: Dio Seijuro Jul 12, 2009 02:19 PM

                                                                                                        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. Dio Seijuro RE: Dio Seijuro Jul 29, 2009 11:54 AM

                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                            rworange RE: Dio Seijuro Jul 29, 2009 03:02 PM

                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                              Scargod RE: rworange Aug 1, 2009 10:57 AM

                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                c oliver RE: Scargod Aug 2, 2009 08:12 AM

                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                  limster RE: c oliver Aug 2, 2009 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                    c oliver RE: limster Aug 2, 2009 02:27 PM

                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                      limster RE: c oliver Aug 2, 2009 03:54 PM

                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                        c oliver RE: limster Aug 2, 2009 04:00 PM

                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                alanbarnes RE: rworange Aug 1, 2009 12:06 PM

                                                                                                                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. c oliver RE: Dio Seijuro Aug 2, 2009 04:04 PM

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


                                                                                                              1. l
                                                                                                                lscanlon RE: Dio Seijuro Aug 29, 2009 07:56 AM

                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                  Gigi007 RE: lscanlon Sep 13, 2009 06:41 PM

                                                                                                                  +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
                                                                                                                    johnb RE: Gigi007 Sep 13, 2009 07:26 PM

                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                      Gigi007 RE: johnb Sep 13, 2009 07:33 PM

                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                        Scargod RE: johnb Sep 14, 2009 08:18 AM

                                                                                                                        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. g
                                                                                                                    Gourmetguy5757 RE: Dio Seijuro Mar 28, 2010 07:27 PM

                                                                                                                    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. johnb RE: Dio Seijuro Mar 29, 2010 06:27 PM

                                                                                                                      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. a
                                                                                                                        Anniebird RE: Dio Seijuro May 28, 2012 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                        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. t
                                                                                                                          terrynuz RE: Dio Seijuro Jan 2, 2013 01:52 AM

                                                                                                                          chowhound is best i tried all others

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: terrynuz
                                                                                                                            GIOny RE: terrynuz Jan 4, 2013 07:46 AM

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

                                                                                                                            1. re: GIOny
                                                                                                                              Harters RE: GIOny Jan 4, 2013 07:50 AM

                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                              eatzalot RE: terrynuz Jan 4, 2013 05:44 PM

                                                                                                                              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. b
                                                                                                                              Bart Hound RE: Dio Seijuro Jan 7, 2013 03:07 AM

                                                                                                                              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. shellshock24 RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 4, 2013 08:54 AM

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

                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: shellshock24
                                                                                                                                  Robert Lauriston RE: shellshock24 Jun 4, 2013 09:05 AM

                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                    shellshock24 RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 4, 2013 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                    Only place I can think of is Woodward Garden

                                                                                                                                    1. re: shellshock24
                                                                                                                                      Robert Lauriston RE: shellshock24 Jun 4, 2013 10:33 AM

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

                                                                                                                                  2. re: shellshock24
                                                                                                                                    eatzalot RE: shellshock24 Jun 4, 2013 12:38 PM

                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                      Robert Lauriston RE: eatzalot Jun 4, 2013 01:03 PM

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

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                                                                                                        eatzalot RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 4, 2013 01:36 PM

                                                                                                                                        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. b
                                                                                                                                    Bunson RE: Dio Seijuro Jun 4, 2013 01:13 PM

                                                                                                                                    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.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bunson
                                                                                                                                      pley RE: Bunson Jun 5, 2013 01:54 PM

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

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