how do you research?
what resources do you draw upon to determine how to spend your dining dollars?
I check out Washingtonian, Tyler Cowen, Washington Post, Zagat and Chowhound. Is there a DC resource that I'm not taking into consideration?
and sometimes just take a chance and a dive.
it's called living off the land (urban-style).
seriously, if all those together don't give you an idea (and I'd discount about half of the "reader reviews" unless they're recent and not over-cranky) well...
I like Cowen's comprehensiveness, but he lacks taste, so his contribution is as valuable as the Yellow Pages.
I'll add Yelp to your list. A lot of the reviews are bandwagon jumping, but some are critical, eg reviews for Kopitam.