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Oct 21, 2013 04:58 PM

A good online Toronto food guide?

Hi - I'm wondering what online tools people use in Toronto to find restaurants. Obviously chowhound! But thinking of one that is more search oriented and less discussion-based with good search narrowing tools (location, price, quality) and mapping functions. Toronto Life and BlogTO have approximations but I don't find either of them very useful or user-friendly. And there is a particular dearth for mobile applications. Does anyone have any better ideas?

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  1. Yelp??!! Pretty comprehensive but I find some of the reviews questionable and their contributors less seasoned and knowledgeable than us chowhounders

    7 Replies
      1. re: Charles Yu

        i have an obvious bias to yelp :P but if you look at the top restos regarless of location or cuisine, the list is actually pretty good. (barring a few exceptions).

        we used to hold top spot on tripadvisor, but i never felt it a good list. in fact i knew some restos that bought positive reviews by offering patrons freebies if they did, and those restos moved up the rankings quickly...undeserved.

        urban spoon appears to be more based on shear volume of reviews. not sure i understand their list, but its not particularly in line with CH.

        those are the big 3, google reviews (zagat) dont seem to be used enough in toronto yet.

        - khao san road

        1. re: KhaoSanRoad

          I wouldn't worry about trip advisor. Especially when a mere google search on "khao San Road" brings up the restaurant in Toronto before the area in Thailand.

          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

            That's because you're searching from Toronto.
            Google knows where you are and what you're doing.

            1. re: estufarian

              ssshhhhh! ....they are listening right now.

              its sad but true, even yelp is hard to get a straight answer out of. many ppl have location setting activated and only see restaurants near them.

              - khao san road

          2. re: Charles Yu

            IMO yelp cannot be trusted. If you travel somewhere and use yelp top 10 you will end up at a lot of tourist traps. Maybe because its the most popular review site, but you also get inexperienced diners reviewing good restaurants who knock off marks for things for ridiculous stuff. I've seen a lot of good restaurants with bad yelp reviews always complaining about too expensive (when it isn't), or no free refills with soda!

          3. When traveling I use CH and Urbanspoon (and cross reference with Yelp) to find good restaurants at all price points. It's also categorized by type of food and into neighborhoods. If a place is scoring 80% plus with 100+ votes you are looking at something with potential. Usually has photos of the restaurant and food.

            Just did this successfully for an upcoming road trip to Tampa Bay (GO Bills!). Works great for any NA city including Toronto. They have a mobile version.

            BTW is worth a look if traveling in the US.

            2 Replies
            1. re: PoppiYYZ

              thats a good point about urbanspoon. it seems more a place to either "like" or "dislike" so one can get a bit bigger picture of overall approval. where as yelp is used by some to be critics of everything or one-off rants.

              i think claiming success of an upcoming trip is a bit "mission accomplished" :P

              - khao san road

              1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                Mission Accomplished. Crappy game, awesome weather, amazing weekend in St Petes !! Really only one dud out out of the whole "To Do" list. Found a few more talking to locals, of course.

                I've always loved Urbanspoon, but it seems to be losing out to Yelp in popularity.

                BTW, whichever source you are using to find good tips, put more trust in regular contributors and basically disregard any comments from one time reviewers.

              1. re: catherine88

                Its good for mid to high end western style dining but almost nothing for casual/cheap eats not to mention almost totally lacking the entire Asian Spectrum!

              2. YellowPages proximity search and my memory. With YP it's far easier to find a place near your coordinates than any other engine. With memory, you can correlate all reviews you've read over time. If a place doesn't click in your head, there's probably a reason.

                Yelp and Urbanspoon will, an astonishing number of times, give you reviews of one place that are diametrically opposed. This renders both sites useless as far as I'm concerned. With TripAdvisor, you may as well be taking advice from your grandma. Always out of date.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Googs

                  'Yelp and Urbanspoon will, an astonishing number of times, give you reviews of one place that are diametrically opposed'

                  Totally agree!!!!.

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    True Charles,

                    Conflicting places should be looked upon with a little suspicion, but that doesn't mean they should be discarded immediately.

                    However, when US, CH, and Yelp somewhat line up you MAY be onto something really special. A look at photos and a read of reviews (especially the negative ones, instantly omitting ones written by one time reviewers) also sheds important light. Finally a walk by the potential place(s) selected for a gut feel when possible.

                    Works maybe only 2/3s of the time, but yields many many special finds even when visiting a city for the first time.

                  2. re: Googs

                    Is GoogsMemory available on Google Play yet? Or can you only get it on iOS?

                    1. re: Wahooty

                      LOL. No seriously, it works. You have to trust your memory and your gut sometimes. Beats the heck out of spending your life staring at a screen.

                  3. I use pretty well all the sources mentioned such as Urbanspoon, Yelp, CH, Open Table, TripAdvisor, etc., for customer reviews and also professional reviews such as major newspapers or other periodicals.

                    As others have already indicated, some (or many) reviews may be biased or blatant shilling. However, I don't look at any review in isolation and don't discount websites simply because they may suspect. Bad data, if you decipher them, is better than no data.

                    It wasn't long ago before the Internet world that it's not easy to find information other than the general media. Now we have a plethora of them and I consider all information with a skeptical eye and verify by looking for trends and consistencies, especially negative reviews, and it has worked well for me.