Yelping for many is becoming a social media popularity contest involving hundreds of friends thousands of photos and more information then you could ever possibly use or even look at.
There are some exceptional yelp writers and foodie’s out there but you must seek them out and make them a part of your universe. Here are some tips to cut through “mass and find the class.”
Try to choose yelp elites as your friends.
Elites tend to be dedicated foodie’s who can be passionate about their experiences. Keep these friends to a small circle,20 or 30 will do. The famous central hypothesis theorem which you may remember from your statistics courses (doesn’t everyone take statistics) implies that the information you’re going to get from a ton of yelpers is going to be quite average. So to find the best places; rely on a smaller group of friends whose reviews you enjoy and who you think may have similar tastes and interests to yours.
Search the Top 10 or 20 first.
Most four and five-star listings are pretty average so here are some things to look for to find the best among the best. Search the top 10 or 20 restaurants and you will get a list of those closest to your location. If you are in a major city you can search the top 10 or 20 by the specific area of the city i.e NYC Chelsea, Williamsburg etc. Once you have found the “tops” look out for how long the restaurant has been around; if for a few years or more,look for a large number of reviews. This number may vary by the population of the area that you are looking at. Say in a big city 50-100, and a major city 100 or more. If a restaurant is new,be very careful about the preliminary reviews as there is always a bit of hot restaurant opening bias and the reviews may not be anywhere as good as the reality. This is just human nature.
Don’t summarily dismiss places with three star review ‘averages’.
Using your group of trusted friends see if they like a place more than its three star average. Negative reviews of 3 stars or less bring down the posted star average. Cancel some of them out because the diner experienced a one-off or miscue, the restaurant was just having bad night, or many yelpers they are just too hypercritical whiny and demanding. Do this and you may find that many 3 star places worthy of your patronage.
Look at the pictures.
Ok food porn does have a purpose beyond “what I ate and where I ate it”. If the plates look great,both from yelper photos and the restaurant’s web site, they probably are great. It’s not always about art on the plate,but,a consistent display of artistic and appetizing plates can be great indicator of a restaurant’s potential. BTW Yelp is starting to use artificial intelligence to analyse all of those pictures to help suggest places that you might like.
More to come