Ask the foodies where the best place to eat in America is, and they’ll probably give you answers like Masa in New York, the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, Alinea in Chicago, or some fancy-pants, Michelin-starred joint.
But if you ask the people who use Yelp – well, let’s just say you’re going to get a different answer.
This was proven recently as the popular online review site and restaurant ratings aggregator released its first-ever list of the Top 100 Places to Eat in the US. The surprise winner at the top of Yelp’s list: a little shack in a condominium complex in Hawaii called Da Poke Shack, a seafood restaurant praised and considered a must-try by Yelp-using diners for its epic poke.
Okay, so fabled places like Alinea and Le Bernardin did make the list, as did several other Michelin-starred restaurants. But what makes Yelp’s collection special is that it also includes joints that are known as much for their value for money and off-the-beaten track charm as for their gastronomic delights and foodie-worthy business reputation: for example, the humble Sweet Potato Stall in Santa Clara and Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs in Denver. So really the list is marked not necessarily by its fanciness or sophistication, but rather by the diversity of cuisines and places to eat in America.
How did Yelp come up with this? You’ll be glad to know this wasn’t a product of arbitrary opinions by professional food critics and experts. Instead the list was opinion of individual consumers who have used the site to share their culinary experiences. Yelp then began digging into their wealth of data – online restaurant reviews and star-based ratings, as generated by Yelpers – then they let data engineers do their magic.
Explained Hannah Cheesman, Yelp communications executive: “(We) used a technique based on the Wilson Score to compile a list of highly rated places to eat. This method takes into account both star rating and number of reviews to reveal which spots not only have top notch ratings, but also which are most popular in the Yelp community.”
The ratings are still highly subjective, but at least you get to see more of the fascinating American food landscape, where critically acclaimed restaurants are side by side with less-pricey eats, local favorites, and out-of-the-way, hole-in-the-wall places.
Here are the joints that made it to Yelp’s top ten list:
- Da Poke Shack, Kailua-Kona, HI
- Paseo, Seattle, WA
- Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue, Kansas City, KS
- The Cinnamon Snail, New York, NY
- Porto’s Bakery, Burbank, CA
- Dametra Cafe, Carmel by the Sea, CA
- Alinea, Chicago, IL
- Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
- Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA
- Joe’s Falafel, Los Angeles, CA
See the complete list here.
(Image credit: Yelp)