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We love lists. Who doesn’t? Lists of The Best This and That in the world, the Top 10 so and so in America, the Definitive Rankings of the Best / Worst whatever.

Sites that collect online restaurant reviews – like Yelp, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and Gayot – love lists, too. And for good reason: when people are hungry, they want to know where the best place to eat is. That’s why we have lists like Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the US, TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Favorite Dine Dining Restaurants, OpenTable Diner’s Choice, Gayot’s Top 10 New Restaurants, and so on and so forth.

These best-of lists all have different algorithms or formulas for determining rankings, but they commonly feature the most popular five-star-rated restaurants: proud owners of review site pages with nearly universal critical acclaim and richly described dining experiences.

But it’s not all happy and bright. Even the finest eateries have bad nights. And, at a time when diners can quickly become online critics, even the best are not immune to one-star ratings and vicious reviews.

ReviewTrackers checked out Yelp to track and find the worst reviews of some of the best restaurants in America. Here are the highlights…or, um, lowlights.

copper top yelp

Copper Top BBQ

Big Pine, CA

No. 1 Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the US for 2015

Richard G: 

Some one is playing a joke. Considering the Copper Top in the top 100 eating establishments in the U.S is beyond belief. We ate there at 5:00 p.m and there were no crowds. There is no indoor seating (except in a tent). Food is served in a styrofoam box and was barely warm. Utensils are plastic and one could not cut through the tough tritip with the plastic knife. Ribs and chicken were dry and with ordinary flavor. Potato salad and cole slaw were tasteless. Roll was generic as if off of the shelf at the local market. Sauce in a small cup tasted as if out of a jar and was cold. Servers in the service window were pleasant but everyone including the owner and YELP should be ashamed of themselves for listing this restaurant so highly. As we passed by the restaurant on another day there were large crowds. It is a case of belief in the Emperor’s new clothes. I doubt that the Copper Top is the best place in Big Pine let alone the nation.

seablue yelp

SeaBlue Restaurant and Wine Bar

North Myrtle Beach, SC

OpenTable Diner’s Choice: No. 1 Best Restaurant in America

Sharon P:

If you like fancy-schancy with average food then this is your place. Very overpriced for what you get –I’m talking Manhattan type pricing in a strip mall in South Carolina. (Whaaaat?) The atmosphere was weird, the regulars were definitely retirees with random younger women at the bar that looked to be waiting for ‘conversation’. My $50 steak came Cooked wrong, rare when i ordered medium well. They corrected it, but thinking for a 200 dollar meal a manager should have stopped by to apologize. Nice presentation but none of the food was great. They have an augratin potato that was pretty good, but be sure your waitress remembers to bring it. Ours didn’t. The 2 stars is because the small restaurant in the strip mall is nicely decorated.

alinea yelp


Chicago, IL

2014 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice: No. 1 Travelers’ Favorite Fine Dining Restaurants 

Fran B:

I was really excited to eat at Alinea but I was sorely disappointed. I thought the food was awful, some of the dishes were completely tasteless. The first course “Rose”… a combination of rose petals and foam and celery or something equally as unappetizing. I kept looking around me and watching other couples act as if this stuff was the most amazing food they ever ate.. I thought I must be in a crazy house?? What phonies…  Plus the price is absolutely ridiculous. The waiter service was good, I’ll give them that but otherwise… I mean the desserts? A piece of caramelized bacon suspended from a little bow (and arrow) contraption… or the straw where you suck a milkshake out? It tasked like nothing and was a gross texture. Honestly, people must be kidding themselves.

soho yelp

Soho Japanese Restaurant

Las Vegas, NV

No. 3 Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the US for 2015

Mirit A:

Now, I LOVE sushi and sashimi. The sushi here was ok (not great), yet the sashimi was extremely disappointing. I was so turned off by it that I did not have much of an appetite, and sashimi is one of my favorite foods ever. The salmon sashimi just passed, yet the yellowtail sashimi (which is always my favorite) was gross. It tasted fishy and still had a hardened ‘skin’ on it… not right!!!! The ambiance is plain and boring, which I would have likely overlooked if the food was good. The restaurant is shabby for sushi/sashimi. I was told that this restaurant is supposed to give Nobu a run run for its money??… In whose fantasyland?!  Nobu is so much better with higher quality and way better tasting food and imagination. I would rather pay more for great sushi/sashimi than less for sashimi that made me want to gag.

11 madison yelp

Eleven Madison Park

New York, NY

2014 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice: No. 2 Travelers’ Favorite Fine Dining Restaurants

Jennifer Y:

WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT?  I’ve read countless reviews on how the chef is a genius. Genius he may be but with a high-priced pre-fix menu and portions that were fit for a toddler, I left 11 Madison highly disappointed. $350 lighter (on a dinner for two), I had 2 rounds of drinks, 2 ports, the lobster pre-fix and veal pre-fix. The lobster was very good but tiny; the whole portion fit into a baby’s palm and if you don’t believe me, you should check out the restaurant yourself. The veal entree was no bigger with a veal portion that was about 1 inch in diameter accompanied by sweet bread about the same diameter. Overall, if you have money to burn, I would go. if you know something about food nobody else does, you should go. If you have a slightly sophisticated palette yet have an appetite greater than that of a 5 year old, I would choose a more solid, traditional favorite.

agricola yelp


Princeton, NJ

Gayot No. 1: Top 10 New Restaurants in the US

Glenn P:

The portions are small. In an effort to be creative and hip, they have not figured out how to also make the entrees tasty. The flake had to be returned because it was so salty and the pasta with boar ragu was “boaring.” Our server was like Houdini – he would disappear for long periods and couldn’t comply with the simplest request (e.g., extra glass of ice). The drinks were skimpy and expensive ($12 for vodka rocks). I hate a place that gives you “short pour.” We skipped dessert and salvaged the evening with a stop at Thomas Sweets.

sushi nazakawa yelp

Sushi Nazakawa

New York, NY

OpenTable Diner’s Choice: No. 2 Best Restaurant in America 

Turku I:

Would you like some sustainably sourced snootiness with your damp fish? a) They claim to answer their phones between 12pm – 4:30 pm, but are too lazy to pick up even within those meager hours; b) They keep you on hold for half an hour only to tell you that they have no availability for the foreseeable future, and chidingly instruct you to log onto Open Table “just after midnight” to snag a table sometime in the next decade. In fairness, I was a touch relieved, as my (otherwise carefully nourished and well-traveled) palate can’t quite seem to distinguish between $20 nigiri at Tomoe and $200 nigiri at Nakazawa. But I figure it’s equally likely that nobody’s palate can, and that the emperor is stark naked. En bref, keep the damp fish, thanks.

See? Even the most worthy of praise can receive the worst criticisms. So don’t get too upset over one or two negative reviews: the bad apples won’t spoil the bunch. Meanwhile, if you need a tool to help you monitor and manage online reviews super-efficiently, request a demo of ReviewTrackers today. Tens of thousands of business locations are already loving our review monitoring and reputation management software platform!

(Image credit: Yelp)

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.


  1. Jenna D

    Nice to see that even the best get it lol.

  2. ToryD

    It seems that even the strongest establishments have a bad day, a relief indeed. Anyway, what is the best way to deal with such ‘poisonous’ reviews in your opinion?

  3. New Bee

    These are well established restaurants and they don’t give a lot of attention to such reviews. If they were a small restaurant, they probably would be in a great trouble, because of such a 1 start review. These restaurants built their reputation up to the top and are not affected a lot by some negative reviews. It is even easier to them to reply to such reviews claiming that it was untrue. People will actually believe the restaurant and not the common people who wrote it. These big restaurants can’t be destroyed by a few reviews.

  4. Doyle

    Every restaurant will eventually get a bad review sooner or later. Nobody is perfect and there are dozes of customers that don’t like the same taste or are bothered with things the most of us like. You can’t satisfy every single person, so it is normal to have bad reviews even if you are running one of the worlds best restaurants.