Dallas' Restaurants Have Been Shunned by Yelp, but Not for the Reasons You Think

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Earlier this week Yelp published its top 100 restaurants -- what it described as a list of "the ultimate, try-before-you-die, food-coma-inducing, so-good-it-makes-you-want-to-slap-your-momma places to eat." The ranked list seemed to touch on every aspect of American dining, from east coast to west, from downtown to suburban, and from fine dining to humble street tacos, but there was one problem: Not a single restaurant was located in Dallas.

Texas did OK. Austin earned three mentions for Franklin Barbecue, Turf N' Surf Po Boy and Little Deli & Pizzeria, with two more going to the Uchi empire. Tiny Pflugerville got a nod for an Ethiopian restaurant, and Houston got one for a Brazilian steak house.

But while it may look like Dallas has been shunned by Yelp, if you look at how this list was created, it's actually the other way around.

Yelp's engineers primarily used star ratings and the number of reviews received by a restaurant to determine which highest ranked restaurants were most popular on Yelp. It wasn't just enough to have a five-star rating -- you had to have a lot of them.

And that's where Dallas came up short. Many of the restaurants in Yelp's list have thousands of reviews. Dallas' top ranked restaurants rarely see more than 500, with most receiving much less. Dallas isn't on Yelp's list not because it lacks restaurants worthy of the national spotlight, but because it lacks enough people willing to jump on the internet and gush about the great food that they found.

Yelp's usefulness aside, I'm not so sure that this inactivity a good thing. It reminds me of a post I wrote about the activity on food message boards two years ago. An online food community, on Yelp or elsewhere, is at least one indicator of the health of a city's culinary scene. And at least on that front, Dallas still lags behind.


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25 comments
andrewdtx
andrewdtx

Whatever you've read about Yelp it's probably true if not worse.  I work with a lot of local restaurants & when on the subject of Yelp I often hear stories of their sales reps calling up & trying to sell the business on advertising.  When they say no thanks, the reps will then proceed to tell said established business that they owe Yelp for their good fortunes saying stuff like "well, is business good? don't you think you owe some of that good business to these reviews?"  

dixiechickidie
dixiechickidie

I met a Yelper in real life not too long ago and he tried to convince me to start writing Yelp reviews. He really emphasized how Yelpers can get special access to and/or treatment from restaurants. I felt like I was being worked over to join their cult.

NippleRing
NippleRing

The Dallas Yelp page is overrun by the creme de la creme of $30k a year millionaires this city has to offer. You don't believe me? Read the reviews. I bet more than half are fake. The internet is an amazing escape from real life.



Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

I usually disregard Yelp as the majority of reviews are worthless.

Guest
Guest

I've stopped using Yelp because of all the reviews where dumbasses who are used to having their tastebuds assaulted by Chili's go to a real restaurant and then proclaim that the food "lacked flavor".

Oxtail
Oxtail

One need only to Google "yelp" and "lawsuit."  Restaurants suing yelp, yelp suing commentators,.... what a mess. I love eating in Dallas, and I cannot remember the last time I ever used yelp for anything.  We have good local publications/blogs on dining if I need a reference. I don't need to rely on "Jenny from Mesquite" to tell me what is good or not. 


I remember their map application being somewhat useful.

Greg820
Greg820

I prefer to believe that the Dallas food community understands the real and significant inadequacies of Yelp and prefer to communicate through other, more suitable venues.  

kwill
kwill

@Greg820 What other venues are you referring to?  I use Yelp pretty regularly and wouldn't know where else to check.  With young kids I don't get out very often so I don't take the time/energy to constantly keep up with the latest in Dallas restaurant news.  This means that when I do get a chance to go out for a nice meal I need a consolidated, sortable, searchable list of places, and so far Yelp has been my go-to choice.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Greg820  This.  I judge a place on yelp by the wrong sorts of people hating it as good.  An example is Saffron House.  All the people with Indian sounding names love it, and call it the best Indian food outside their mother's kitchen.  All the people named "Brandy" and "Chad" hated it.  Overall, it has a mediocre rating, but it turns out to be great (which I knew it would based on the meta of the reviews.)


Yelp in Dallas is underrated because we have too much of the Sherlocks and Blackfinn crowd polluting it.

Greg820
Greg820

@kwill @Greg820  You also can't go wrong with Nancy Nichols' Top 100 Dallas Restaurants.  Some great stuff in there.  I guess the point is that it does take time and effort to research what YOU like.  Don't hold yourself hostage to the whims of random others.  A little research goes along way.

Greg820
Greg820

@kwill @Greg820  Urban Spoon & Trip Advisor.  Food Feedback Friday on the D-Mag blog also has real-people reviews.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Greg820  Just checked yelp -- Saffron House and Sherlocks in the same center have the same 3.5 star rating.


Nuff said.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@Greg820 @NippleRing @kwill   After reading this I checked out "Nancy Nichols' Top 100 Dallas Restaurants" and agreed with the majority of the reviews for places I've been.   Yea, I have another food adventure resource.

Greg820
Greg820

@NippleRing @Greg820 @kwill  I have to disagree with that.  She is a food writer, not just an aloof critic.  I find her posts, comments & reviews to be accurate and consistent. I never get the sense that she is injecting herself into the review, but rather sharing her experience and experiences with us and letting us make up our own minds with that input.  

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

@everlastingphelps @Greg820 @kwill  Chowhound (Dallas) is my restaurant "bible".

It's great too if you're going out of town and want to know where you can find the best food. As an example, we were going to Boston and I started a thread on Chowhound Boston asking where we would find the best seafood. Must have had over 50 replies!

kwill
kwill

@Greg820 @scott.reitz Thanks for all of the replies guys, very helpful.  I have bookmarked these sites for the next date night with the wife.  Scott, I look forward to your next story about the various ways to find the best restaurants in Dallas :)

Greg820
Greg820

@scott.reitz Don't confuse passion with quantity.  Two separate things.  Born and raised here so I can say with no guilt that Dallas is consistently behind the curve on just about everything.  But we eventually catch up.  Same with food blogging.  Ya know what would be a very interesing story?  Some edjulkatin' about Chowhound, Urban Spoon, Food spotting, etc. Take us by the hand, Scott, and share your knowledge. Just sayin' . . . . . 

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

@Greg820 @kwill  Chowhound is one of the best sources for information on passionate, quality cooking in DFW. But if you look at the number of active threads they are way lower than the boards for Austin, Houston and other cities.


The same is true with UrbanSpoon. Check out how many reviews your average restaurant receives across any of these platforms and you'll start to see an unsettling trend: Dallas does not participate in culinary dialogue with the same enthusiasm. It would be great to see this change.



And Urban Spoon is better than Yelp for sure, but don't sleep on FoodSpotting. That platform glosses over people's opinions and just lets the pictures speak for themselves. It's great.

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