For the 1 percenters, whose dining-out budgets are boundless, choosing a restaurant often entails a perusal of one of the established price-is-no-object restaurant review guides. You know the ones: the Michelin Guide, Zagat, Gayot, La Liste.
For the other 99 percent, there’s Yelp. And it’s no longer just the site’s individual restaurant reviews. For the second consecutive year, Yelp has sliced and diced its voluminous stockpile of user-generated assessments to compile a list ranking the country’s 100 best restaurants.
How did Yelp make sense much less create an ordered list from millions of reviews for thousands of restaurants? The survey methodology is described thusly: “Businesses from across the country were compared using a ranking that looks at both the ratings and the number of reviews while accounting for quality, popularity, and statistical fluctuations.”
Here are Yelp’s top 10:
- Porto’s Bakery & Cafe, Burbank, CA
- Cheese Board Pizza, Berkeley, CA
- Paseo, Seattle, WA
- Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Kansas City, KS
- TKB Bakery & Deli, Indio, CA
- Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA
- The Morrison, Los Angeles, CA
- Mama D’s Italian Kitchen, Newport Beach, CA
- Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
- Marukame Udon, Honolulu, HI
Unlike Yelp’s 2015 list, which was more a measure of recent popularity—trending restaurants, in other words—the “Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. for 2016” factors in restaurants’ performance since Yelp’s founding, in 2004. So it’s a better balance of hot spots and long-established favorites.
Still, there remains an “It” restaurant feeling to the findings. Last year’s overall winner, Copper Top BBQ, in Big Pine, CA, didn’t even crack this year’s top 100—a victim, perhaps, of the high expectations engendered by its moment in the limelight.
On the strength of the latest Yelp results, I plan to give this year’s winner, Porto’s, a try. It’s within easy driving distance of my home, and its outsized popularity piques my interest. But I’m not expecting a three-star dining experience. For that, there are other lists.
Reader Reality Check
What’s your go-to source for restaurant recommendations?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.