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RESTAURANT REVIEW SITES--Urbanspoon, Yelp, and Trip Advisor
Aug. 6, 2013: The three web sites mentioned in the caption are national web sites I use to find places I may want to eat, and because reviews are written by customers who have dined in the restaurant there is not a lot of hype. For many reasons I like Urbanspoon best, and with a small number of clicks I can focus in on the location I want and find the type of cuisine I want. Urbanspoon comes very close to having a 100% coverage of all restaurants in the United States, as well as keeping track of restaurants that have closed.

Probably the biggest flaw in Urbanspoon is with the list of top restaurants for each urban area. They list five restaurants in each of four categories (from expensive to cheap eats), giving a list of twenty recommended restaurants. The list is actually very good for Oklahoma City, but in my opinion the list for El Paso does not work as well. When most people go to El Paso I would think they would be looking for locally flavored Mexican food, and the Urbanspoon list really does not cover this well at all. In fact, even when the search is filtered to look only for Mexican restaurants (which is very easy to do on the Urbanspoon web site) there are still many restaurants not listed near the top that I think should be there. Of course I hope people will use my web site and other local web sites for various cities as supplements, and Urbanspoon is an excellent resource to use for any city. I would say, though, that the best restaurants in many cities are not necessarily found in Urbanspoon's "top twenty."

I did a very unscientific analysis of these three national web sites, and how they relate to El Paso, Las Cruces, and Oklahoma City. The summary has been added to my Links page (otherwise known as Steve's Blogroll because it mainly includes local web sites similar to mine). The section on national web sites (Urbanspoon, Trip Advisor, and Yelp) is located near the bottom of the page. One conclusion I have from this discussion is that it is best to look at all three web sites (and local sites) instead of relying on Urbanspoon alone.

Yelp has a good list of both Mexican restaurants in El Paso and Chinese restaurants in Oklahoma City, so I consider this web site as a valuable resource as well.

Trip Advisor really has a little bit different reader base, which I think mainly consists of travelers who write restaurant reviews while on trips (rather than local foodies who have more knowledge about the local restaurants). Out of the three cities I analyzed (El Paso, Las Cruces, and Oklahoma City), Trip Advisor seems to be best for Las Cruces, so I believe that like all web sites it has its limitations. Whether my impression is accurate or not, though, it is still a valuable source of information. Trip Advisor is especially good for small towns and tourist spots such as national parks. Trip Advisor also has forums for just about every foreign country (and from the forums you can click on the "Restaurants" tab at the top of the page).


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