okgourmet.com    Home of Steve's Restaurant Reviews

STEVE'S BLOGROLL


And Links to Other Sites

Home   >   Special Features

I cannot visit every restaurant personally, even in the cities for which I do reviews, so I'm providing a list of sources which I believe have particularly useful information and/or credible reviews. Many of these links provide recommendations that I think would be close to my own, but I think all of are interest and make a serious attempt to provide good information.

New Mexico

    Gil's Thrilling Web Site is the authoritative guide to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, northern New Mexico, and even Cuba (New Mexico, that is). The Americana Dining links also include some very good information for some other American cities such as Chicago, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Gil has a particular passion for barbecue, hot dogs, and good burgers, and some great finds are listed throughout the Midwest and other parts of the country.

    Duke City Food. Andrea Lin provides news and comments about Albuquerque restaurants and the food scene in general, and I think this is a must read for those interested in the Duke City. Many of the articles, though, will be of interest to people in general whether or not they live in the Land of Enchantment.

    Joni's Home Page. Local knowledge is usually the best source, and this page gives some pretty good tips for the Las Cruces area. Be sure to follow the link to the "Restaurant Guide" at the bottom of the page, leading to a more complete list of recommendations.

    Frommer's Guide to Las Cruces seems to be a good national guide covering southern New Mexico, with Lesley King, the writer for New Mexico, giving good insights into the area's top restaurants.

    John Shipman's Home Page is the authoritative guide to Socorro, New Mexico and vicinity (including the famous Owl Bar & Grill in the nearby town of San Antonio), but it also includes a number of suggestions for Albuquerque, other New Mexico cities, and a few other areas such as the Bay Area in California. I was happy to see Hunan Restaurant in Roswell recommended, giving me confidence that this web site is a good guide to southeastern New Mexico.

Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman seeks to avoid the typical "Chamber of Commerce" view of restaurants (not wanting to say anything negative). Instead, it stands apart from many newspapers in presenting a balanced approach in its review of Oklahoma City restaurants while at the same time emphasizing the positive features of each establishment. Much of the success in accomplishing these goals is due to the newspaper's "Food Dude," aka food editor David Cathey. Dave has two blogs that are very helpful in finding good eats:

      Dave Cathey's Columns include the restaurant reviews published in the Oklahoman.

      The Food Dude blog provides interesting information about food and events around the city.

    OKC Talk is a forum and discussion board that talks about a number of local issues, including the very popular:

      OKC Talk Food & Restaurants Forum with interesting topics and good information, especially about new and lesser known restaurants. The forum mainly talks about Oklahoma City restaurants, but I have seen very good information on places throughout the state (and the discussion sometimes focuses on Tulsa).

    Oklahoma Gazette is a weekly newspaper that can be picked up free in many restaurants around town, and it is a valuable source of information (especially for new restaurants and to keep track of closings and other restaurant news). I have always found the reviews to be helpful, but with the addition of Greg Elwell to the staff I am now finding the kind of uncovering of hidden food treasures that are very valuable to me in my own food explorations.

    Wheeling Around Town focuses on the handicapped accessibility of restaurants in Oklahoma City and the real issues faced by those in wheelchairs. In my previous life as a transportation planner I have seen how property developers provide beautiful looking ramps, handicapped parking, and other features to make buildings accessible, only to change them (for the worse) once the city inspectors have come and gone. Because of this my own web site tries to identify accessibility to the building as part of the review, but Wheeling Around Town additionally covers seating, restrooms, serving lines, and other issues such as whether ramps and sidewalks are in disrepair. Also not to be missed are the reviews of the food at each restaurant covered.

    Urbanspoon OKC has a very active forum for Oklahoma City, and additional information is included in the next section of this table entitled "Urbanspoon, Trip Advisor, and Yelp." One feature of Urbanspoon is that it provides user profiles that allow me to look at reviews from individuals who I particularly trust. One of these is the following:

      Kevin Myers Urbanspoon Reviews provides some very knowledgeable recommendations about local OKC restaurants, but I think it has particularly useful information about Mexican, Latin American, and other ethnic restaurants. Kevin has traveled in Mexico and can not only spot authentic cuisine, but also notes when authenticity translates to high food quality and delicious taste.

Oregon

    Normally I try to avoid MSG at all costs except when it is the Extra MSG web site for Portland and vicinity (including Vancouver, Washington). Particularly useful is the Portland Tip Sheet, and I have attempted to compile a similar list for El Paso.

Texas

    Dining Out with Rob Balon. I think what sold me on this site is the fact that Chinatown was in the "Top Twenty" list of restaurants in Austin on an early version of the web site. However, his picks tend to be upscale restaurants, and I would probably want to consult Urbanspoon for lower priced options.

    The El Paso Times is an excellent resource for food and restaurant news and reviews, and many times it alerts the public to new restaurants in time to be there when they open their doors. The following may sound like a criticism, but it is not-- it is only a notice that restaurant information is spread around in different sections of the web site, and looking at the "Restaurants and Dining" section may not be the best way to get information about a particular establishment. My own approach is to regularly look at the newspaper's home page, and follow any links that appear there to restaurant and food articles. The following sections also have restaurants information:

      The Dining section is usually the first to alert the public to new restaurants, and provides a fairly extensive list of all restaurants in the city. The "cheap eats" section is one of my favorites.

      The Bite Me blog also provides informative articles, news, and commentary on the restaurant scene.

      Tiempo is a weekly supplement to the newspaper that includes restaurant reviews and entertainment news.

    Won't Read Directions is an interesting blog that provides excellent information about Southwestern food and some of El Paso's classic restaurants. One of my favorite features is the collection of articles that are taken from the Griggs Family Cookbook that give some of the recipes from the old Griggs Restaurant as well as a step-by-step account, with photos, of how to successfully prepare the dishes at home. I take every chance I have to mention that although Griggs Restaurant has been closed for a number of years, the Griggs family recipes are still being served in Canutillo at Peppe's Restaurant & Cantina (6761 Doniphan Dr.).

    Yelp El Paso does what some other web sites do not seem to do-- provide a credible list of good Mexican restaurants in El Paso. I also find it useful to look at some of the user reviews such as:

      Scott P.'s El Paso favorites not only reaffirms some of my own favorite picks, but gives a good list of places I would like to try. Scott's Yelp reviews also includes a very good list of restaurants in the San Diego, CA area.

Washington

    Chowhound was the first web site that helped me find really good restaurants in the Seattle area, and it also has a general board for the Pacific Northwest states. Chowhound does not focus exclusively on individual restaurants, but allows readers to ask general questions such as "Where is the best seafood?" (and other readers generally provide very good answers).

    Nancy Leson's List of Top Ten Restaurants and Other Favorites was compiled in 2002, and now has become somewhat dated (but still interesting). I have seldom seen a restaurant critic who makes choices that agree so much with my own tastes, but Nancy Leson, the food critic for the Seattle Times, did so with this list. Like Rob Balon, the newspaper critic in Austin, Texas, the list tends to include high-end restaurants, but I think it includes good choices. I am mainly including this list because it helped me establish my own criteria for rating restaurants when my web site first started. More up-to-date information about restaurants is available in the Seattle Times Restaurants section (and I still think the evaluations are very good).

    The Zagat web site has limited information if you are a non-member, but I am including it because the Zagat Guide for Seattle which I bought in a bookstore was invaluable in helping me come up with an accurate rating system for restaurants. The Zagat Guide tends to include only high-end restaurants, but these are the ones where it probably best pays to read other people's opinions before spending your own money.


URBANSPOON, TRIP ADVISOR, AND YELP

These are national web sites which post reader reviews of restaurants, and then analyze the results to give you a "best of" list for each city and for each cuisine or category of food. I find all of these to be interesting, and each of the three web sites seems to be more active in different parts of the country. Also, based on the lists that are produced, I think contributors to each site must have different tastes in restaurants. Some of the sites seem more traditional while others give a more trendy and cutting edge feeling.

Since I might need to rely on these sites for recommendations in cities I plan to visit, I thought it would be good to look at some cities I know. Even in places I have lived, a large part of the recommended restaurant lists consist of restaurants I have not visited, so my analysis is far from perfect. However, here are some of my impressions:

El Paso

    Best Restaurant List: I am torn because none of the web sites seem to include as many Mexican restaurants in the "best" list as I think they should, but Urbanspoon seems to be the most accurate at listing the best restaurants in the city. I looked at the top three in each cost category, and they all seem to be solid choices.

    Mexican Food: I think Yelp seems to have the most solid list, although their inclusion of Chico's Tacos in the top ten might be a little suspect.

    Chinese Food: For Chinese restaurants it is strictly a matter of who has the least bad list, and I think that dubious honor goes to Urbanspoon, although it is only because they omit some of the buffet restaurants in the top ten that the other two web sites include.

Las Cruces

    Best Restaurant List: Urbanspoon has a credible list of all types of cuisines-- all except Mexican (which is mostly absent except from the Cheap Eats). Because of this, I think the best list is probably found on Trip Advisor which includes Nellie's in the top ten (Yelp also includes Nellie's, but at a lower rank).

    Mexican Food: I have to give this to Urbanspoon, which is the only site which lists both Chope's and Nellie's in the top ten.

Oklahoma City

    Best Restaurant List: Urbanspoon seems to do the best job of any of the web sites. The list for Metro Oklahoma City includes Ranch Steakhouse, Red Prime, and Boulevard Steakhouse (all of which I have been to and which I would put on the list of best restaurants). The other sites have some good restaurants listed, but I think Urbanspoon is the best for visitors coming into the city and wanting the type of local cuisine for which this part of the country is known.

    Mexican Food: I think Urbanspoon has only a fairly adequate list of Mexican restaurants, but it is a lot better than the one I found on Trip Advisor (and is somewhat better than Yelp).

    Chinese Food: All three web sites have fairly good lists of the best Chinese restaurants, but the difference is in the number of restaurants included which I do not think should be on the list. In this regard I think Yelp does the best job of listing only the Chinese restaurants where knowledgeable diners who want authentic food should go.


OTHER SITES

Food Related

    Barry Popik's Web Site explores the origins of foods and food terms, and is an interesting web site both in terms of serious research and the fun facts it presents. Barry is an editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (2004), and lives in New York City.

    Eating Chinese by Gary Soup provides good information about "real" Chinese food.

    Food Goblin is a food blog from the United Kingdom that provides some unusually interesting insights about food and restaurants internationally. The blog provides a wealth of information about different foods and recipes, and I think of particular interest to readers will be the Food Travel Blog which includes a cross country tour of America during summer 2012. One reason I particularly like this blog is that it covers the type of food that I find appealing when I am looking for something good to eat.

MORE ABOUT THIS WEB SITE