We've heard it all before when it comes to gripes about Yelp, why many in the food scene hate it, and why many avid diners think it's indispensable nonetheless. But here's one more perspective from voracious eater and traveler Andrew Zimmern, host of the show Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel. Zimmern knows a thing or two about arriving in a city he's not too familiar with and trying to figure out where to eat. And from his perspective, as he explains in this new Business Insider interview, this is where Yelp is useless for someone like him.
"If you're aggregating a lack of expertise, then when I plug in 'best sushi bar in Los Angeles,' Yelp doesn't help me at all." He adds, "So, if you are a huge food geek like me that really believes in quality not expensive food, just quality. Above all other things quality. If you're into quality, Yelp is not for you."
Basically he's saying: No matter how much of an Elite Yelper you might be, he doesn't trust that you know quality from hype.
Zimmern continues that he doesn't think this crowd-sourcing of opinion is either good or bad for the food industry. But, he says, if you want to know where to go in a new city, his best bet these days is "look up who the 4 or 5 better food writers are in that town and the 4 or 5 better chefs in that town... [then] go on to their Instagram and Twitter or Facebook timelines, and I just go back a couple weeks and I write down all the places that these people have been eating or taking pictures of." He basically takes a poll of these people, and whichever spots show up the most in their feeds, he goes there.
And he makes a good point: If you're actually after a well curated list of hot spots or the best sushi bars and you don't have a place like SFist to turn to, ahem you should at least know who you're getting tips from, and food people in the know are probably going to be more trustworthy, taste-wise, than Becky L. who uses the phrase "The service was JUST OK" in every single review.