Artificial intelligence and restaurant recommendations would seem like a pretty natural fit — at least in terms of crowdsourcing things with good reviews. But a new AI bot launched by the SF Chronicle seems to be pretty limited in its food intelligence so far.

This AI "Chowbot" launched Monday and is splashed on the Chronicle's homepage. The bot purports to be accessing "nearly 1,000 reviews from more than 50 restaurant guides, all written, edited and vetted by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Food & Wine team."

The Chronicle food team has gone listicle-mad the last couple of years, creating best-of lists for nearly every category of food you can think of — but none of these lists is especially comprehensive, and in trying to be geographically diverse, the lists often ignore very worthy candidates right here in San Francisco.

Still, I figured the Chowbot should be able to give me some answers to fairly simple requests.

The search tool asks you to enter a type of food and a location. When I asked, I thought very simply, for a recommendation for a "burger in the Financial District," the bot came back with "I'm at a bit of a loss for words on that one," which is one of its responses for "zero results."

The same thing happened when I asked about "nachos in the Financial District." But then I thought I would give it a couple softballs that would surely deliver something back. I asked for "congee in Chinatown," and there were zero results. "Burger near Alamo Square," zero results. (Does 4505 Burgers & BBQ get no love?)

The Chronicle's newly hired restaurant critic, MacKenzie Chung Fegan, who has not yet started filing reviews, appears to have been asked to review the Chowbot, and she, too, was not exactly thrilled at first. "Dumplings in Chinatown" is another challenge the bot is not up to — though if you type in "dim sum in Chinatown" you will get results.

I tried "Korean food in Fillmore," looking to see if the bot is aware of the Michelin-recommended Bansang — alas, it is not!

"Pizza near Alamo Square" did yield two results: Che Fico, and Sunset Squares on Divisadero. But try typing in "pizza in NoPa," and the bot does not recognize that neighborhood apparently, so there are no results.

Seems like this thing could probably use a bit more fine-tuning! Still, Fegan managed to get a decent coffee recommendation out of the Chowbot, and it led her to fellow critic Cesar Hernandez's new favorite burrito spot, La Vaca Birria, on 24th Street — but if you type in "burrito on 24th Street" that is not one of the results; Fegan had to type "birria in the Mission."

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