Simple suggestions in finding the Best food in every city. Moving on from Yelp.

When I first left NYC and moved to LA I often wondered if I would ever be excited to eat again. Would I ever be at work running through my favorite tastes deciding where I would be eating that night? Would I ever invite all my friends to taste my favorite items and watch their facial emotions slow down as that greatness overcame them as they tried something amazing? You see finding new restaurants while returning to all my favorite ones was everything to me. I remember the time a New Jersey mafia man (really a car salesman) told me to go to his favorite hamburger spot in the city called J.G. Melons. I took my fake Italian family with me, we walked in and were awed by the very old school New York gentleman’s grill vibe. The hamburger was simple but solid. We had found a new spot that we enjoyed and looked forward to coming back to. There’s also something about finding a place and sharing it with others.

When I first moved to LA, I missed the food in NYC, I missed all “my spots.” I didn’t know where to eat. It just wasn’t as good as New York to me. Then about 3–4 months later I had a LA czar take me out to the hip neighborhood of Echo Park and introduce me to 2 taco places TacoZone and Guisados.

At Guisados I tried the house made Horchata and almost left the earth as the cinnamon liquid tastes fulfilled every pain in life I ever had. At Tacozone the mulitas in one bite fulfilled my knowledge of Mexican history. It easily was the best Taco I had ever had. From that moment on, my infinity for LA changed, I found the food that excited me in the city. I was able to re-gain my affection of finding and enjoying the food that I liked. If I hadn’t been led to these taco places by a local I would have never found them and therefore would have never had “The Best Taco’s” in america. Finding the food that resonates with you and blows your tastes buds in different cities can be difficult. Count my lucky stars that I was led to these places by locals,however that can’t always be the case when finding amazing food. There are useful tools that you can use in finding the food you want when you want. Here’s a guide and tips to finding the food that you resonate with in each city.

Yelp-Most people are very familiar with yelp, however I don’t think people know how to utilize yelp effectively. I find that it is very difficult to find what you want on Yelp. I have traveled to many different cities and towns arriving hungry and desperate for food excited to taste the local cultural flavors. I open up yelp and find that the top 10 restaurants in the area include Olive Garden, Applebees and Subway. If I am in the south, I don’t want recommendations to chain restaurants. I want to find a local restaurant that makes actual southern food. I also find that in large cities it is hard to sift through the information on yelp to find what you want. A few tricks I have found with yelp is to search by amount of reviews, if a restaurant is truly special, generally they will have received a lot of reviews. So if you find a 5 star restaurant from yelp, I would make sure that it has at least over 100 reviews. I would then look at the photos of the food and make sure it portrays the type of vibe you are looking for. I have a hard time with the way yelp looks, there is a lot going on and the app seems dated. It is also hard to put value into the recommendations, it possibly could be filled with reviews from people that don’t know what they are talking about. The reviews can be damaged by employees posting positive reviews at their own restaurants or companies paying to be featured on Yelp. I find Yelp helpful but in need of improvements in various aspects including interface, quality of reviews and local recommendations.

Infatuation-Infatuation is an up and coming blog/app. It is effective in breaking down and directing you to the to the Food that you want. It’s search tool is efficient as it gives you different options for search criteria breaking down many specific types of food as well as dinning options such as big groups, dinner with parents and celebrity sightings among many more. Infatuation incorporates reviews and gives suggestions by experts.The user interface of the site is very clean and well organized, something that yelp struggles with extensively. It also has a function such as the Hit list that displays their opinion of THE best restaurants in the particular city. Here is an example of the Hit list for San Francisco. Infatuation also has two up and coming features that could potentially separate them from Yelp and other blogs.

  1. Text Rex-A service that is in beta that allows you to receive staff recommendations per your personal requests via text. If they can nail this feature and scale it efficiently it could be a game changer. Imagine landing in a city and sending a text asking for “gourmet artisan pizza, open late, trendy.” and receiving a text giving you different options for Artizan pizza.
  2. Hit List-Part of Hit list allows you to create a list of restaurants that you are wanting to try, no more creating long lists on apple notes. This feature will reach a game changing level once you are able to follow and share with friends.

Infatuation is an awesome tool that directs you to the food “that you want” more effectively than yelp. Unfortunately it is only functional in SF, NYC, CHI,DC, Austin and Denver. It will be interesting to see it grow in the next few years. It is the best tool in helping you find what you want.

Local recommendations-

As I mentioned previously, I have found the majority of my favorite places from local recommendations. In this day and age this can come from asking a local to reading local blogs and following local Instagram accounts. It can take a lot of effort sifting through blogs and instagram accounts looking for all the best places. I did extensive research for a Portland trip, I searched through many blogs and was able to extract an extensive list of restaurants that I wanted to try.

My list didn’t disappoint, however I found it very time consuming and difficult to do so. A few key tips to finding the best food blogs in your city is by simply searching key terms such as “ Salt lake city’s best food blogs”, “Local Food recommendations in Phoenix”, “ Top food instagram accounts for LA”.

A lot of these ideas are simple and could be common knowledge, however I find that people continue to go to the same places they have always gone to. I suggest using these tools to go out and find something new, something new that will blow your mind.

This space for finding food in cities has tons of room for growth, yelp is adequate and has a huge following as it was the first to figure out how to find recommendations at a user friendly level. However, it is time to move forward from yelp to more tools that help you find what you want like Infatuation.

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