Need Help? Call on Yelp!

by Nancy Bestor

photoI must confess, I rely heavily upon my electronics. I simply cannot go an entire evening without waking my computer to check something on the internet. Maybe it’s my email, maybe it’s one of the blogs I like to follow, or maybe I even get the computer going, and then can’t remember what I was looking for. But that is another story. Whatever the reason, I’m addicted.

This doesn’t change when I travel. In fact, I rely more on my iPhone when I’m away than when I’m at home. One of my all time favorite iPhone applications is Yelp, the local business directory and review site. Yelp makes it easy to find anything from the nearest gas station or drugstore, to, as you may have guessed in my case, the best place to eat good food nearby. I’ve looked up cupcakes, coffee, bars, hamburger joints, and more when visiting cities all over the country. I use Yelp to find out how close these places are, to see what other foodies are saying and then to map the quickest way to get there from my current location. It could not be easier.

On our recent trip to Southern California, we successfully used Yelp to find fantastic cheap eats throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Thanks to other Yelp reviewers, we ate delicious bread pudding and flan from Crème Caramella at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, crazy good ooey gooey cheesy and garlicky fries and a siracha candy bar from the Chego food truck in Culver City, dynamite spicy basil eggplant with chicken at Wot Dong Moon Lek Noodle House in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood and the best clam chowder I have ever had at Splash in Pismo Beach.creme

To be truthful, Yelp has let me down a time or two. Although I try to pick restaurants that have a large number of reviews (the Chego food truck had over 1000) and have a rating of at least four out of five stars, I have been steered wrong on occasion. On this same trip we stopped in Sacramento for dinner at Maalouf’s, a Lebanese restaurant that had four and a half stars on Yelp. The food looked and smelled great, but turned out to be amazingly bland, and when a pale, blonde belly dancer who looked like she hadn’t been dancing for long started swaying through the isles, we could not get the check quickly enough.

An interesting note: The claim has been made that Yelp reviews are not as unbiased as advertised, but overall my experience with Yelp has been very positive, and I’ll continue using it when I travel.