By James McElwee ’10
We live in a state with thousands of restaurants, and when faced with this abundance of choices, how can you decide where to eat?
This question plagues me for a couple days each month as I try to decide what places to review for Mac’s Meals. If I don’t get a recommendation from someone, I inevitably end up on one of two Web sites, either Yelp.com or urbanspoon.com.
These two sites allow people to create a profile and write reviews of the places they have been, and the reviews provide a good indication of what places are good and which are not.
Yelp also includes other categories besides restaurants. Everything from arts and entertainment to religious organizations, so you can review your church, the place you went to eat afterwards and then where you went shopping later in the afternoon all on one site.
Urbanspoon focuses solely on restaurants.
Both sites allow you to sort your choices based on the style of food and the price you’re looking for; anywhere from $8 greasy spoon diners to $100 steakhouses, depending on your budget and taste.
I won’t tell you which Web site is the best, that’s for you to decide, but they both have different styles. Yelp has more regular people and patrons writing the reviews, while Urbanspoon includes reviews from Bloggers and the local newspaper, in our case The Arizona Republic.
Urbanspoon does include reviews from customers as well, but it is not featured as prominently as it is on Yelp. It also has iPhone and Android apps.
As an example, the users on Yelp have some nice things to say about Mi Patio, which I reviewed last edition. John P., from Washington, DC has nothing but good things to say about Mi Patio:
“Start with the green Chile cheese crisp and then dive right into green Chile burrito or their uniquely delicious Baja chicken burrito. Actually, every time we go everyone loves what they get. Don’t forget to ask about the specials which are always great,” John wrote.
All in all they are both really good places to find new restaurants, haunts and hangouts.
They are also quite useful when out of town, as you get to see what restaurants the locals like.