Years ago, Zagat set the bar for rating food. It employed a novel concept…let diners decide what food is best. Before the electronic information age, paper copies of the Zagat guide were the bible of dining. Since then, Zagat has been swallowed by Google but still continues to be a useful source of information. In fact, a goggle search of any Zagat restaurant willl give you the famed mark out of 30.
With the advent of the internet, food sites are as competitive as restaurants themselves. So, if you want to be seen beyond a blog nobody reads, you gotta choose. The front runners are yelp and urbanspoon. So which one?
An independent out of San Fransisco and has a massive following. Like facebook, you can collect friends. You vote out of 5 and make any comments you want. Others can tell you that you’re useful, funny or cool. Yelp goes beyond restaurants and allows you to rate anything from mechanics to hair dressers.
Urbanspoon is a subsidiary of IAC (the same company who owns dictionary.com and ask.com among others). Urbanspoon itself is based out of Seattle and has decent followings in Australia, the UK and Canada. They are attempting to compete with open table in the reservation market and therefore have reservation software available to restaurants as well. You can vote “like or not like” without comment. I love the upload picture option on urbanspoon since it had a drop-down menus to match your pic to the food item. Brilliant!
Yelp vs Urbanspoon
Like Big Turk bars, Red Rose tea and Buckley’s cough syrup, urbanspoon is more Canadian. For example, close to 80% of votes for Sassafras in Toronto comes from Urbanspoon. On the other hand, if you look at WD-50 in the New York, almost 70% of the votes come from Yelp. This is trend that is fairly consistent depending on what side of the border the eatery is.
I’m not one to pledge allegiance to one rating site. When I search for a restaurant I look at them all. I live in Canada but travel periodically to the US. I will likely use Urbanspoon for Canadian restaurants and Yelp for American restaurants. I won’t, however, cut and paste the same review in both to work toward elite status (it’s not an airline afterall). I will, however, like or dislike and upload photos to urbanspoon whenever possible.
Follow me on yelp and urbanspoon!!!! My handle is spennyrd.