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December 07, 2012

How a Restaurant Critic Uses Yelp

If you didn’t know who New York Times Restaurant Critic Pete Wells was before, you probably do now after his famous (infamous?) review of Guy Fieri’s new Times Square restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar. Pete’s review spread through the interwebs like a case of mono in a college dorm, leaving many (present company included) clamoring to know more about Pete. What are his pet peeves? What is his personal taste in food? And...does he use Yelp?

Thanks to a recent reader-submitted Q&A published by the New York Times, we shall clamor no more! On the topic of Yelp, Pete says:

“I look at Yelp and some other sites with user-generated reviews all the time, particularly when I’m curious about a place that hasn’t received much attention yet from professional critics. I wouldn’t say they inform my reviews, but they might be one factor that helps guide me when I’m deciding whether to check out a place I haven’t heard very much about. I don’t put much stock in the individual reviews but I do scan the bulk of them to look for common areas of delight or disapproval. I do wish there were a way to filter out all the Yelp reviews that are based solely on brunch, but that might not leave very much content.”

With the exception of excluding brunch (why would you ever want to do that?!), Pete’s method is one we see a lot of users employing. Crowdsourced content on the hottest local spots often leads Yelpers to places that haven’t yet made it into the headlines of major media, and scanning the reviews on a business page will reveal fan favorite offerings as well as things you might want to avoid. Yelp’s review highlights feature (see below) makes finding these commonalities a breeze, and for restaurants, our new Explore the Menu feature calls out the most popular items Yelpers can’t stop talking about.

Review Highlights Screenshot

So there you have it. Pete Wells: New York Times restaurant critic, wordsmith and expert Yelp user.