Don’t Let Yelp Do All the Heavy Research for You

The following is a post by the newest staff writer addition to MPFJ, Sally. Sally is the blogger behind, a blog about design, living well, and simple, tiny spaces. Enjoy and welcome her to the MPFJ family! – Jacob

Yelp is my favorite social website.

It takes the power of the crowd and applies it to your local area, helping you find places to eat, a place to get your pants hemmed and a dentist. When you’ve just moved to a new area, Yelp can be a lifesaver. How else do you decide between the two identical pizza places that are within walking distance? Dry cleaning is another big win on Yelp. I want to know if it’s the kind of place that breaks buttons in advance.

But, too much of a good thing can be dangerous. Let Yelp take over your buying decisions too much and you’ll end up having fewer really new experiences and your wallet will pay the price as well.


1)      There’s No Accounting For Taste

I first realized that I could not rely on the taste buds of strangers on a taco quest in LA.

I had just moved to the city, and Yelp had fast become my new best Internet friend. I was Yelp-checking everything I did (how’s this dog park? How about this grocery store?) and I had yet to find my go-to taco spot in a town of 10,000 taco stands. And I kept seeing Tito’s Tacos on TV, which even has its own jingle: I love Tito’s Tacos, you love Tito’s too. The only thing better than a Tito’s Taco…is TWO! And then I Yelped it, and the place had thousands of reviews, most of which were pretty positive.

I knew I had to try it, and so I headed up Washington Blvd. to stand in that infamous line. I ordered two takeout boxes worth of tacos for my and my boyfriend and headed home excitedly. Well, once we opened up those boxes, I was in for a major letdown. These tacos were the most Americanized, Sysco-food-supplied basic tacos you could have. Hard shell tacos with iceberg lettuce and American cheese and pretty bland salsa. This was not the street taco I had envisioned. There wasn’t a fresh cilantro sprig anywhere in sight. I thought the food sucked. And although there are plenty of Yelp reviews that agree with me, the majority of Yelpers seem to love the place and their opinion swayed me.

Now, I take Yelp reviews with a grain of salt. Because food’s deliciousness is in the five senses of the beholder.


2)      Yelp Feeds on Your Impulsiveness

Using Yelp too often and too mindlessly can drain your wallet. I’ve often found myself browsing restaurants on Yelp, and soon enough, I start to feel hungry and everything is looking really tasty. Yelp makes it easy too, there are check-in offers, the map quickly sends you to your map app for better driving directions and they even have the store’s hours prominently displayed (something even restaurant owners sometimes forget to clearly display on their own website).

Before you reach for your trusty Yelp app, ask yourself if you really need to eat out or try that new place, or go for the expensive car wash. It might be just groupthink overwhelming you.


3)      Try Something Different and Stay Independent

I can name you dozens of restaurants that I love in LA, and I don’t think I found more than one or two on Yelp. It was mostly a result of walking or driving by a place and wanting to know more about it, getting a recommendation from a friend or even ending up there because of a business meal.

Yelp is awesome and definitely useful when you need a recommendation or new place quickly, but I also want to try things in my town and are part of the local community, not just what’s popular with Yelpers.

How about you all? Do you use Yelp to help find information on local venues/restaurants/businesses? 

Do you think it has saved or costed you money in the long run?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

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