Earlier this week Yelp published its top 100 restaurants -- what it described as a list of "the ultimate, try-before-you-die, food-coma-inducing, so-good-it-makes-you-want-to-slap-your-momma places to eat." The ranked list seemed to touch on every aspect of American dining, from east coast to west, from downtown to suburban, and from fine dining to humble street tacos, but there was one problem: Not a single restaurant was located in Dallas.
Texas did OK. Austin earned three mentions for Franklin Barbecue, Turf N' Surf Po Boy and Little Deli & Pizzeria, with two more going to the Uchi empire. Tiny Pflugerville got a nod for an Ethiopian restaurant, and Houston got one for a Brazilian steak house.
But while it may look like Dallas has been shunned by Yelp, if you look at how this list was created, it's actually the other way around.
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Yelp's engineers primarily used star ratings and the number of reviews received by a restaurant to determine which highest ranked restaurants were most popular on Yelp. It wasn't just enough to have a five-star rating -- you had to have a lot of them.
And that's where Dallas came up short. Many of the restaurants in Yelp's list have thousands of reviews. Dallas' top ranked restaurants rarely see more than 500, with most receiving much less. Dallas isn't on Yelp's list not because it lacks restaurants worthy of the national spotlight, but because it lacks enough people willing to jump on the internet and gush about the great food that they found.
Yelp's usefulness aside, I'm not so sure that this inactivity a good thing. It reminds me of a post I wrote about the activity on food message boards two years ago. An online food community, on Yelp or elsewhere, is at least one indicator of the health of a city's culinary scene. And at least on that front, Dallas still lags behind.