Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
Thanks to Yelp reviews.
Some of the most useful information on Yelp is generated by the collective intelligence of previous diners, all those people who can caution you against the ceviche, or who can lead you to the tastiest cheesesteak in town. Your review ramblings are so valuable that public health departments are even beginning to toy with the idea of mining them for signs of restaurants in need of inspection. Less seriously, user-generated reviews also make it possible to sketch the niche restaurant scenes – where to find the Italian spots, or which bars actually serve PBR – across entire cities.
Yelp has just rolled out a series of "wordmaps" playing with this idea. Across 14 cities, they've generated heat maps of words commonly cited in local reviews: dim sum in San Francisco, poutine in Toronto, hoagies in Philadelphia (shown above). Maybe you just want to stroll around looking for romance in Los Angeles, instead of booking a table ahead of time. Better yet, maybe these maps will tell you where not to go, as in, ahem, these neighborhoods in Chicago:
"Yuppie" in Chicago
A few more for your Independence Day planning:
"Bacon" in Austin
"Kosher" in New York
"Romantic" in San Francisco
"Hipster" in Washington, D.C.
All maps via Yelp Wordmap.