Restaurant star ratings - are any of them helpful?

Yelp’s star ratings got compromised ages ago. Do folks think Google star ratings are good enough to be helpful? Are there any other crowd-sourced raters folks trust (that cover most eateries)?

I find Google ratings at least moderately helpful, e.g. if there are more than say, 100 ratings and the rating is really high (worth trying) or really low (stay away).

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I NEVER rely just on just one or two…but instead, always cross check with others like ’ Tripadvisor, The Fork, Time-Out, Yelp, Gault Millau ( reliable for Europe ), Michelin ( ditto ). In Japan, ALWAYS Tabelog. In Hong Kong/Macau, " Openrice " and " Tatler "
For higher-end fine dining…" San Pellegrino World’s Best ", " Opinionated about Dining " and the French ’ La Liste ’
In short, home work is needed to ensure consistency and picking the right choice!


Agree, like anything available on the interwebz, I check several sources because it’s easy and why trust one source? I understand all have biases, but after absorbing, you get a sense. Stars give you a basic idea and the reviews and text usually fill in the rest.

Also there’s the case of the guy (Freddie Wong) who went viral with his famous 3.5 Yelp stars for Chinese restaurants being a good indication. I checked the 3.5 star theory and it holds water among established Chinese restaurants. So is 4 or 5 stars better? Not necessarily…more about context and understanding the biases involved, which Wong explains.


Since I have known and loved many meals that are mostly off the radar, I completely ignore such ratings.

I will look at Yelp for practical purposes such as photos and other straight forward info.

Yes, they are.

The more data the better.

You just have to know how to use the data properly.

Use the data to extrapolate trends and consistency of ratings.

It’s like in science, a meta analysis is generally better than a systemic review of the data.

Yelp is imho the absolute worst place to trust for ‘good information’

otoh, Michelin awarded two stars to a a place, and we went there.
it was a dive bar. two out of six “selections” were totally inedible.
sent my reaction to Michelin; the place still has two stars, years later . . .
take away: trust no one.

say whot? yeah - that was my reaction.

one is well advised to check multiple sources - and places like Yelp need an especially cocked eye for honesty. Yelp/et. al. has not instituted a policy ala eBay “this is a verified buyer” - so paid/fake testimonies abound.

Now I am curious, can you name that restaurant?

oh yeah. I dislike trashing places publicly.
Bresca - not been back since - but no intention to repeat the experience.

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The one in DC?

If so, I’ve been there and your description is certainly interesting. To say the least.

I use Google stars to sort out better bets for indie Restaurants when they have no presence on HO. I stuck to 4 and above.

I have fully switched from Yelp to Google maps. I search by content, look first at highly rated places but weight heavily by the most recent reviews. Seems to work in NorCal but seemingly useless in San Diego.

Reddit, too, for a starting point for recs.


I just looked at my favorite Chinese place in NoVA, Hong Kong Palace. It is a 3.7 on Yelp. LOL! Wong has a good point!


I’ve known this for a long time. The trick with eg google reviews is reading them!

So, as an example with Chinese restaurants, a lot of people will complain about the ‘random’ order dishes are brought to the table. “Why can’t they bring everything together at once so we can eat together at the same time?”

At that point I know enough, I can value the person doing the review and most of the time these are people not used to this specific cuisine and hence will give substandard/below average reviews.

As said, online reviews can be useful if you know the cuisine and read the reviews.


After seeing the video I checked a few local places, including R&G Lounge in SF, which is consider a nice restaurant (with prices to match), specializing is seafood and a standard-bearer, nice rooms, good service, good food. It also got 3.5 stars.

Just checked Koi Palace, which some consider the best Chinese restaurant in the US. It got 3.5 stars too. Crazy.

Sometimes, awesome places are polarizing!

Also, sometimes, assholes target restaurants with shitty reviews, bringing the rating down.


Also, many restaurants are really good at a few dishes, and the trick is to know what to order and what to avoid.

I’m a big fan of figuring out what to order where. LOL.


Exactly the text gives clues to the reviewers POV and experience, and you then get info on why they gave so many stars. I usually read a few bad ratings to see if there’s legit issues…or some kind of service snafu or the usual unreasonable expectations.


we were seated opposite the bar area.
which became over run with a very loud crowd. we could not hear a single word the server was offering - finally just gave up and nodded.
from my notes:

Started with a mixed exotic fruit drink refresher. undrinkable.
Japanese cucumber plus deep fried beef tendon topped with Parmesan.
Tasty cucumber, not sure what one does with the beef tendon…
Cured scallops with a buttermilk dressing and sugar snap peas - very nice dish.
Truffled egg - abject failure, to gag on. No/improper seasoning, poor preparation.
Served with a lead lined beignet topped with dried out ham slices.
Beef tenderloin - two were pronounced tough and chewy.
Mine was ordered rare and was passable, certainly not what one would expect at a Michelin rated eatery.
Dessert was a Twix style bar ala Black Forest cake. Very decent."

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Spot on.

I’ll only add that I tend to skip over all 5-star and 1-star reviews.

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I don’t put a lot of stock in the star ratings by themselves. I have to read a smattering of recent reviews to get a feel for the client base and their expectations, too. The only star rating I think has any reliability at all hews to the “three-and-a-half-star” standard for Chinese restaurants. I have never been let down by that!