At this point, our favorite app to use is Yelp. We tweet and we Instagram, but we are absolutely addicted to reading Yelp reviews and learning as much as we can about restaurants we’ve loved, restaurants we’ve hated, and restaurants on our “someday” list.
Yelpers get real with you real fast, and will expose the good, the bad, and the ugly about a place, all before you’ve even made a reservation. Sometimes Yelp photos and tips have helped us pre-plan our dinner orders before we’ve even seen the menu.
Yelp also employs internal researchers who are always working to develop new ways to make their treasure trove of reviews useful to diners. That’s why The Daily Meal was elated to get an exclusive look at a list of the most popular sit-down restaurants in America based on an algorithm that interprets a restaurant’s star rating and the volume of reviews devoted to it.
Yelp’s list runs the gamut from fancy to familiar, but all of these have earned plaudits from Yelp reviewers for providing excellent dining-in experiences. These restaurants may not have earned Michelin stars, but they’ve statistically done the best job of making nearly everyone very happy — which is no easy feat. We pulled some of the most telling reviews — leaving in place the Yelpers’ sometimes-dodgy grammar and capitalization —and included them below, because whether the place in question is a sports bar or a Thai restaurant, the reviews don’t lie. These are the best sit-down restaurants in America for 2018, according to Yelp.
According to many reviews, this Arizona eatery is in the middle of a fairly barren food landscape, which might be why it stands out so much. One Yelp reviewer said of JD’s Corner Sports Bar & Grill, “Safford/thatcher doesn't have much to offer when it comes to food but I absolutely love this place I've came here several times with my family and had a great experience every time! Food is delicious and servers are really nice! I for sure recommend trying it out if you haven't already!”
This go-to dinner spot is one of Minnesota’s finest. They have an extensive menu featuring tons of vegan and vegetarian items as well as tasty meat dishes and sides. “One of the best restaurants in Uptown that I've been too featuring a lengthy and delicious vegan and vegetarian menu,” commented a Yelper. “The drink list was extremely impressive and all the food was tasty and reasonably priced for the fact that it was fresh and organic. Will DEFINITELY be returning again with more friends for a good time and a great meal.”
What you may not know about Chicago is that it’s home to a wealth of really excellent Thai restaurants, and Star of Siam in the Loop is a clear Windy City favorite. Customers rave about their massaman curry and crab Rangoon. One out of towner even left a glowing review about the staff in this Midwestern Thai spot: “Maybe I'm just used to everyone in New York being an asshole, but everyone here was friendly and nice. Overall, they gave me a great vibe, attentive and full of positive energy. 10/10. Would fly to Chicago again just to eat here.”
“If you like SPAM then you will love this place,” said one reviewer of this Virginia spot that serves classic Hawaiian dishes. “It's a Hawaiian staple and you can find it all over the menu, especially on the brunch menu.” Also on their brunch menu: banana and macadamia nut waffles, teriyaki steak and eggs, and the classic Hawaiian passion fruit-orange-guava juice called POG.
If the Pepto-colored building doesn’t catch your interest, then perhaps Big Pink’s enormous portions of American comfort food will. When Yelpers aren’t leaving reviews telling you to definitely share dishes, they’re raving about the breakfast and the fun cocktails at this Miami beachside restaurant.
People love this neighborhood cocktail bar for its friendly service, homey ambience, and chic bar eats. To top things off, multiple reviews said that Stateside has one of the best bourbon selections in the city!
This eatery does farm to table effortlessly. Located in downtown Cleveland, their menu runs the gamut from gravy fries to roasted pig head to Brussels sprouts. Plus, The Greenhouse Tavern has one of the most definitive Yelp reviews we have ever seen: “Anyone who gives Greenhouse less than 5 stars is a dolt.”
It’s all about the bratwurst at Café Mozart. This D.C. German deli and café serves up multiple kinds of brats, schnitzel, fried fish sandwiches, and rum cake. Plus some nights they have an accordion player! No wonder this is one of Yelp’s best.
Yelpers on the mainland rave about Noho’s Hawaiian. One reviewer writes, “Absolutely hands down fantaboulous foooooooood. Love love love this place.....you cant get better mac salad and the teriyaki chicken OMG.” Still not convinced? The owner is Kauai native dedicated to serving up home-cooked chicken, pork, and rice dishes, as well as macaroni salad.
There may be multiple Spago locations, but this one is lauded as a Yelp favorite. Located in stunning Wailea, it’s no wonder Yelpers love enjoying Wolfgang Puck’s menu while taking in views of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean.
Yelpers have deemed this spot the best Korean barbecue in Orlando. For those who have never tried Korean barbecue, the tables at Shin Jung (and many Korean barbecue restaurants) feature small grills where you are able to cook your own meat. According to a few inexperienced diners, Shin Jung offers guests the option of having a server let you know when your meat is done!
It’s no secret that you can find fresh and fantastic seafood in Boston. But for out-of-towners, B&G Oysters is Boston’s best kept secret. Not only do Yelpers celebrate their friendly staff, their seafood towers, wood-smoked mussels, crab meat dip, and fried branzino are major standouts. “This is a must for any oyster foodie in Boston. Don't miss out,” declared a reviewer.
“I'm writing this review while eating the coconut stuffed French toast. I am a serious French toast fan and have tried it at the best places of DC, New York and Philly. This is without a doubt one of the best I've ever had,” said a happy customer at super-popular brunch spot Miss Shirley’s Café. This Baltimore fave serves up crazy combos like a Reuben stuffed French toast and a Southern Slammer Sandwich with fried green tomatoes, bacon, avocado mash, cheddar cheese, and a fried egg on toast.
Lido offers a small menu with simple but flavorful dishes, all done extremely well. Their Yelp reviews are full of New Yorkers excited about one special dish, such as this arugula salad: “The salad of arugula has warm roasted pear, walnuts, shaved parmesan mixed with white balsamic vinaigrette. I love this salad!!!! It's so fresh and special.”
Intimate-looking Little Nonna’s is decorated cozily with tons of photographs and decorative laundry lines to evoke a beloved Italian grandmother. Their classic Italian menu is full of such comforts as meatballs, garlic bread, pan-seared gnocchi, and espresso tiramisu.
Yelpers have called Antico “warm and welcoming.” Their extensive Italian menu has a ton of seafood dishes, all of which appear to be Yelp favorites, including the tilapia piccata, capellini al pesto with shrimp, and their seafood frittura mista appetizer.
Shan Shan Noodles is what many Yelpers are calling an “authentic Chinese noodle house” in New Jersey. “The restaurant is filled with local Chinese which is a good sign the food will be great,” said one reviewer who claims this is the key to finding good authentic Chinese food. Noodles at Shan Shan are hand-pulled and knife-cut. They also offer steamed pork buns, an assortment of dumplings, scallion beef rolls, and other tasty entrées.
“Such an under-rated restaurant!!” raved an ecstatic Yelper about this California find. “This is, bar none, the best sushi restaurant in town.” Most reviewers also seem to love the prices. A specialty roll will only set you back $10-$13, and Ikoi Sushi uses fresh ingredients and abundantly tops their rolls with more than just your run-of-the-mill avocado slice.
Urban Standard stops serving food at 4 p.m., so get there early if you don’t want to have to wait in line. Their pastries are tasty, their coffee delicious, and their sandwiches some of the most popular in Birmingham. One Yelper described its overall vibe as “something this So Cal girl would typically see in Venice but with a bit of southern charm.”
Long Island Yelpers rave about Raagini’s chicken tikka masala, butter naan, samosa chaat, and mango lassis. “The service is always inviting and timed very well. The chef is a gift from the Gods. His ability to perfectly blend spices with the right amount of heat (per request) are a real treat,” said one review.
This Dallas eatery has been described as “culinary perfection” by guests. Nazca serves up tasty Latin American-inspired cuisine and Texans are eating up their yucca fries, butter leaf fish tacos, and seafood-stuffed avocado. One Yelper boldly stated: “Nazca is a delicious Latin American cuisine worth adding into your lunch and dinner rotation.”
The modern French cuisine at this Michelin-starred Midtown restaurant is a hit with New Yorkers. Guests can experience their regular menu with such standouts as Nova Scotia halibut, grilled Black Angus pork tenderloin, and roasted diver scallops, or their chef’s menu, which features an ambitious 18 courses.
Lovingly referred to as a “grub pub” by locals, Hammerheads has a large menu with specialty meat dishes like an elk burger, a half rack of lamb’s ribs, and pulled duck tacos. As one reviewer said, “This definitely seems like a local favorite, and it really made me regret not being a local so I could come here regularly.”
If you’re looking for a Hawaiian vibe with Northern California chef ingenuity, look no further than Liholiho Yacht Club. “Liholiho is so cute!” exclaimed one Yelper. “I absolutely love the ambience here and all of the serves are extremely friendly. They truly embrace the aloha spirit here at Liholiho!” Many reviewers recommend ordering the off-menu spam dish. “I had to be convinced to order the spam...”said another reviewer. “Because spam is spam is spam, right? Wrong. They make their spam in house and it is amazing. Definitely give this one a try.” Looking for more great food in San Francisco, LA, and everywhere in between? Check out the best food and drink in California.