PROS / Searching for restaurants is a cinch with intuitive navigation and a myriad of “top 10” lists.
CONS / In contrast to its competitors, the site offers very little additional info and few features, such as FAQs or a more detailed “about us” page.
VERDICT / Expect thorough and reliable restaurant reviews but little more from the UrbanSpoon website.
While our other two top-ranked restaurant review websites also host reviews for businesses and services other than restaurants, Urbanspoon is exclusively restaurant reviews. In fact, the site boasts reviews from not only actual consumers but restaurant critics and food bloggers as well, which helps this website earn our TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award. With an easy-to-navigate website and interesting top 10 lists, seeking out the perfect dining experience on Urbanspoon is a snap!
Urbanspoon was designed to help consumers discover restaurants in both their hometown and unfamiliar areas. Their intelligible and highly informative restaurant reviews do just that. Each restaurant review page contains a plethora of information for that particular restaurant. For starters, in addition to user reviews, you can peruse the restaurant menu (if added), critic reviews, and blog posts pertinent to the restaurant from all over the web. The rating system is simple: users select whether they like the restaurant or don’t and a percentage of those who like it is given (e.g. 77% of 374 people who have voted like the restaurant).
The additional information and stats given on each restaurant is rather standard; like with most restaurant review websites, you’ll find contact info, price range, and type of cuisine. However, unlike other similar websites, on Urbanspoon anyone can add new restaurants to the site and change existing restaurant info without being a registered member. Users can also get driving directions to that restaurant through Google Maps and browse other comparable nearby restaurants. A special features section details unique aspects of the restaurant, such as if the eatery serves gluten-free fare, if it’s good for late-night dining, or if free Wi-Fi is available.
Similar to bookmarking, Urbanspoon allows users to create a “wishlist” of their favorite restaurants on the site; simply select “add to wishlist” on a particular restaurant review page.
Want to find a local bistro in the neighborhood? Looking to discover a sushi bar with moderate prices? Traveling to an unfamiliar city and interested in finding a steakhouse with city views? You can do all this and more on the Urbanspoon website. Users can search for restaurants in a variety of ways including by address, city, cuisine, price, ratings, and type of restaurant (e.g. a deli or fast food joint).
If your palate is rather amenable - or rather you are not a picky eater - browse through Urbanspoon’s top ten lists to find the perfect spot to eat. Each categorized city or destination on the site has a list of the best fine dining restaurants and the best cheap eats in the area. In addition, you can surf the 100 best restaurants in a particular city (at least according to Urbanspoon) or “Talk of the Town,” a list of the newest restaurants generating buzz in the area.
While the site may not offer as rich a suite of features as our other top-ranked websites, Urbanspoon does still provide users with a handful of interesting, niche features. For example, if you can’t decide where to eat, use the slot machine widget! Simply select a city and click “spin.” You can lock down a desired neighborhood, cuisine and price and spin until you find exactly what you’re craving at the price you want. Even better, you can actually imbed the widget on your own blog or website.
Other standard features include a blog, mobile apps (the obvious trend among restaurant review websites) and restaurant owner resources (owners can create free ads to increase their restaurant’s exposure on the website). When it comes to international reviews, Urbanspoon covers cities in Canada, the United Kingdom and most surprisingly (and a bit random), in Australia.
To help users more fully utilize and understand the website, we’d love to see a FAQ page or help center and an amplified about us page - the current one is rather sparse (at least when it comes to text; the page contains a myriad of pictures of Urbanspoon employees eating various types of cuisine).
Ease of Use
The website’s smart use of muted color and design creates a clean, sleek look. Intuitive navigation and logical categorization (according to cuisine, area, ratings, etc.) make searching for great restaurants a cinch. Simply use the search bar or browse the many geo-targeted lists offered directly on the website’s homepage.
You can access your published reviews, restaurant wishlist and voting history by simply clicking “My Profile” at the top of any page and selecting the appropriate tab. In addition, it tells you just how much of your profile is complete (e.g. 40% complete) and what still needs to be done to complete it.
While we feel a help or FAQ section would enhance the site, Urbanspoon certainly excels when it comes to offering diverse and detailed restaurant reviews from both actual customers and professionals. For those seeking the ultimate dining experience – whether they’re looking to save or splurge – Urbanspoon is your one-stop shop!