San Franciscans love Yelp, and it’s not just because they love to love the same restaurants that everyone else does.

A user generated review site is pretty much what the Greeks were thinking of when they invented democracy, and San Francisco is nothing if not democratic. As if that wasn’t incentive enough, every time you or someone you like writes a positive Yelp review it actually cuts your carbon footprint in half. Cash for Clunkers was child’s play compared to the amount of resources that would be saved if more people read about food instead of eating it, but no one has done a Yelp review of the food at the White House yet so President Obama is too busy trying to figure out if he likes it to make smart policy decisions.

Yelp is probably the best reason a San Franciscan has for not dating a restaurant owner. If Facebook is the crack pipe of internet communities then Yelp is the psychedelic mushroom: one minute it makes a restaurant owner laugh and the next it makes them cry. It is unknown how the Yelp defense would hold up in court, but in a lot of culinary circles a 1-star review is considered to be an act of involuntary manslaughter, even if that review was written by a person named Misty L.

But everyone knows that the worst review is the one that doesn’t get written. In this day and age the highest praise that can be bestowed on a restaurant is that it makes you feel like writing.

Yelp has become so popular in San Francisco that some restaurants are actually just fronts for reviews. Sure, they’ll serve you some half-assed fennel stuffed Ahi toes if you really want them, but their real business is providing customers with 5-star reviews of fennel stuffed Ahi toes.

And of course every San Franciscan knows someone who has attended one of the infamous Yelp key parties, where everyone goes home with someone else’s opinion. At old-fashioned key parties participants gave the other person’s spouse back at the end of the night, but at a Yelp key party the opinions you go home with are yours forever, or at least until you get to the front of the line at Burma Superstar.

Photo: Radiowalker

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