In the past few weeks I've come across quite a few people who have never heard of Yelp. Yelp.com is the best website ever! I use it all the time, primarily to find new (and tasty) places to eat.
Sometimes it's hard to pick new places and in the past I've always had hesitations with trying anything new. My hesitations were mainly driven by my fear of suffering "food remorse." The last thing you want to do is go and try a new place only to leave feeling dissatisfied, out 50 bucks and/or still hungry.
Yelp is free and anyone can read the reviews on any business or service. Each business or service has its own page which provides the basic information such as address, phone number, business hours, website address, price range and most importantly its rating (based on a five star scale). You can then scroll down and read the posted reviews. It is a great place to read reviews written like people like you and I, which are mostly based on honest and genuine experiences. I say "mostly" because there is the occasional reviewer that will write a poor review purely based on one bad experience or they'll write something completely irrelevant. Each reviewer can write about their experience and then is asked to rate the business/service on a five star scale. The business/service overall rating is based on an average of all reviewers.
After reading the reviews, you should be aware of which reviews should be legitimately considered before turning to the rating. The rating is important, but only if there appears to be a good amount of legitimate reviews and the number of reviews is also equally important. For example, if I have two restaurants that I am deciding between and one has 20 reviews with a five star rating and the other has 250 reviews with a four star rating. I may chose to go to the restaurant with the fewer stars if the reviews are exceptional. Some reviewers will also post pictures, which can prove to be helpful.
Although users can read reviews for free, you must register with Yelp before you can post any reviews. I used Yelp so much, that a little over a year ago, I opened an account so that I could contribute and review businesses/services that I can provide useful information on. Writing about my experiences is always exciting and some can be a little funny in addition to being useful. Joining Yelp is completely free. If a business/service is not yet listed, you can add it and write its first review as a Yelp member. The other great thing about Yelp is that it's easily accessible from any computer, phone with mobile access and applications for Yelp that are available on certain smart phones.
You can also e-mail any reviews or business info to anyone and you can get your friends to join. You can also read about the hype on new/upcoming openings. I remember when Kogi Tacos were starting to become the big rage out in Los Angeles/Orange County areas and my boyfriend and I finally tried it, which turned into this great adventure trying to locate the truck! Based on my experience, I wrote a great review for Kogi.
I once was afraid to try new things, but not anymore. I have faith and trust in Yelp and it has not steered me in the wrong direction yet!