If you’re a regular DC Yelper, you may have noticed Tara Lewis’s reviews at some of your favorite restaurants, hair salons and bakeries or even spotted her at a few events! Today, we’re thrilled to announce that Tara is Yelp’s new Trend Expert. With help from Yelpers across the country, Tara helps spot the next great food and drink trends, unearths how we really feel about home cleaning and discovers inspiring stories from our business community.
Wanna know more about Tara and how she spots the trends? Read on for our Q&A with her and be sure to follow along on social at #TrendWithTara.
What are some of the biggest food trends you’re seeing and loving right now?
I personally love dishes that are naturally colorful. Seeing the creative use of ube and butterfly pea flower has been fun! I’m also a big fan of the zero waste movement and restaurants that are maximizing their resources in an effort to minimize food waste. It’s smart and beneficial to the business, but also supports greater sustainability efforts.
What’s one thing you’ve learned about the Yelp community over the years?
I’ve learned that there are kind, thoughtful and passionate people in every city. Every city has interesting people, places and experiences to discover, embrace and learn from. Traveling to so many cities over the years has exposed me to people from all walks of life, both business owners and Yelpers alike, that constantly reinstate my faith in the goodness that exists within people. I’ve also learned that food can be a quick and direct path to fellowship.
What’s the coolest business you’ve discovered on Yelp?
I’ve encountered so many cool businesses through Yelp. From a lipsologist to a dessert speakeasy, my mobile pet groomer to a business where the bartender is also a magician…it would be impossible for me to crown one as the coolest! (And that was all just off the top of my head!)
What is your favorite dish of all time? It would probably be the most indulgent and decadent burrito I’ve ever had, appropriately named Burrito ‘The King’ from Poca Madre in Washington DC. It’s a burrito filled with wagyu, lobster, robiola cheese, black truffle-black beans, rice and topped with caviar. It’s ridiculous, delicious and will put you in a nice little food coma.
Cities like New York, New Orleans and Los Angeles have well covered food scenes. What city do you think should be on everyone’s foodie bucket list?
Cities like Savannah, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Vancouver are all cities with some really impressive and exciting emerging food scenes as well.
Let’s switch gears for a bit, what are some of your favorite DC restaurants and businesses?
There are so many! Sushi Capitol, Momo’s Cafe, Poca Madre, The Unconventional Diner, Donburi and NuVegan Cafe are among some of my favorites. I also love Eaton Workshop, whether it’s just to grab coffee at Kitsugi, a meal at American Son, or a cocktail on the rooftop bar, Wild Days.
You’ve spent a lot of time chatting with business owners. Can you share any interesting or touching stories that you’ve heard?
Honestly, every time I speak with a business owner to learn more about their journey, I’m inspired. But there are a few stories that definitely stand out.
I really loved when Momofuku founder and celebrity chef, David Chang invited Yelp Elites to a private,10-course meal and whiskey pairing. At that dinner he shared that although he initially had been reluctant to embrace Yelp, he secretly would often use it and found it to be incredibly helpful. When he first opened Momofuku in DC, he couldn’t understand why the reviews weren’t initially glowing. He’s from the DC area and felt confident that he knew what people in the region would like and enjoy. After digging into the feedback in reviews, he realized there were some modifications he could make to improve the business. I loved that story because it was one that came full circle and really highlights how Yelp can help shape the evolution of a business in a way that is mutually beneficial to the business and it’s customers.