Skip to main content

Go behind the scenes of Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat list

Everyday at Yelp we’re working on exciting projects that captivate the attention of millions of people around the world, and one of the most special things about being a Yelp employee is seeing the big impact of the work you do. 

We’re taking a moment to highlight what goes on behind the scenes of one of our most highly anticipated projects, Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat list, from the lens of our colleague Brenae Leary.

Meet Brenae

Brenae Leary is a Senior Consumer Communications Manager at Yelp, where she works on a team that demonstrates the value of Yelp’s products and content through storytelling on broadcast, print and online outlets like USA Today, NBC “Today” and Food & Wine. She joined Yelp in 2016 and is a graduate of New York University. 


Behind the scenes: Yelp Top 100 List 

Our mission has always been to connect people to great local businesses. Each of our projects ultimately ties back to this mission, making it them just that much more meaningful and exciting to work on.

Every year we publish the Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat list, an annual list that highlights some of the best restaurants to try in the United States and Canada. From small diners to glitzy new brunch spots, Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat list helps hungry diners find their new favorite joint. 

Since our 2020 list was just revealed, Brenae is peeling back the curtain on how the list is curated, the hard work – that goes into creating it, and what restaurants can do to have a chance at making the list.

What is the Top 100 Places to Eat List, and why is it exciting to be on the list? 

Yelp’s annual Top 100 Places to Eat lists the best places in the U.S. and Canada to grab a bite to eat. With our unique sets of data, we have the ability to surface consumer trends and top-notch local businesses and eateries. It makes for a fun way to find something you might miss on the Yelp app! 

It’s always exciting to see which restaurants are still earning top marks and discover up-and-comers, like Maks Asian Kitchen and Sushi, Inizio and Chez Genese. And as a New Yorker, it’s always nice when spots like Otis make the list. It’s pretty amazing they’ve cracked the top 100 in the nation, only having opened within the last year. 

How has the list evolved over the last seven years?

This list changes over time as Yelpers add more reviews and new businesses open. We also tweaked the methodology slightly this year. Just because a business ranks differently year to year doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not as favored—it just means other businesses are getting attention from the Yelp community, too. 

Keep in mind there are more than 30 million small businesses in the US. We’re highlighting just 100 restaurants with this list, but there are millions more amazing businesses on Yelp! We also regularly feature great local businesses throughout the year—stay tuned for our Top 100 Most Romantic list in time for Valentine’s Day!

Why is it a big deal to be on the list?

For benefits on being chosen to the top 100 list, feel free to check out our Q&A with TKB Bakery, a Palm Springs deli, who has made the top 100 list several years in a row.

With over 25 million new reviews on Yelp in the last year alone, how do you manage to find the best of the best?

To determine Yelp’s Best Places to Eat in 2020, Yelp’s data science team pulled the top restaurants by ratings and number of reviews in 2019 across the U.S., with representation based on each place’s share of top-rated restaurants nationally, then curated the list with the expertise of our community managers around the country to finalize the rankings. The result is a list as quirky, interesting and unique as the Yelp Community itself—from white tablecloth restaurants to food trucks to gyro shops. 

Do you have any tips for a restaurant that wants to make the list?

Consumers are eager to find the best local businesses on Yelp. Make yourself more likely to be discovered on Yelp by adding information about your business for free, like whether you’re a women-owned business or Open To All

Great photos also entice potential customers so be sure your photos are up to date on your business page. Yelp users love to see photos before deciding on their next meal, including favorite dishes at restaurants. In fact, about half of Yelp users look at photos before spending money at a business.

It’s helpful to set expectations for the type of product or service you deliver—e.g. whether guests should expect a white tablecloth fine dining experience, or picnic tables and take out boxes. 

Do you have any personal favorites from the list?

Shawarma Guys is a popular San Diego food truck and even took the spot as one of the best food trucks in California earlier this year, so it’s exciting to see them top this year’s list. With nearly 500 reviews and a 5-star average, Shawarma Guys are clearly making customers happy. Living in New York, it’s also nice to see Otis, Forma Pasta Factory, and Hold Fast Kitchen make the list!

Want to be a part of  meaningful projects like Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat? 

[cta_button url=”” text=”Search Yelp Jobs” type=”primary”]