It’s easy to pick up on once you’re there: the realization that a restaurant or museum is swarming with out-of-towners, without a local in sight. But how do you know ahead of time where only the locals go?
Yelp is a great tool for finding local hidden gems, whether you live in a place or are just visiting. We dug through Yelp data to see which local restaurants are visited primarily by the people who call San Francisco and San Diego home and which are most popular among visitors to the cities.
I ranked restaurants in both cities by the percentage of Yelp users who are located in the same city as the restaurant — according to the location information they share in their profiles — and who have either reviewed the business, added photos, or checked in on Yelp. Among the findings: Tourists in San Francisco far outnumber locals at Fisherman’s Wharf eateries, and locals in both cities tend to go to chain businesses more than visitors.
For San Francisco, locals appear to indulge in the occasional Domino’s pizza more often than visitors, and they also hit up Guerra’s Quality Meats and other businesses in the Parkside neighborhood more often.
It makes sense that visitors to a city want to visit the areas and restaurants they’ve heard about before, while locals are more likely to frequent lower-price restaurants, including fast casual spots, than are tourists, many of whom are looking for a unique dining experience. In the future we might extend this analysis with additional factors in play, like restaurant quality and ability to make reservations on Yelp.
In the meantime, with a little extra effort, Yelp users can click through from a business listing to reviewers’ profiles on to see if they’re local to the area and take that into consideration.