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What Is The 'Best Of Chicago' According To Foursquare?

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jan 31, 2013 4:00PM

2013_1_31_Foursquare.png Apparently, this is the week for interesting best-of lists based on very skewed samples. Yesterday, Foursquare sent us an interesting little tidbit of news—all of the places that Chicagoans check in the most. Based on what we see on our Facebook feed, we expected the top 10 to all be Starbucks and gyms, but it turns out that the list is actually an interesting snapshot of a certain segment of Chicago.

Here's the thing about this data set: It's all from people who use FourSquare. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that their "3 billion" data points are concentrated in a relatively small subset of the population.

The Top 10 list of "American" restaurants made us cringe a bit. Clearly, calling the restaurants that the most cell-phone-toting, social-media-obsessed people go to the "best" restaurants is not a very good evaluation system, and "American" is not the most useful category. According to FourSquare users, the best American restaurant in Chicago is ... HUB51. Yeah. Also on the list? The Pump Room, South Branch Tavern, Grand Lux Cafe and Rock Bottom Brewery. Popular? Absolutely. Decent? Sure. The best? Not so much. We feel like all of those platitudes our parents told us about popularity contests just came true, all at once. Luckily, The Bristol and Farmhouse came along to rescue us.

The speciality lists are actually much more useful. Best Coffee? Wormhole, Metropolis, Intelligentsia, Ipsento. Best Burgers? DMK, Bad Apple, Kumas. Cocktails? The Violet Hour, The Aviary, The Whistler and Barrelhouse Flat. Not revolutionary choices, but if you're looking for a new place, you might want to check them out. The lists also include nightlife, bars, music venues, museums and more. Each list has ten entries and they will provide endless fodder for arguing with your friends (if you're the sort who argues about these things). Check out the complete set here.