Yelp Reviews For Places You Can't (or shouldn't) Go

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With its user-generated reviews and recommendations, Yelp can be great for trying to find a fun spot for dinner. But there are plenty of profiles that aren't so helpful, and not just because of the quality of the reviews. Pages have sprung up for fake restaurants, jokes from Onion articles and even websites. Check out these strange Yelp reviews and be sure to chime in in the comments with your most bizarre Yelp sighting.

"Great sea urchin ceviche"

Dorsia, in New York's Flatiron district, is one of the hottest and most exclusive restaurants. Judging by the reviews, it's almost impossible to get a reservation and even if you do, it's still a pricey meal (four dollar signs). That said, the sea urchin ceviche is great and New York Matinee hailed the peanut butter soup with smoked duck and mashed squash as a "playful, but mysterious little dish."

Fans of American Psycho will of course recognize Dorsia as the ultra-exclusive haunt of Patrick Bateman. And while some of the locations visited in the movie are real (check out this blog's slightly NSFW tour of Patrick Bateman's New York), Dorsia is not. The entire Yelp page (which lists Dorsia as closed) is full of references to the movie and inside jokes about how difficult it is to get a reservation. Some of the lower-rated reviews even touch on the fact that "nobody goes here anymore" and recommend Texarkana, another fake restaurant from the movie with a very real Yelp profile.

"The line for the Lazy River was crazy packed"

An Onion article about an "Abortionplex" in Kansas created an Internet sensation when the blog Literally Unbelievable collected Facebook comments from readers who thought the article was real. Then Yelp took the joke a step further by creating a (largely inappropriate) profile for the Topeka Abortionplex, complete with more than 200 comments. Based on the reviews, the center sounds pretty great: there's a lazy river tube ride, a puppet show, a selection of vegan cookies, a full bar and even an IHOP. However, a lot of visitors seem upset that their Groupons or Scoutmob deals weren't accepted.

The Yelp page, like a great Onion article, works as a pitch-perfect parody of both Yelp reviews and the Planned Parenthood debate -- there's even a reference to Sen. Jon Kyl.

"Ah! New York's little 'vacation' spot!"

Several of New York's jails have garnered rather positive reviews on Yelp. Rikers Island has 3.5 stars, Sing Sing gets a perfect 5 stars (granted, with only one review), but Manhattan Central Booking only gets 2. In a glowing Rikers Island review, one commenter praises the food as "fusion, with various flavors of American, French but mostly Jamaican food." Another calls it a "'holiday' spot."

Unlike other jokey Yelp pages, these reviews are actually real, albeit less than serious. One reviewer of Central Booking told the New York Post that she wrote the review after spending a night for a bar fight. "It was spontaneous and it gave me a laugh at the time," said Davisha Badone, who criticized the facility as "unfun" because "junkies in withdrawal do not make great conversation."

The trend has started to spread to jails in Austin, San Francisco and Indiana. San Quentin has even crossed over to FourSquare.

"The commercials are creepy"

Yelp may be great for restaurants and other physical places, but a number of reviewers have decided to use it for the digital world as well. For example, the dating website eHarmony.com only gets 1.5 stars, with many reviewers commenting on the overall troubles of online dating or the site's TV commercials. Meanwhile, the profile for Google Headquarters has become a sounding board for any Google product ("Free email is nice, but you get what you pay for."). Likewise with Amazon.com.

And, in the predictably meta twist, even Yelp has a profile on Yelp. The verdict? 3 stars, and not good for kids.

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September 30, 2011 - 12:24pm
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