Zagat Spreads Shitty Burger Recommendations [RANT]
It’s been a while since we had a good old fashioned burger rant but seeing the ridiculous amount of attention given to Zagat’s “Best Burgers in D.C.” list last week has pushed us to let loose.
Not only does the list contain some pretty glaring omissions, but it falls prey to what just about every other food site does– it goes by popularity, not quality (results are from a survey.) And while we’re focused on Zagat here, they are not alone in perpetrating the phenomenon of dumbed-down, shitty-photo, top-ten-list-slideshow posts filled with selections pulled out of someone’s ass. Didn’t Zagat used to have some credibility? Remember when restaurants boasted about being “Zagat Rated’? That’s long gone. Now they’re the Bleacher Report of food. Ever since Yelp came along and began kicking ass in user-generated reviews, Zagat has become less and less relevant. Instead of trying to get better, they’ve transformed themselves into a cheap Yelp knock-off going for the easy click. (And the fact that Google bought them ain’t helping. The search giant has no strong original content– everything is aggregated from outside sources.)
We wouldn’t mind it so much if they weren’t trying to pass themselves off as experts in the matter. But they are. And they’re doing a disservice to everyone who reads one of their lists and takes it as some kind of gospel. We can attest– it’s hard goddamn work* being burger connoisseurs and Zagat fails miserably at it. There’s just so many options in the area that unless you get your ass out there and start eating, you should have no authority to produce a “Best Of” anything, anywhere list. And with post titles like “Hottest Burger” and “Most Over the Top Burger,” the categories are so fucking arbitrary, they could fill the lists with joints they randomly picked out of the phone book (and seeing some of these selections, it appears they did) and no one would be any the wiser. But hey, readers flock, links get clicked and Five Guys gets another sign to hang on their walls. Zagat’s mission is accomplished. (Look, we like Five Guys, really we do, but it’s not one of the five best burgers in the D.M.V. Sorry.)
And Zagat’s fluff isn’t limited to D.C.; in Chicago there’s the “5 Burger Chains Worth Checking Out” right along side “The 20 Must-Try Burgers in Chicago.” Make up your damn mind already. Boston Burger Blog called Boston’s Best Of “one of the worst lists I’ve ever seen.” How about the “6 Craziest Burgers in Philadelphia“? Um, could you obfuscate a little more? I once saw a burger slapped in between two slices of pizza and then deep fried. That’s pretty fucking crazy but should it make the list? (For the record, their “crazy” burger selections include one topped with lobster, one topped with tortilla chips and one topped with the oh-so-bat-shit-nutty trio of ham, cheese and lemon mayo. FUCKING. INSANE.)
Look, we get it, people love lists, but anybody can put out a Top 10 D.C. Burger list and get tons of clicks. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s perfect for the short-attention-spanned generation that is our future (God help us.). And before anyone says “Hey, but you guys put out lists too!”, there’s a difference. First, we produce these lists very sparingly, but when we do, you damn well better believe that every single one of them is backed with some serious burger knowledge and research. It’s not some regenerated press release shit that more and more sites are vomiting up as actual “content.”
So what made Zagat’s D.C. list? The joints are below, and while we’ve had perfectly good burgers at each of them, in our completely humble, but totally expert opinion, a list without Palena or Shake Shack is a failure.
Zagat’s 5 Best Burgers in DC Metro
5. Good Stuff Eatery
4. Thunder Burger
3. Five Guys
2. Black & Orange
1. Ray’s Hell Burger