How our rating system works

In our reviews we rate restaurants on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest possible rating. On most standard restaurant reviews we grade on five criteria that are evenly weighted in determining the overall rating. Those criteria are:

1. Ambiance
2. Service
3. Execution
4. Creativity
5. Value

The Ambiance includes factors such as the architectural design, décor, music and lighting.

The Service includes factors bearing on the service provided by the employees of the restaurant working in various capacities in the dining area. This would include the waiters, the maître d’ and/or the hostess. Having to wait for a table, for example, would bear negatively on service.

The Execution includes factors relating to the taste and preparation of the food. If a steak is overcooked this would bear negatively on Execution. If a dish tasted bad this would also bear negatively on Execution.

Creativity relates to the originality of the theme and the food served in the restaurant. A restaurant that is unique due to the type of food it offers (e.g. a Japanese restaurant, if this was unique to the city in which it is located) might score higher marks for creativity than would a restaurant of a type that is very common, as would a dish on the menu that is highly unique and creative and that successfully uses ingredients or techniques that are not typically used on a dish of that type.

Finally, the Value assesses the cost of the meal in relation to the quality and quantity of the food served.

We attempt to score and compare restaurants that have a similar format or theme. We rank all restaurants on how well the owner, management and staff fulfill the expectations of the diners. Thus a burger joint might score 4.5 Stars and a rather average fining dining restaurant might only score 3 stars. We attempt to compare apples to apples, comparing and rating a restaurant compared to similar types of restaurants.

Our ratings will typically be slightly lower than what you might see on consumer review sites such as Tripadvisor.com, Yelp and Google Reviews. If you utilize these types of review sites you are likely aware of the fact that the scores are unrealistically high on the majority of the reviews. For example, in Buenos Aires about 80% of the restaurants score 4 Stars or better. That defies logic. In theory, only about 20% of the restaurants should score 4 stars or better based on simple probabilities. Only about 10% to 15% of restaurants we evaluate score 4 Stars or better on our overall rating. The vast majority score in a range from 3 to 3.9 Stars. Bottom line, if a restaurant scores 4 Stars are better it is likely in the Top 5 restaurants in the city for that type of restaurant.

We typically only write reviews for restaurants that score 3 Stars are better. If a restaurant scores less than 3 Stars we feel that this restaurant is not worthy of a visit and is not worthy of our time and resources in writing a detailed description of the less than favorable experience we encountered. We list restaurants we have visited that score less than 3 Stars in the “Don’t Go” page of our website that can be found in a link on the main menu.

However, we sometimes elect to write a detailed review on a restaurant for a variety of reasons. We will most often do that when a restaurant that we think is below average has won acclaim from critics and/or consumers on consumer review sites despite the fact that we had a less than favorable experience dining at the restaurant. We think that this circumstance warrants a detailed account of our experience.

We occasionally have special features such as our Burger Joint Face-off where we use a different set of criteria for rating a restaurant and may not always evenly weigh the criteria in providing a rating. In our Burger Joint Face-off, for example, 70% of the overall score is based on the taste of the burger and the other factors such as service, ambiance and value only account for 30% of the score. When we utilize a unique rating system we will explain that in the feature article and will provide a link to how the rating for that restaurant is determined in that particular review.

We do not ask consumers to rate the restaurants or accept consumer ratings. We feel that our reviewers can provide a better and more objective evaluation than those provided on sites that have consumer reviews. We explain the reasons for that in this article. However, we post a link on our Facebook and Google Plus pages to each new restaurant review and article and we accept comments for up to 30 days from those visiting our Facebook page on each review, article or other post. We welcome your comments and feedback on those pages.

By better understanding our method of rating restaurants and bars you can take better advantage of the benefits of our website and the detailed account we provide of each restaurant we visit. If for example, the ambiance is not as important to you as other criteria that we rate, you can easily take that into account in assessing whether you want to visit the restaurant. We love food and hope that the information we provide can enhance your dining experiences in Latin America.