In case words are too difficult for you to manage or you're a 13-year-old girl with an iPhone (you know, when I was your age...), Yelp has just made things a little easier on you.
Now, instead of actually typing words like "pizza" or "hamburger" in the search box when you want to find a restaurant, all you have to do is type an emoji. You know, those little pictographs invented in Japan and now available on just about any smart phone.
The system seems to work pretty well for pizzerias, hamburger joints and ice cream parlors, but avid emoji users will immediately recognize possible shortcomings of the system. How, for instance, is one to find a Mexican restaurant when there's no taco or burrito emoji available? What good is that damn flan emoji? And what happens if you search for something random like, oh, I don't know, that eminently useful Easter Island head?
We did the research so you don't have to.
First, you're probably going to want to download the Yelp app, because attempting to search on the full website gets messy. You will, of course, want to delete the app as soon as you're done playing with the emoji thing, because we have much better restaurant recommendations right here.
Next, try a search.
The first hit on this is Luigi's Pizzeria (a current contender for most underrated pizza in Houston), followed by Gotham Pizza, Piola, and Ponzo's Italian food, all of which are in close proximity to the Houston Press office, where I'm currently searching. Other perhaps more obvious restaurants like Dolce Vita, Pink's, Pizza L'Vino and Star Pizza also come up, but they aren't as close to my current location.
So far, so good. I've got Double Trouble, Doshi House, Ben's Beans and Southside Espresso all nearby. Nary a Starbucks in sight (though I know there are several closer than these local options).
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I was sure this would totally mess with Yelp's head, but much to my surprise, Yelp has directed me to The Path of Tea, Teahouse Tapioca and Tea, Té House of Tea and PI Teahouse. Good job, Yelp.
Both the beer mug and the two beer mugs that appear to be toasting to something return a number of nearby bars, all of which, to my knowledge, serve beer. Also, Spec's and D & Q Mini Mart, which sell beer but are not bars.
Here we have wine bars, wineries and wine merchants as well as restaurants like Boheme and The Pass, both of which serve wine. Not as specific as we'd like, but a valiant effort nonetheless.
I imagine emojis like the hamburger are the ones most intended to be used with Yelp. This search turns up Hubcap Grill, Sparkle's Hamburger Spot, Lankford Grocery & Market and Stanton's City Bites.
A little less specific than hamburgers, the french fry icon causes Yelp to suggest Barnaby's, Coreanos, Sparkle's Hamburger Spot and Hubcap Grill, which leaves me to wonder: Where is Whataburger?!
This search is surprisingly accurate. First up, Goro & Gun, followed by Nippon Japanese Restaurant, Fat Bao (which serves ramen from time to time) and Kata Robata.
Fail. Rather than directing me to ice cream or frozen yogurt shops exclusively, Yelp first suggests I try Luigi's Pizzeria. Then, it recommends Tasti D-Lite, followed by...Green Seed Vegan?
Now we're back on track. I've got Not Jus Donuts Bakery, MMM...Cupcake, Tiff's Treats and Maison Burdisso, all of which appear to be bakeries. And now I'm wondering where the cupcake emoji is...
Apparently the flan emoji is not flan, but actually custard. Searching with that image brings up Connie's Frozen Custard, Ritters Frozen Custard and Freddy's Frozen Custard.
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If you were expecting the bread emoji to find you a bakery, you're out of luck. Bread returns results for sandwich shops, including Les Givral's and Zero's Sandwich Shop. Scroll down a little and you might find Slow Dough in between The Cajun Stop and Brennan's. Weird.
Anything Italian, especially if it has "spaghetti" in the name, like Spaghetti Warehouse and Spaghetti Western.
Searching with the drumstick brings up chicken, chicken and more chicken. The Breakfast Klub, Reggae Hut and Frenchy's Chicken all pop up, as do a number of Vietnamese restaurants. But I'm in Midtown, so maybe that's different elsewhere in the city.
This icon, unsurprisingly, is incredibly reliable. It will find just about every sushi restaurant in Houston.
Yelp is confused. I was hoping to find a fruit stand, but instead, I got Red Apple Nails, 13 Celsius (?), Reef (??), and Baby Barnaby's (???).
Massage parlors. Bingo.
Now I'm confused. I got Tunnel - S Louisiana - Yellow, Barbarella and Houston Police Officers Memorial.
This actually works if you're looking for a pet service that cleans up dog poop or a dog park or you're hoping to visit the Poop Deck bar in Galveston.
No results for (Easter Island Head) near Houston, TX.
All emoji images from emojipedia.org.
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