Mapping BBQ locations using Yelp

A little while back a friend suggested that maybe we could write a fun piece about BBQ. We are both living in Texas and while BBQ has always been a big deal in Texas, it seems to be getting bigger, with Texas Monthly appointing a full-time BBQ editor. I’ve been wanting to learn to work with maps better and to get into interactive web visualizations for a while, so this seemed like a good excuse to work on both.

I used the Yelp API to get data on BBQ restaurants in each of the 30 largest US cities (according to Wikipedia, city limits only). You’re really not supposed to use the API like this and in the future I’ll use one of Yelp’s academic data sets. To make it work, I had to split each city up into 625 lat/lon grid points and query each one separately. I averaged the ratings of each restaurant I found to get an average for the city. I also sampled a small number of restaurants in each city and collected review text for those restaurants (Yelp really doesn’t like you doing this, since it can’t be done with the API, and I don’t recommend trying it. Let’s just say that I can no longer read Yelp at home.) I used a dictionary of food adjectives I found on the web to pare the corpus down, and found three words for each city that are frequently used to describe that city’s BBQ. As you can see from mousing over the cities on the map below, this didn’t always work out great. More thoughts under the map…

US BBQ according to Yelp reviews

Circle size is proportionate to number of restaurants. Mouse over a city to see adjectives commonly used in Yelp reviews for area restaurants.

Average restaurant review
>3.7 >3.6 >3.5 >3.4 >3.3 >3.2 <3.1

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First post!

This is just a test post to see how my CSS looks.  This is the Epic theme, with some modifications to make the fonts smaller, because apparently when they say Epic they mean it.  Look forward to data visualizations and basketball analytics, coming soon(ish).