AOL Cheap Eats Payoff Scandal?

6 01 2007

In case you didn’t know, AOL has  restaurant critics (presumably freelance) in all the major cities who then submit selections for their favorites for “Cheap Eats,” Chinese, Hamburgers, and lots of other categories depending on the city. I was checking out some of the editor’s selections for best “Cheap Eats” and here is a disturbing sampling:

Seattle: Chipotle

Los Angeles: Baja Fresh

Orange County: Ruby’s

Tampa: Sonic Drive In


All of them major chains that serve decent food (well maybe not Sonic) but hardly up to par for many of the other restaurants in the metro areas. I mean, AOL only picked 5-9 restaurants in each major metropolitan area and they couldn’t do any better than a bland chain? Come on now!

Then, to add insult to injury, I was checking out my old stomping grounds of San Diego and the editor selected Panda Inn, a bland food court restaurant at Horton Plaza, a touristy downtown mall! San Diego is an area with a great Chinese heritage and lots of wonderful Chinese restaurants and the best they can do is a chain in a touristy mall.

Come on now! It makes you wonder how if these restaurants paid the local reviewer to be included as a finalist for “Cheap Eats” or Chinese.

Go check it out for yourself. If you follow this link, it will take you to a default screen where you can click to the cities that voting is occurring in, hopefully. AOL likes to use cookies and will forward you to your last location if you try to go to an invalid location.

If you can find any other places that don’t deserve to be included post them here.


For the sake of the decent cheap eats places that somehow were included, vote! Voting ends January 12. Winners are announced January 29 and you better believe I’ll have something to say about it!




2 responses

8 01 2007

I don’t know why you think there’s anything other than low standards to blame for this.

30 11 2007
The Payoff Pays Off « Dave’s Cheap Eats

[…] 9, 2007 Posted by David Smith in California, San Francisco. trackback Did you like my stab at sensational journalism? It brought some more attention to Dave’s Cheap Eats and even brought in a couple of […]

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