TripAdvisor Wrongfully Takes Heat After Viral Barbecue Map Incident

by Anna Dunn

If you want good barbecue go to….. New Jersey? This is according to a hilarious list of best and worst barbecue spots in the United States. It went viral for its inaccuracy. However, TripAdvisor got the blame for the list, and now they’re trying to clear their name.

Not only were New Jersey and Seattle amongst some of the best places for Barbecue on the list… but multiple Texan cities were amongst the worst. The list claimed Texas’s highest-ranking city was El Paso at number twelve followed by….. Irvine, California.

Meanwhile, the top-ranked city was New Orleans, Louisiana. While it’s true the city hosts some of the best restaurants and cuisine in the country, people weren’t too keen on the idea that the city was best at Barbecue. The only other Texan city to crack the top twenty was Austin at #18.

In fact, the original post, which has been deleted, was made by a blog called The Chef’s Pencil. So, how did Tripadvisor get caught in the crossfire? The Chef’s Pencil “analyzed TripAdvisor ratings of all BBQ joints in the nation’s top 75 largest cities and ranked the cities based on their average rating.”

Clearly, the statistics they got lead to some incredibly funky numbers. Furthermore, many potential outlying causes could explain why all the barbecue places in Austin get ranked lower on average than in Seattle. It definitely doesn’t make the rainy city famous for its seafood a better place to go for barbecue.

TripAdvisor’s Brian Hoyt Spoke to a Texas Publication about the Barbecue Map

Meanwhile, TripAdvisor is on a damage control mission.

“We think [the blog] owes the state of Texas a big apology,” Brian Hoyt, head of Global Communications and Industry Affairs at Tripadvisor told My San Antonio.

Hoyt has lived in Texas and is a big fan of barbecue. He vehemently denied Tripadvisor had anything to do with the list. While it doesn’t appear The Chef’s Pencil claimed they collaborated with Tripadvisor, multiple media publications falsely listed the map as a “Tripadvisor map” as The Chef’s Pencil used their numbers.

“As far as we know, these are two guys in a garage in Australia,” Hoyt said. “They’re using our data, but misappropriating it.”

In fact, Tripadvisor has its own team of statisticians. According to Hoyt, the team doesn’t understand how the blog got the numbers they did. Whatever happened, any barbecue list that disregards the state of Texas should clearly be discarded. The travel website does have its own official “best barbecue” barbecue list. Whether or not you agree with TripAdvisor’s findings is up to you, but at least Texas eateries are heavily featured.