Uber Made A Restaurant Guide Based On Riders’ Trip Data

If big data dining sounds like your cup of tea, then Uber’s new restaurant guide might be right up your alley.

Instead of relying on user-submitted reviews like on Yelp or one critic’s assessment from The New York Times, Uber is hoping to use its rider data to determine each city’s most popular restaurants, reports TechCrunch. To create its Best Of lists, Uber looked at restaurants where users have requested rides to the most. For example, its top 10 brunch spots are determined by spots that receive the most traffic on weekends, while best fine dining are places where most UberBlack or UberSelect riders frequent. The most interesting is local favorites, which identifies businesses where the same rider repeatedly visits.

The restaurant picks skew on the expensive side, which makes sense given the data comes from people who are well-to-do enough to regularly take Uber to lunch and dinner.

Although it’s not clear how often the list updates, Uber says it will adjust the rankings frequently based on how trip data changes. This also helps the company take into account new businesses that may have gained popularity in recent months.

At launch, Uber’s restaurant guides are available in 12 US cities. Not surprisingly, they center around major metropolitan areas with larger Uber riderships, like New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and Dallas. But take these recommendations with a grain of salt… after all, it seems to suggest that Dominique Ansel Bakery of the 2013 cronut craze is still “up and coming.”

Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S.

Consulting Yelp before deciding on dinner plans is standard operating procedure these days. Even if we don’t always trust the reviews, it’s hard to pass up a spot with four and a half stars and hundreds of reviews. Other places hard to pass up? Every one on this list. Yelp went through their numbers and found the best of the best in the United States, and the group of 100 includes everything from the fine dining at The French Laundry and Eleven Madison Park to the messy chow down at Franklin Barbecue and Bogart’s Smokehouse. Here’s a look at the Top 10:

  1. Porto’s Bakery & Cafe (Burbank, CA) – Link
  2. Cheese Board Pizza (Berkeley, CA) – Link
  3. Paseo (Seattle, WA) – Link
  4. Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que (Kansas City, KS) – Link
  5. TKB Bakery & Deli (Indio, CA) – Link
  6. Gary Danko (San Francisco, CA) – Link
  7. The Morrison (Los Angeles, CA) – Link
  8. Mama D’s Italian Kitchen (Newport Beach, CA) – Link
  9. Franklin Barbecue (Austin, TX) – Link
  10. Marukame Udon (Honolulu, TX) – Link

See the rest of the list here.

Eating Healthy During the Week But Bingeing on Weekends is Not OK for Your Gut

A relatively healthy but complex community is living together peacefully, until an unruly mob of hooligans begins unsettling the community’s residents and disturbing the peace every weekend. This scenario could be playing out in the human gut every time you go on a junk food binge. Yo-yoing between eating well during the week and bingeing on junk food over the weekend is likely to be just as bad for your gut health as a consistent diet of junk.

Our study, recently published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, examined the impact of yo-yo dieting on the gut microbiota (the mix of organisms) of rats. This was the first study to compare how continuous or irregular exposure to an unhealthy diet can impact the composition of the gut microbiota. The findings were illuminating – but first, back to the microbiota.

Why microbiota matters

While the actual number of microbial cells has been the subject of recent debate, up to 100 trillion are thought to inhabit the human gut. These cells influence metabolism, nutrition and immune function. Growing evidence shows they are also important for our mental health. On the flip side, disruption to the gut’s microbiota has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.

In addition to diet, we know that our genetic makeup, antibiotic use, and hygiene also likely shape the microbiome. Recent work in chimpanzees indicates that who you live with can have as much as influence on the makeup of microbiome as who your parents are. Exercise has also been suggested to impact the diversity and types of bacteria found in the gut.

Junk food changes the microbiome

The role that biota plays in obesity is certainly controversial – as it’s difficult to demonstrate cause-and-effect. It’s also challenging to study in humans. However, one study showed that transferring biota from an obese human into a lean recipient mouse induced obesity in the mouse.

Our laboratory recently showed that a chronic high-fat diet in rats saw major shifts in gut biota. These changes were associated not only with weight gain and additional fat mass, but also changes to key hormones that regulate metabolism, such as insulin.

Weekend food binges

Armed with this knowledge, our next question was to find out what would happen in animals eating a low-fat diet four days a week, followed by a ‘binge’ of palatable, high-fat foods for three days every week – just like a long feast weekend.

We compared the abundance of microbiota in rats given continuous access to either a healthy diet or junk food (cake, biscuits, meat pies, dim sim, chips) with a group cycled between the two diets – healthy for four days and junk for three – over 16 weeks.

Cycled rats showed large swings in food intake, consuming 30 percent more energy than those maintained on the healthy diet only. When cycled rats switched back to a healthy diet, they consumed half as much nutritious food as those maintained on a healthy diet only.

At the end of the study, the cycled rats had gained less weight than rats consuming junk diet continuously, but were still 18 percent heavier than rats on a healthy diet only. Their measures of key metabolic hormones such as leptin and insulin were in-between the rates for rats fed junk or healthy food.

However, the gut biota profiles showed a different pattern – any exposure to the junk food was sufficient to shift the gut biota profile. In other words, the microbiota of cycled rats was almost indistinguishable from rats fed a constant diet of junk.

The junk food diet also reduced the abundance of microbial species capable of metabolising flavonoids, which have been suggested to not only assist in weight loss but also exert protective functions within the brain.

What does this mean for people?

If this same phenomenon occurs in humans, those who are strict with their diet during the week may have all that good work undone by hitting the junk food over the weekend.

The good news is the gut biota profile can change relatively quickly, so we have the capacity to introduce healthy lifestyle measures in order to improve intestinal health. Eating a healthy diet of unprocessed foods, including adequate fibre, avoiding excess alcohol and getting enough exercise are key.

This article was written by Margaret Morris from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australia, and was originally published by The Conversation.

WHERE TO EAT PIZZA Book Gives Tips and Recipes to the Best Pizza

It’s the year 2016 and people are still on the relentless pursuit of the perfect slice of pizza. Acclaimed London-based food critic Daniel Young is coming out with a new book for the pizza lovers that will be comprised of insider tips and advice for finding and making the perfect slice of pizza. Titled WHERE TO EAT PIZZA: The Last Word on the Slice, the hardback novel will provide inside scoop to the popular food including recipes to special sauces and perfect crusts with secret ingredients from over 1,000 food experts from around the world. Guides also include reviews and information to pizzas on global city maps with over 1,700 pizzerias, pizza joints and parlours.

WHERE TO EAT PIZZA: The Last Word on the Slice is now available for pre-order over at PHAIDON for about ($25 USD), with shipping beginning April 25.

Chick-fil-A’s “Mom’s Valet” Aims To Take The Stress Out Of Dining With Children

A simple trip for fast food can become anxiety-inducing when you throw a carful of excited kids into the mix. In an attempt to quell this chaos, Chick fil-A is testing a new service dubbed “Mom’s Valet.”

The service, Business Insider reports, enables parents with children to order their meals via the drive-thru, then come inside with their brood to eat.

Once an order is placed and paid for at the drive-thru, a Chick-fil-A employee will prepare a table for them and bring their order to them.

David Farmer, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of menu strategy and development, tells Business Insider that the idea for the service came about after employees noticed how hectic the ordering process could be for families.

The service, which will be advertised on participating restaurants’ drive-thru signs, is part of the company’s focus on “taking the stress out,” and making the dining experience more relaxing for all customers.

The World’s Largest McDonald’s in Orlando Is Closing

The greatest attraction in Orlando, Florida, isn’t Disney World, or Universal Studios, or Holy Land Experience. It’s the McDonald’s on the corner of International Drive and Sand Lake Road. This is no ordinary McDonald’s — it’s the world’s largest emporium of Hamburglars and Mayor McCheeses. The Fry-Shaped House That Obesity Built is ranked “#192 of 347 things to do in Orlando,” according to Trip Advisor, and its “Visit Orlando” page boasts of gator shows and a special toddler area. Hopefully those two things aren’t related.

But oh no, mega-Mickey D’s is closing. For an even bigger building.

The world’s largest McDonald’s [closed last night] at 11 p.m. The iconic structure… is being replaced with a new building next door. Construction of the “new, state-of-the-art replacement restaurant nears completion,” said officials with Oerther Foods, Inc., the company that owns and operates the restaurant.

The new 19,000-square-foot McDonald’s will open in February, said Oerther Foods leaders. Owners have remained mum on what attractions will be located inside the new restaurant.

SUPER-SIZED GATORS. The temporary closure is bad news for anyone too lazy to travel three blocks for the next McDonald’s, but good news for this Yelp reviewer, who wrote, “There were people literally walking around without shoes. The bathrooms made a level five toxic waste site look clean, that’s if you are able to get around the two drug-addicted-looking bums. One of the workers packing the food was scratching her ear like a rabid dog.”

You can put all the lipstick on the pig you want, but every McDonald’s will end up looking like Joe’s Citadel from Mad Max: Fury Road.

Taco Tuesday? Woman Suing Chipotle After Being Hospitalized For Violent, Five-Day Diarrhea

If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know just how much it sucks. You go from fiercely hot to freezing cold in seconds thanks to an unbearable fever. Every muscle and bone in your body hurts. You puke. You can’t leave the bathroom thanks to diarrhea. You lose your appetite and don’t really want to eat for days. You get ferociously dehydrated. You can barely move. It SUCKS.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, a number of Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota suffered from a salmonella outbreak starting in August. 32 of the 45 victims “ate or likely ate at 17 different Chipotle restaurant locations” in the Twin Cities Metro. The press release alleges that “produce” may be a source of the outbreak. The Minnesota Department of Health also adds this:

“Between Aug. 16 and Aug. 26, Chipotle served more than 560,000 customers in Minnesota and has taken every appropriate measure to ensure that it is safe to eat in its restaurants. Investigators are confident that ongoing transmission at Chipotle as part of this outbreak has ended.”

Pssshew. You can feel better about that chicken burrito bowl you had for lunch.

But one lady got so violently ill from eating at Chipotle that she’s now suing the restaurant, seeking damages for “general pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses, emotional distress, and pharmaceutical expenses,” according to Business Insider. BI has a summary of the lawsuit, which alleges that the plaintiff suffered from violent diarrhea after eating at a Chipotle.

According to the lawsuit, Beck started developing stomach cramping and diarrhea five days after eating at a Minneapolis Chipotle.

Her symptoms grew worse over the next several days and she was admitted to a hospital on August 23, where she was treated with IV fluid for severe dehydration, according to the lawsuit.

She says she was released from the hospital nine days later on September 1, but had to return the following day because of blood clots in both her arms.

Her second hospital stay lasted until September 4, the lawsuit stated. Beck says she has continued to suffer from diarrhea and blood clots since then.

Beck is seeking unspecified damages for general pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses, emotional distress, and pharmaceutical expenses, according to the lawsuit.

Feeling like you can’t get off the toilet for a couple hours when you have food poisoning is bad enough. Feeling like you can’t get off the toilet for FIVE DAYS, however, has to be a living hell.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Its tagline is simple: Good food, good sports. And that’s exactly what Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has done – and done very well – for 30 years. The anniversary offers a chance for the brand to look back at its storied past, but also to focus on growing and evolving the brand into the future.

“In 1985, Jim Mellody dreamed up the idea of a family friendly restaurant and pub where the community could gather, and the brand has continued to serve up that experience for families for 30 years now,” said Chris Elliott, CEO of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s. “As we’ve grown from that first location in Brandon, Fla., we’ve continued to innovate and stay ahead of the competition while holding true to what sets us apart: giving guests a great atmosphere to enjoy their favorite sports, have a lively conversation or simply celebrate the great taste of a perfectly prepared burger.”

Today’s Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is showing impressive comparable growth as well as new store growth as it expects to open 11 new stores in four states by the end of 2015. The company also opened a second location in Kuwait this year. There are now 204 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s locations spread over 23 states and the brand expects to reach 250 stores by 2020.

The brand’s 30th anniversary will be the focal point of its marketing this year, and the theme, Elliott says, is new beginnings. Upcoming marketing focuses include a lighter side of Beef’s with lettuce wraps, three new salads, and a quinoa power bowl. Jalapeno corn fritters, Texas sliders, and new chicken wing flavors like Kentucky Bourbon and Citrus Chipotle are set to join the menu for 2016.

In addition to continued growth for Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, the brand is making big moves outside of the casual-dining segment. Opening in mid-August, the first Beef’s Express, a fast-casual take on the veteran brand, is focusing on speed, quality & value for guests who are on the go but still want a first-rate dining experience.

“While we celebrate our history and the 30-year legacy we’ve created at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, we’re also committed to giving our franchisees additional growth opportunities and our guests a new and different kind of experience,” Elliott says. “Beef’s Express is really going to take our brand to new heights and give people something that they haven’t seen before in fast casual dining.”

Taco Bell Announces Plans to Sell Alcohol

Fast food chain Taco Bell announces plans to sell alcohol at its new location in the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago. Planned initially as a test run in order monitor how consumers react to the alcoholic additions, the new beverages consist of wine, beer, and mixed alcohol offerings as Taco Bell looks to redefine fast food dining. In addition, the chain plans to join other competitors, such as McDonald’s, in renovating its new stores by incorporating modern architecture and artwork from local artists in order to elevate the fast food dining experience. Stay tuned for further updates on Taco Bell’s plans to sell alcohol at its new locations in Florida the near future.