My wife and I live in Capitol Hill in Washington DC and run an app that helps travelers find the best restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. So as you can imagine, we often get asked: what are the best bars in Washington DC?
I always chuckle because people are always asking about bars first. Well before restaurants or concert venues or shopping areas. Of course, I have a young child and another one on the way so, when it comes to the bar scene, I only have so much to offer (You want to know the best playgrounds in DC, I’m your guy!).
But I think the entire concept of best lists are an interesting one and I want to share my view on this because it explains the direction I am taking City Walker.
Publications like the Washingtonian offer a great service when they compile lists like this one. This is a great start for anyone eager to find what is happening. I really like this list because it is actually headed in the right direction. It doesn’t just list the top 25 bars. It breaks them down into categories, like the best bars for Whiskey Fanatics, etc. This may seem like an inconsequential differentiation but it is huge.
Because, really, what the heck does “the best” mean anyway? We all do it. We all search for the best “this” or the best “that.” But the best based on what and judged by whom?
If the internet has taught us anything is that we can create niche subgroups. We don’t need to live in large, universal buckets. Think of dating sites. In the beginning of the dot com boom there was maybe one online dating site. Now you can join dating sites based on your religion or your hair color or your favorite type of pet.
Yet when it comes to learning about where to go grab a drink, for the most part, we must turn to lists like this. What do I have in common with the editor at Zagats? Will his/her opinion of what the best bar in DC is match with mine? Maybe the Zagats’ editor is a 20-something, single male. His life is much different than mine. A bar that I might love, might never make any list. Yet it still would be best for me.
That is why local recommendations play such a major role in City Walker. In today’s iteration that begins to inform you that these bars are at least regularly visited by the people recommending it, which is a strong validation. But this is only a start. As the app evolves we’ll be able to drill down even further.
If you’re from Chicago and want to get deep dish pizza in NYC, you don’t necessarily want the recommendation of a bunch of New Yorkers (their opinion of what a good deep dish is going to be different than yours). You want to know from people from Chicago who have also visited NYC. That makes it more of an apples to apples recommendation.
Data allows us to tailor recommendations to you because, let’s face it, we’re all individuals with our own preferences. We want to make City Walker YOUR travel app. Not just a generic app for travel.
I hope I continued to be asked the question: what is the best bar in Washington DC? But, as City Walker works hard to shift people’s mind sets, I hope that in six months I’m asked: what is best bar in Washington DC for me? Then we’ll be able to have a real answer.