If only it were that easy.
While Tripadvisor does a reasonable job of grading restaurants in Gran Canaria, unless you know how to read between the lines of the reviews, you end up in places that aren't what you expect.
Lots of the restaurants at the top of the rankings deserve to be there because of their top-notch food and service. Others get to the top because of quirks in how Tripadvisor's review system works. Others cheat their way to the top.
Here're a few things to bear in mind when looking at Tripadvisor lists and reviews.
Busy places get reviews
Popular pubs and bar-restaurants that serve simple food do well on Tripadvisor because they provide exactly what their clients want. However, this doesn't mean that their food is particularly good quality or that they deserve the top spots at the expense of quality restaurants.
Lots of people don't like food that is outside their comfort zone, especially when on holiday abroad. This means that familiar restaurants get lots of reviews from visitors to Gran Canaria. It also means that places that serve interesting food get bad reviews from people who weren't expecting it.
Spanish person's well-cooked steak is worlds apart from an English one. They have different ideas about the chips and the vegetables on the plate as well. Throw in 15 other nationalities and you see how complex judging restaurants in Gran Canaria can be.
One man's amazing is ...
Combined with different national tastes and expectations, you also have to factor in why people write Tripadvisor reviews. Often their reasons are often highly personal and not all that important to others.
Maybe they had a romantic meal there on their first holiday or they love the decor, or the location, or the waiter. All good personal reasons, but no use to people looking for great food.
To make it to the top of the Tripadvisor rankings, you need a lot of positive reviews or a few very positive reviews. Negative reviews knock you back down. The system can be and is gamed by restaurants in Gran Canaria and everywhere else.
Some places get enough of their friends to rate them to push them to the top or offer free drinks in exchange for reviews.
Other simply cheat Either by paying for fake reviews or by posting negative reviews on competing restaurants.
The Three rules of Tripadvisor reviews
Our friends from The Real Tenerife blog recently wrote these three rules of Tripadvisor reviews.
Rule 1: It doesn't matter how many restaurants you try, you must state in your review that a restaurant is the best / worst in the resort.
Rule 2: It doesn't matter whether you visit an Indian, a Chinese or a Spanish tapas restaurant, you must base your review on the quality of the steak.
Rule 3: You must make sure that all the information you provide in your review is subjective, personal and of no use to other people.
A quick scan of reviews for Gran Canaria resort restaurants and you'll see how accurate these rules are.
Under the radar
This is a big reason why visitors miss out on some of Gran Canaria's best restaurants.
Successful local restaurants don't even try to advertise to visitors because they are full every day. With no English language reviews, they don't make Tripadvisor's lists.
Some of the best Gran Canaria restaurants we know don't advertise at all as word-of-mouth keeps their tables full. For example, the best place lamb restaurant in Gran Canaria is just minutes from one of the island's biggest attractions but doesn't even have a sign.
Finding the best restaurants in Gran Canaria
Definitely, use Tripadvisor but dig into the reviews rather than relying on the rankings. Look for places that get consistent praise for their food. Don't be put off by the odd negative review, especially if the restaurant has answered them.
Combine reviews with your own impressions. Walk around after eating (when you're not hungry) and note any places that are full of people, then check them out on Tripadvisor.
Don't be afraid o to try small restaurants that don't get a lot of reviews, or only have quality reviews in Spanish.
If you find a local restaurant with lots of people in, sit down and start pointing at dishes on other tables.
In the resorts, avoid places with aggressive touts. Good restaurants in Gran Canaria's resorts don't need a pushy frontman. They might have someone outside the door, especially in busy places, but as soon as they step over the line from polite and helpful to pushy, then walk away.
Ask real people for their recommendations. Locals, other tourists who know the area, even expats.