Since I do not have the space or opportunity on my Yelp profile page to explain how I rate the local Bay Area businesses on there specifically on the food places, I decided to explain further here in this forum: First off, I rate each restaurant or cafe according to the specific format of what they serve and the price range. I do not categorize all the restaurants under one lump sum of places for food. Taquerias are rated differently from taco trucks though they basically serve the same dishes. Likewise Chinese or other Asian restaurants are broken down to different categories. Otherwise restaurants are rated according to different price ranges.
For example, the restaurant that I mentioned at first in Oakland is Lukas. The place averages about a three and a half to four stars. I personally rated them at 5 Stars. The reason being was because all their drinks that I tried, their appetizers, entrees and salads were tasty, and their service was consistent and top notch. The reason why I did not frequent there is because the cost of their meals averaged above $17 not including drinks, and it was out of the way from my route whenever I was in the Oakland area. This was one of those "plan ahead" type of places for me.
When I'm in Oakland, my default spot for food is St Anna's Cafe. The format of the restaurant is "Cha Cheng Tang" or "tea stop." It can be considered a Southeast Asian style "diner" or "coffee shop," with tea instead of coffee. I'm there for one and one reason only: their milk tea. It was the first time that I was ever introduced to milk tea when I first met my biological mother and we'd often met there for lunch. (Meeting my biological mother and the issue of adoption is another future topic here...) Common dishes at the "tea diners" are baked entres over fried rice with a tomato sauce gravy, basic wok fried noodle dishes, and spaghetti meals. Of course this is served with tea or other varieties of beverages and dessert beverages. I'm there on a weekly basis because of my milk tea craving and their macaroni dish which is prepared "chow fun dry style," or their baked chicken steak over rice. In fact, I rate the different "tea diners" based on the tastiness of their hot milk tea and their baked chicken steak over rice. Then I average in the service level.
Another place that I frequent is a place called Shooting Star Cafe in Oakland also. Their place has a higher service level and their food taste quality is hit or miss. I gave them an 3 Star overall rating. This restaurant borders on the "tea diner" category but their specialty is actually late night Asian desserts. We go there often because of the variety of the type of food available on the menu. This is definitely one of those "something for everyone" type of stops, but they're one of the lowest rated Yelp places where I'm there regularly.
Sometimes there are places that I've been to several times and never submitted a review. The reason being is because it's been frequented and reviewed by so many Yelpers that what I'll add wouldn't make much of a difference, or in the case of Papalote, not only were both of their locations had more than 600 reviews, they were also featured on the Food Network. Not only that, this was a location where I really found it to be a major head scratcher such that I really didn't know how to rate them. First off, they are the only place where I've had a "$20" burrito, ($19.95 actually) and though I enjoyed it, I just wasn't sure if it was actually worth paying $20. On top of that, I paid more for an order of their fresas (fruit juice-ade) and received less than any other type of taqueria. Yet I wasn't sure if it was even fair for me to categorize them as an actual taqueria even though they served the same stuff as a taqueria. So up until last week, I basically avoided Yelping them with a 20 foot pole. You could imagine when I tried their "Ode To Poleng" Burrito. This is a burrito made of authentic Filipino chicken adobo with garlic fried rice. It was also the best chicken adobo I've had in the Bay Area restaurants which was more confusing because Papalote is not even a Filipino restaurant.
It's not like I haven't reviewed anywhere that I wasn't able to place in a specific category. Capital is a Chinese restaurant where I cannot put in the same category as other Chinese restaurants. I rated them as simply a spot for food and service. Did I like their food and their selection of food? Yes. Was their service good? Overall it's OK. Across the board, 4 Stars. So why is it more challenging to rate a place like Papalote? It maybe not a challenge after all. It maybe something I need to deal with mentally first. So will there be a Yelp review on this place from me? We'll see...