TripAdvisor is a popular travel website with restaurant and hotel reviews but it can’t be trusted for Medellín and Colombia due to many likely fake reviews. Also, TripAdvisor now has many places in its lists of best restaurants that are now closed due to the coronavirus pandemic in Colombia and other countries in the world. This article is updated for 2021.

The TripAdvisor website has top restaurant ratings for Medellín and other cities in Colombia. But some of these top restaurant ratings can’t be trusted for many reasons. Also, TripAdvisor has lists of the best things to do, best hotels and best hostels. But these best lists are not very accurate in my opinion.

Several Medellin Guru readers living in Medellín for a while have asked why very good restaurants in Medellín aren’t rated higher on TripAdvisor. Also, they wonder why some questionable restaurants are rated so highly. So, we now look at this in more detail.

Why TripAdvisor Can’t Be Trusted

TripAdvisor can’t be trusted for some of its recommendations in any country including Colombia for several reasons, including:

  1. Reviews on the site can be submitted by anyone. And the reviewers haven’t necessarily stayed at hotels or hostels reviewed or eaten at the restaurants that they review on the site. So, even competitors can attack each other with reviews. Also, staff at restaurants, hotels and hostels and their friends and family can submit their own glowing reviews.
  2. TripAdvisor reportedly has many fake reviews. A study by The Times in the UK found a third of TripAdvisor reviews are fake. And the website Fakespot.com has found the mean of fake reviews on TripAdvisor is reportedly 32.9 percent according to their analysis. Also, a fake restaurant was even able to become the top restaurant in the UK on TripAdvisor.
  3. TripAdvisor is missing many restaurants and places. For example, it appears to be missing all the restaurants in the large Viva Envigado mall. So, its list of best Envigado restaurants is not accurate. And it appears to be missing all the restaurants in the large Mayorca mall in Sabaneta. Also, TripAdvisor is missing many of the museums in Medellín.
  4. It is possible for restaurants, hotels, hostels and other companies to buy reviews. There are Internet sites that sell positive reviews.
  5. TripAdvisor still includes many places, which have closed. For example, the site still includes District 1 as #12 in its best Asian restaurants in Medellín but District 1 is closed. Also, for restaurants in Envigado it includes Tepito Tacos y Tequila, which is closed and Brooklyn Restaurant & Lounge, which is no longer in Envigado and moved to El Poblado.
  6. TripAdvisor includes different locations of the same restaurant chain as separate listings. So, in its list of best restaurants you may see the same restaurant listed multiple times.
  7. Restaurants in other municipalities are not included in best lists on TripAdvisor. So, you can’t bring up a list of the best restaurants in the Aburrá Valley that includes restaurants in Medellín, Envigado and Sabaneta. You would have to bring up different lists for each municipality.
Is Cavieli Ristorante Caffe in Belén really one of the 10 best restaurants in Medellín?

Is Cavieli Ristorante Caffe in Belén really one of the 10 best restaurants in Medellín?

The TripAdvisor List of Best Restaurants in Medellín

Looking at the list of the TripAdvisor best restaurants in Medellín to see their 10 best restaurants in Medellín on March 1, 2021 demonstrates why some of the recommendations from this website can’t be trusted.

TripAdvisor 10 Best Restaurants in Medellín – March 1, 2021

  1. La Pampa Parrilla Argentina
  2. Betty’s Bowls
  3. Malanga del Tropico
  4. Pokawa
  5. Cavieli Restorante Caffe Pizzeria
  6. Tika Dogs Gourmet
  7. Toro Restaurante
  8. Eden Bistro
  9. La Pamapa Burger & Ribs Interplaza
  10. Turban Kabob House

I have been to all these restaurant and in my opinion NONE of these restaurants belong on a list of the 10 best restaurants in Medellín, as there are many better restaurants in the city. Also, La Pampa is listed twice with two of its five locations in Medellín. La Pampa has some good steaks. But in our opinion, there are better steakhouses in Medellin.

We used the Fakespot.com site to analyze the review ratings for each restaurant and found the following:

Fakespot.com analysis of reviews for top 10 Medellín restaurants on TripAdvisor, March 1, 2021

Fakespot.com analysis of reviews for top 10 Medellín restaurants on TripAdvisor, March 1, 2021

Fakespot.com found that seven restaurants out of the top 10 have suspicious reviews so it would rank them lower. These seven restaurants in red have lower reliability of reviews according to Fakespot.com and are likely manipulating the system. But keep in mind that Fakespot.com also can be suspect.

In addition, Fakespot.com found that no restaurants on this top 10 Medellín list have reviews that were 90 percent reliable. Also, there are some better steakhouses in Medellín in our opinion than La Pampa and Toro Restaurante listed as the #1, #7 and #9 restaurants in Medellín by TripAdvisor.

Also, be careful of other best lists on TripAdvisor for Medellín and other cities in Colombia. We have found that consistently there are places included that don’t belong in best lists, which is likely due to fake reviews.

Why Restaurants, Hostels, Hotels and Others Create Fake Reviews

TripAdvisor is used by millions of travelers and positive reviews and being listed in best lists on TripAdvisor can bring many customers to places listed around the world. And billions of dollars are spent on hotels and restaurants and other things to do as a result of reviews on this site. So, many places create fake reviews to improve their position on TripAdvisor.

But if you have a restaurant, hotel or hostel or other venue be careful about fake reviews, as TripAdvisor is starting to take action. A man in Italy last year was sentenced to nine months in prison for posting more than 1,000 fake reviews on TripAdvisor. He reportedly worked for a company called PromoSalento that sold reviews to restaurants and other businesses.

Also, for the worst business offenders, TripAdvisor even posted red badges on their profiles “warning travelers that the business has been trying to manipulate reviews.”

The bottom line is that posting fake reviews is fraud.

My Experience with TripAdvisor in Colombia

I have been using TripAdvisor since I first started visiting Colombia in 2006 and also during the over eight years I have lived in Medellín.

Some of the listings on TripAdvisor in my experience have accurate reviews but some places are clearly trying to manipulate their reviews to rank higher on TripAdvisor.

So, most best lists for Medellín and other cities in Colombia on TripAdvisor tend to have some places that belong and some that clearly don’t belong. So, you have to be suspicious of the best lists on TripAdvisor in Colombia or in all other countries I have traveled to in Latin America.

I have been burned way too many times by going to a highly rated place on TripAdvisor that wasn’t very good. Also, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many restaurants in Colombia in TripAdvisor lists are now closed.

Also, over the past several years I have found that many restaurants in Medellín and other cities in Colombia and other countries in Latin America listed on TripAdvisor have closed. It appears that TripAdvisor does not update listings when they close.

Pizzas from some of the "real" best pizza places in Medellín

Pizzas from some of the “real” best pizza places in Medellín

Medellin Guru’s Best of Medellín

This Medellin Guru website has many lists of the best of Medellin. These are curated lists that are being kept up-to-date. And these lists are based on my over eight years living in Medellín with input from friends and my Colombian wife and her family plus input from readers.

Medellin Guru has several articles about the best restaurants and coffee shops in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley:

  1. 20 Best Restaurants in Laureles in Medellín
  2. 14 Best Restaurants in Envigado, Colombia
  3. 14 Best Restaurants in Sabaneta, Colombia
  4. 13 Best Pizza Places in Medellín: The Best Pizzerias in the City
  5. 12 Best Steakhouses in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
  6. 12 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in El Poblado
  7. 11 Best Mexican Restaurants in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
  8. 10 Best Burgers in Medellín: Best Burger Places in the Aburrá Valley
  9. 8 Best Colombian Restaurants in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
  10. 9 Best Italian Restaurants in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
  11. 9 Best Places for Brunch in El Poblado
  12. 8 Best Asian Restaurants in Medellín
  13. 6 Best Restaurants in El Centro in Medellín
  14. 5 Best Independent Coffee Shops in El Poblado
  15. 8 Top Coffee Shops in Laureles
  16. 5 Best Nano/Micro Breweries in Medellín
Some of the "real" best malls in Medellín

Some of the “real” best malls in Medellín

Also, we have several additional best of Medellín articles:

The Bottom Line: TripAdvisor Can’t Be Trusted for Medellín and Colombia

Be careful of TripAdvisor lists of the best of Medellín and best lists for other cities in Colombia and in other countries. In my experience these lists are missing many of the best places. The biggest problem appears to be fake reviews that are used by some places to manipulate the system and rank higher on TripAdvisor. So, don’t rely on TripAdvisor exclusively.

TripAdvisor is not the only source to be careful of that covers Colombia. In addition, the Internet is full of out-of-date information about Colombia. Also, Lonely Planet for Colombia is out-of-date and missing many of the best places in Colombia. Furthermore, the foreign retirement publications get Medellín and Colombia wrong.

Sign up for the Free Medellin Guru Newsletter – You can see all of the previous Medellin Guru weekly email newsletters and sign up here.

Editors note: updated on March 1, 2021 with current information about why TripAdvisor can’t be trusted for Medellín and Colombia.

Join the networking group in Colombia on Facebook and Whatsapp Channel