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A Tacoma restaurant has been named to Yelp’s Top 100 in US

Chef Shawn Tibbitts’ namesake restaurant in Fern Hill was named one of America’s best restaurants on Yelp, the crowdsourced review site announced Tuesday.

Three other Washington restaurants — a tamale joint in Bellingham, a sushi bar in Seattle and a Hawaiian burger spot in Kirkland — also made the list.

Yelp describes its Top 100 as a list “chock full of hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path joints” that embraces fine dining and food trucks alike.

“The result is a list that combines classic favorites and up-and-comers who have garnered lots of positive attention,” a Yelp spokesperson told The News Tribune, adding that only restaurants or “primarily a place to get a meal” are eligible.

To determine the winners, Yelp’s data team first analyzes restaurants based on the number of reviews and ratings, which run on a five-star scale. Then it considers those ratings within a geographical prism: more top-rated restaurants in a metropolitan area means more spots on the list.

Finally, Yelp community managers — locals in each market who work to connect the platform’s users and businesses — add their on-the-ground insight to determine the final 100. They account for quality and popularity, according to the spokesperson.

Since opening in 2017, Tibbitts has garnered nearly 450 Yelp reviews, 90% of which are five-star rated. In fact, a general search on Yelp for restaurants in Tacoma pits Tibbitts fourth overall. Two delis — Melon Seed in Oakland and MSM on Sixth Avenue — hold top honors there, followed by Dirty Oscar’s Annex also on Sixth Avenue.

Yelp rewards listings with high numbers of reviews: Dirty Oscar’s, for instance, has more than 1,200 and MSM more than 750.

Yelpers’ favorite dishes from Tibbitts include the French toast and candied bacon burrito. Many reviews mention that the chef-owner drops by tables to say hello.

He changes his dishes seasonally, so that French toast ($15) currently features roasted pumpkin and a salted caramel drizzle. Rather than a burrito, candied bacon shows up in the Bacon Wrapped Fern Hill Po’Boy ($17) alongside honey ham, pickled red onions and a gorgonzola and strawberry slaw.

These touches led Sue Kidd to name it one of her favorites of 2017.

The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so we were unable to reach Tibbitts for comment on this recognition. It operates standard business hours 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, with the lunch menu available starting at 11 a.m. Reservations are required on weekends, according to the restaurant’s voicemail.

Tibbitts @ Fern Hill is at 8237 S. Park Ave.; 253-327-1334.

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Kristine Sherred joined The News Tribune in December 2019. She spent the past decade immersed in the culinary scene of Chicago and, for a time, covered the global chocolate and snacks industries. An avid home cook and beer/cocktail pro, she now explores all things edible and sippable throughout Pierce County. Reach her also at @kriscarasher on Twitter.
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