Conversation Starters

We Used Yelp’s Emoji Search to Uncover the Hidden Meaning Behind Tons of NYC Hotspots

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Yelp is looking towards the wordless, sub-literate future with a very exciting new feature: you can now search for businesses on the review app using emoji, the Japanese picture language that tweens and 28-year-old women everywhere use to communicate on their iPhones. When I discovered this, I started searching immediately. “Guys,” I shouted at my coworkers. “When you search the fart emoji on Yelp, the Kardashians’ DASH store comes up. What a read.” If the gas-passing emoji was so brilliantly employed to burn Kim and Kourtney, what truths about local business could some of our other favorite emoji uncover?


The Poop Emoji

Obviously, along with the fart emoji, the poop emoji has the most potential for serious shade. So what business comes up first when you search that smiling little stinker? Le Poop, a dog-walking business based out of the Financial District. So, fair enough. The second result, however, is Poop, located at 123 Poop St. in Jersey City, which, from the reviews, “smells weird” but has a great pool for dropping off kids. Don’t worry, this is not a real place.


The High Five Emoji (or Prayer Hands Emoji)

Yelp settles the debate about whether this emoji is represents a high five or praying palms pretty definitively, listing a serious number of prayer-related businesses, including the Taize Prayer Service in Park Slope, Dial-A-Prayer in Bed-Stuy, and The Brooklyn Tabernacle in Downtown Brooklyn. We remain open to the possibility, however, that Yelp is just bro-ily psyched about God. Up top!


The Cat Girls Emoji

The pictograph of two little blonde ladies in leotards turns up Twins Pub in Hell’s Kitchen, Twins Barber Shop in Boerum Hill, and Twins Auto Diagnostic and Repair in Bushwick. I’m starting to think emoji might actually mean something, and these results are not being hilariously input one by one by sly Yelp employees.


The Racist Moon Emoji

This is exciting, we are finally going to find out once and for all which business are racists, and I’m expecting to at least see that bakery that made “drunk negro” cookies in “honor” of the President, and what do we get? New Moon Print in Tribeca, which doesn’t seem to print neo-Nazi literature, but does have “moon” in the title. So, looks like the only racists are still the emoji people – and maybe me.


The Cringey Face Emoji

One of the unfortunate recipients of the Cringey Face Emoji Search Results Awards is Lerdini Magic in Park Slope, which looks adorable and lovely and also (cringe) full of magic tricks. Sorry, little David Blaines, magic is awkward. I will still let you pull a coin out of my ear, though, provided I get to keep the coin.


The Eggplant Emoji

Everyone knows that the eggplant emoji actually means penis, right? Yelp can’t just ignore that. But it turns out, they can. This phallic symbol only turns up a place called Eggplant on the LES, which has no distinguishing features on its Yelp page. I’m assuming it’s a front for an all male brothel (Brothel?).


The Banana Emoji

Second phallic time’s a phallic charm? Nope, this just lists Banana Republics, all of them. They’re all fine.



The Old Bald Man Emoji

Notably, the geezer emoj turns up a handful of bars. These include Superfine in DUMBO – where I was once literally asked, “come here often?” by a man with a gray ponytail – and the wonderful Montero’s Bar and Grill in Brooklyn Heights, where I once got an actually-rad lecture about local politics from a retired doctor. This emoji search is disarmingly accurate, so definitely use it if you’re hunting for old men.


The Hypodermic Needle Emoji

Most of these searches brought up results no further from our DUMBO office than Union Square, but Steven J. Pearlman, MD, a cosmetic surgeon on the Upper East Side, has dominated this needle. So go to him to get your face shot up with poison!


Two Japanese People in Traditional Garb Emoji

This brings up a strip club in Jamaica Queens called Dolls. I thought this was “problematic,” as academics say, but I guess those li’l traditional garb people are dolls. But how can you tell dolls from people when everyone is a tiny cartoon? Dicey, Yelp. Dicey, emoji.


The See No Evil Monkey Emoji

The eye-covering monkey who refuses to see the horrible things going on right before his tiny monkey eyes brings up the Brooklyn Herborium on the Columbia Waterfront. I am crossing fingers and toes that I have stumbled upon a barely concealed marijuana dispensary (just like, for the good of this article and journalism and stuff), but it seems like this is a really lovely spa where a facialist named Emma inspired rabid devotion. I will still take a gift certificate to here, please.


The Weeping Face Emoji

This is the face your wallet will be making, I guess, because the result is the long-running money garbage can that is Buddakan in the Meatpacking District, or MePa for jerks. Heh. Actually, that’s pretty funny.


The Easter Island Head Emoji

No results. Eerie.


After much research, multiple phone restarts, and a fairly depleted battery, I realized: Yelp isn’t secretly using this emoji option to illuminate horrible truths about local businesses at all, even ones owned and operated by the E! Network. The fart emoji isn’t even a fart emoji, not matter how long I’ve been using it as such. It means dash, as in “run away,” as in “leave in the cartoon dust.” To which I say: