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Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 12.03.50 PMThree billion check-ins and tens of millions of tips ought to add up to something. In Foursquare’s case, that means the “Best of” series, which highlights “the most awesome places in cities across the U.S.”

The location-based social network, which has downplayed the competitive aspect of its service in which users get “points” for checking into various locations, has been focusing on local exploration and discovery. This new part of its website, launched today, helps people explore other places as well.

That means, apparently, that Mi Cocina is the best Mexican restaurant in Dallas. And that the 3 Crow Bar is the best nightspot in Nashville, Tenn.

“We use signals like tips, likes, dislikes, popularity, local expertise, and nearly three billion check-ins from over 30 million people worldwide to determine how much people love a place,” Foursquare said in a blog post. “The Best of Foursquare pulls together lists of the places people love most in cities across the U.S., from cafés and pizzerias to museums and bookstores.”

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The new service is great for checking out what might be a good place to visit when you travel. But it’s also yet another nail in the traditional Yellow Pages-style directory — and a direct shot across the bow of a Yelp, which has owned local business recommendations, especially in the entertainment space.

Frankly, it also makes even clearer the competition between Foursquare and the more hotels-and-flights focused TripAdvisor as well as even the new graph-search-enabled Facebook.

Now, if only Foursquare could figure out a truly viable business model to go with all its wonderful data.

The new app for business owners, which allows them to monitor Foursquare check-in activity, check out top customers, and monitor analytics data, and the recently added feature enabling businesses to promote events might help with this.

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