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You Haven't Lived Until You’ve Asked Jonathan Goldbot What to Eat for Dinner

Eater finally takes the GoldBot for a much-needed test drive

LA Times
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Did you know that you can ask Jonathan Gold anything you want, and he’ll answer you? Well, sorta. Late last year, the LA Times launched their very own GoldBot, a messaging bot that lives on Facebook and can take some of Gold’s best recommendations, pare them down, and ‘respond’ when you ask. It’s been around for a little while now but doesn’t seem to have gotten much traction, so Eater decided to take the thing for a spin.

First off, take a look at this bot! Yep, he’s gold.

Also, he’s wearing a fedora and has a mustache — plus suspenders. It is unclear what said suspenders are holding up (robopants?).

Now onto the good stuff: recommendations. Take for example the question of where to get the best Thai food in greater Los Angeles (represented here as simply “Best Thai food” so as to not overwhelm the bot with superfluous language):

Not bad! A few positive recommendations, with photos, taken from Gold’s annual 101 list of best restaurants. Things are a little tougher with the popular question of burgers, though:

That information isn’t wrong, per se, but Uchimura hasn’t been with Plan Check for some time now. He’s still the idea guy behind their burgers though, so ultimately this is a pass. The limited bot does have trouble with some of the lesser-seen cuisines around Los Angeles though.

Still, that’s okay. At worst you get redirected back to that same big list, left to explore on your own. More obtuse phrases, though, are hard to overcome.

Things only start to get weird when you really try to stump the GoldBot, or ask questions you have to imagine his programmers (or Gold the human) wouldn’t really have a singular answer for in the first place.

Huh, GoldBot really feels like it zoned out for a second when it repeated “unimaginative,” like the bot was shell shocked from some particularly uninspired meal. Things only get weirder when you ask GoldBot about Jonathan Gold’s own famously long hair (which, it should be noted, GoldBot does not have, only antennas).

In all, the GoldBot is a pretty decent little function built right into Facebook, and can do an okay job of providing limited responses if you’re really in a jam. It seems likely that anyone who already follows the real Jonathan Gold enough to know about GoldBot will have easy access to the same information GoldBot might provide — that is to say, GoldBot isn’t surprising anyone with his picks here — which could be seen as limiting its efficacy. Still, why not spend part of your lazy Friday lunch hour trying to stump the GoldBot, or at least getting some solid recommendations from the city’s most prolific eater (in bot form).