This has been a problem with Google Maps, but they're getting better at breaking this mold.
In a city known for its gourmet food, I'm seeing [cityname pizza], eg, going to a wider map, with top results for the most popular pizza places in various trendy neighborhoods around town. None of them is downtown.
In some cases, but not always, top results have to do with user ratings and what listings they've gotten in sources Google trusts. Local sources seem to carry extra weight for some categories.
In the social area, Google (and others) have definitely been thinking about portable reputations, and I don't doubt something similar would eventually be applied to local.