5 Apps for Searching Nearby Restaurants
Eating at the same old restaurants can try the sophisticated palate, but sampling new places blindly can lead to disappointment, frustration and indigestion. In the past, we may have relied on suggestions and referrals from friends, but if we don't have that, then what? Well, there's always our smartphones and a few apps to help us find a new dish or flavor to experience, no matter what city you're in.
Our roundup of restaurant apps will give you plenty of places to try and reinvigorate the foodie in you. Whether you like fast food, culinary classics, vegetarian or something ethnic, these location-based restaurant-finder apps will come up with several savory places to fill your belly and your culinary soul.
They say our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. Foodspotting takes full advantage of the old saying, with its emphasis on photos of restaurants and their delectable dishes. With the Foodspotting app, you can browse through a variety of categories, such as Nearest, Best and Specials, to find restaurants near you. You can also search for eateries through guides and publications listed within the app, and by people you follow.
Think that photo of a smoked-mozzarella sandwich looks good? See where it’s served. Simply looking to grab a quick bite to eat during your lunch break? Browse locations within a mile radius and choose the place that makes your mouth water most. Or, simply tag which spots you want to try later, and upload your own mouth-watering photo of your dish when you finally make the trip. (Free for Android and iOS)
The more you share with this restaurant guide, the more it narrows down your individual tastes into personalized recommendations. After telling the app (or rather, Alfred, the cute robot-butler icon with a handlebar mustache) what restaurants, bars, cafes and nightlife spots you like, you'll automatically be met with a list of similar places that will most likely suit your taste. All listings are tailored to your location, and each restaurant comes with magazine-quality photos of dishes that may give Foodspotting a run for its money. (Free for Android and iPhone)
For those looking for a sustainable eatery or a restaurant that specializes in specific dietary cuisines, inBloom is a must-download. Columbia University buddies and musicians Andy Ross of OK Go and Eytan Oren of Eytan and the Embassy created inBloom to find eco-friendly businesses while touring.
The travel app—currently only available for select cities, but more are slated to come soon—pulls up eco-aware establishments in your local area that serve up special cuisines, such as vegan, vegetarian, locavore, organic or all-around sustainable (if composting is more your thing). Each listing comes complete with a description, address, directions and Yelp reviews. (Free for iPhone)
This restaurant finder from HappyCow is aimed at vegetarians and vegans. Although this app lacks the gorgeous photos found in Foodspotting and Alfred, it does filter restaurants and stores by Vegan, Vegetarian, Veg-Friendly and Stores n' More, as well as plot the restaurants and stores on a map for you.
One big advantage of this app is that its information appears to be updated regularly. (We learned a new vegetarian place opened up only a few minutes away last month!) HappyCow provides the establishment's type of food, price points, website and general information. (Free or $1.89 for Android, $2.99 for iPhone)
Yelp is probably one of the most well-known and well-used apps featuring user-generated reviews of restaurants and businesses. Paired with your smartphone's GPS, it can send you all its intel about local restaurants in your area, as well as if it's considered one-star (don't bother going there) or five-star (make sure you're hungry before stopping in, and wear your expandable-waist pants). Discovering places in real time within the map view is super handy for finds on the go, and searching for restaurants under Deals is handy for your wallet too.
Like anything that's crowd-sourced, though, opinions tend to be strong and aren't necessarily always right. Remember that your experience may vary and that trying new and intriguing restaurants is half the fun of dining out! (Free for Android and iOS)