If you’re sick of going to the same old eateries or need a really romantic restaurant to spice up your next date night, look to your smartphone for help. There are hundreds of smartphone applications designed to help users pick the perfect places to nosh, but with so many to choose from, you might end up at a shady spot with health code violations rather than the pristine cafe you had envisioned. Steer you and your dining companions in the right direction when it comes to chowing down on a stellar meal:
Urbanspoon, associated with the restaurant review site of the same name, shows you restaurants in your local area. It’s one of the oldest restaurant applications around, and it’s an especially good choice if you have no idea where you want to eat. You can shake the phone, and the app gives you a random restaurant selection to try out. This is a free application available for iOS, Blackberry and Android devices.
LocalEats is another Web site-come-mobile app, also available on three different platforms. It cuts out the national chains from its search results, so you’re supporting locally owned businesses and franchises. You search nearby, and it uses your GPS to determine what restaurants are closest to you. You can also search for the Best Of selections in a list of pre-selected cities. This app gives you plenty of information on the menu, the price and the reviews.
OpenTable is best known for its restaurant reservation service, but the Web site and mobile app have become so much more than that. Since OpenTable teamed up with Yelp for reviews, it’s become a useful service that shows you how well the food is received and allows you to map a reservation directly through your phone. It is available for all mobile platforms, so any no contract phones by T-mobile or another provider would do the trick for accessing this app and service.
4. Eat Street
Eat Street comes straight from the Food Network, which tends to know a little bit about food. This app is specifically for finding the best food trucks in your city, as these are often the tastiest places to get local and ethnic food. It gives you map locations through your GPS, provides you with food truck and cart locations, and adds in the Twitter accounts and menus so you know exactly where they are and what you’re getting.
Foodspotting is a Web site that features beautiful food photography. You might wonder how that’s going to help you find a place to eat locally, though. The Foodspotting app shows you pictures of food taken near you. Users upload restaurant meals, and dishes they would like to try at restaurants, and the ones closest to your location are shown. If you’re more of a visual learner, then seeing pictures of what the restaurants have to offer might be the perfect way to find your restaurant, or at least work up an appetite.
What’s your favorite restaurant-related app? Tell us in the comments.