With the increased findability of foodies across the interwebs, it is no wonder that the popularity of restaurant review sites is on the rise. Virtually anyone can become a self-described food critic via review websites, but what happens when you’re out exploring unfamiliar territory and are in need of a trusty restaurant recommendation? Restaurant review authorities now make it easier to find a new locale to satisfy one’s culinary curiosity and even post your own review on-the-go. With smartphone and taste buds in tow, you’ll be well on your way to dining nirvana.
This week’s Friday5 suggests five digital resources that restaurant critic amateurs and experts alike can use to review, as well as find, their cuisine of choice.
Try your luck by spinning Urbanspoon’s slot machine-like restaurant finder with the shake of your phone. The app uses your device’s GPS function to determine nearby restaurants that may interest you and allow you to browse by price point, cuisine and location. Still can’t decide where to chow down? Smartphone users can point their device while the “Scope” feature uses augmented reality to visually display surrounding restaurants and their overall ratings. Even further, you have the ability to browse through restaurant reviews written by fellow “Urbanspooners,” as well as published newspaper and blog reviews. Once you’ve used the app to find your dining destination of choice, snap a photo or post a mobile review to be instantly added to that restaurant’s listing. You can even compare reviews and favorite spots with your friends!
2. ZAGAT TO GO
One of the most well-known names in restaurant reviews now grants subscribers access to the entire database of Zagat-rated restaurants at the tap of a touch-screen. The ZAGAT TO GO app allows you to search for tasty spots by their standard 30-point scale ratings on food, décor, service and cost, and offers up a restaurant suitable for different occasions such as a business meeting or even a blind date. As with comparable apps, your device’s location is utilized to recommend nearby hot spots as well as provide you with detailed reviews that have been compiled from Zagat’s best. Another useful feature, available in some supported formats, is the ability for users to make reservations directly from their mobile device.
Qype, a German-based review and social media platform, launched in 2007 and has since expanded to nine other European countries. Similar to popular review site Yelp, Qype features a large database of user-generated reviews of restaurants, hotels and vacations. Users can glance through reviews from strangers and friends who are ranked based on their popularity and volume of contributions to the site. Qype also features city-specific guides, a badge system for posting reviews or photos, and the ability to post reviews on Facebook and Twitter. The Qype mobile app provides on-the-go recommendations that are based on preferences. Similar to other mobile applications, you can write and send reviews and photos straight from your phone to the web. Qype also features local deals that will please your wallet and your belly. Qype effectively combines reliable reviews with the social media features you expect, all at your fingertips.
Chewsy uses its slogan “Dish on the Dish” to take a fresh approach to restaurant reviews. Chewsy focuses solely on the food, the ultimate variable in an enjoyable meal out. User-submitted reviews of individual dishes make up the bulk of the app, with the additional ability to rate a dish on a “five-spoon scale.” The latest version allows users to easily capture and post images of their dish from their device before they dig in and then write an accompanying review at a more convenient time. As with similar tools, your current location is used to recommend nearby dishes that may be of interest. “Chewsers” can explore images posted by other users in order to make informed decisions about what to order at unfamiliar restaurants. Additionally, rated photos can easily be sent to Facebook and Twitter. Have a taste for a burger, or need to find a vegetarian-friendly meal? Search through ranked “dish lists” to find just what you were (or maybe weren’t!) looking for.
Recent startup Dinevore applies a Twitter-like method to restaurant reviews. Rather than focusing on crowd sourced reviews, Dinevore features user-created recommendation lists for topics such as “Best Pho in Philly” or “Top 10 Taquerias.” Similar to utilizing lists on Twitter, users can follow as many as they’d like and track their progress chowing down across their city. Popular publications including The New York Times and Bon Appétit Magazine are already posting their own lists. By combining recommendations from experts and newbies, users can see where suggestions overlap, adding further credibility to that recommendation. For the time being, Dinevore can only be accessed via its main website, although a mobile version is soon to be hatched!
What are your favorite restaurant resources to use when you’re on-the go?
Photo Credit: David Gallagher
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