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Top three restaurant review apps for foodies

As a self-proclaimed lover of all things food, I swear by my fave food review apps to give me some insight at home and while I’m traveling. Each app offers a different feel, or an ambience, much like the restaurants they showcase. With so many options in the App Store, it can get a bit overwhelming.

So, take it from a pro. These are the three apps worth riding with:

Zomato Logo

Logo courtesy of Zomato

Map: Yes
Phone number: Yes
Photos: Yes
Online reservation: Yes, when allowed by business Special offers: No
Menu: Yes, if available.

Zomato replaces the popular app Urbanspoon, which now opens only to prompt you to download its successor. Zomato, while new, has already gained some traction from loyal Urbanspoon users and newcomers. The app is more streamlined than some and offers a modern layout on its restaurant pages. An interesting inclusion, which seems to be Zomato-exclusive thus far, is the Collections. Local categories of collections include cheap eats, trending this week, veggie friendly, super seafood and kickass burgers. You can save your favorite collections for later or create your own. When doing a general restaurant search, the results can be filtered down by rating, cost, open now, distance, cuisines, type of establishment, Wi-Fi, live music, alcohol served, outdoor seating, gluten-free, vegetarian friendly and kid or dog friendly.

Apps for Foodies

Logo courtesy of TripAdvisor

Map: Yes
Phone number: Yes
Photos: Yes
Online reservation: Yes, when allowed by business Special offers: No
Menu: Yes, it’s found on the top bar on a restaurant’s page if available.

TripAdvisor is best known as the middleman between consumers and airlines and hotels, making it easier to compare flight prices and hotel rates across the board, but in recent years, it has expanded to include restaurants as well. The restaurants section of the app allows you to look up restaurants using your location or by typing in your preferred city. Unlike other review apps, the results are not automatically listed by distance but instead by TripAdvisor’s rankings (e.g. #2 of 105 places to eat in Estero), which are determined by users’ votes. The results can be further filtered by cuisine, open now, distance, traveler rating, delivery and free Wi-Fi.

Though you cannot check into locations while you are there, you can mark them as “been.” You can also save restaurants for later, which can be accessed from My Saves. These are usefully broken down by city but do not allow the option of showing the saves on a map. TripAdvisor recently introduced the private Timeline tab, which tracks your travels and maps them, also allowing the option of importing photos from your camera roll to place on the map as well. It’s an interesting concept, much like a more extensive version of tagging your location on Instagram posts and the subsequent map it forms.

Apps for foodies

Logo courtesy of Yelp

Map: Yes
Phone number: Yes
Photos: Yes
Online reservation: Yes, when allowed by business Special offers: Yes, check-in deals
Menu: Yes, can usually be found in the restaurant’s

info. If not, a fellow Yelper has probably hooked you up in the photos.

Yelp is a fan favorite for good reason. The app is intuitive, more so than even the web version I’d argue, and breaks down into categories, from restaurants to bars to nightlife. These can be further filtered down into open now (or open in an hour at the rate it’s taking your Uber to arrive), by price or distance or if it’s good for groups, dinner, dessert, you name it. There are also helpful categories such as accepts credit cards, wheelchair accessible, dogs allowed, free Wi-Fi and, in bigger cities, what type of parking is available. Many businesses also offer check-in deals via Yelp. Once you arrive at the location, simply click the “check in here” button that will appear on the business’ Yelp page, and a secondary page may pop up, prompting you to alert your waiter or cashier that you’d like to make good on the check-in offer.

The reviews are usually more credible than even local media coverage of a venue, at least to me, considering they come from everyday people. Pay attention to the tips category on a business’ page to see what past customers want you to know. Also, Yelp highlights the top three frequently mentioned words or phrases in reviews, which has blessed me with some of the best dishes I’ve had at many places. Yelp, like Trip Advisor, is also cool because it’s not limited to restaurants but features businesses in general, not that I can afford anything after all the restaurants anyway.

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