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Log In Before Dining Out

Consult these apps before your next night out.

Summary

  • Apps can save you time and frustration when seeking a new restaurant
  • Many apps are free
  • Booking reservations with apps can be faster than calling

 

The Internet can save you time, save you money and help you discover new dining options in your neighborhood or while traveling. We have several tasty treats to recommend, all available at no charge, including both websites and downloadable apps for your smartphone or tablet. Bon appetit!

Restaurant Recommendations

Asking friends for dining suggestions is nothing new, but extending the conversation to hundreds or thousands of online neighbors opens up lots of new opportunities.

Yelp

The popularity of Yelp is its greatest asset — participants have written over 15 million reviews since the site was founded in 2004, providing an extraordinary range and depth of coverage. Restaurants are a key business coverage category, but it's not the only one. People also come to Yelp to review stores, beauty parlors, home services, nightlife, real estate professionals — twenty-two categories in all.

Thanks to the number of enthusiastic reviewers involved, you'll likely find lots of recommendations in most neighborhoods, not just in big city centers. You can search by location, narrowing your search by type of food if you like. You'll find eateries ranked from 1 to 5 stars, often with detailed write-ups including recommended dishes. If you're traveling, you'll find Yelp listings for locations in Canada and several European cities. And you don't need a computer to find an interesting place to eat. There are free downloadable Yelp apps for iPhone, iPad, 2Android, BlackBerry, Palm and Windows Phone 7, allowing you to search by price, location, food type and — an interesting addition — whether the restaurant is open at the time you're searching.

Urbanspoon

As the name implies, Urbanspoon is a restaurant-only service, and one with more in-depth information for big cities than small towns across the U.S. and in Canada, Australia and the U.K. Instead of a five-star rating system, participants can either say they Like It or Don't Like It, though many write extensive, even passionate reviews to accompany these ratings. We like the way, when you search for the name of a city or town, you get a display at the top of the page listing the top-rated choices, with their locations highlighted on a map.

Many people first encountered Urbanspoon through an ad for the Apple iPhone that demonstrated an unusual feature of the downloadable app. If you shake the phone, or press an on-screen button, a slot-machine-like display spins and comes up with a restaurant recommendation based on location, food style and price. It's fun, but since you can only see one choice at a time, it's not as practical as a simple listing based on your preferences would be.

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