It’s easy to get overwhelmed when looking for the best apps for restaurant reviews. There are so many to choose from, and each one promises to help you find the perfect place for dinner tonight or for your next vacation. But which ones really deliver? Which ones have the best information and the most user-friendly interface?
We’ve compiled a list of our favorites, so you can save time and effort by focusing only on the best apps out there. We hope they help you make your next dining experience even more enjoyable!
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Best Apps For Restaurant Reviews
In an era where we have 24/7 access to cooking shows, magazines, and Web sites, it seems like more and more people are calling themselves “foodies.” Foodie used to be another term for a connoisseur of gourmet food, who turned up his nose at everyday dishes and dined at expensive five-star restaurants. That lifestyle wasn’t realistic for most people.
Modern foodies are a totally different breed. Rather than focusing on the gourmet, today’s foodie is more interested in pursuing the delicious, whether it’s at an expensive restaurant or a dive bar with the best fried pickles in town. As more people self-identify as foodies, quality food is becoming more accessible not just in the kitchen, but in restaurants. Thanks to a slew of restaurant apps, it’s easier than ever to track down delicious dining to satisfy your inner foodie.
A good restaurant app does more than just provide ratings. Apps should be intuitive to use and let you search for exactly the dining experience you’re looking for. Do you want to focus on local favorites? Are you a vegetarian or vegan foodie? Are you looking for not just the right restaurant, but to try its best dish? Don’t worry. Whether you’re a serious foodie looking for a new dining experience or just want to eat out without the guesswork, there’s an app for that.
Device: iPhone or via mobile site
If you’re on the road or just looking for a new eatery in your town, Urbanspoon offers reviews organized by cities in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia. You can also check out reviews from your friends to see what they thought before you head to dinner.
But what makes this free app unique is the nifty slot machine interface. Allow Urbanspoon to use your current location and choose a restaurant based on neighborhood, type of food, and price. Hit the “shake” button or shake your phone, and it will pick a random restaurant nearby for you. This “roll the dice” approach is perfect for courageous foodies who feel it’s worth possibly trying out a dud for the chance to discover a hole-in-the-wall that’s a hidden gem. For regular diners, it’s a great way to learn about new eateries in your area or find a restaurant when you’re on the road.
Eating out can be tricky if you’re vegan or vegetarian, especially on the go. Luckily, there’s an app built on a popular veggie social network that makes finding a veg-friendly restaurant a breeze.
You can find delicious vegetarian meals with the help of the VegOut app.
You can find delicious vegetarian meals with the help of the VegOut app.
There’s a growing movement of vegetarian and vegan foodies, and VegOut helps you track down meatless eateries by using the HappyCow database of vegetarian restaurant reviews.
If you’re a veg-head, you’re probably already familiar with Happy Cow. It’s the go-to Web site for finding member-reviewed vegetarian- and vegan-friendly restaurants all over the world. With VegOut, all of that data is accessible right on your iPhone! You can check out reviews and ratings to find a veggie restaurant that’s not just nearby, but up to your high standards. The app denotes whether a restaurant is vegan, vegetarian, or if it caters to omnivores but has veg-friendly options.
Sometimes you’d like to get a peek into what’s going to be on your plate before you choose a restaurant. One app gets visual to help you choose just the right place to dine.
Device: iPhone, iPad, Android, and the Windows Phone
For many foodies, good food is as much about presentation as about taste, and if you fall into this category, Foodspotting can take much of the guesswork out of choosing a restaurant and ordering. Not only can you find nearby restaurants and ratings, but you can check out photos of actual dishes at those locations. Foodspotting users upload photos of delicious dishes they’ve had at these restaurants, so you can see exactly what you’re going to get.
There are social media aspects to this app, too. You can share recommendations with friends and even rate others’ recommendations.
Looking to dine like a local, even when you’re out of town? One app helps you find local favorites across the U.S.
Nothing ruins the afterglow of a delicious meal like doing math. Tipulator takes that out of the equation. You can calculate the tip on the total bill or split it up among your dining companions with this 99-cent app for the iPhone.
Price: 99 cents
Device: Android, iPhone, BlackBerry Storm, or on their mobile-optimized site
What makes LocalEats perfect for your inner foodie, is that there’s a strict “no chain restaurant” policy. True foodies wouldn’t be caught dead at an Applebee’s, and with this app, there’s no need to sort through a list of big chains to find real local eateries.
Like Foodspotting, LocalEats is more visual than some of the other restaurant apps out there. There’s a photo of each restaurant mentioned. And you can check out user reviews, or take a peek at their “Top 100” list to see what the LocalEats editors say are the best restaurants in town.
If you’re in one of the 50 major cities that it covers, this app is a handy tool for tracking down those local favorites.
But let’s go one step further beyond local food to street food. If you’re a fan, we’ve got just the app for you.
Table for two?
Finding just the right restaurant is one thing, but getting a reservation can be a whole other headache. OpenTable lets you see if the restaurant you want to try has tables available. From there, you can make your reservation online or via the app on almost any smartphone.
1: Eat St.
Device: Android, iPhone
Food lovers and serious foodies alike can find quick, delicious, and unusual foods at local food trucks, and the Eat St. app. helps you track down the best of the best. A spin-off from the Food Network program of the same name, the app uses your current location to find food trucks near you, and you can check out what people are saying about the carts on Twitter, peek at the menu, check the hours, or check the vendor’s profile for links to their Web site, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.
While food trucks might conjure up mental images of a “roach coach” visiting construction sites with burgers and hot dogs, these mobile eateries have come a long way in the past few years. Food trucks now serve up gourmet fare like curry in savory waffle cones or tacos with an Asian fusion twist. This app works best if you live in a town with a strong food truck community.
Lots More Information:
5 Tips for Choosing a Restaurant When Traveling
10 Foods to Buy by the Side of the Road
10 Jobs for Foodies
10 Restaurant Chains that Flopped
How can I get a table at a top restaurant?
Top 5 iPhone Food Apps
best restaurant apps for free food
One way to cash in on freebies is to download restaurant apps. More and more dining establishments are offering free food or drinks in exchange for installing and using their apps. Think: Chick-fil-A milkshakes or Auntie Anne’s pretzels. No, you won’t get your entire meal bankrolled, nor will you get the most expensive menu items gratis, but a free sandwich or drink here and there is still a nice perk.
In addition to getting you free food, these apps can also save you time. Making orders ahead of time enables you to avoid long lines at the drive-through or your coffee spot. Many of these apps also give you points for purchases, which will earn you even more freebies.
[ SEE: Retail Rewards and Loyalty Programs Worth Joining ]
To conserve your time and effort, here’s a rundown of some restaurants offering free food for installing and using their apps. Note that some restaurant apps require you to make an initial purchase or register for a loyalty account to get your free food.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Jack in the Box
Steak ‘n Shake
After installing Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Perk’s mobile app, you’ll get a free pretzel with your first purchase of $1 or more. You’ll also receive points for making purchases through the app, and each time you reach 250 points, you’ll earn an additional free pretzel. Auntie Anne’s app will also alert you about surprise rewards and offers.
Downloading the Baskin-Robbins app gives you a free regular scoop of ice cream. The app will also alert you to “sweet deals,” which include discounts on select menu items.
As you use the Chick-fil-A app to purchase food, you’ll earn points that you can then redeem for different rewards ranging from cookies and milkshakes to chicken sandwiches and frosted coffees.
[ READ: Best Budget Apps. ]
After your first purchase with the Chipotle app, you can enjoy some chips and guac on the house. You’ll also earn 10 points for every $1 you spend within the app, in the restaurant or online, and you can redeem those for rewards. There are also opportunities to double your points and earn achievement badges, which can be used to get more free food and Chipotle merch.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
You’ll get a free brewed coffee or tea just for downloading The Coffee Bean rewards app, plus you’ll also earn points every time you make a purchase. The app also gives users special discounts and offers (like buy one, get one free cappuccino).
With Dairy Queen’s app, you’ll collect points each time you make a purchase that you can redeem on your favorite DQ items. You’ll also receive access to weekly in-app deals.
Download the Dunkin’ Donuts app and you’ll earn five points for every $1 spent. Rack up enough of those points, and you’ll be rewarded with a free doughnut or drink. When your birthday rolls around, you’ll also receive a special offer via app.
Downloading the app (or signing up for the online rewards program) gives you $3 off your first purchase and $2 off your next one on orders that are at least $10. You can also earn points for more rewards as you make purchases, and you can celebrate your birthday with a free birthday smoothie.
Jack in the Box
With the Jack in the Box mobile app, you’ll score 20% off your first in-app purchase. You’ll also start racking up points that will earn you free food down the road. Through the app, users will be privy to special app-only deals.
Download the app or sign up for the rewards program online, and you’ll get your second sandwich free. With Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast Rewards, you’ll also earn points that will add up to freebies like sides or sandwiches.
When you download the Krispy Kreme app (or sign up for Krispy Kreme’s rewards program online), you get a free doughnut. Each purchase earns you points toward more free Krispy Kremes. You’ll also stay in the know about exclusive offers and deals.
You’ll get a free Big Mac just for downloading McDonald’s app. The freebies keep coming with points for each order, which you can redeem for more free food. Plus, the app also announces exclusive deals, such as $1 fries and 99 cent coffee.
In addition to earning rewards for your purchases, Panera Bread will sporadically send some surprise offers too. Opting in for push notifications will get you even more. Plus, if you have a regular coffee habit, you might be interested in Panera’s “Unlimited Sip Club” subscription, which currently offers new subscribers three months free.
When you sign up for the Quiznos app, you’ll get $5 off your first in-app order. You’ll also start earning points at a rate of $1 per point. For 25 points, you’ll get 15% off your check. For 50 points, you’ll score a free combo. And on your birthday, you’ll get a BOGO offer on an eight-inch sub.
[ SEE: 10 Best Money-Saving Apps. ]
With the Schlotzsky’s app, you’ll earn two points for every $1 you spend. Those points add up to smaller rewards like chips and cookies to larger rewards like pizzas and sandwiches.
Ordering ahead to skip the line at your local Starbucks is one of the best perks of this app. But you can also rack up freebies by making purchases and earning stars through the app.
Steak ‘n Shake
A free milkshake is yours just for downloading the Steak ‘n Shake app. You’ll also earn $5 reward for every $50 you spend, plus you’ll have access to exclusive deals.
When you download the Taco Bell mobile app, you’ll get a free Doritos Locos Taco. You’ll then collect points with every purchase, which will earn you more free food.
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