A lot of the time you might find the impressive capabilities of your mobile a little indulgent as you sit on the train catapulting miniature parakeets across increasingly more treacherous terrain or reviewing tedious snap shots of your distant cousin’s second honeymoon in Bognor Regis on Facebook. When they do come into their own though, smart phone features like WiFi and GPS can solve some of life’s most infuriating problems so quickly that you wonder how you ever functioned without one.
Finding a restaurant is a prime example. No longer will you roam the streets in search of a mythical quaint little trattoria you are sure you once visited or amble for miles in the wrong direction at the behest of a slightly confused local who was adamant that fantastic tapas was just round the corner. There’s now a host of apps designed specifically to guide you to the perfect eatery. Heres a look at a few of the best…
Quickly establishing itself as the behemoth of lifestyle review services, TripAdvisor’s app covers all holiday bases by including hotels and flights too. The app free and its restaurant guide, much like its popular website, is second to none for comprehensive worldwide coverage. Its simple menu system is easy to use and makes good use of your GPS with an interactive map.
A nice ‘Near Me Now’ function allows you to have a look at what’s close by, and you can save favourites for future reference. The only down side is the notoriously reactionary reviews of previous customers- make sure you have good read before you commit to anywhere.
Also well established as a gourmet favorite is TopTable, the all-in-one information and booking service with a large and expanding clientele. Their app is also free, but alas, despite improving, it is yet to reach the standards of its parent site. Booking a table from your phone is very handy and would certainly suit anyone who knows where they are going and perhaps eats there regularly.
However, without a review section, an enticing yet faulty attempt to display promotions for certain establishments, and a malfunctioning favorites section, fans of Top Table are desperate for its app to match its online functionality.
The very highest end of haute cuisine is brought to you by Michelin, publishers of the legendary food bible, and now an app for Android and iPhone. Needless to say, you are unlikely to be recommended a bad restaurant, only your wallet may not be thanking you when the cheque arrives. As such, the British Michelin Guide download will set you back close to £6, but if you plan to travel perhaps consider investing in the whole of Europe for around £12. Pricey yes, but you’ll have details of EVERY top place to eat. The app functions well, just make sure you ring up and book first.
Another app with a catch-all approach is the underrated Qype. Its free, easy to use, Europe-wide and getting more popular. Choose from over 850 categories in 166,00 cities with over 2 million reviews. The restaurants section offers a reliable, no-nonsense approach to wherever you might be.
There are many other popular restaurant apps out there to suit a variety of lifestyles. The AA Guide and The Good Pub Guide are a wealth of knowledge if you’re frequently in remote or rural parts of the British Isles in search of a meal. Falling somewhere in between AA and Michelin is the respected Good Food Guide, whose slick app gives you editors’ insights and direct links to the venues’ websites.
Finding a restaurant on your smart phone, whichever app you choose, is frequently a rewarding experience. Following yourself down the street on a little map and having the machine vibrate a little when you stray off course or miss a turning is a curiously modern and exhilarating experience. All too often, once you reach the door, its down to good old fashioned sight and smell to decide whether that’s the place you’ll be stopping. If not, you’ll be darn sure there’s somewhere just around the corner.