I've been hungry lately. Real hungry. Some hunger is conquered by Chipotle, but this hunger is only has one weakness, and it is good, local food. Fortunately for all of us in the same situation, there are plenty of apps for that. Here are the four best, brought to you by the never ending hunger of Chris Hall.
4. Yelp - I really like Yelp when I'm looking for a place to eat. Because of its vast user base, the Yelp app provides more restaurants per search than any other app I've found. There are also more customer review on Yelp than any other service, so if you believe that more is better, Yelp is for you. The problem with Yelp is the fact the reviews are all user based, and very rarely do people give mediocre reviews. When I search for restaurants, everything is right around 4 stars, leaving me to wonder what I should really eat that night. There is an occasional in-depth review, but for the most part people just write something like, "This is THE place to go" with an occasional, "my waiter didn't bring my water fast enough, but I still go four days a week… 1 star!!!".
3. Zagat To Go - Obviously Zagat To Go is going to have the most comprehensive reviews out there. Because they review food professionally, I trust the reviews to be accurate and honest. The restaurant database is much smaller than Yelp's because they have to review each place, but the restaurants they choose typically are some of the best in the city. The app is well organized, super clean, and has some good features, but it comes at a price. If it weren't for the $10 asking price, Zagat To Go would be #1 on this list for sure.
2. OpenTable - You may scoff at the notion of having OpenTable ahead of Zagat, but it really does deserve the spot. OpenTable doesn't have a huge user review base, nor does it have Zagat's professional reviews, but it does give a clean, well written description about each place, as well as the super handy ability to reserve tables on the fly. Nothing is worse than finding the perfect restaurant and then have to wait an hour and a half to sit. On top of everything, OpenTable gives you gift cards to spend at the restaurants if you use their service often enough. This alone keeps me coming back to the app.
1. LocalEats - How often do you leave the house on a search for dinner and say, "I want the best Mexican food in town."? I do it all the time, and finding answers to these questions are close to impossible. Yelp will give you a bunch of 5 star restaurants in each cuisine, Zagat will give you a pretty good idea, but you may have to pick between the best food and the best decor, while OpenTable will just give you a really good place that you can get a reservation and future discounts for. Only LocalEats is bold enough to tell you that a place is the best is town. Sometimes I don't want to have to think about these things, I just want an app that will tell me to go to a certain place because it is the best. I haven't been steered wrong yet, and for that I am very happy. There are also discounts provided through the app, making a random restaurant browse through quite worthwhile.
Honorable Mention - UrbanSpoon - I love the concept of UrbanSpoon, but I am way too inclined to use the slot machine, which has led me to some odd places in the past. Picking UrbanSpoon over Yelp here was considered, but I had to go with Yelp's simple interface and the fact that it covers more than just food.
If you don't agree with my list and want to create your own top four, leave it below! I'd love to see what you come up with. I also welcome all internet trolls who want to call me stupid. This is a free country after all.
*Picture at top is a New York Times image of Kobayashi at Nathan's famous July 4th hot dog eating competition. If you don't know Kobayashi, you absolutely need to watch this video.