Version Reviewed: 2.0.1
iPhone Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
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Location based "find the best food" apps are a dime a dozen these days. There are a few that I use on what seems to be a daily basis, but OpenTable really stands out in the crowd when it comes to fine dining. What makes OpenTable compelling isn't the fact that it has the largest index of restaurants or the most professional reviews, it's that once you find the restaurant that you want to eat at, you can make a reservation with the app free of charge.
Admittedly, the service is someone limited in comparison to something like Yelp that has every restaurant under the sun. OpenTable just includes restaurants that partner with the website, which is surprisingly a huge number of places all around the world. In the Phoenix/Scottsdale area alone (my part of the world), there are a ton of fine dining experiences waiting to be had on OpenTable.
Much like Yelp, OpenTable begins your journey by finding your location and then asking for some guidance to narrow your search. Once you've selected how many places you want to see, and what day you want to go, you hit "Find a Table" and all the places in your area pop up with available seats that you can reserve. From there you can narrow down your search by how much you want to spend and the desired cuisine in case you are picky that night. Within each restaurants page, there are Yelp-like user reviews, a nice description/opinion piece written by an obvious professional writer, location information, and of course the times that you can reserve. Reserving the table is as easy as clicking a time, and then hitting confirm. The app uses your login information that you provide on their website to send to the restaurant.
I tested this out the other night at a new Mexican place down the road and it worked out great. We just walked up, told them our name, and we were seated right away. We reserved a time pretty early in the evening, before a reservation was really necessary, but we did it for a reason, and it wasn't just for review purposes. Every time you use OpenTable to make a reservation, you earn OpenTable points, which eventually turn into free money to spend at OpenTable restaurants. While I certainly don't eat at nice places every night, there were enough two dollar sign places in the app that I'll probably earn some of that free money before I know it. I'll admittedly feel a bit off going to half full places with a reservation, but for free food I'll do anything.
Open Table is the epitome of a must have iPhone app. It won't take over your need for an app like Yelp, but if you are looking for nice food, there is almost certainly a place or 50 for you on OpenTable, and if you eat out enough you'll start getting free food money with no strings attached. The app is convenient, has perks to use it, and is honestly a great way to find some good food in town… and it's free!