Version Reviewed: 3.0.1
iPhone Integration Rating:
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While the iPhone is an extremely capable game platform, the real reason that it are so handy is because it can perform tasks that most other devices couldn't dream of. The rest of the mobile competition is just now catching up, but the massive user and developer base makes the iPhone the mobile platform to be a part of.
An extremely early sub-genre on the iPhone was the food and entertainment finding genre, made popular by the wonderful app, Urban Spoon. Urbanspoon definitely isn't as popular now, but for a long time it used its innovative random place generator to wow many people into buying iPhones. Since then, a slew of other apps have been created, none of which are quite as flashy, but some that are just as useful. My personal presence in the sub-genre is Yelp, primarily because it has a review on just about every place in every city. Instead of expert reviews, Yelp relies heavily on user reviews, and the user base is large enough to have a review on just about every place worth going to.
Sometimes though, you need a quality professional to tell you what is good… and what isn't. To fill this gap, Zagat made an app called Zagat To Go, which is a collection of all of their reviews, along with some user reviews to spice things up a bit. The Zagat system works on a 31 point scale, and rates multiple categories, all of which are sortable in the app. If you are looking for great food, but don't care about the decor, just sort by food and not decor. The app rates food, nightlife, and hotels in 70 cities, so if you have an iPhone and live near or are visiting a metropolitan area, you are in luck.
Along with basic reviews, there is a 'Recommends' feature that recommends places to you based on what you are doing. Whether you are taking friends out on the town or are going on a first date for cheap, the app recommends a place for you. Unfortunately, this feature only works in selected cities (Phoenix is not one of them… too bad for me), but it does work pretty well. I used the feature last time I was in Vegas, and the experience was a good one. I selected that I was with friends who don't have trust funds but aren't cheap, and are more interested in food taste than visual style. We ended up going to Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay, and it was quite tasty.
The downside to Zagat To Go is that it only covers things that Zagat reviews. I live in what I would consider to be a food hotspot, and there are only a handful of restaurants listed around me. I'll admit that the app usually selects the best ones to review, but sometimes there are hole in the wall places that the major review sites like Zagat skip over. The typical restaurant in Zagat is also on the more expensive side, so don't expect to find a ton of cheap eats. I find that because of this, I tend to use Yelp more at home and Zagat more when I'm on vacation and looking for something unique and tasty.
Overall I'd say that Zagat is a solid app, but doesn't quite have the extensive location list that some of the other offerings have. If you are looking for an extremely critical review though, Zagat To Go really can't be beat. Unlike Yelp, where good restaurants all typically have 5 stars, Zagat uses a 31 point scale which really shows why certain places are better than others. The main concern to me though is the price of the app. At $9.99, Zagat costs quite a bit more than most of its primarily free competition and to me, isn't that much more useful. If a critical review is what you need though, this is the app for you.