There is no shortage of excellent restaurant apps in the App Store, but these eight really set the bar high. I use many of these apps on a regular basis for finding new restaurants, checking out wine ratings, or calculating tips. They are all a great choice for foodies or those who love to eat out. Looking to dine at home? Check out our list of the best iPhone recipe apps for some culinary inspiration.
1. Zagat to Go
Zagat is the king of restaurant reviews for major metropolitan areas and foodie cities like New York, Tokyo, or Paris. The app (US$9.99) gives you a year’s worth of ratings and reviews for every Zagat-rated restaurant in 45 cities -- that is a terrific deal since you’ll spend roughly $13 for a printed guide that covers just one city or $16 for a list of the top-rated restaurants. One of the best features is offline browsing, so you can browse restaurants without an Internet connection. Zagat to Go also offers neat features like a nearby restaurant listing, reservations functionality, and Foursquare integration. Keep in mind that Zagat doesn’t cover all cities (check out the app description for a full list).
Urbanspoon (Free) is a great restaurant app to have on hand when visiting a new city. The app uses the iPhone’s built-in GPS to find nearby restaurants. You can browse a full list of restaurants by cuisine and price range, or shake your iPhone for a random restaurant idea. Once you identify a good dining spot, Urbanspoon also includes user ratings, pictures, and menus. I’ve used this app countless times and it rarely disappoints.
The OpenTable app (Free) is designed to make it easier to make restaurant reservations. More than 15,000 restaurants are supported. Not only can you view menus and user ratings, but the app also includes real-time table availability and in-app reservation functionality. OpenTable also has a host of other features, including email integration (so you can send a dinner invite to your friends), dining rewards points, and a list of nearby restaurants.
Foodspotting (Free) works much like Urbanspoon in that it’s designed to help you find new restaurants. However, Foodspotting takes a visual approach -- the app displays user-submitted pictures of food and dishes at nearby restaurants. The quality of the pictures depends on the user, but the app includes plenty of drool-worthy pics. You can also look up a restaurant by name and see what the food looks like. Expert guides from the likes of Anthony Bourdain are also included. Foodspotting is a unique concept, and the interface is drop-dead gorgeous.
VegOut (US$2.99) is the most comprehensive restaurant finder for vegetarians and vegans. The app is powered by HappyCow.net, which is one of the most popular web resources for finding veggie-friendly dining spots. VegOut will display nearby restaurants or you can search by restaurant name or location. User ratings and reviews are included, as are links to the restaurant’s phone number and website.
Related: Looking for more vegetarian apps? Check out our list of the best recipe apps for vegetarians.
Some people may be able to calculate tips in their head, but I’m not one of them. Tipulator (US$0.99) is an easy-to-use restaurant app that calculates your tip in seconds. The sleek interface makes it simple -- just enter the bill amount, apply the percentage you want, and the tip will be automatically calculated. You can also use Tipulator to split restaurant checks or divide the tip.
Wine Ratings Guide (US$3.99) bills itself as the largest wine database in the world, with ratings for over two million wines. You can search for wines by a variety of criteria, including name, price, region, food pairings, grape varietal, and more. Each wine is rated on a five-point scale, and you can add your own ratings or take a picture directly from the app. Wine Ratings Guide is the perfect wine app to have on hand the next time you dine out.
Oysterpedia (US$1.99) is an excellent restaurant app that demystifies the oyster. It’s a great companion for your next trip to a seafood restaurant, with listings for over 200 oyster varieties. Each listing includes detailed information including flavor, size, harvest location, and tasting notes. Not everyone may be a fan of raw oysters, but Oysterpedia is a helpful app that certainly makes oysters a little more accessible.