Restaurant guidebooks have been around since Grimod de la Reynière’s Almanach des Gourmands was published in Paris in 1803. The 21st-century version: pioneering mobile-phone apps that intuitively lead travelers to restaurants via user-generated feedback. Foodspotting launched two years ago as a way to share epicurean snapshots and search for geo-tagged dining options, but it has since evolved into a Pandora-for-food that uses previous likes and dislikes to suggest what you might want to try next. In addition, Foodspotting has beefed up its editorial content, including redesigned “picture menus” for every restaurant and a new series of Travel + Leisure guides that highlight can’t-miss items in destinations from Las Vegas to Paris.
But Foodspotting has competition. Now there’s also Flavorize, a “hot-or-not” rating and discovery app for sit-down restaurants that learns your preferences based on how you vote. Another, Stamped, gives users just 100 stamps to place on their favorite restaurants, which makes for more discerning ratings from, say, your Facebook friends. And Localmind acts as a kind of real-time Yelp, letting you ask questions and get instant responses from other users—everything from “What’s the best brunch in downtown Miami?” to “Are there any tables outside?”
The killer feature most of these apps have is simplicity: “reviews” consist merely of pictures and thumbs-up/thumbs-down user ratings, instead of lengthy written descriptions. Still, Foodspotting remains the undisputed leader with its 1.4 million “spottings” from across the globe. Whatever you’re craving—be it burgers or foie gras—it’s a worthy avenue to your next fix.