Dining Zen: 8 Awesome Restaurant Apps

Going out to dinner is great. The food is good, the ambiance is good, and there’s no cleanup. The painful part of eating out is finding restaurants with good food at a fair price. Luckily, technology has revolutionized how we eat, and has made bad meals a rarity.

Here are 8 apps that make finding good restaurants, and deals a breeze.

  1. Groupon Reserve (formerly Savored): Living in the city is both a dining blessing, and a dining curse. The food tends to be better, but it also tends to be pricier. Groupon’s new high-end deal service, Groupon Reserve, takes care of that. With Reserve, diners can make reservations online at 1000s of really good restaurants in 10 major US cities (i.e New York, San Francisco, Chicago), and receive discounts between 25 and 50% on food and drinks, depending upon the restaurant. Some notable restaurants on Reserve in New York include Le Cirque (20% off), and The Capital Grill (25% off). The great thing about reserve is that diners don’t need to bring a coupon, and don’t have to spend a certain amount. Reservations are free, and discounts are automatically applied, no matter what the bill. If you’re looking for a high-end meal in a major city, at a major discount, check out Groupon Reserve on their website, or in the Groupon app.

  • Google Offers: Ironically, one of the most high-profile companies in the world also happens to have one of the most low-key, underused deal services. Google Offers. Unlike most deals apps, Google Offers has a wide variety of deal types. For example, in New York, Muchmore’s is offering free coffee just for walking in the door, no purchase necessary. Carvel is offering $3 off cakes. Appetito Restaurant is offering $15 off the total bill. Google Offers is like a weird mix of regular Groupon, LivingSocial, and Groupon Reserve. It’s not amazing, but it occasionally has some great offers.

  • Regular Groupon: Also in the Groupon app, there are regular deals, like the ones normally sent in their emails. These can be high-end, low-end, or mid range restaurants, and offer a wide variety of cuisine. For example, one in my area today is an Italian meal worth $86, for $39. Since these require a physical coupon, the deals need to be planned in advance, but there are often some very good deals on offer.

  • OpenTable: OpenTable is a reservation service, and app that makes finding high quality places significantly easier. They’ve got a great discovery system for finding new restaurants, and reserving a table is literally as easy as pressing a button. There are no deals here, which is why I prefer Groupon Reserve in areas where it’s available, but it does make finding dinner easier.

  • LivingSocial: Livingsocial is Groupon with an added social element. It’s the same process of buying the deal and getting a coupon, and many of the deals are very similar, but on livingsocial, if you refer three friends via a social network, and they buy the same deal, yours is free (hence the social).

  • Yelp: Yelp is pretty well known for its primary function: helping diners find good restaurants by offering customer reviews. One little-known feature of Yelp that is expanding is “Yelp Deals”. On some restaurants, deals offered by the restaurant are displayed, such as “$5 for $10 of drinks”. When a user comes across a restaurant they want to go to, they can pick up a deal right on the Yelp page, and use it that day. Basically, it’s a groupon-like deal, except it’s for a restaurant that you’ve already decided you really want to go to.

  • TripAdvisor: Yelp is good, but when I’m looking for consistent restaurant reviews, I head to TripAdvisor. Available on the website are menus, photos, and contact information, as well as a ton of reviews. TripAdvisor also ranks restaurants by cuisine and location, making it easy for you to find exactly what you’re looking for, where you’re looking for it.

  • Seamless: Finally, if you want restaurant-quality food, but you don’t want to leave your home, you have another option beyond Chinese food or pizza. Seamless makes just about every type of food deliverable, around the US. For example, if you’re in the mood for barbecue, you can order from Brother Jimmy’s Barbecue (very good BBQ by the way) via the seamless app or website, and they’ll deliver it to your door. Depending upon where you live, there’s every cuisine from African to Venezuelan available for delivery in minutes.

  • A parting note: Don’t underestimate the power of Siri or Google Now (google’s voice assistant) to find restaurants. They’re excellent for finding restaurants while walking.

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    Michael Sitver

    Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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