Mobile Dining Apps for Every Appetite

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Any decent home cook knows that preparing a meal means that the devil’s in the details. The end result requires a lot of grunt work–reading recipes, making shopping lists and selecting ingredients.

Then the work begins: measuring, chopping, slicing and dicing. After that, the time spent cooking flies by, and then your meal is plated up and enjoyed. After that, cleanup begins. It’s a cycle, like the four seasons: plan, purchase, prep, cook, clean up. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Of course there’s an alternative to all this work: go out to eat! Let someone else do the heavy lifting for a change. Yes, it’s more expensive, but enjoying a meal out is a savings in time and effort. However, there is a similarity between dining out and preparing a meal. The devil is in the details.

When you’re making plans to visit a restaurant, it may be a spontaneous decision to visit a place you love. If you’re willing to take a chance on waiting for a table at your favorite local hangout, perhaps eating dinner at the bar if there are no tables, no worries. But if you decide to try a new place, maybe for a special occasion, or if you’re traveling and want confirmed reservations, you’ll need to spend time lining up your plans, leaving nothing to chance.

You probably already know that before you build up an appetite, you’ll want an app. No, not an appetizer. When it comes to food and dining out, it seems that there’s always an app for that, whatever “that” may be. Let’s take a look at how technology helps get things cookin’.

Most of us already use websites or apps such as Yelp or Trip Advisor, especially when traveling. These websites are a quick and easy way to take the pulse of what a restaurant offers. Readers must use a critical eye, and discernment, to determine if comments are outliers. A one-star review may have been left by someone with a legitimate complaint or by someone who was asked to leave because of bad behavior. I’m always favorably impressed when restaurant management takes the time and effort to reply to negative reviews, asking for more details and offering to make things right. It’s also interesting to check out the reviewer to see if every single restaurant they review is a disappointment because of terrible service and bad food.

For people who are busy, taking time to make restaurant reservations may be limited. OpenTable allows you to make reservations at your convenience, and if you download the OpenTable app, you can use it to earn points for cash back and coupons.

You can step up your game with reservations using the Resy app. If cost is not a factor, Resy allows you to find the best tables at the most popular restaurants around the country by simply buying the table. Expensive? Yes, but, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

Zomato is another app that offers restaurant coupons. The company began in India, advertising food delivery, and it’s now a global company that offers constantly updated menus, photos and user reviews, as well as blogger reviews, on a global basis, a plus for world travelers.

Are you a homebody who prefers carryout orders to restaurant dining? GrubHub is a practical way to keep tabs on local restaurants with delivery options. Another app that specializes in fast-food delivery is PostMates, which facilitates delivery from major food service chains such as Chipotle. And fast food lovers need to know about the Taco Bell app. Yes, the go-to fast food choice of college students now allows you to earn points each time you drive up to the carry-out window.

If you’re a fan of Uber, it’s another source for food delivery. Check out the UberEATS app. This is another global app now being rolled out in major cities in the United States. You can order online, then pay for food and delivery with your Uber account, with no need to tip.

Sometimes you want to find the latest, greatest happy hour. There’s an app for that, too–Happy Hour Finder. Need to find the best options and times for your friends or coworkers? Check in to find the happy happenings in your area.
And if you’re looking for a way to maintain a lifestyle of healthy eating, the Tasteful app has you covered. Vegan? Gluten-free? Dairy-free? Food allergies? This app allows you to find restaurants that fit your needs.

And please remember, it’s not all about the food, folks. If you’ve ever dined in a group that found splitting the bill challenge, try downloading the Tip Calculator app. And round it up, please; your server will appreciate it. ■

Sources: and the experience of the author.