Three Dining Apps You Need

May 8, 2012 Updated: May 8, 2012
Epoch Times Photo
List shown of "Any" restaurants selected on the OpenTable app. (Jose Rivera/The Epoch Times)

Finding something to eat in NYC is not a problem, as there are over 4,200 eateries to choose from. So the issue becomes not only where to eat, but what to eat too. It’s also great when you know which restaurants are in the area, price range, special deals, hours, and available seating.

Having a smartphone puts the kind of information that makes choosing where and when to eat literally in your hands, while on the streets no less. Yet not all apps are alike, and depending on what your need is, it varies on which is best to use.

The three apps being examined are available for both iPhone and Android platforms, with full Internet websites that give you the same functionality as the apps.


Beginning with the OpenTable (OT) app, I found it easy to use. It is not just for finding a place to eat, but is interactive with a reservation system that connects directly to participating restaurant reservation systems. This means that when you reserve a table somewhere using the app, you are making a reservation directly with that restaurant’s online booking service. The speed and ease of use takes the guesswork out of making reservations, and there are no confirmation emails to worry about either. Set a date and you’re all ready.

OT’s reservation services are free for the customer. Instead, the restaurants are charged reservation fees. This cost-saving detail accounts for over 1 million reservations per month.

OT’s user interface has a fast, simple-to-navigate menu. You can sort your search by neighborhood, cuisine, the amount you want to spend, and times available. Their dining rewards program is also included in the app, where you can earn points for keeping a reservation. Points get you Dining Reward Cheques, which you can use at any OT restaurant nationwide.

After inputting information, such as what neighborhood to dine in, cuisine, price, and time desired, the app will show a list of places with open tables. There is a details tab with useful information that includes the place’s mini-bio, parking info, links to their menu, and a map locator. There is also a tab with diner reviews from OT users. This is a gem, as it doesn’t give reviews from dining writers, but from diners who are enjoying, or in some cases not enjoying, their meal or experience. Reviews are based on several criteria, such as food, service, and ambiance and noise level, along with personal comments.

This is a very handy app, and works for most major metropolitan cities in America, so it’s an app that can be very handy when at home or on vacation.

Epoch Times Photo
Urbanspoon's main screen. (Jose Rivera/The Epoch Times)



The next is Urbanspoon. The prettiest of the three apps in this review, upon opening the app, you are treated with gorgeous pictures of food.

Urbanspoon’s user interface is initially divided into four horizontally scrolling bands, like Discover, Cuisine, Price, and What’s open? Each of these bands is further broken down into categories, with tempting photos that sometimes might help guide you in a direction you didn’t expect to take.

You also have the option to choose a restaurant either by “nearby” location using GPS, or “shake,” which is a slot machine-like randomizer for the adventurous, and “search” for those who want to quickly shorten their browse time.

Once you’ve made a selection, you can use even more filters to narrow things down a bit. There are customer photos, ratings, and reviews, and you have the option of saving a place on a wish list.

Continued on next page: Yelp* …