Find great dinning wherever you are with mobile friendly resataurant search, review and rating sites.
I love OpenTable. If you aren't familiar with the service, it's an online search for available reservations at local restaurants. You select your city, preferred dinning time, the size of your party and optionally the neighborhood and cuisine and OpenTable returns a list all the restaurants that have availability. It such a time saver compared with calling up restaurant after restaurant, being put on hold for five minutes and then being told "Sorry we have nothing available at that time".
The site is very popular here in the San Francisco Bay area and seems to be taking off elsewhere too. VentureBeat reports that OpenTable books reservations for 3 million diners per month and estimates the company's annual gross revenue at $14 million a year. The service is free to consumers, restaurants pay a fee per diner to OpenTable It must be cost effective for restaurateurs, 8500 have signed up.
OpenTable just launched a mobile site. This is such a great fit for mobile. Now you don't even need to be near a computer to make reservations quickly and easily. At least that's the promise. I just tried it out and successfully made a reservation on OpenTable mobile. The process worked but it has a few rough edges.
Similar to Open Table, but primarily for UK dinners, toptable finds availability at nearby restaurants by date, time and party size and lets you make a reservation. Like OpenTable, you earn points for each booking that can be applied towards free meals. Until Dec 31st, 2010, mobile bookings are rewarded with double points.
A geolocation enabled webapp that detects your location and lists nearby restaurants (US only) offering delivery or takeout. You can view menus and place your order online.
Urbanspoon is a crowd sourced guide to dinning out in about 100 major metropolitan areas in the US and Canada. The web based start-up launched a location aware iPhone app shortly after Apple opened up the platform to third party developers. The app quickly became one of the 10 most downloaded apps on iTunes. Urbanspoon really hit it big after Apple featured it in a commercial. In a nice exit for the founders, the self-funded three man start-up was acquired last year by IAC for an unknown price that is generally believed to be several million dollars.
After picking a city, the site lets you search for a restaurant by name or keywords or browse by neighborhood and/or cuisine. Listings feature a percentage ranking based on the number of "Like" votes by users and generally include address, with link to a Google mobile map, phone number, approximate price range, critic reviews from IAC owned CitySearch, blogs and local newspaper critics plus user reviews. Mobile usability could be better, though. Phone numbers are not click to call and their is no information on what days and hours each establishment is open.
Urbanspoon's chief rival is Yelp (Yelp mobile review). Both here in Yelp's home base of San Francisco and in Seattle, where Urbanspoon started, Yelp seems to have slightly more restaurant listings and many more user reviews. I think Urbanspoon's inclusion of critic reviews, which I tend to trust more than user's, makes the two services approximately equal in usefulness for finding a good place to eat. Yelp wins big on usability though by providing by click to call numbers and open hours listings.
BooRah is crowd-sourced restaurant review site along the lines of Yelp (review) or Zagat (review) but with a couple of differences. First, instead of relying only it's own members to build up a critical mass of reviews, BooRah pulls in reviews from other sites like CitySearch, Insider Pages and Yahoo Reviews. The other difference is that BooRah ignores the scores and star ratings in these reviews. Instead it performs a structural and semantic analysis of the review text and extracts whether the reviewer is expressing a negative (Boo) or positive (Rah) feeling on three specific aspects of the dinning experience; service, ambiance and food. A restaurant's Boos and Rahs are used to create an overall percentage rating and separate ratings in each category. There's a good interview of BooRah co-founder and CTO Nagaraju Bandaru by Peggy Anne Salz at mSearchGroove where he explains BooRah's methodology in more detail.
Bandaru stresses that the site still Alpha and that there is still some missing functionality but I think it's actually pretty good. I tried a few searches for specific restaurants and found BooRah useful. Unlike Yelp, Boorah seems very good at accurately locating the closest restaurants to a specific address, zip code or intersection. It found over a dozen of sushi places within 3 miles of my house. BooRah reviews tend to be somewhat dry and factual ... More
Finally a mobile Starbucks Locater that works - although only for US and Canadian locations, unfortunately. Enter a zip code, city and state or full street address to get a listing of all nearby Starbucks with address, click-to-call phone number links and a little wifi indicator for those shops that have it. Clicking a listing brings up a scrollable, zoomable map (from Microsoft's MapPoint) showing the latte shop's location with driving directions also available.
Online ordering and store finder for U.S. Pizza Hut locations. You have to register in advance on the dominos.com PC site to be able to use mobile online ordering!
Store finder and online ordering for Dominos Pizza in the U.S. No advanced registration is required to place a mobile order.
Papa John's Pizza UK
Papa John's Pizza US
Inspired by Ewan's coverage of Papa John's UK's location aware iPhone web app, I went looking for its US equivalent. I found mobile.papajohns.com which delivers a snazzy Touch version of the pizza chain's online order service and store locator to iPhone's only.
Sadly, unlike the UK version it doesn't pickup the phone's location, you have to enter an address or zip code manually. Non-iPhones, including even Android phones, get a plain version with no eye candy whatsoever but identical features and functionality. If you want to try the iPhone version on your lesser device the direct URL is mobile.papajohns.com/iphone.
The announcement is on the official Google Mobile Blog. It includes an interesting YouTube video of Google's Charles Wells demonstrating a new mobile restaurant finder service from LastMinute.com called fonefood (m.lastminute.com/fonefood/en) which uses the Gears Geolocation API to locate restaurants near you. fonefood works without Gears too, you just have to enter a location.
With or without the location feature, fonefood is an interesting service in its own right. It's similar to OpenTable (review) but focused on Europe. FoneFone lets you search for restaurants by location and cuisine in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Holland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Search results include a detailed description, approximate price range, "click to call" phone number and a Google mobile map. You can check availability and make reservations too. No credit card is needed to make a reservation, just your name, email and phone number.
Search for restaurants in the US by zip code, cuisine and distance.
The newest mobile site from MobiSolv, the company behind mVies (movie listings) and oFFrz (shopping coupons).Grubz is a dining out and nightlife guide for Delhi, India with listings of restaurants, lounge and cafes searchable by keyword and by cuisine.