Eating out will always be an enticing option. Perhaps it would be even more interesting if your iPad could help you research newer and better restaurants. Wherever you are, be it home, office, or vacation outside your hometown there are some iPad applications that can help you break out of your daily rut and experience something new for sure. Presented here are a few iPad applications that you may find worth exploring.
The OpenTable for iPad can do the restaurant bookings for you. It can help you discover an array of dining options you may not be familiar with, even in your native place. The application prompts you, when you first start OpenTable, to Approve off the use of your location. Tapping on the ‘yes’ option on the iPad will almost instantly present you with a Google map displaying the nearby restaurants that are a part of the Open Table network.
You may want to tap on one of the pins on the map to disclose the restaurant name along with available reservation time slots. To get more details you must tap on the arrow to open the restaurant details’ page. The information included on the restaurant’s page is the restaurant’s address, a photo, a description, and diner reviews. It may include a link to the restaurant’s web site, if available, and menu information. If you find the reviews important, you may want to mark restaurants as your favorite.
In order to make reservations using OpenTable, you should tap on the available time. On tapping the time slot the OpenTable application would, optionally, prompt you to log in using your OpenTable account details, though this is not mandatory. In case you do not have an OpenTable account, you may enter your name, phone number, and email address. The application allows you to place special requests if you like. However, it would depend on whether the restaurant is willing to and have the resources to fulfill your special requirement, but certainly there isn’t any assurance with respect to that. It is advised that you should join the OpenTable network, as you will receive dining offers and earn points toward free meals at participating restaurants.
The OpenTable for iPad app proffers a great deal of very well organized information about each restaurant in any given locality. Since the OpenTable software is reservation-based, the choices available with the restaurants provided by the software use a targeted selection of choices each of which are excellent in themselves.
In case you simply do not have any information about what you are searching it would be advised that you should browse through the restaurant details in the target locality to explore available options. This specially applies in case of special events where you have not frozen on things and trying to explore all available options.
In case you know and are sure as to what you are looking for you can still use the application to locate a particular restaurant by name. Thus, you would not really find a better way of booking a table for your family dinner or your first table reservation for a candle light dinner on your first date. Moreover, all of this happens without even requiring you to pick up the phone.
It perhaps is not uncommon for someone to be faced with the scenario where all of the choicest restaurants have already been booked on the day for the desired time slot and this can be extremely frustrating to say the least. With OpenTable this would be a thing of the past as there won’t be the need to waste your time calling restaurants. Instead, installing the OpenTable app on your iPad will let you locate your favorite restaurant with the utmost of ease.
Google Maps also powers the UrbanSpoon for iPad app, like the OpenTable for iPad. Obviously, this would have a similarity in the interface. Hence you would find it very easy to familiarize yourself with this application if you have already used OpenTable earlier.
Once you set up the application with requisite permission to use your location, you will be able to view all the available restaurant options near you. In Dallas however, you may not be able to browse through all of the 12,336 restaurant options as it can be quite an overwhelming task. UrbanSpoon for iPad has a magnificent way of narrowing everything down especially in a systematic way for you.
UrbanSpoon application is already available for use on PC, and if you have used this service on your computer, you would already know how to select a neighborhood, type of cuisine, and price range, then hit the Spin button and view what the app picks up for you. Let us say you want to go for the India spicy cuisine tonight what you would have to do is simply choose curry by swiping your finger up and down on the slider to find that option in the available categories. Once you find the appropriate choice of Indian food, you may tap the lock button to make sure that all of the restaurant suggestions are Indian. You may also want to try tapping “Show Popular” option in the lower left corner of the application work area on the screen to highlight the best available choices, as voted on by UrbanSpoon users.
Once the options are available you would need to tap on any restaurant’s pin on the map to bring up additional information from the UrbanSpoon web site, such as phone number, address details, photos, menus, and full user reviews.
Please note that you need to be connected to internet in order to view and to access the additional information. In an offline mode, you will be able to access cached information, which includes restaurant names and locations on the map. As long as you have internet connectivity you can use UrbanSpoon be it hotel lobby, room or car and plan your dinner or lunch at a suitable place. The UrbanSpoon for iPad app is free, and it is an excellent addition to your mobile dining arsenal.
Where to Eat
The ‘Where to Eat’ for iPad app contains several food-related tools that go beyond what you might be inferring from the title of the tool.
On starting the application, you are introduced to an empty virtual plate on the table covered with small pretty icons. Tap one of the icons to open your available local dining choices. Moving in the clockwise direction from top each icon conveys a special meaning in the application. For instance, the knife and fork icons represent all restaurants while the globe icon allows one to choose by the type of cuisine such as Thai, Mexican, Indian, etc. Similarly, tapping the coffee cup can help locate all of the nearest coffeehouses. You would also find icons that represent the mode of dining. You would find icons around the circle for delivery, carryout, and other useful links such as transportation services, food shopping, and fast food. Bars and pubs are represented by the beer mug. The last icon allows for choosing by restaurant type such as buffets, family style, fine dining, and so on and so forth.
Where to Eat iPad app shows the restaurant location on the map if you tap on any restaurant name within the application. You may want to read and / or write a review about a restaurant in your target locality. You also have the option to view favorite restaurants, revisit the list of recently viewed options, or access the Goodies or settings menus using Icons in the top right corner inside the ‘What to Eat’ work area. The application features a Goodies menu. Tools such as a quick and handy tip calculator, check splitter makes the Goodies menu quite interesting within the application. The application also contains a free e-book that has information on the basics of dieting, understanding calories, and fat. The e-Book though appears to be a strange addition to a dining out application, yet it has great applicability considering the fact that some people even though dine out and are extremely cautious about the calories’ intake.
I prefer customizing any and every application to suit my needs. If the application does not provide customization options, I personally find the application to be poorly programed in a haste and not so user friendly. For all those who seem to buy this argument would not be disappointed as ‘Where to Eat’ for the iPad offer some of the customization options though the app needs to mature further in the time to come. In some of the tests, the application crashed several times. In one of the tests when “brewpubs” was tapped, it brought up a listing for the Miller Brewing Company the next county over as against what was expected.
Leaving some exceptions aside, the app is extremely accurate. For instance, accurate listing of a local Chinese restaurant, in the delivery section, that had very recently started offering the delivery service. Until the database is improvised further to and other small issues are fixed you will have to be bit more prudent while using the information provided by the application. Where to Eat will cost you $2.99.
Zagat to Go
Zagat Restaurant Guide, at least in its print incarnation and Zagat reviews are well know for their quality of reviews that widely used and well respected in the dining world. Now the same quality of information as people have been used in the hard prints is available on the iPad in the form of ‘Zagat to Go’ . The application on your iPad can help ensures that you always get the right meal to as per your taste and appetite. So do not stop yourself from traveling just because you did not know the area well enough to be in a position choose a good restaurant.
Like all other apps for iPad covered here, ‘Zagat to Go’ uses your current location and shows the closest dining options when you start the application. The application uses the Z Map pins to get basic information about the restaurant, including a ratings snapshot and capsule reviews. You only need to tap any of the Z map location of your choice to get all these details. In order to filter out unwanted stuff from the available choices you simply need to tap on the icons at the bottom left corner of the application work area on you iPad screen. This makes the app show only your favorites or recently viewed restaurants options.
The application uses magnifying glass at the top left corner of the screen to narrow down your search options just in case you are in the mood to dine only a certain type of cuisine or only in a particular neighborhood. You also have option to tap appropriate icon within the application in order to browse restaurants, pubs, etc based on food, decor, or service ratings instead of by location. You may tap the appropriate icon in the bottom center of the application area on the iPad screen to toggle between the map and the restaurant view. In either of the view, tapping on a restaurant’s name will bring up more information that is detailed enough to help you make a choice. The restaurant detailed information page comprises of information about the cuisine, address and phone number, web site, hours of operation, features, and accolades.
One of the premium features of the ‘Zagat to Go’ app for the iPad is its offering of offline access to the information. This is great news if you do not have a 3G iPad and especially if you cannot find a Wi-Fi hotspot nearby. Unfortunately, coverage is somewhat spotty. Nashville in our test had countable entries as against New York or Chicago. It is important to note that the Nashville city does not have its own Zagat guide either in the printed form; hence, the offered choices were truly surprising. However, in a major metropolitan area ‘Zagat to Go’ beyond doubt is a good choice. However, it does not offer the breadth of options found in apps like UrbanSpoon. Zagat to Go will set you back by $9.99, which is inclusive of one year of updates.
Sovan Mandal is the senior tablet and tech corespondent for goodereader.com. He brings a international approach to news that is not just applicable to the North American market, but also Asia, India, Europe and others. Sovy brings his own writing flavor to the website and is interested in Science Fiction, Technology and Writing. Any questions, send an email