In this day and age when every other person is a self-described foodie, finding the best mobile application to point you to a taste bud-bending experience requires as much discernment as finding the authentic voice from among throngs of folks who think they know good eats.
I'd be lying if I didn't claim snobby epicurean tendencies, myself.
This headstrong belief in one's own taste credentials is exactly what fuels the need for informative and well-designed food-finding applications. Too simple and a foodie will shun it. Too esoteric and it could alienate a growing segment of people who really care about the art and science of meal-making.
I've recently studied several restaurant-recommending applications for iPhone and other mobile platforms, including Yelp and Urbanspoon for iPhone and Zagat To Go for Windows Mobile, Palm, and BlackBerry, and wondered how relative newcomers Munch ($0.99) and LocalEats ($0.99) compare to these more established services.
There are, of course, things to laud and criticize with each app. Munch's interface has a great method for quick-launching searches for pizza, Mexican, and so on from icons in the screen navigation. You can select other cuisines from a scrolling list. Munch returns wonderfully accurate search results, but is devoid of context. There are no reviews, no Web site listings, and every restaurant we looked at was rated with five empty stars. That's doable if you want a listings app, but for anyone trying to make intelligent choices, it just won't work.
LocalEats fares much better. The app brings you the best 100 (or more) restaurants in 50 U.S. cities as determined by a team of foodie professionals, authors of the online dining guide Where the locals eat. The benefit is that unlike Urbanspoon, no national chain even thinks of making an appearance. You can search each city's highest-rated establishments by alphabetical order, cuisine type, or the best of each category. For larger cities you can also search by neighborhood.… Read more