Smartphones have changed the way we experience travel, from instant photo uploads to the ability to meticulously chart our courses — right down to every meal we eat. Some argue that despite the convenience, this new technology takes away from the experience of stumbling upon a great restaurant or getting wonderfully sidetracked on unfamiliar city streets. But some smartphone apps will take your serendipitous exploration to a whole new level. We’ve selected nine food apps that will enhance your travel experience rather than take away from it — especially when it comes to food.
Leave your question of where to dine to the professionals. We’re talking big names like Mario Batali, Thomas Keller, and Emeril Lagasse. Chefs Feed, which recently gained $4 million in early-stage funding, connects users with the vetted recommendations of professional chefs in their respective cities. And who understands a city’s culinary beat better than the people who cook arguably the best food for that city? The app currently includes guides for 23 cities in the United States and Canada, and one international city (London).
If you love traveling, but feel a tad disappointed that you don’t know a local who will invite you to dinner, then EatWith is your solution. EatWith connects tourists with skilled home chefs by letting diners browse through hosts in various cities, choose a specific menu they like, and get the chance to eat in a local’s dining table along with other visitors. Though only some of the hosts have Michelin stars under their belts, all of them go through rigorous testing; only 4 percent of all applicants are accepted to the program. It’s one of the best ways to make friends and feel at home in your travels. The app services over 150 cities around the world.
If you love to keep a personal diary of food, but aren’t so keen on sharing it with the world, Evernote Food is essential. You can upload photos of your dishes and make pages for specific restaurants in the app, which automatically uploads their location, website, and contact information. Food writers, established and aspiring, pay attention: Evernote Food lets you take specific notes on the food you’re eating — perfect for referring to if you want to write or talk about it later.
Not everyone goes to review sites to decide what to eat. Foodspotting is for those of us who let our eyes determine what we’re having for dinner (or lunch, or brunch…). The app rates specific dishes, as opposed to restaurants, and uses location-based technology to show you pictures of food in your area. It’s an excellent way to discover local specialties you’ve never heard of.
If you want to book cooking classes, guided food tours, or tailored dining experiences — like a dinner in the Eiffel Tower — then browse through the plethora of food- and drink-related activities on Get Your Guide. Its user-friendly interface, fast and easy customer support line, and sourcing of the best deals on various culinary activities make this a must-have app.
We know what you’re thinking: Isn’t this article supposed to be about apps every traveler should download, not just the vegetarian or vegan ones? The thing is, vegetarianism is present in so many countries, and it’s fascinating to see its interpretations in various regions. You’re also bound to eat or travel with a vegetarian companion at some point. HappyCow highlights vegetarian-friendly, vegetarian, and vegan restaurants near you, and it works in locations from Taiwan to South Africa. Even when abroad, don’t forget to eat your veggies!
The team behind LocalEats, which began as a print publication, turns up their nose at crowdsourced recommendations even though they were one of the first food-related companies to launch an app, way back in 2008. They pride themselves on their (human) editorial and research staff, who base their picks on the suggestions of restaurant critics, esteemed travel writers and bloggers, and food editors. The app is exceptionally user-friendly: you can read menus, schedule a taxi to and from your restaurant destination, weed out any national chain restaurants, and more. Their strongest suit is their comprehensive listings in each state in the United States and in over 50 cities abroad.
With a comprehensive database of over 100,000 roadside attractions all over the world, Roadtrippers makes sure you will never forget the name of that amazing but random highway restaurant you ate at once — and it gives you all the info you need to find it again, if you so wish. You can also use the app to plan your road trip and to find something good to eat if you’re peckish during a particularly long stretch of asphalt. The places featured are curated by local experts and travel writers whose primary goal is to lead you to local, offbeat, and culturally stimulating experiences.
Spotted by Locals is a series of online and mobile city guides with vigorously updated content written by locals who have been hand-selected by the Spotted by Locals staff. According to National Geographic Traveler, it is through these locals that you will find the “best food and entertainment from Amsterdam to Zagreb.” Their guides cover over 50 cities in Europe and 11 cities in the United States and Canada. If you hate the thought of being a conventional tourist, plan your next trip around these guides.