We all keep a growing list—written or mental—of all the great restaurants and food finds that we’ve tried or are dying to track down in the future. Some people have detailed spreadsheets, columns dedicated to cuisine, price, and notes to catalog what dishes they ended up ordering and loving. Others keep it simple, jotting down names and places on their smartphone, tablet, or Moleskine every time they get a good suggestion.
No matter what your method is, there comes a time when you’re stuck standing on a street corner waiting impatiently for your iPhone’s browser to load and tell you the exact address of the restaurant or coffee shop or food truck that you’re trying to find. For the roaming foodie, there exists a better mobile solution. Many, in fact!
Here are some of our favorite ways to map our foodie finds using our computers at home and our smartphones on the go, so that we never get stranded while hungry. If you’re thinking of giving an awesome foodie adventure (Brooklyn Pizza Tour? Manhattan’s Best Ice Cream?) to someone you love this holiday season, some of these apps may help you plan the ultimate gift–perfect for oure eights days of gift guides!
**Tips and Tricks**
Map before you go. Let’s update our systems, people. The next time you want to write down a restaurant suggestion, or take notes on a place that you loved, do so in a way that will help you find that great foodie find again and again. Instead of jotting the name down on a post-it, create a new plot on Google Maps (sign in, so you can save new points to your own, personalized account). Organize your maps any way you want—create a new master map for coffee shops or Chinatown dumplings—and you’ll always be able to track down exactly what you want to be eating. This is also a great idea if you’re planning to arrive at Momofuku Ssam Bar at 8:30pm on a Friday and decide to map out a plan b (and c, and d)—you’ll have delicious food to eat, not just disappointment to stomach, when you’re told the wait is two and a half hours.
Map on the go. Better yet, get mapping right on your smartphone using the Google Maps mobile app. Drop a (labeled) pin if you happen to walk by a cute place that you want to remember. If we’re unsure of our destination and want to find out what great places exist in the general area we’re headed to, we turn to the Yelp app. You can search by what you’re in the mood for, and the app will pull up all the relevant restaurants that fit the bill, read reviews, and map ‘em. To choose your destination by what deals exist in the area, try the app Fast Food which shows you restaurant discounts, menus, reviews, map and info all on one page. Local Recon and Earthcomber are two great PC apps that let you search by interest and map the relevant venues around you.
Check-in, remember later. Yelp is a great mapping tool because it not only can pull up your recent searches, but it also allows you to check-in. If you want a map of all the places you’ve ever eaten, start using the check-in feature. It takes 5 seconds to set up and maintain, and the result is a complete record of all the stops along your foodie journey. Four Square is another great tool for mapping your finds via the check-in function. While most people use it for status (to become the mayor of your favorite bar), the check-in feature is awesomely useful for remember the food places you’ve be to.
Snap a pic along the way. If you are the type of person who remembers your favorite restaurants by exactly what you ate there, then Food Spotting is the app for you. Instead of just checking in, take a picture of the dish you’re eating and upload it to Food Spotting. The app also let’s you map what’s around and check out other people’s suggestions on what to order by viewing their pics.
Create an itinerary. Food adventures make the best holiday gift. If you’re planning a special outing for a loved one, or just like to be a super prepared adventurer yourself, use one of the great mapping apps to help you properly plan your route. In addition to helping you visualize all the great finds in your area, Google maps, MapQuest, and Ask Maps will give you directions, show traffic pockets to avoid, and let you see a 360-degree view of your destination so you know whether or not you are in the right place. Once you’ve plotted your map at home, take a look at the logistics, and plan your food journey from A to B accordingly.
Follow in the footsteps of others. If you need a little inspiration for your itinerary, there are plenty of food apps that map the finds of other great foodies. Flavor Town USA has captured all of Guy Fieri’s favorite spots from his hit show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. If you want to stalk another expert’s map of NYC, Midtown Lunch is a great starting point. While it doesn’t yet have an app, the map on the site is a great place to look to when searching for some ideas in your area, especially at lunchtime.
Track down your trucks. When your favorite foodie finds are mobile (i.e. on wheels), mapping using the above techniques is futile. Luckily, there are a handful of great apps to help you track down your favorite food trucks. Food Truck Fiesta maintains a catalog of food trucks and tracks trucks on a live map using their Twitter feeds. Mashable highlighted their 5 favorite apps for finding food trucks in your area, so check out their picks like Road Stoves GPS and more.
This post was brought to you in partnership with Intel® who are all about making our lives better (and faster) with technology – today and tomorrow. Since we’re co-dependent with our laptops at every waking moment –that’s how we keep up to date on our food writing, photography, twitter streams, and facebook posts – we appreciate what Intel is doing.