Where are we having our next meal? For some travelers, the hunt for the next dish is a welcome adventure; for others, it’s a daily crisis. Food-review apps like Yelp and Urbanspoon can be helpful, to be sure, but these standouts apps solve specific dining dilemmas, whether you’re looking for the inside scoop in a new city or the healthiest snack in a land of gas stations and 7-Elevens.
Find. Eat. Drink., free
Apps have made critics of us all, which generally seems like a good thing until you’re stuck scrolling through the latest novel-length Yelp review about dim sum. That’s where F.E.D. comes in: In lieu of reviews by mere mortals, notable food folk—chefs, sommeliers, and barkeeps—will single out restaurants, bars, even food markets. (The concept is similar to Chefs Feed.) The pro nods are little more than a Zagat-style quote, but the simple blessing is a good starting point and, at its best, an insider tip on particular dishes worth trying. For now, the app is limited to 150 cities in North America, but it’s expanding continually.
Whatever your thoughts on the fetishistic craze of snapping candids of meals and posting them online, Foodspotting has at least put the idea to good use. The app is all about recommending specific dishes (you know, the one you subjected to a 15-minute photo shoot), not restaurants. It’s a handy tool, whether you’re craving a specific flavor or dish and want to track down the best purveyor around, or have settled on a restaurant and want input on the best meals to order. For app lovers, there’s plenty of social functionality, but even casual users will benefit from quick access to recommendations.
We admit that airport eats have improved, but we’ve also trudged through too many terminals populated by zombified fast food joints to say the job is done. GateGuru is best known and loved for providing flight status and connection details, but it’s also pretty comprehensive when it comes to dining options in terminals. There are some 35,000 user-submitted reviews and tips for where and what to eat (as well as shops and other services). Search for a specific airport and locate your terminal and gate, or simply input your travel itinerary and the app will organize your information automatically with a quick link to maps, amenities, and user-submitted tips.
Intended as a dieting aid, Fooducate is also a godsend for finding the healthiest possible option when you’re scrounging for food on the road. After signing up, you can use the app to snap a photo of the barcode of that convenience-store snack you were about to eat; Fooducate will then pull up a (disturbingly) complete nutritional analysis, plus a grade from A to D. It also suggests healthier alternatives to try when you pick a particularly dubious box of cookies.