Must-Have iPhone/iPad Foodie Apps for Cheap Eats

This week, I’ve been hunting for more foodie apps for my iPad. Foodspotting, Open Table and Zagat have been so helpful in terms of finding best dishes and restaurants in NYC. But, i think it is not enough in terms of discovering “cheap eats” around the city. I am pretty sure there are some delicious deals out there that I can use for my budget. Like Groupon for food, perhaps? Apparently, Scout Mob will uncover these deals for you from near by restaurants. How convenient is that? Don’t get thrilled yet. I have found a second app to accompany Scout Mob. If you are a huge fan of food truck, you’ll find this app very useful. I thought I could only find food trucks in LA, but apparently, it’s easy to discover one here in Manhattan with this app. It’s called Tweat.it. Both of these apps are originally an iPhone app, but these will also work on iPad.

1. Scout Mob:
“Mobile deals for the local serious.” – Scout Mob

Scout Mob clearly lives up to its statement above. For a foodie and local serious like me, I am excited to use Scout Mob to uncover nearby deals. After I finished with the installation, I straight away give this app a try. I gave a permission for the app to use my current location. Within seconds, many deals popped up. These deals are coming mostly from the local bars, wine bars or cafes at your nearby location. Currently, Scout Mob is serving 20 major cities in the United States, including New York, los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver and Boston. If you are looking for some good cheap eats, this app will definitely be an excellent choice. Most of the deals are 50% to 100% off. Looking at the restaurants that are participating with this app, all of them seem to have tasteful ambiance and inviting atmosphere. Also, the Scout Mob team has added little handwritten captions around every picture to display their personal thoughts. It’s pretty cute. Although I am not a fan of local cafe/bar, this app has changed my perception. I want to try some!

If you are scared of missing a deal while you are at school or at work (where you have no access to your phone), you can access Scout Mob through your computer. Just go to its website, insert your email address, and you will get a reminder every time a new deal pops up around your location. Then, you can share it with your friends through Facebook and Twitter. How convenient is that? I am loving it. Just like what I said before, it’s Groupon for food.

If you are a local business and want to participate on Scout Mob, you can see reviews from other local business who already participated. These reviews are in the form of videos. It’s pretty detailed and easy to follow. Therefore, as a new participant, you will build a certain connection with these established users. You will see the benefits that they gained and hopefully you will earn the same benefits. Overall, Scout Mob has benefited both from personal and business aspects of consumers. Both foodie and local food businesses can enjoy and participate on the features of Scout Mob.

2. Tweat.it
“The coolest way to find a mobile food vendor near you in NYC.” – Tweat.it

From the name alone, Tweat.it reminds me of Twitter. But, looking through at the features that the app provided, Tweat.it clealry behave similarly like Twitter. It provides you with tweets from food trucks around Manhattan area. These tweets will contain any information regarding the food trucks’ open hours, locations and even job openings. It is pretty handy in terms of the bipolarity of New York weather at this time. I mean it’s winter, anything can happen. These food trucks might move location or close early due to the weather conditions. As a result, Tweat.it will keep us informed.

After I installed the application, I straight away put in my current location. Within seconds, five to six food trucks popped up. I was surprised that one of them is actually my favorite waffle place. Then, I clicked on its logo and the waffle truck’s info popped up. It says:

“De Carts: De Bierbeek is on Columbus Circle by Time Warner Center until 9:58” – De Carts.

Now, I know that they will stay open until roughly 10 p.m. tonight. Pretty accurate, I presumed. I would probably try going there after class and see whether or not they are still open. I am so excited!

On the other hand, if you access Tweat.it through your computer, you will see the trucks’ live tweets on the side bar following the food map in the middle. It’s pretty easy to use. In this case, you don’t need to sign up for anything. You just need to provide your current location.

This app surely will bring the unknown food trucks to be known. Especially, with the live tweets feature, you can easily follow your favorite food trucks on Twitter. Then, you can share their tweets with your followers to spread the brand awareness of these food trucks. You can also be writing about their food reviews. So, you are not only a foodie like me, but you can easily be a food critic. With lots of social media interactions through this app, I am sure that a lot more food trucks will be participating and Tweat.it will be more popular among the New Yorkers.

Conclusion

Both Scout Mob and Tweat.it have clearly impacted the small, local food businesses in Manhattan and other major cities in the United States. By participating in these apps, these businesses have created some sort of “advertisement” within the local market that may lead to an increasing diners traffic at their restaurants. Eventually, looking at their success, many will follow their foot steps. At the end, it’s proven how you don’t need to be a big player like Groupon or Living Social to provide the best deals in town. You can be the underdog and still adapting to its concept. Although Scout Mob is currently the underdog in terms of food deals, I believe that there is a huge possibility for it to grow in near future. Similarly to Tweat.it, perhaps it may expand to another major city in the United States. Based on my past experiences living in LA, the city of angels can be the next great candidate for Tweat.it. Due to the large amount of food trucks’ participants, I believe that many LA foodies and local businesses will gain as much benefits as those who reside in NYC.


My Venture Into the World of Michelin

Before the President’s Day weekend had started, I took an advantage of Zagat survey by signing up to its 7-days free trial online. I told myself, “it’s a long weekend and a perfect time to do some tasting menus.” From my previous research, I have been wanting to try Michelin starred restaurants in New York City. After narrowing down my options, I have decided to try Gramercy Tavern, Bouley and Sushi of Gari. Each one of them had received one Michelin Star as the best restaurant in its category and high ratings on Zagat survey.

Zagat survey has an excellent reputation among foodies around the world. It’s very trustable. Comparing its reviews to Yelp’s , personally it’s unbeatable. I already considered that Zagat as the expert in the restaurant world. Without having paid subscribtion (beyond your free trial), you will not be able to view and create Zagat reviews. So, it is pretty exclusive. With Yelp, no membership fee is required; anyone can write anything on the site. But, with Zagat’s requirement, it will definitely minimize any false or misleading reviews. It will also minimize the chance for people to get paid to write a review. So, diners’ experiences are more valuable in Zagat better than in Yelp. Although both of these apps are available on the smart phones and Ipad, overall, Zagat’s innovation concept is still winning. Especially, with its creation of Foodspotting, Zagat clearly focuses on being the leader within the market. As a new user both in Zagat and Foodspotting, I am already amazed of its capability. As soon as I spread the news to my friends, they straight away installed these apps on their gadgets. Often, they would asked, “Is it the same as YELP? Or, is it better?” I would say, “It’s different and you’ll get addicted to it. Trust me.” Also, for some of you who have Foursquare, it will be a good opportunity to earn your “foodie” badge through Zagat-rated restaurants. Not only that, but you can also share your location with your friends so that your friends may also be aware about the restaurant. What a good way to advertise the restaurant, right? As a result, I am confidence about my three options.

Gramercy Tavern

Gramercy Tavern is located in the heart of Flatiron district, between Broadway and Park Avenue South. With Mike Anthony as its Executive Chef, Gramercy Tavern has set a high standard for its exceptional dining experience. As you walk into the restaurant, you will get a comfortable ambiance through its decoration and staffs. You will see the bar in the front section of the restaurant and the dining room right across from it. As we get seated to our seats, the atmosphere was quiet. I looked around and everyone seemed to have a good time with their parties. The tasting menu was very tasty, especially the desserts. And of course, the staffs were very friendly and had great attention to details. Our waiter, especially, had never fled the scene. After we received each course, he always asked, “How’s everything? Do you need anything else?” Even the restaurant’s manager had spoke with us, which was pretty impressive. But, the remarkable service did not end there. After we’re done with our meal, the waiter would give us a muffin, wrapped in a beautiful plastic bag that has been prepared for our breakfast the next day. Isn’t that unique? Gramercy Tavern clearly puts its diners into an exclusive dining experience that will make the place memorable. My friends and I are absolutely satisfied. We are coming back to Gramercy Tavern for a second visit. It will not be our last.

Bouley

First of all, I am not a huge fan of French cuisine. The only place that I would considered was XIV by Michael Mina in LA. But, after reading the reviews on Zagat and Michelin, I thought that I should give it a shot. Bouley is located in Tribeca with its Executive Chef David Bouley. When I walked into the restaurant, my first impression was “this place is so cute!” You will be greeted by this massive shelves of apples at the entrance. Then, you will walk on a short hallway before entering the main dining room. The color scheme on the decoration was pretty inviting. I felt like I was eating inside a French aristocratic home. The lunch tasting menu was delicious. The little macaroons for the desserts were just too cute. I wondered how the dinner menu would be. I am pretty sure it will be more exciting. The service quality was similar as Gramercy Tavern. The waiters were all there to serve you and to make sure that you will have a great dining experience with Bouley. Will I come back again? Absolutely.

Sushi of Gari

Zagat survey has three different reviews on three different Gari restaurants. They are all owned  by the same owner. The one that I went to is located on the 78th street, Upper East Side. The place is pretty small but you will get the “authentic” ambiance of a traditional Japanese restaurant. During my visit, I ordered the Omakase tasting menu. From what I’ve heard through the reviews and word-of-mouth, the Omakase is what Sushi of Gari best known for. It features the chef’s signature sushi and sashimi based on the day’s catch. So, the seafood will be extremely fresh. For dinner, I ordered the sushi Omakase. I got three sets of sushi platters that featured four types of sushi on each platter. At first, I was thinking, how can my appetite be fully satisfied with only 12 sushi? I was wrong. These 12 sushi were tasteful. Each sushi has each own taste, texture, and experience to remember. By the end of the third platter, I was full and very satisfied. For dessert, I ordered the grean tea crepe cake from Lady M. This cake was my secondary factor  to why I wanted to try Sushi of Gari. I’ve been a huge fan of Lady M cakes; definitely, it’s one of the best dessert place in town. Overall, I would recommend Sushi of Gari for anyone who wants to explore the art of sushi dining.

After comparing reviews from both Zagat and Michelin, these restaurants are clearly stand on the standards of these results. None of my experiences have gone below their percentage scores on Zagat. These restaurants are exceptional! The public and the experts have already reached an agreement on how to rate these restaurants. Clearly, they are on the same page. If I can put these reviews on tags, they will definitely become a mixture of trustworthy taxonomies and folksonomies.