5 Helpful Apps for When You Can’t Decide Where to Eat
What is it about food that makes us so indecisive? You know what I’m talking about. It’s Friday night and your stomach is caving in on itself, but you and your friends have been stuck in a cycle of “What do you want to eat?” and “Hmm…” for over half an hour.
One likely explanation is that we have too many possible options to choose from, which can lead to analysis paralysis . If an objective third party can narrow down your options for you, the decision of where to eat becomes infinitely easier to make.
So if you can’t figure out where to eat for whatever reason and you’ve got an Android device up your sleeve, then you’ll want to add these apps to your arsenal ASAP.
Have you ever wondered what happened to Urbanspoon? It used to be the #1 app for finding nearby places to eat at, complete with its spinner feature that was surprisingly effective for discovering new restaurants.
Well, Zomato acquired Urbanspoon in 2015, rendering the Urbanspoon of our memories no longer — which would be bad news if it weren’t for the fact that Zomato itself is actually pretty good.
You don’t have to create an account to use it. Just launch the app, select your location, and the home screen will provide nearby recommendations. The search feature is adequate, allowing you to filter by rating, distance, cost, popularity, cuisine and type, whether the place has Wi-Fi, live music, outdoor seating, etc. And I’ve found the ratings to be relatively accurate.
If you loved Urbanspoon, know that Zomato is meant to be a one-for-one replacement. As long as you go into it with that expectation, I think you’ll be quite happy with it. I know I am.
Download: Zomato (Free)
OpenTable is a direct competitor to Zomato and, depending on who you ask, is often seen as the better of the two. Not only does it help you to find new places to eat at, but it also includes the ability to reserve a table from right within the app.
No account creation necessary. The search function isn’t as advanced as Zomato’s, but still good enough to deliver satisfying results . You can filter nearby listings according to distance, cost, rating, cuisine, and neighborhood.
Each listing includes a digital menu to browse ahead of time (which is usually up-to-date), photos, popular dishes, and a map of how to get there. You’ll also see open time slots that you can reserve with a single tap.
Again, it’s not as good at finding places as Zomato, but the quick-reserve feature is excellent and some restaurants even allow you to pay for your meal through OpenTable.
Download: OpenTable (Free)
EatStreet is the opposite of OpenTable — instead of one-tap reservations, we’re talking one-tap deliveries. If you just want to eat at home but you’re sick of pizza and you don’t know where else will deliver to you, then this app was made for you.
What immediately sticks out to me is that EatStreet listings show delivery charges and minimum order costs up front. They’ll also show if a restaurant is takeout-only (which defeats the convenience of delivery, but still fits in with the “I just want to eat at home” crowd).
Individual listing pages include menu items that you can browse, hours of operation, and estimated delivery time. Yelp-sourced user reviews and ratings are also available.
Other nifty features include coupons and deals for participating restaurants, as well as a Group Order feature that splits the bill according to what people ordered — very useful when eating with friends who never seem to pay you back.
Download; EatStreet (Free)
GrubHub is the original delivery-ordering app — but just because it came before EatStreet doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better.
The app’s interface is clean and navigable. Listings show restaurant categories, menu items, hours of operation, minimum order costs, delivery fees, estimated delivery times, and user ratings and reviews. Search options are relatively bare but include all the essentials.
My biggest issue with GrubHub is a personal one involving my past experiences with the service. I ordered a meal, was charged for it, hadn’t received it after 90 minutes, called in, and found out that the order had gotten lost in the system… and no refund was given.
In short, GrubHub works fine when it works. When something goes awry, customer support is severely lacking. Be aware of that.
Download: GrubHub (Free)
Most people have heard of Yelp by now, but we’d be remiss to exclude it from this post. Even though Yelp covers all kinds of businesses in its search, it’s particularly good at finding restaurants that you might like.
The biggest “problem” with Yelp — which may or may not be an actual problem in your eyes — is the fact that its user reviews are hard to trust . There’s been a lot of controversy around the service, and at this point it’s hard to know whether a certain restaurant’s ratings and reviews are legitimate, fabricated, or manipulated in some other way.
We investigated the Yelp controversy back in 2014 and got stories from both sides. Check it out if you want to know more before using Yelp.
Download: Yelp (Free)
Still Can’t Decide? Let an App Decide for You
So you’ve used these apps and narrowed down your choices to three or four, but can’t put your foot down on one in particular? At that point, there’s no use in wasting any more time — just let an app decide for you so you can finally eat!
We’ve highlighted a few decision-maker apps before, as well as web apps to help you decide , but most of them are meant for big life decisions that involve many factors. For something as simple as picking where to eat, you’re better off with an app like Ultimate Decision Maker, which is a glorified pick-at-random utility. But hey, it works!
Which app(s) do you use when you need to find a place to eat? Are there any that we missed? What tricks do you use when you’re stuck between a handful of options? Let us know with a comment below!
Originally written by Joel Lee on February 24th, 2012.