In 2019, virtually everything a modern New Yorker might need can be found on that handy, little device in all of our pockets. Whether you’re trying to find the nearest Citi Bike docking station or need to schedule a fake call to get you out of a bad date, there’s an app for it. So, it should come as no surprise that there is an expansive list of apps centered on food — and we’re not even talking about the seemingly endless number of delivery services.
Here are the top five apps that every New York foodie should have on their phone.
Why is it that in New York, we’re constantly inundated with restaurant recommendations and reviews, but when it comes down to actually finding a place to eat on a Saturday night, it feels like the hardest task in the world? Most of us have a slew of scribblings in the Notes section or Google Keep on our phones and far too many screenshots of Instagram posts and Infatuation guides to count. Yet when a friend or family member asks that fateful question — “so where should we eat?” — the last thing we want to do is sort through this disorganized mess. That’s where SALT (iOS only, Android waiting list) comes in.
The free mobile app, which helps users bookmark, organize and share their favorite eateries, bars and coffee shops, has been an open secret among gourmands since its 2016 launch. SALT has an easy-to-use interface and lets you create sub-lists (e.g. “Favorite Brooklyn Spots” or “Places to Take the Parents”) and add photos of a certain dish you loved or notes about what time to go to avoid a wait. The app also lets you view a restaurant’s menu, make a reservation through OpenTable when applicable, and even allows you to request an Uber to any of your saved locations. And if you want to upload the entries from your existing hit list but don’t want to spend hours manually searching for each, SALT has you covered. Import any list of spots you have saved on a notes app or in a spreadsheet, and SALT will automatically add them to your saved places.
Whether you find yourself lost in New York’s wide-ranging and intimidating dining scene, not knowing whose recommendations to trust or where to begin, or you’re simply tired of going to the same old places and on the hunt for something new, ChefsFeed (iOS) has you covered. The free app serves as a restaurant recommendation and discovery hub that strays from the traditional suggestion algorithms employed by OpenTable and the like but remains more personalized than a Grub Street or Goop guide.
In lieu of one-size-fits-all recommendations, ChefsFeed capitalizes on the credibility and clout of leading professional chefs to help New Yorkers discover new spots in a social media-type network. The app provides in-depth reviews (both in written and video form) and insights on cuisines, neighborhoods and food trends that allow users to get an idea of what industry experts think of a restaurant rather than combing through the anonymous comments that appear on other recommendation apps and websites. ChefsFeed boasts a slew of featured experts, guides for every major city on earth, an ever-growing list of long-form stories that highlight an individual chef, restaurant, or type of cuisine, and a map section that allows you to see the best restaurants and bars nearby. Basically, this app is your key to the inner workings of the minds of New York’s most accomplished foodies.
If SALT is the quintessential restaurant tracking app and ChefsFeed is the ultimate discovery app, Popcity is their love child. For the Popcity app, (iOS)which launched just a few months ago, it’s really all about the map. “Maps have a history of being a somewhat boring utility,” says Luiggi Pera, Popcity’s founder and CEO. “We wanted to change that perception.”
The app allows users to map any food photos they find on social media outlets like Instagram or on the Popcity discovery channel. Using Instagram’s photo copy link feature, you can immediately import a post of JG Melon’s juicy burger or Beyond Sushi’s latest roll to your Popcity map and bypass the disorganized screenshotting or “Save to” processes. The new app also features a “Browse” section that, based on your liked tags, offers a Pinterest-type display of food photos and conveniently tells you how far away each is from your current location. Finally, Popcity will send you a notification any time you’re near one of your mapped restaurants, so even if it wasn’t in the day’s plan, you never miss an opportunity to try a spot you’ve been eyeballing.
“With Popcity, you are no longer asking the reactive question of ‘Where should we eat tonight?’,” Pera adds, “but instead proactively saying, ‘Let me check my Popcity Map for that awesome taco joint I found the other day.’ ”
Just 20 years ago, the very idea of buying food out of a truck that wasn’t ice cream would have shocked the masses. But in 2019, alongside self-driving cars and phones that unlock via facial recognition, food trucks are becoming commonplace. Indeed, some of the best meals in New York can be found through a truck window, yet tracking their whereabouts — which typically involves scouring the vehicle’s social media for recent postings — remains tricky. That’s where Roaming Hunger comes in.
Launched in 2011, Roaming Hunger (iOS, Android) allows you to track specific food trucks, which users can save to “Favorites,” and discover others that are nearby. Roaming Hunger even offers a booking option, through which you can hire gourmet food trucks to cater your next event.
Happy Hour Monster
It’s nearing 5 o’clock, and you’re about to call it a day before meeting your closest friends for happy hour. Suddenly, your phone starts buzzing, as texts to your group chat pour in — “Where are we going?” “How about this place?” “Do they even do Happy Hour?” It’s questions like these that really do take the ‘happy’ right out of happy hour, and yet we’ve all either asked or received them.
Enter Happy Hour Monster, (iOS, Android) an app that points you in the direction of your closest happy hours, trivia nights and boozy brunches. Using your current location, you will soon be met with long lists of nearby bars and restaurants that boast each offering. And if it’s not nearby that you’re searching for, simply use the map to look at spots across the city, saving your favorite options as you go. Happy Hour Monster will give you the rundown on each place, including its hours and menu, and the app will even let you request an Uber to your selected restaurant.