Top 9 iPhone Restaurant Guide Apps

Best iPhone Restaurant Apps for Dining Out

Diners using smartphones in restaurant, cropped overhead view
PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty Images

There is no shortage of excellent restaurant apps in the App Store , but these nine really set the bar high. These apps can be used on a regular basis for finding new restaurants, checking out wine ratings, or calculating tips. They are all a great choice for foodies or those who love to eat out. Looking to dine at home? Check out our list of the best iPhone recipe apps for some culinary inspiration or best food delivery service apps to have your meal delivered straight to your front door.

This article was updated and substantially revised by Sam Costello

Foodspotting app
image copyright Foodspotting Inc

Foodspotting (Free) works much like Urbanspoon in that it’s designed to help you find new restaurants. However, Foodspotting takes a visual approach—the app displays user-submitted pictures of food and dishes at nearby restaurants. The quality of the pictures depends on the user, but the app includes plenty of drool-worthy pics. You can also look up a restaurant by name and see what the food looks like. Expert guides from the likes of Anthony Bourdain are also included. Foodspotting is a unique concept, and the interface is drop-dead gorgeous. 

Update 2016: Foodspotting has continued its focus on user-contributed, photo-centric restaurant information. It now supports multiple third-party camera applications, dish reviews, and more. Reviews of the most recent version of the app haven't been positive, though, with complaints of bugs and missing functionality. More »

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HappyCow app
image copyright Happy Cow

For vegetarian and vegan eaters, HappyCow (US$3.99) is an essential download. It lists restaurants that are all-vegan, all-vegetarian, friendly to both, and stores heavy of veggie products based on your location. Each listing includes user-submitted reviews and links to websites, directions, and more. The app is best in cities, where there's a lot of information about restaurants. In more rural locations, where some restaurants may have 1 or 2 veggie dishes amidst a lot of meat, and where you need guidance most, the app is less able to identify viable options. More »

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OpenTable app
impage copyright Open Table, Inc

The OpenTable app (Free) is designed to make it easier to make restaurant reservations. More than 15,000 restaurants are supported. Not only can you view menus and user ratings, but the app also includes real-time table availability and in-app reservation functionality. OpenTable also has a host of other features, including email integration (so you can send a dinner invite to your friends), dining rewards points, and a list of nearby restaurants. 

Update 2016: OpenTable has added substantial functionality. It now includes a restaurant finder, user reviews, popular dishes at each restaurant, rewards points, and an Apple Watch app. The app has more than doubled the number of participating restaurants, which now stands at 32,000. More »

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Oysterpedia app
image copyright The Mermaid Inn

Oysterpedia (US$1.99) is an excellent restaurant app that demystifies the oyster. It’s a great companion for your next trip to a seafood restaurant, with listings for over 200 oyster varieties. Each listing includes detailed information including flavor, size, harvest location, and tasting notes. Not everyone may be a fan of raw oysters, but Oysterpedia is a helpful app that certainly makes oysters a little more accessible. 

Update 2016: Oyster enthusiasts, or those looking to become one, will still find Oysterpedia an asset in their guide to culinary knowledge. The app hasn't been updated in over 5 years, though, so I'd guess that all the knowledge you're going to get out of the app is there and that the app will eventually stop working with later versions of the iOS. More »

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Tipulator app
image copyright Sophia Teutschler

Some people may be able to calculate tips in their head, but for the rest of us, Tipulator (Free) is an easy-to-use restaurant app that calculates your tip in seconds. The sleek interface makes it simple -- just enter the bill amount, apply the percentage you want, and the tip will be automatically calculated. You can also use Tipulator to split restaurant checks or divide the tip. 

Update 2016: Stipulator is still out there, helping people split up their restaurant bills. It hasn't been updated since 2013, though, which is often a sign that a developer has abandoned their app.  More »

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Urbanspoon app
image copyright Zomato Media Pvt. Ltd.

Urbanspoon (Free) is a great restaurant app to have on hand when visiting a new city. The app uses the iPhone’s built-in GPS to find nearby restaurants. You can browse a full list of restaurants by cuisine and price range, or shake your iPhone for a random restaurant idea. Once you identify a good dining spot, Urbanspoon also includes user ratings, pictures, and menus. This app rarely disappoints. 

Update 2016: These days, you'll find more listings, more user-contributed content, and curated lists to help point you to the best food near you. More »

Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards app
image copyright M. Shanken Communications, Inc.

If you choose your restaurant based on its wine list rather than its menu, the Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards app (Free) is a must have. The app provides information on the 3,500 restaurants that have won Wine Spectator awards in 70+ countries and all 50 states. With it, you can find award-winning locations near you by using GPS or by searching on criteria like style of cuisine, type of award, wine price, cuisine price, and more. When you've found your destination, use the app to make a reservation and start preparing your palate. More »

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Yelp app
image copyright Yelp

Probably the biggest name in restaurant finding in the digital age, Yelp is still going strong with its iPhone app (Free). In it, you'll be able to find restaurants based on your location, preferences around food, price, and atmosphere. You can also contribute your own reviews, browse lists created by Yelp and by users, and get basic information like hours, menu, and directions. An Apple Watch app puts all of Yelp's power and knowledge on your wrist. An essential app. More »

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Zagat app
image copyright Google

Zagat is the king of restaurant reviews for major metropolitan areas and foodie cities like New York, Tokyo, or Paris. The app (originally US$9.99) gives you a year’s worth of ratings and reviews for every Zagat-rated restaurant in 45 cities -- that is a terrific deal since you’ll spend roughly $13 for a printed guide that covers just one city or $16 for a list of the top-rated restaurants. One of the best features is offline browsing, so you can browse restaurants without an Internet connection. Zagat to Go also offers neat features like a nearby restaurant listing, reservations functionality, and Foursquare integration. Keep in mind that Zagat doesn’t cover all cities (check out the app description for a full list). 

Update 2016: The Zagat to Go app was discontinued, replaced by a new Zagat app (click the link to download it) designed to help you find restaurants of the type you want near your current location. The app is now free. Zagat has since been purchased by Google, so expect some changes to the focus of the service as a result. More »

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