Top 9 iPhone Restaurant Guide Apps

Put the "win" back in dining

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. Use them to find new restaurants, checkout wine ratings or calculate tips. They are each a great choice for foodies or those who love to eat out.

If dining out's not your thing, check out 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.

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. 

However, reviews of recent versions of the app haven't been positive, with complaints of bugs and missing functionality.

02
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HappyCow app
image copyright Happy Cow

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

03
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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 30,000 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. More recent versions of the app included a restaurant finder, user reviews, popular dishes at each restaurant, rewards points and an Apple Watch app.

04
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Oysterpedia app
image copyright The Mermaid Inn

Oysterpedia 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 more than 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. 

05
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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.

06
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Urbanspoon app
image copyright Zomato Media Pvt. Ltd.

Urbanspoon (free) is a great restaurant app to have on hand when you're 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.

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 more than 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 and cuisine price. When you've found your destination, use the app to make a reservation and start preparing your palate.

08
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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.

09
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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 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.