The market for food apps is exploding.
Every day it seems like there’s another mobile app that can deliver your next meal or get your groceries. And with meal-delivery apps like Blue Apron raising millions of dollars in funding, expect the new industry to only get more crowded.
The thing about these food related apps is that they can actually be quite useful. You just have to know which ones to try.
From finding the best restaurants to getting your groceries delivered to your doorstep, here are the best food apps.
Yelp is a fantastic app for finding new places to eat. It's especially helpful if you're travelling and don't know the area.
The 'Nearby' section of the app breaks places down into different categories, like coffee shops and bars. The search field is what you'll use the most for finding places you want to go, and you can sort results in a list or map view to get your bearings.
Yelp reviewers are what really set the service apart. You can see a place's aggregate rating along with reviews from other Yelp users who have visited. Photos and occasionally videos that people have posted there are also available, which is helpful for determining if the food looks good or not.
You can also get directions, call, see a menu, and even make a reservation at most places. A lot of people use Yelp just for quickly finding restaurants, but you can also use the app to bookmark places you like and create a list of your favourite spots.
Yelp includes a lot more than just food -- it's basically a modern day phone book. So stay on the look out for deals you can sometimes get for checking in at a place and leaving a review.
While it's nowhere near as popular as it was in its heyday, Foursquare has still managed to improve its app and maintain a dedicated following.
Yelp shows more kinds of places, but Foursquare prioritises food and entertainment quite well. You can filter your searches but things like price and distance, and the app will send you a notification if you're near a place you have saved to your favourites.
Foursquare's secret sauce is how it learns from what you like. You tell the app what kinds of food you like (Indian, sushi, etc.), and you can sort new places based on that information.
Beyond that, Foursquare's network of 'tips' from other users can be quite useful when travelling.
OpenTable is the go-to service for booking a restaurant reservation. It integrates with a ton of other platform, like Apple's Siri, and is straightforward to use.
It works with thousands of different restaurants around the world, and it's a must-have app for anyone who eats out semi-regularly.
Of all the meal delivery apps out there, Seamless has established itself as the king.
Seamless, which has merged with a similar service called GrubHub, works with local restaurants to deliver food in over 600 cities around the United States.
The app itself just got a major redesign that makes it a lot friendlier to use. You can browse by categories of food or just search for what you're craving specifically.
Seamless doesn't just to delivery. You can also request your order be ready for pickup if that's your preference.
Besides the typical delivery charge restaurants would charge, you won't get up-charged in the app for service fees. The app basically takes the terrible phone call experience out of the equation.
When Caviar was bought by the mobile payments startup Square last summer, it started improving pretty rapidly.
Now it has a fantastic mobile app and the new FastBite speedy delivery service in San Francisco and New York City.
We recently used Caviar and found it to be a great experience. The service partners with local restaurants to deliver fresh meals prepared daily. While typical orders can take anywhere from 15-45 minutes, the FastBite section of the app is designed for quick delivery in under 15 minutes for lunch and dinner.
Something that sets Caviar apart from most food apps is that it lets you place an order up to a week in advance, which means it could be used for planning a big party.
The app doesn't work in as many areas as Seamless, but it supports big cities like New York City, San Fransisco, Atlanta, and Seattle. You can see a full list of areas where Caviar operates on its website.
Beware: there's usually a $US1-$US3 delivery fee for most orders.
Instacart is like having your own personal grocery shopper at your immediate disposable, and it's pretty awesome.
You can select what you want from local stores like Whole Foods, and an Instacart shopper will go get what you need and delivery to your door in as soon as an hour in some areas.
Instacart is one of those apps that makes it incredibly easy to do something that usually takes quite a bit of physical effort, so if you'd rather not waste time by going to the grocery and walking the aisle yourself, it's a great option.
To see if Instacart works in your area, enter your zip code on its website.
Blue Apron differentiates itself from Instacart by putting an emphasis on helping you make good meals out of the food you order.
Each order of groceries arrives at your doorstep in a well packaged box. Blue Apron includes recipes based on the ingredients you ordered, and all of the food is clearly labelled to match the recipe it belongs with.
Beyond the paper recipes that come with your orders, the Blue Apron has visual walkthroughs of how to prepare dishes.
The only major downside is that the service doesn't have a mobile app yet.
For a full look at what using Blue Apron is like, check out our guided tour.
Available on: web
As part of the food app craze, there seems to be no shortage of services that delivery professionally crafted, organic meals that are worthy of any hipster's Instagram feed.
Munchery only operates in San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York. It delivers a small selection of meals prepared each day by its in-house chefs. With an average delivery time of 15 minutes, it's a quick and easy way to get your next kale salad.
For the inside story on Munchery, check out our profile.
If you like Munchery, you might also want to check out Sprig, which is just as good but not available in as many areas.
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