Shortly after Jill got her first iPhone, we traveled to Vermont together, and I’ll admit—I just didn’t get it. In lieu of providing her with street names when I was in charge of navigation, Jill urged me to follow the blue dot on the Maps app; “iPhone says” became a commonly heard phrase in our Mustang rental. And then, a year later, I got my own and became an instant convert. While I might not refer to mine in the third person, I am similarly addicted. Today’s Friday Five pays tribute to the New York-centric food apps that keep me (even more) glued to my touchscreen.
1. The Scoop.
While categories devoted to bars, coffee shops, events, and day trips out of the city make this New York Times app the most well-rounded of the bunch, I particularly love the Sifty Fifty section—ex-restaurant-critic Sam Sifton’s top fifty dining destinations in the city, complete with a checklist and sharing options. (No word yet on whether or not his replacement will be renaming the column, but with “Wells” as a surname, the possibilities are endless.)
Between my recent move, delayed payment for several freelance gigs, and various and sundry other expenses, I’ve been spending a disproportionate amount of my recent time eating on the cheap in Chinatown. From dumplings to dim sum, this app has been instrumental to the effort—it’s coverage is pretty much comprehensive. As an added bonus, most of the content is available offline, which makes it easy to plan an impromptu outing on the subway ride downtown.
3. Blackboard Eats.
Along those same lines, Blackboard Eats offers discounted dining—one or two restaurants a week—at a seemingly random assortment of places. I’m currently holding vouchers for 30% off at Red Hook Lobster Pound, Mimi’s Hummus, and Betto, as well as for prix fixes at Zoë, Sfoglia, and Alfama. These deals are free, so getting them isn’t the problem; using them all before they expire, on the other hand, can be tough, but it’s well worth the effort. Most of the restaurants that participate offer a complimentary drink with their prix fixes, and beverages are almost always included in the 30% discount, which usually adds up to substantial savings.
4. Chefs Feed.
I love a good list, and this one, in which some of the city’s best chefs give their recommendations for some of the city’s best plates, is highly clickable. Despite the occasional bias shown to their own restaurants—Mario Batali shills for a salad that’s “not always on the menu” at Del Posto—these chefs provide a great mix of high (langoustine and foie gras at Le Bernardin, oysters and pearls at Per Se), low (a slice of pizza from Joe’s, fried chicken from Pies ‘n’ Thighs), and a combination of the two (Minetta Tavern’s black-label burger, wd-50’s eggs benedict). There’s a GPS function called Feed Me Now, and, as with the Scoop, you can check off dishes as you try them—heaven for those of us who often make lists just for the kick of crossing things off.
5. Oysterpedia Lite.
This resource for the oyster obsessive (including yours truly, naturally) comes courtesy of East Village seafood joint Mermaid Inn. Simply structured and easy to use, the app breaks down bivalves by coast (East and West), and each description includes the oyster’s origination point, size, flavor profile, and tasting notes; there’s even a glossary of terms, in case you need clarification on seaweed versus lettuce-like finishes. Say goodbye to blindly ordering every variety on the menu to find your ideal match. (…Waaait a minute. What was I thinking? Deleting app…Ordering…more…oysters….)
Did I miss any of your favorites? Hit me up in the comments with your recs.