Here are lesser-known alternatives that offer a different kind of listing. All are simple to use, though we found the occasional error in the search results of each (restaurants closed or not in the area we were searching). Happy grazing!
Hoppit doesn’t put food at the forefront. Instead, it helps you search for restaurants based on atmosphere, such as romantic, hipster, classy, first date. You can cross-search by price and by whom you’re with, i.e., family, colleagues, a good book. (Notably absent from its lists, perhaps because it was designed by someone who was dating, are options such as happily married or spouse.) Open an entry, and you can see photos of the interior, a la Pinterest or Instagram. You’ll also find an unsourced note about the restaurant (e.g.: “Busboys and Poets is the 10th most popular Cajun and Creole place in Washington”), reviews from patrons via Foursquare, and a way to mark your favorites. Perhaps the easiest way to use the app is to browse through the recommended restaurants by ambiance. The app covers 50 cities and includes more than 500 D.C. restaurants, according to a spokesperson. Last year, it was purchased by the XO Group, formerly known as the Knot. Platform: iOS and Android. Cost: Free.
LocalEats promises to give you “only the best restaurants”; a spokesperson says it picks them according to information it gathers from local and national reviews, polls, blogs and dining sites, as well as its own surveys and editors’ dining experiences. You can search nearby or by city. Each listing includes the address, price range, distance and a brief description; some are marked Editors Choice or with a superlative along the lines of “Best Brunch.” If you open the listing, there’s a fuller description, a review quote from a publication such as The Washington Post, Washingtonian or Gayot, and more information about the restaurant, including hours, phone number, Web site. We’re not sure how thorough the list is — the hugely popular and well-regarded Lincoln and Le Diplomate didn’t appear in a search of places near our office. But LocalEats seems like a decent tool to start with if you’re visiting an unfamiliar city; it lists at least 100 restaurants in 51 markets (and 264 within 10 miles of Washington). The app’s attempts to push its gift cards are a bit annoying, however. Platform: iOS and Android. Cost: 99 cents.
Greenease is a locally based app premiering in this region that lets you know which restaurants offer meals based on locally sourced or free-range ingredients, or menus friendly to diners who avoid meat, dairy or gluten. In addition to searching by those categories, you can search by location and cuisine. In some cases, the suppliers the restaurant uses are listed, which sounds a little like a “Portlandia” sketch. But we mean that in the nicest way. Platform: iOS. Cost: Free.
Next review: Citymapper