We all know the feeling of rolling up to a restaurant for brunch and finding out there's an hour wait. What's a person to do? Wait outside in the cold? Settle on a subpar restaurant that doesn't have a wait? Convince one of the seven people you're with to make pancakes? Thankfully, we have technology that not only allows us to annoyingly Instagram our meals but lets us plan for them too. There are now plenty of apps that let you find the best restaurants, reserve a table and see the wait times with just a few taps.
So get your forks ready, these are the best apps that will enhance your dining experience.
If you're a foodie, chances are you've heard of OpenTable. The website offers a free app for iOS and Android, that helps you make reservations at over 20,000 restaurants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. You can find a restaurant by location or by what kind of food you're in the mood for, and eliminate the ones that are too pricey, or have bad reviews. All you have to do is choose a date, time, and the amount of people you're dining with, and you can see any available tables in real time. Just tap on the table and you're all set.
NoWait is an easy way restaurants can manage seating tables during busy shifts. On a tablet, the hostess puts in the wait time and the party's name and number. The party can then do some window shopping and will get a text with a link to confirm their wait and see where they are in line. They will also receive a message when their table is ready.
While this is great for restaurant owners, the free app can also be used by hungry foodies. NoWait lets you browse restaurants along with their wait times, and allows you to add yourself to the list from the app instead of waiting to do so at the establishment. You can also see your place in line in real-time, giving you enough time to be seated as soon as you arrive.
Sure there are apps to just make reservations, but Settle, a free app for iPhones and Android devices, allows you to book a table, pre-order your food and pay the check in advance— all with a few taps on your phone. "Now people have completely different lifestyles. They don't have time to wait for their meal at the restaurant," says Stas Matviyenko, CEO and founder of Settle. "Mobile pre-orders and payments app Settle solves this long waiting problem."
Since people spend more than 60 percent of time at restaurants waiting to order and checkout, Settle significantly cuts that time so you have more time enjoying the experience. All you have to do is browse the menu using the app and select your dishes. Users will get to choose the exact time they want to dine and will know when their food will be ready. You can also take out food with this app, which has just launched in San Francisco. Although only those in San Fran can enjoy the perks of this app for now, its next launch will be in NYC. The company has $700K in total investments and plans to continue its expansion across the U.S. Still, any restaurants in the U.S. can currently sign up to be included in the app.
Reserve is another great mobile app that makes your dining experience seamless. It is currently in beta in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco, so foodies in these cities should give it a try. The digital concierge service allows you to make a reservation (date and time) for the city's best restaurants, whether you have a work lunch or a big social gathering. Users are encouraged to provide feedback to enhance the dining experience. When it's time to pay, you can take care of the bill right from your phone, even including a tip, which will be billed directly to your card. There is also a small concierge fee to use this option, but this app makes payment seamless so your family members are not fighting over who pays this time.
Find. Eat. Drink.
Instead of trusting pedestrian taste buds, Find. Eat. Drink. lets users discover the best eateries as recommended by the top chefs, bartenders, butchers and food connoisseurs in over 4,500 destinations in more than 150 cities. This app lets you check out the restaurants the professionals go to, even letting you create your own customized lists, perfect for when planning a vacation. You can find places near by, browse through restaurants, or check out the pro recommendations. It's pretty much like having a food guru on speed dial.
[Photo Credit: Susan Lucas Hoffman/Flickr]