If you’re anything like us, food and drink is a HUGE part of travel. Local dishes inspire us, regional wines delight us, savory appetizers send us reeling, and handcrafted cocktails keep us ranting for days.
We can’t imagine anything better than hours spent around a table, creating timeless memories over delicious cuisine. That’s why this sixth post in the Upgraded Points Travel Resource Series might just be our favorite!
Whether you’re searching for the perfect indie coffee shop, scrambling to make reservations, perusing restaurant reviews, trying to find a vegan lunch option, or ordering that secret off-the-menu burger, this post is your insider’s guide to dining and drinking bliss.
Table of contents
- Bar Roulette
- NatGeo FOOD
- Tasting Table and DINE (by Tasting Table)
- The Travel Bite
- Trip Advisor/TheFork
- Zomato (previously UrbanSpoon)
random bar selection
Bar Roulette is a fun way to spice up evening plans while on a trip. Working anywhere in the world that Uber and Yelp or Foursquare are available, Bar Roulette utilizes these services to pick a highly rated bar for an evening of beverages, but shhhh…they keep it a secret!
To use the app, select a pick-up location, choose a general neighborhood (radius from 1-10 miles) and set a bar mood based on your price range. Bar Roulette does its thing, then sends an Uber to pick you up and take you to your undisclosed location. You can even text friends a Bar Roulette code they can use to show up at the same bar; don’t worry – it’s kept a secret from them too!
independent coffee shop finder with social media component
Not a huge fan of big coffee chains? Or maybe you just prefer to support local shops? This app is for you!
Beanhunter allows users to find independent coffee shops and encourages them to share their coffee experiences with photos and reviews. Of course, all the important cafe info is listed (location, hours of operation, etc.) and the app even links with Uber to get you there.
Additionally, Beanhunter is up and running in over 180 cities worldwide, so you’re likely to find great coffee wherever you’re traveling!
(FREE app; variable price per experience)
local in-home dining/food and drink “experiences”
BonAppetour’s mission is “to make home-dining an integral ingredient of every remarkable travel experience.” From what we’ve heard it’s vying for the title of “Airbnb for food experiences,” by letting hosts create a menu, workshop, or event and then list their gathering to provide a fantastic experience.
Users peruse the selection of local in-home restaurants, workshops, pop-up dinners, beverage trails, food tours, etc. and choose whatever strikes their fancy! Think: learning how to make crepes in Paris, rooftop dining in Rome, or a seafood bbq in Barcelona!
This app aims to bring people together to share their love of food and make new friends while learning about different cultures and creating unforgettable memories.
Hot Tip: Do you love meeting new people? Thrive on hosting parties? Have fantastic cooking skills you want to show off? Plan the best wine tastings around? You can sign up to be a BonAppetour host here.
top chef-curated restaurant guides
ChefsFeed is a media company that brings together some of the best chefs in North America to give users a website (and app) chock full of curated restaurant and dish recommendations. Search nearby, by chef, by town, or by genre/dish in over 55 cities!
Who wouldn’t want to dine out at a top chef-recommended establishment? Not sure what to order? You can’t go wrong with that black and bleu pizza endorsed by a professional. Where to get the best kimchi? Easy, if you’ve checked ChefsFeed.
You can even follow your favorite chefs and receive updates when they’ve suggested a new hot spot or local go-to plate.
Hot Tip: ChefsFeed also brings you tons of foodie blog content in the form of guides, stories, and videos.
independent coffee shop finder
While currently available in just 8 cities, Crema is growing and it’s easy to see why. Crema is another app that aims to help users find the best indie coffee shops in cities around the world, and they pride themselves on fostering an open coffee culture and coffee community.
Looking for somewhere to do a bit of work? Crema provides important stats about the cafe like the status of their free (or not) wifi, and whether they sell food. Plus, the app links with Uber to get you to that local spot ASAP!
Looking ahead, Crema plans to introduce an in-app platform that will allow users to pay for their coffee directly from their phone and accrue loyalty points at specific cafes.
independent coffee shop finder; discount coffee through payment plans and subscriptions
bar, nightclub, and drinks guide
DrinkAdvisor claims to be the largest bar/nightclub/drinks guide in the world. With 150,000+ establishments reviewed across 250+ cities worldwide, we believe them!
When considering venues for the evening’s debaucheries, users choose from categories such as craft cocktails, wine and dine, venues nearby, from the rooftops, etc. A short description and photo are given for each location, and pertinent info (address, phone number, hours of operation) is included.
Users can read/leave reviews, “like” spots they’re fond of and subscribe to favorite venues to get updates/news.
Hot Tip: DrinkAdvisor includes a “cocktails” component with hundreds of recipes, including a history of the drink and step-by-step instructions to make each one. Now you can whip up a Negroni and pretend you’re back in Florence, sipping your beverage while tucked away on that tiny Italian side street you miss so much.
food news and dining guides from across the U.S.
Eater is a great website dedicated publishing insanely good food/drink-related content by way of guides, reviews, lists, news, videos and more. U.S. and international travelers take note… The Eater 38 lists 38 of the most essential restaurants in each of its featured U.S. cities (23 and counting!).
Their “Heatmaps” provide a curated list of the newest and trendiest spots right now (usually updated each month for each of their highlighted cities). They also offer tons of content by genre and cuisine, like: “Important Bagel Updates” in Boston, “Buzziest New Brunches” in Miami, or “15 Top-Notch Chinese Restaurants” in Portland.
And lastly, they have a travel section with superb dining and drinking content from around the world: “How to Drink Fancy Cocktails in Tokyo,” “The Eater Guide to Mexico City,” or “The 18 Essential Nairobi Restaurants.” Eater is an Upgraded Points favorite for sure!
(Variable price per experience)
in-home private dining and events/meals with a “MasterChef”
EatWith advertises their resource as a way to “access the underground food scene” around the world. Sounds pretty interesting right? Another group trying to earn the Airbnb of food title, EatWith promotes in-home private dining, cooking classes, and events hosted by locals from more than 200 cities in over 50 countries worldwide.
Hosts list their menu or itinerary on the site, then users choose a dinner/class/event they would like to attend. From a Balkan Feast in Harlem and Austrian Seasonal Cooking in Salzburg to Chocolate Inspired Latin American Tapas in São Paulo – the opportunities are certainly diverse!
EatWith also has a great little feature called EatWith MasterChef, where users can attend events hosted by individuals who have literally been a participant on the American cooking show MasterChef. We like the sound of that!
Hot Tip: Think you’d love to entertain with your fantastic cooking/host skills? Want to meet new people from around the world in the comfort of your own home? You can apply to become an EatWith host here.
(Variable price per experience)
in-home private dining and events
Another resource for pop-up supper clubs, Feastly boasts “a central marketplace where passionate chefs connect with adventurous eaters seeking more authentic dining options by offering unique meals served in a chef’s home.”
Feastly currently only operates in a few major U.S. cities, but they’re growing (yay!). As with similar operations, hosts list their menus/events and users browse the selection of delicious-looking options to select one that’s a good fit for them. From Korean Fried Chicken in SanFran to a Vegan Cheese Feast in Chicago… if you want to experience food with a story, you’re in for a treat.
Hot Tip: Feastly does a pretty great job of enticing new hosts with this quick yet inspiring 30-second video. Check it out if you think Feastly may be the supper club hosting platform for you.
food/dish recommendation app with social media component
Info: Foodspotting describes their app as a “visual guide to good food and where to find it.” Instead of specifically reviewing restaurants, users focus on documenting/sharing photos and reviews of the dishes they’ve eaten.
Within the app users can search by best dishes, those nearby, most recently reviewed, and dishes your friends loved. You can also filter by dishes at restaurants that take reservations or those that deliver.
There’s also a screen that presents a “feed” of recently spotted (reviewed) dishes, and a section to mark those you’d like to keep in mind to try in the future. If you’re more inclined to use a map view, that’s available as well. Fair warning, don’t go on this app unless you’re prepared to drool up an appetite!
online and mobile food ordering
GrubHub is a household name when it comes to food delivery, and they’re big: 50,000 take-out restaurants in over 1,100 U.S. cities plus London big. Users can search by cuisine or simply take a look at nearby options.
Each restaurant includes related info like general price range, delivery minimum, and a nice little satisfaction rating: was it good, was the delivery on time, and was the order accurate? Also provided are full menus supported by photos and/or descriptions of the items when available.
GrubHub’s online ordering platform is extremely user-friendly, and every order is supported by the company’s 24/7 customer service team. Plus, the app is reviewed extremely well in the iTunes and Google Play stores.
(FREE online; app $3.99)
vegan and vegetarian restaurant and store finder
Any vegan or vegetarian will tell you it can be tough to find plant-based or lifestyle friendly restaurants while traveling. That’s where HappyCow comes in! Live in over 175 countries around the world, HappyCow presents only plant-based, healthy-food options.
Users can filter by 4 categories: Vegan, Vegetarian, Veg-options, and Stores+more. Each result yields applicable information like a brief synopsis of the restaurant, address, hours of operation, phone number, etc.
Map views make it easy to see what’s nearby, and the Trips option allows users to save information as a list in the event you’re without WiFi while traveling. Users can read/leave reviews, peruse photos, and even share restaurant info with friends.
Hot Tip: HappyCow gets great reviews in the iTunes and Google Play app stores, so if you’re on the fence, go download it!
independent dining guide/restaurant finder
LocalEats aims to guide diners to the best independently owned restaurants around. No national chain eateries are included here. Concentrated in the U.S. but also operating in some notable international locales, LocalEats provides options for scrumptious local dining in over 55 cities worldwide.
Within the app, users can search restaurants nearby, search by specific state or city, and search by category (e.g. specific food genre, Top 100, Best Of, etc.). All restaurants include price ranges, detailed descriptions, address/phone info, and photos if available. Information is also provided to book reservations and/or a taxi to get you there.
dining/drinks/travel centered articles
Although technically more of a travel pre-planning resource, NatGeo’s FOOD section definitely includes plenty of info on food and drink, so we’re going to include it here. If you love NatGeo (who doesn’t?), the FOOD section of their website aggregates their dining/drink centered articles, including many for the travel lover.
Among the many topics you’ll find: A Journey to the Homeland of Hot Sauce, 6 Unexpected Cities for the Food Lover, Top 10: Booze Cities, A Food Lover’s Guide to Asheville, Discover Montreal’s Historic Food Markets, and so much more!
restaurant reservation service
OpenTable has seated over 1 BILLION diners at over 40,000 restaurants worldwide. It’s awful to show up at a restaurant while traveling only to find you can’t get a seat! (Ditto for any of the other spots you might hangrily wander into afterward.) That’s why OpenTable is a key resource in any traveler’s arsenal.
Quick and easy to use, OpenTable helps secure a reservation, so you don’t ever go hangry again! Within the app users can search restaurants by name and location or peruse categories like Dinner Tonight, Near Me Now, and New and Hot.
Users also earn points with each reservation completed, which add up to OpenTable dining rewards or Amazon gift cards! That’s pretty slick.
And hey, the app gets superb reviews in the iTunes and Google Play stores, which is always a plus!
Hot Tip: Remember when we talked about Eater (above)? If you’re in one of their selected cities, OpenTable also lists a special category just for Eater’s Essential Restaurants!
restaurant reservation app
“Because not all restaurant reservations are created equal.” Resy is a bit smaller than OpenTable, with just over 500 current restaurant partners, but boasts a premium booking experience and select reservations at only the best restaurants (handpicked by the Resy team).
The functionality is what you would expect from a reservation app: search by location or cuisine and add filters for time of day. Each restaurant listed comes with a general price range, location, Resy star rating, and a quick description of the cuisine and vibe. From the restaurant listing, just 2 taps and voila! Dinner awaits.
food truck finder
Food trucks can be hard to track down, especially when you have a limited number of vacation days to find that truck your friends have all been telling you about! That’s where RoamingHunger comes in with real time maps of trucks nearby.
You can read truck profiles, browse menus, see photos, and even keep track of your favorites. RoamingHunger will even provide you with directions to get there.
Hot Tip: While not exactly travel-oriented, RoamingHunger also helps secure food truck catering and offers a marketplace for buying, building, selling, or renting a food truck!
(FREE online; $10/year print magazine subscription)
global guide to cooking, entertaining, and food travel
Saveur is a fantastic online and in-print magazine with content focused on global cooking, entertaining, and food travel. Again, this may be more geared toward the pre-planning stages of travel, but it’s definitely all about food with Saveur.
If you’re interested in 10 One of a Kind Restaurants to Visit on Your Great American Roadtrip, The Insomniac’s Guide to a Night Out in London, or how to Go Eat Your Way Through Portugal’s Magical Pastry Archipelago, Saveur’s travel section is for you!
healthy eating restaurant finder
Tasteful is a wonderful little app developed to help users discover healthy restaurants with filters for dietary restrictions and lifestyle preferences.
Tasteful ranks restaurants by the quality of their food; those serving dishes created with organic, locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients are ranked higher. Similarly, those with pasture raised, free-range, or sustainable ingredients are also at the top.
Within the app users select dietary preferences with options like Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Gluten Free, Low Carb, or Everything. Next, users select any applicable food allergies or sensitivities (hey all you nightshade avoiding people – this includes you!).
Tasteful calculates an array of dining options tailored to your preferences, with basic information like descriptions, general price range, photos, and location. Tasteful even lists delivery options and links to OpenTable for reservations if applicable. YES!
dining suggestions/local culinary happenings/news from the food world
Tasting Table describes themselves as a website and newsletter for culinary enthusiasts… it’s pretty darned great and you should probably subscribe regardless! However, this is a travel resource guide, so let’s explore the Tasting Table City Guides and their Travel Section.
The fine people at Tasting Table have produced 35+ (and counting) culinary-centered City Guides to take your taste buds on tour. Each city includes a plethora of information on dining, drinking, and provisions. You know these recommendations are legit because these guys love what they do (food!) and aren’t afraid to show it.
Additionally, Tasting Table has a blog section dedicated to travel with tons of exciting posts, like: “United Steaks of America: where to find the best steakhouses in the country,” “Get Yourself to the World’s 10 Most Beautiful Restaurants,” and “How to Get Paid to Travel Around the Country Drinking Beer.”
Plus, their fantastic photography will leave you swearing you can taste that rich bowl of golden ramen broth right through the screen.
DINE by Tasting Table wants you to “find the perfect restaurant every time.” This app is a great companion to the Tasting Table website/newsletter. While currently available in only 9 cities, DINE is looking to grow and is requesting help from y-o-u to tell them where to set up shop next!
Within the app, you can search by neighborhood or cuisine and receive important info like pricing, hours, website, phone number, and notable culinary reviews from the Tasting Table gurus themselves.
The app also offers a “feed” with info on new restaurant openings, closings, location changes, and list updates. With Lists, you get things like “Best Burgers,” “New to the Scene,” “Date Night,” etc. The app’s design is slick and the recommendations are spot on – you can’t go wrong with this one.
If you’re a Thrillist lover, chances are you’d highly value their opinion on great restaurants and bars in the U.S. and beyond. Lucky for you, Thrillist now pairs their Travel section with their Food and Drink section to bring dining/drinking recommendations to users from over 35 foodie cities.
On the website, head to the Travel section to search by location for bars, restaurants, or things to do. Within the iMessage app, users are given recommendations for food, bars, and coffee in their local area sorted by distance. These recs can then be easily messaged to friends/family.
Thrillist claims only to recommend places they love, which means you’re bound to enjoy your experience.
food and travel blog
The Travel Bite is a food and travel blog by Rachelle Lucas, who aims to inspire culinary-based travel adventures. The blog publishes content centered around travel guides, travel tips, travel tools, recipes, and food stories to help users plan that delicious vacay they’ve always dreamed of. With tons of destinations to peruse, foodie wanderlust is eminent!
The Travel Bite also produces a weekly podcast. From “Vacationing on a Farm” and “Apple Harvests and Haunted Lighthouses,” to “7 Things to Pack for a Camping Trip” and “Croatia Food and Wine,” the topics are consistently both bright and engaging.
restaurant finder/restaurant reviews/restaurant booking
We’ve talked about TripAdvisor in past posts and here we are yet again. If there’s one thing TripAdvisor is known for, it’s the honest reviews! Looking for reviews on restaurants pretty much anywhere in the world? Bingo.
Users can search by a number of options like nearby, cuisine, or city, and you can add filters like time of day, dietary restrictions, neighborhoods, and restaurant features. Of course address, hours, and phone numbers are included for all results.
TheFork is Trip Advisor’s restaurant booking platform (and Urban Restaurant Reference Guide) available on the web and via an app. That being said, this platform currently offers online/mobile reservations in 12 different countries across Europe.
Users can search and browse results that display information pulled from TripAdvisor. TheFork advertises special discounts of up to 50% that restaurants provide especially for this service. Users can join the loyalty booking program and earn “yums,” which eventually yield discounts on future dining experiences.
online/mobile food ordering and delivery
We all know the popular rideshare company Uber, so most of us now know about UberEATS. Users can search for restaurants, order food, and have it delivered “from app to table” at Uber speeds. It’s pretty useful if you don’t want to leave the house to procure dinner!
The app (which can be downloaded independently of the Uber rideshare app) has a slick design and simple user interface. Browse menus from popular restaurants, those that are closest to you, those where Uber can deliver in under 30 minutes, or sort by cuisine. Users can also add pricing and dietary filters, which is a plus!
UberEATS is available in over 35 North American cities as well as over 25 popular international cities. Lastly, when you review your order, the total price includes the delivery fee (which varies by location) and per Uber, tipping is neither required nor expected.
social beer sharing; beer-based venue finder
Untapped is a fun and entertaining app created to “discover and share your favorite beer.” Users check-in at beer-based locations, log and review beers they’ve tried, and earn badges while doing so!
This app comes in handy for the traveler with its search and map capabilities, enabling users to explore popular bars, breweries, and venues nearby with lists of what’s on tap at each spot. Lastly, the app provides beer recommendations based on your input and keeps you up to date with venue/brewery event alerts if preferred!
All in all, if you love a good beer, this app is a no-brainer!
Hot Tip: Untapped also runs a beer-based blog, ripe with the latest news from the brewing world!
restaurant finder/restaurant reviews
Yelp’s platform is great for finding restaurants while traveling or anytime. Actually, it’s great for finding pretty much anything (hotels, shops, pharmacies, gas stations, automotive services, etc.)! However, let’s stick to food and drinks here.
Users can search specifically by restaurant name, peruse those nearby, or search by category. A number of filters exist for qualifications such as: Price, Open Now, Good for Groups, Hot and New, etc. Each result is presented with helpful information like hours of operation, price range, location/map, directions, phone, website, menu, etc.
Users can check-in at each location to unlock special discounts at many participating establishments. After dining, users are encouraged to leave reviews including a rating out of 5 stars and photos.
With such a HUGE database of dining options and reviews, Yelp is definitely one of our go-to apps when traveling!
restaurant review and rating system
Zagat is a well-known name in the restaurant world. The story goes that in 1979 after a dinner party with friends and plenty of wine, a group of diners began debating the issues with unreliable restaurant reviews. From there, Tim and Nina Zagat began their journey creating a system that complied reviews from diners (read: amateur critics) based on food, decor, service, and cost.
Zagat now boasts curated reviews in over 100 countries worldwide. Each review is analyzed by Zagat editors to produce the most trustworthy and relevant results. Additionally, Zagat publishes guides, lists, stories, food trends, and more.
The app’s design is pretty slick, and while Zagat currently only publicizes an iPhone app, we’ve seen word around the web that an older Android version is being updated.
social restaurant finder app
Zomato (which acquired UrbanSpoon in 2015) is a social restaurant finder app that wants to “ensure nobody has a bad meal.” With over 1 million restaurants listed in more than 10,000 cities across 23 countries worldwide, Zomato is definitely a contender!
Zomato’s app is user-friendly and provides the necessities: menus, photos, user reviews, hours, phone numbers, maps/directions, etc. By incorporating the ability to order online and make reservations (for select locations) right from the app, Zomato hopes to rise above other restaurant finder apps on the market.
If you’re not a Yelp fan (or Yelp isn’t helpful where you’re traveling), this is probably your next best option.
Table of Contents
- Bar Roulette
- NatGeo FOOD
- Tasting Table and DINE (by Tasting Table)
- The Travel Bite
- Trip Advisor/TheFork
- Zomato (previously UrbanSpoon)