iPhone Life magazine

Social Media Report

Finding Good Food with iPhone Apps

Steve Boss

It's a well-known fact! If you want to find out where good food is served, ask a local. There are some excellent food apps available for iOS devices, and some of the best have a social element to them, allowing people to rate, comment on, and give advice about the quality of food and service in local restaurants. In researching this area, I found the perfect person to interview. Steve Boss is the host of the weekly Great Taste radio program on KRUU FM 100.1—a solar-powered community-based radio station located in Fairfield, IA, and streaming worldwide at kruufm.com. He interviews great chefs, cookbook authors, academics, and farmers. Steve invariably has something cooking—live and on the air—tempting us with his descriptions of the ingredients and process. There is always an audience in the studio waiting to taste what is cooked up on the show.

Steve, I understand you travel around the country seeking out good local food. Can you tell us how you use your iPhone to do that?

I'll use Safari on my iPhone and go to Google and search for Slow Food USA recommendations in a particular city that are either posted by the individual chapter or its members. I found a great Chinese place in Chicago's Chinatown (slowfoodchicago.org/index.php/guide-to-chicago/restaurants). It's called Three Happiness. You have to get to the right Three Happiness; the restaurant across the street has the same name, but not the same quality food. (Go to the "little" Three Happiness on West Cermak.)

Which iOS apps have you found to be the best in searching for good food?

My preferred app is Yelp (free, app2.me/236). It takes some time to work through the recommendations because a lot of the "Yelpers" writing restaurant reviews don't really know good food. Check out the people writing the reviews to see how many reviews they've written, whether those reviews seem insightful, and what type of places they frequent. In addition, read what other folks have written about the same place and see how current the reviews are.

How do you use Yelp specifically?

My favorite activity is to put out a query once I get to my destination city. I simply note what area I want to eat in, what type of food I'm looking for, and the qualities I want in the restaurant (supports local growers, locally-owned, seasonal menu), and ask Yelpers to help me out. One night in Salt Lake City, I received three responses in about 15 minutes. One response was incredibly interesting: It said, "Trust only Monica T." So I checked out the sender and he happened to be the former editor of Salt Lake City Magazine—that sounded promising. Another one of the respondents was Monica T. herself. I did my usual investigative work and knew she was the real thing. The next day I hit one of the places she recommended, The Wild Grape Bistro on 481 E South Temple where Phelix Gardner runs the kitchen. It's now one of my favorite restaurants in the entire United States!

Have you tried other food apps?

I've also used Around Me (free, app2.me/155), UrbanSpoon (free, app2.me/343), Twitter (free, app2.me/102), Foodspotting (free, app2.me/3919), Seafood Watch (free, app2.me/3920), VegOut ($2.99, app2.me/3921), and Zagat To Go ($9.99, app2.me/240).

What are some other iOS apps for when you travel?

Gate Guru (free, app2.me/290) is indispensable when going from airport to airport. The app pinpoints your current location in an airport and allows you to search for retailers close to you. I look specifically for food options that are beyond the normal fast food choices. It really has saved me numerous times since I always seem to be hungry at the airport. Maybe they put something in the air?

Thanks, Steve!

I want to thank Steve for his time and sharing all this great information. I would love to read a regular column about good food found using iOS apps. How about you? I also want to mention that foursquare (free, app2.me/160) and the "Places" section of Facebook (free, app2.me/260) are excellent for reading reviews and tips, too.

Steve Boss is the host of the weekly Great Taste radio program on community radio KRUU FM 100.1 broadcasting via solar power in Fairfield, IA and streaming worldwide at kruufm.com. You can subscribe to the show's "Tastemails" by sending an e-mail to greattaste@kruufm.com. Place "Subscribe" in the subject line. The program focuses on producers, chefs, authors, and others who are working to make our world a more delicious, sustainable, and healthy place to live. Steve also posts at kitchenempowerment.com.