Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Zomato: all in one food app

If you follow my Instagram, I'm sure you've noticed by now that I like to eat... a lot.  I love to share my food journey with my followers!  So I was thrilled when the beautiful Alyssa from Zomato reached out to me collaborate!
{a few of my recent food posts on instagram}
Torchy's Tacos
Vickery Cafe
Gino's East
To be honest, I'm not a major "app" person.  Yes, I use social media apps like facebook, instagram and twitter like crazy, but beyond that, I don't really find it necessary to download every single app that hits the market.  I'm much more of a "plug it into google" kind of girl... how "old-fashioned" huh? ;-)  But, if I do come across an app that makes my life easier, especially one with a social component, I'm happy to give it try!
After being introduced to Zomato, I quickly fell in love with it, for many reasons actually.  Do you ever sit around with friends or family and debate for 30 minutes, trying to figure out where you all want to eat?  Or whether you should try that new restaurant you've passed a few times?  Do you ever wonder exactly what's on the menu, or why a restaurant's website doesn't list prices?  Or what people really think of it... like normal, everyday people, not food critics?  Well then Zomato is for you!  If you happen to have been an Urbanspoon user, then you may already be familiar with Zomato.  But if not, I'm here to tell you all about it and what I'm really loving about this handy dandy app!
First of all, Zomato is kind of like multiple apps rolled into one.  Yes there are restaurant reviews and ratings from people just like you, but there's also a social aspect which I really love.  You can create a profile and follow people and they can follow you back.  You can keep track of places you've been, places you want to go, and see where others are checking in!  The "checking in" option is kind of like FourSquare.  The user ratings and reviews are kind of like Yelp.  The pictures you can post and see are kind of like instagram (there's even built-in filters).  The "food journey" component is kind of like your facebook feed where you can see your journey and also where the people you're following are going and what they're saying.  You can even tag friends that are with you and share to other social media platforms.  So as you can see, Zomato is taking the most popular apps and rolling them all into one and helping people connect over a love of food!

If you're not really into the social aspect, I guarantee you'll still love Zomato just because of the extensive search options.  You can set your city location, or you can allow the app to find your location wherever you are and search that way.  You can see a list of nearby restaurants, coffee shops, bars, etc based on what's around you, or you can specifically search for a place you're curious about.  So let's say you're venturing to a new neighborhood, or you're out on business in an unfamiliar area and you want to quickly find a place to eat.  You can allow Zomato to check your location and list the places around you, or you can get even more specific and search for a place based on type of meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and/or based on type of cuisine (American, Mexican, Pizza, Sandwiches, Burgers, BBQ, Brazilian, Cafes, Seafood, Coffee, and so on).  There is a huge list of types of cuisine so you can get very specific if you're really craving something in particular.  

So when you combine your location and the type of food you're looking for, you can really narrow it down, very quickly.  On top of that, the results list will immediately show you important information about each restaurant such as rating, price range, pictures, reviews and distance from your current location.  You can call the restaurant with one click, bookmark the restaurant if it sounds like something you might want to try later, and even navigate there (one click and Zomato will open whatever app you use as navigation and immediately pull up directions).  You can also click the "Rated 3.5+" button and Zomato will narrow down your results even more to only those places with a 3.5 rating or above (0-5 scale).  If the restaurant takes reservations, you can book a table through Zomato (kind of like OpenTable), or order takeout if you're looking for a quick pickup.  Talk about convenience!  (If you're really modern and you're familiar with apps like Apple Pay, Zomato will soon be offering a Cashless Payment option!  I mean, seriously, what else can this app do?!)

Now, let's say you want to narrow your search even more... is that possible?? Oh yes, it is!  One of my absolute favorite features is that you can pull up the map and use the "draw" option and draw a circle (or any shape really) on the map and the app will only list results within the area you've drawn.  I find this feature particularly helpful in up and coming neighborhoods that maybe include certain areas you do want to search and then others that perhaps you don't.  Or maybe there's a popular street or boulevard you really want to search!  A great example in Fort Worth would be specifically searching Magnolia Ave in the Near Southside.  Or maybe instead of searching all of downtown Fort Worth, you want to concentrate on only restaurants in the Sundance Square area.  Being able to specify so many things helps you narrow down your search quickly and easily with minimal effort.  

If you do love the social aspect, you can find other foodies in your area with similar taste as you and follow their food journey.  If you frequent a particular neighborhood and write reviews and post pictures, you can work your way up to being labeled an "expert" in that area.  Being labeled an expert really makes you an influencer and someone that other users of Zomato will look to for advice.  I'm working my way up to expert status in downtown Fort Worth :-)

Keep in mind, also, that Zomato is an app you can use anywhere you go.  The creators are working extremely hard to get as many restaurants around the U.S. listed as possible (If you happen to be a traveler, Zomato is available in a variety of foreign countries!)  If you love a particular place and don't see it listed, you can suggest it to the Zomato people and they'll check it out!  Zomato actually has restaurant scouts that go in person to check out the restaurant, verify information and make sure everything that is listed on the app is correct.  So you're not going to end up with false information based on some stranger somewhere that just felt like writing something.  Yes, reviews are user-based.  But the info about pricing, menu options, etc are verified by Zomato.  When allowed, they will even upload actual menu pictures so you know you're seeing the most updated menu.  If you've ever been stuck looking at a restaurant's website that doesn't include pricing, problem solved!

Another feature I absolutely love is the fact that you don't have to use Zomato on your cell phone if you don't want to.  If you prefer to use your desktop at home or at the office before you head out, Zomato is also just a website.  You can still do everything listed above on your regular computer and don't necessarily have to download to your phone.  The only thing you'll be missing out on in the desktop version is the interactive map where you can draw on it.

  I can honestly say I really think they've covered all bases for anyone and everyone that loves to eat out and have a reliable source.  Are you as excited as I am?  Ok then head over to the Zomato website and get started!  Or download the app now (available for the iphone and android)!  And of course, if you're local be sure to follow me! (You can also see my updates on my Zomato widget on the right hand side of this blog!  Just click it and it'll take you to my profile any time you want)  I can't wait to follow you back!  Let's bond over food! :-)

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