We're a town of foodies and gadget freaks. Be both with this guide to the best smart phone apps for the food-obsessed. Note: many (not all) of these apps are still for iPhone, but are poised to spread to droid and Windows phones as well. The more downloads the more likely the switch! Which ones do you use and love? Tell us in the comments below!
Foodspotting Our homies at Foodspotting help you find the tastiest eats wherever you are based on what you're craving. Then you can share the stuff at specific restaurants you love via big photos and descriptions. You can earn street cred from friends or experts based on how many goodies you've spotted first. Their free iPhone app features our Big Eat, Burger Guide, Path to Ramen Enlightenment and this year's Big Sweet! Best of both worlds!
Epicurious Three million people can't be wrong. This free ubiquitous app, available for iPhones, droids, and Windows devices, is considered the holy grail for recipe-getting on the go (they've amassed tens of thousands of delicious ones culled from Bon Appetit, Gourmet, etc). The app sorts these recipes into categories for drinks, dinner parties, snacks, desserts and healthy or decadent meals, and when you find a recipe you want along with step-by-step instructions, it'll help you quickly create a shopping list, which you can send to others and check off items as you get them.
Locavore Given that we live in San Francisco, one of the centers of the local foods movement, this app might already on thousands of iPhones, but if you don't have it yet, here's the jist: Locavore makes it easy for you to find local foods at farmers' markets in season right now, so that you're eating the yummiest, healthiest, greenest stuff at your fingertips. The app also links to Wikipedia and Epicurious if you're unsure of what, say, a durian is. You can also brag about what crazy, in-season things you're eating on your Facebook page. At $2.99, it was made one of iTunes' Top 10 Paid Apps of 2009.
Seafood Watch Guide Thanks to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we're all a little more aware of our oceans' wellness and how it affects our own. Now when you're at a sushi restaurant or in the seafood section at a store, don't get all jittery about mercury levels and overfishing. This free iPhone app lets you sort seafood by rank (in terms of contamination levels), gives you regional guides to what's best to eat in different areas of the country, plus a sushi guide, which lists fish by their Japanese and market names. If you don't have an iPhone, you can still access all the info at mobile.seafoodwatch.org.
Wine Enthusiast If you're like me, you probably feel extremely intimidated in any wine section and end up buying the bottle with the coolest-looking label. With the $4.99 Wine Enthusiast iPhone app you can pretend to know everything about vino at the supermarket or eating out by browsing over 100,000 wine descriptions and reviews and narrowing it down to just what you're looking for. The app lists prices, tasting notes, maturity ratings and a glossary of wine lingo.
Opentable Need a reservation immediately? This award-winning free app that works with almost every smartphone on the market will help you find one. Simple as that!
Food Trucker Perfect for San Franciscans, this multi-city app zeroes in on food trucks and carts to unveil their whereabouts in real time by connecting to their Twitter feeds. Constantly adding newcomers, this $0.99 iPhone app even provides a map function for trucks and carts who track their location with GPS. Now you can clinch that first spot in the RoliRoti line and gorge on porchetta before everyone else!
Big Oven Much like Epicurious, this free iPhone app stores thousands upon thousands of recipes and has been downloaded by millions. But BigOven makes it more personal by helping you make lists for dishes you want to try soon, figure out how to transform leftovers, convert recipes to and from the metric system, or select a random recipe if you're totally flummoxed at dinner time. You can also search by specific ingredient, or search to exclude a specific ingredient (say, if you're allergic).
Whole Foods Market Recipes For the beginner cook or helpless bachelor, this baby will demystify Whole Foods once and for all. The free iPhone app lets you filter recipes by categories, whether you're on a budget, cooking for the kids or needing something quick. If you're gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, it'll help you find what you need to avoid. If you already have a bunch of stuff in the fridge but are unsure of what to make, you can use their "On-Hand" search to make use of it. You can make grocery lists from their recipes, or just add your own items that you need. And if you just need a fix from their prepared foods section, it'll help you find the nearest Whole Foods to where you stand.
Fromage If you don't love cheese, I know more than a few people who would call you "weird". For those of you who do, download the $2.99 Fromage app. Currently only for iPhones, browse over 750 different kinds of cheese from around the world. Know their characteristics via large photos, the regions they come from, flavor profiles, and even which wines or beers to pair them with. You can also add your own notes to cheeses you did or didn't like, rate them, and even share your cheesy preferences with friends. This may be the most delicious-sounding app out there!