Find the best restaurant for your tastes with the MenuPages Android app

by Caitlin M. Foyt

MenuPages is a review site that takes the headache out of finding a place to eat. With features that include searches by price range and distance, reviews and full menus, the app has the potential to blow away popular apps like Yelp! and Urbanspoon.

Searches start when you answer the questions "what?" and "where?" Meaning: What kind of food are you looking for (Mexican, Chinese, Ethiopian, sushi, pizza, hot dogs, sandwiches, desserts, etc.) and how far are you willing to go for this culinary adventure?

After you tap that "Enter" key, the search will default to the standard map covered in digital push pins. I don't know about you, but no matter how many times I encounter these kinds of graphics, they never seems to get any less intimidating. What's great about MenuPages, though, is that the quick details about individual locations are located at the bottom of the screen (name, what type of food the restaurant serves, its star rating by Internet users, address and distance from your current location), and you can page through these listings by tapping on the right and left arrows.

If you're not a visual person or just really aren't into maps, you can click on the "List" tab at the top of the screen, which will give a physical listing of all the restaurants that popped up on the map, with all of the same at-a-glance information. Here, you can refine your search by filtering results by popularity, distance, rating, price.

After you come upon a restaurant that sounds like something you're interested in, you just click on the listing to learn more. By doing so, you're forwarded to another page that gives you access to a profile, reviews and the menu.

The "Profile" tab gives you an address, phone number  and "other info," which includes hours, the types of credits cards the business accepts and whether or not it offers take-out or delivery.

"Reviews" is a lot like the kind of thing you find on Yelp! or Urbanspoon, star ratings of a business by other customers. Often, these ratings include helpful, detailed write-ups on dining experiences. These are often clues to which places are worth checking out and the ones you should steer clear of. One complaint I have here, however, is the fact that there aren't yet a lot of reviews listed in the app's database. I imagine this is because the app is fairly new.

Perhaps the most valuable part of MenuPages is the fact that the app lists the restaurant's actual menu under "Menu." Just click the tab, and you can see meals, descriptions and prices at a glance, without having to download any PDFs or page through weird fonts and tacky clip art (I've had to deal with a lot of this online since I've moved to Los Angeles). All menus are in the same format.

If you find a restaurant you really like, and want to hang onto the menu, you can add any business to your favorites.

I'm a frequent user of the Yelp! and Urbanspoon apps, so I was completely blown away by MenuPages. Yelp! doesn't include menus, and searches on Urbanspoon sometimes require a little digging. MenuPages is a great alternative because it has all the information you need to make a decision, and it's quite easy to find with a few finger taps.

Naturally, I'm a bit heartbroken that this app is only available in select cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C. and the South Florida area.

If this app expanded, it could change the way people across the country wine and dine.

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