Food is a hotline to a new culture, but it’s hard to know where to score a good meal in a new city. Things are getting easier, thanks to a surge of food-travel apps and sites that curate meals with home chefs, organise food walks with local foodies, or simply offer recommendations for bars with great brews. Read on to know where in Mumbai to score a Maharashtrian Pathare Prabhu meal, or which bakery in San Francisco has the best cronuts.
Authenticook puts diners in touch with skilled chefs who serve meals in their own home. The cooks pick the time and price of each meal, while the guests can request the date. There are Bengali lunches of luchis and kosha mangsho (puris and mutton curry), tiffin meals of medu vadas, sambar, and coconut chutney, and dinners of prawn curry and rice. Unlike other community dining sites, Authenticook doesn’t require a group booking, so users can even book a meal for one or two. It makes for a rich cultural experience, and offers the chance to taste food that rarely makes it to restaurant menus. Currently present only in Mumbai and Pune.
Part-social network and part-discovery platform, Untappd is an app designed for beer lovers seeking finely crafted brews. Users can save and share personal reviews on the app, or use it to get recommendations based on past preferences. The more beer you consume, the more cred (badges) you earn. Untappd also allows users to see where friends are grabbing a pint, which is particularly handy when travelling with a group. (Available on iOS and Android.)
EatWith offers a community dining experience: users book a seat at a home chef’s event, and share a meal with their hosts and others that have signed up. The idea is to discover new experiences and meet interesting people from around the world. Listings are varied, from meals promising molecular fusion in New York, to Brazilian barbecues in Rio de Janeiro and learning to make paella in Barcelona. EatWith is present in over 200 cities worldwide (it isn’t available in India just yet), and though it is meant for singles and doubles, large groups can book an entire experience.
The HappyCow website lists vegetarian-friendly restaurants, stores, and bed-and-breakfasts around the world. Listings include prices, hours of operation, and user reviews of restaurants across 176 countries: a goldmine for herbivores tired of making do with soggy French fries when on the road. Search for vegan cafes in meat-loving Buenos Aires and vegetarian restaurants in distant Ulaanbaatar. (Also available on iOS and Android.)
Bar Roulette uses Yelp, Foursquare, and Uber to add a little mystery to your night out. Begin by selecting a budget and neighbourhood preference. Once the location is confirmed, the app uses Yelp and Foursquare reviews to select a bar that is kept secret from the user. An Uber arrives shortly after to whisk you to the bar whose name is revealed only upon arrival. Bar Roulette works in U.S.A., and according to the app’s developers, should also work in any country where Yelp, Foursquare and Uber are available. (Available on iOS.)
Handy for travellers in Southeast Asia, Traveling Spoon organises home-cooked meals as well as cooking classes that begin with a visit to the market to pick up ingredients. In Bangkok, this would mean shopping for bird’s-eye chillies, raw papaya, and basil with your host, before learning to make a classic som tam in their home. The service is currently available in India, Nepal, South Korea, and Japan in Asia, and Greece, Turkey, and Mexico. Begin by entering the destination to which you’re travelling and start exploring from there.
Kamakshi Ayyar is a former member of NGT India's digital team. She is partial to places by the sea and desserts in all forms. When she isn't raving about food, she's usually rambling on about the latest cosmic mysteries. She tweets as @kamakshi138.