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Organizing your "want to try" restaurants

How do you do it? Rely on memory? I know there are CH who can probably just go when they have a place they want to try but it seems like my list (in my mind) gets longer and longer. And, sometimes when I have time and am in a certain location, I can't remember off the bat places I want to eat there. Do you organize by location? Occasion? Price? Type? I'd love an app where I could enter the restaurants I want to try by zip code, and description and just have it pull up by GPS.

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  1. Driving by. Stop. Always more fun than planning.

    {Very rarely/never do I drive to a single destination. I always have extra time for a meal.}

    2 Replies
    1. re: Cathy

      I was thinking of restaurants that I've wanted to try, usually based on recs from CH, and how to best organize them and access them when I'm out and want a bite to eat.

      1. re: chowser

        I suppose I just remember names of places and then if I happen to see one that sounds familiar, while doing something else, I stop. But I've never made a restaurant my destination, unless it was to meet someone else there for a meal.

    2. Rely on memory?

      About something as serious as this? Surely you jest?

      I keep a list on a Word document.

      It's been running three years. It never seems to get shorter - currently about 40 places. So, at our usual eating out rate of one a week, we should be OK until well into next year.

      Broadly speaking, it's alphabetical and we're working away down the list (although in the last 2 months, any new places go to the end). Of course, we don't follow the list slavishly - heavens, no, anyoen would think I was anal about all this. No, the list leader (which happens to be a "B") is likely to be there till next summer as it's a wedding anniversary sort of place. But, for example, if we decide we want Chinese this week, then we go to the first Chinese on the list.

      14 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          Yeah, the memory method isn't working, especially as I get older. I'm thinking I need to set up a database on this, or maybe a spreadsheet. I can then search on location, city, price, dishes to order, and CH who recommended it.

          I found myself in an area at mealtime and tried wracking my brain because I knew there were a couple of places I wanted to try there. I guess this doesn't help if I'm away from the computer. I also recently relied on memory and ended up at a place that I knew I'd heard of a few times...only to remember too late that I'd heard of it as a place to avoid.

          1. re: chowser

            Must admit (remaining very anal) that if I'm travelling away from my own immediate home area, I tend to have researched and have a couple of ideas for lunch or dinner. And, yes, I'd usually write them down and take it. Or enter them on the sat. nav. if I'm likely to be driving to them.

            The latter might be the solution for you, chowser. Just enter all the details to the sat nav as "favourites" or whatever your calls them (mine's a TomTom). Not much use for walking, I find, as the battery runs out very quickly.

            1. re: Harters

              GPS is a smart idea. I usually remember the special occasion restaurants and when I know I'm traveling somewhere, I have places planned. It's mostly when I find myself in a different neighborhood near meal time that I'm at a loss. I'm not sure how I could page through all the restaurants I enter in the GPS to find one near where I am. That's why I wish there were an app--where I could turn it on and it would give me the nearest restaurants on my list.

              1. re: chowser

                TomTom files favourites alphabetically so if you entered the name as "town/suburb/name", you'd be able to scroll through much more easily. It's something I do for a different sort of location I periodically visit.

                1. re: chowser

                  i'd buy that app-- and an iphone to go w it! :)

                  my problem is that whenever dh turns to me and says "is there anywhere you'd like to eat around here" when we're out and about, i'm generally starving and can't think, and then i'm crappy with precise addresses. also, being in the biz, we tend to be dining out at off hours-- we're cooking before and during lunch and dinner, so we're frequently looking for a meal around 2:30-3:00, or at 10 pm. in my area, lots of the chef-driven restaurants close between 2pm and 5 to prepare for dinner service, so i'm always trying to remember who stays open, who closes at 2, who closes at 3. . . or for that matter who's likely to be open on a monday evening.

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    That's exactly what happens to me. He'll ask if there are CH recs and I'll draw a blank. But, afterward, I can think of a few. But, details, like times open, specialties would be helpful.

                  2. re: chowser

                    Oh, but there IS an app for that!

                    I keep a Google map of the restaurants I want to try (creatively called "LA Restaurants I Want to Try"):


                    And then I use the iPhone app MyMaps to access my Google maps from the car. Seriously, this works fantastically - I love it! Even if my husband makes fun of me for being a map nerd. =)

                    1. re: aching

                      hey i really like that! i'll try it!

                      1. re: aching

                        Clever! We're upgrading phones soon and I'll have to look for one that has it. You've accumulated a nice list there! Wouldn't it be nice to share that w/ other LA CHs and be able to see what everyone has on their list?

                        1. re: chowser

                          I'm not sure that my list would be that useful to other people because it only includes restaurants I haven't been to - I actually delete the restaurants as I go to them. I should probably keep another map of the Restaurants I Have Tried and my notes on them, but that's a little OCD even for me! =)

                          1. re: aching

                            Colour me OCD! I keep two lists in Word, places to try and places I've been. Both are organized by neighbourhood. I print them out a few times a year and keep them in my purse.

                        2. re: aching

                          Here are some more details for those of you who are interested:

                          - MyMaps is $1.99 at the App Store. There are other apps that perform similar functions, but this one was very well-reviewed, so it's the one I chose.

                          - The app allows you to pull up your map and places your current location on it, so it's easy to see which restaurants you are closest to.

                          - You can add more locations to your Google map using the app - you don't have to wait to get back to your computer

                          - When you pick a location, it gives you the name and address and allows you to enter notes. It also gives you driving directions from your current location.

                          - It also compiles a searchable list of all of the places on all of your maps.

                          Basically, it's genius. Google and Apple are the best!

                        3. re: chowser

                          For those of us in the larger US metro areas, the Yelp app for the iPhone (free) does provide a list of restaurants within a certain range of your current GPS location.

                          While this is not a personalized list, you can easily scan through and see if anything jogs your memory. Or look for something new. You can also access restaurant info, like hours, website. and even get directions.

                          You can also read the Yelp reviews for each place, which of course, may or may not be helpful.

                  3. I keep a spreadsheet of sorts in my purse.

                    It is organized by neighborhood (we live in Boston, so when we're out it tends to be on foot or by subway) and lists all the places we have on our "to try" or "to go back to" list, including price point, type of cuisine, and any notes about its atmosphere (so I'll know if I'm dressed appropriately).

                    I started doing this a few years ago on a trip to Paris, so I only ate at places I had previously researched and didn't have to settle for a less-than-great experience because I was hungry and it was there. I've been doing it ever since, both for home and away.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LeoLioness

                      I'm thinking this is the way to go, and then I can update the app with the basic info. And, that way, I can write what I had and what I thought, too.

                    2. Google maps. Although usually I end up going to some place I stumble across on the way to some of the "want to try" places.

                      1. Ooh-- this question is so nerdy, I love it. For my home town, I have two lists, one of convenience and one of intent. The convenience list is organized by location and then in order of how much I want to try it. I can usually remember my top choice for each neighborhood when I'm out and about. The intent list, also ranked in order of how much I want to eat there, is for when I feel like going out for a new meal but am not traveling otherwise. I have them all on the same Google Map.

                        I make a similar dual list whenever I'm traveling somewhere, one set for "if I happen to be in this area" and one for "if I'm hungry and looking to go out".

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Manybears

                          Someone after my own heart--I love the idea of different lists, because it definitely goes by convenience and desire. Ranking is ingenious. Maybe I need to do a relational database on this.

                        2. I know this is a dead link, but.... Springpad is a great App for this. It lets you create a list, tag items on the list and do other kinds of list management. I live in new york, so i tag all my restaurants by neighborhood. The app also autofills the restaurant address, phone number, etc. It's awesome!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tripleshot

                            Smart app. All the more reason to get an iPhone.

                          2. I know it isn't quite what the app was originally intended for but I use the Foursquare app (for IPhone or Android) to help keep track of restaurants I want to try. I add the restaurants to my to-do list on foursquare. The app on the phone makes use of GPS so I can see which items on my to-do list are closest to my current location.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mangorita

                              My wife and I each have a list and switch back and forth. What she doesn't know is several of the restaurants on her list "would" also be on mine but, since I saw them on her list, I leave them off of mine. So, when its time for her to chose, it't usually somewhere I want to go to anyway. This way, she thinks she's picking and I still eat where I want. When it come to my food, I can be a douch.

                            2. yelp has bookmarks that get sorted by proximity. so you can grow a collection of bookmarked restaurants and then just check it when you are in a given area.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: warrentheape

                                I'll have to look for that. It would be helpful. I still have this spreadsheet that isn't working well for this.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  Yeah, check it out. I've been wondering about the same issue and just discovered this Yelp bookmarking solution. One nice thing I didn't mention is that you can share your bookmarks amongst friends, and can toggle back and forth between your bookmarks and your friends' bookmarks. I'm sharing with my wife, so we can both contribute to our restaurant wish list/favorites.

                              2. there is an app for it... but I have pinterest board that is called" restaurants to try"

                                1. I have a database I created where I keep track of them. I can access it on my computer or on my iPhone, and I sync the two regularly. I can sort or search it by city, neighborhood, keywords, or any other piece of the data. I record all the essentials--location, hours, phone, URL, and notes from the reviews or recommendations that got my attention in the first place. Currently, I have 245 restaurants in it, and I use it all the time.

                                  I originally created the database in FileMaker Pro, but the upgrades to that program got really expensive, and it was kind of overkill for this purpose. Then Apple started selling Bento, which is a basically dumbed-down version of FileMaker for less complex projects--so I switched. I found FileMaker pretty easy to learn and work with, but Bento is dead simple--you don't need much technical expertise at all to create and maintain a database with it. They only make Bento for Mac, iPhone and iPad, however (they do make FileMaker for Windows, and it's WAY more user-friendly than Access!)

                                  Here's what it looks like: