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In our weekly series, Ware of the Week, we showcase our favourite organised lines of code from the world of mobile and desktop computing. In today’s edition, we look at an app that’s about as perfect a fit for Cape Town’s foodie scene than anything we’ve seen before — Zomato. If you missed our previous Ware of the Week, catch it below.
Read more: Ware of the Week: Opera Max
Food is essential to life, but good food is arguably essential when having a good time, especially in the big city. Cape Town is slowly transforming into one of the world’s primary foodie destination, and companies like Zomato are taking heed.
While Zomato has established itself as a cuisine-app force across the world, it only recently ventured across the Atlantic to South Africa where food plays a rather major part of our day to day activities.
Think about it: South Africans can’t really do anything (meetings, fill up the car, walk along the beach) without having some type of foodstuff in or near our mouths. And that’s okay. Zomato makes it easy to discover new places to fill your belly, and lets you keep a log book of your past experiences.
What is it?
Zomato was originally an Indian-founded company focusing primarily on the social discovery side of food.
Think of it as a Facebook for food, with a friend and follow element, as well as a bolted-on restaurant directory that makes use of one’s phone GPS. Tether on a log book and review system for foodies who like stating their opinions, and you have Zomato.
It’s a great system, and helps users discover places to wine and dine in the vicinity more effectively and ensures that restaurants signed up to its service keep their standards lofty.
Why it’s brilliant
In a city like Cape Town that’s practically built on its sheer number of restaurants and eateries, Zomato is essential.
Have you ever engaged in that “what do you feel like eating tonight?” or “where do you feel like going?” conversation that just never seems to end? Or if it does, it usually means a trip to McDonald’s or another fast food destination? Well, Zomato can help you find and decide on a dining destination if you have absolutely no clue where to go.
Along with the app’s actual swathe of recommendations, users of the app can also post reviews and ratings of the restaurant in question. The scores are tallied up and the destination is given an overall score. Usually, from my experiences, these scores are quite accurate.
Users can also follow or invite others to be a friend which allows some to form a foodie social network. Want to kick off a meat-free Mondays programme at work, but have no clue where to go? Zomato makes it easy to group users and for said users to discover new restaurants.
And if you’re one of those who love taking images of their food, you’ll be in luck. Zomato will let you snap, publish and comment on individual pictures. These are also especially helpful when choosing restaurants. After all, we eat with our eyes before any bite is taken. These pictures can also be uploaded to Instagram, and your reviews can be sent to Twitter and Facebook too.
And even if you aren’t particularly keen to use the social elements of the app, as an informational resource, it’s priceless. Zomato displays average price per head, directions to the joint, opening times and images of the institutions’ menus which means that you can plan your meals in advance.
What still needs work
While it does feel like a fully polished app, there are still a few quirks.
The app would do well with an offline mode, allowing users to browse their most often visited restaurants without the need for an internet connection. It would be particularly useful to find the opening times and location while on the run.
A more practical matter are the number of restaurants available and the cities it covers. Zomato features restaurants from the major centres in South Africa, including the likes of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Port Elizabeth, but not foodie hubs like Clarens or Knysna. The company promises that more cities will be made available in due course, but we’re still waiting.
Correction: Zomato does indeed cover Clarens and Knysna, thanks Justin for the comment and correction.
Zomato’s current global coverage.
If you’re a foodie or just love to eat, Zomato is one of those must-install apps. Keeping a log of restuarants you’ve visted and restuarants you’d love to visit is fun and practical when hunting for a late night jaunt or planning a date. And speaking of dates, if you’re looking for fellow foodies to wine and dine alongside, Zomato makes that easier too.
Version: 8.0.3 (version varies with device)
Platform(s): Android 4.0 or higher (review platform: Android 5.1), Windows Phone, iOS
Download size: Around 10MB