FOODIES: outlets you should get to know

11Feb10

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Those who know me are well aware of my unhealthy obsession with the one thing that maintains our energy and, in my case, happiness … food! You can always find me on Yelp.com researching new restaurants and local flavors for the next best meal or on Food Network hunting down delicious recipes. I have over 200 bookmarked restaurants in various major cities, almost 100 unfinished reviews and a rapidly growing recipe box. I have a list on Twitter dedicated to following food trucks that have now saturated the Los Angeles street food market. The number of trucks has soared to over 40, maybe 50 thus far. I feel the phenomenon might be at its peak with the meals-on-wheels nomads trying to find home-street-home. We’ll see if they will survive 2010.

Below is a breakdown of some of my favorite outlets that I frequent for discounts, new foodventures or cool blogs/sites that provide awesome food/cooking tips. I hope you enjoy and please share insightful outlets I may have overlooked. In no particular order:

DISCOUNTS

Black Board Eats
Caters: Los Angeles, New York City
Newsletter: No schedule, summary style, colorful, interactive

This is a little gem that I hold near and dear to my heart. They offer random, awesomely-futhamucking deals that range from happy hour specials (1 drink = 1 free appetizer) and 30-40% off lunches/dinners to free wine pairings/bottles at, mostly, fancy-smancy restaurants. This is perfect for the adventurous foodie who loves to try new restaurants and save $ while doing so.

PRO: I appreciate their reminder emails of restaurants you retrieved a code for and the date it will expire. In addition, you have an option to have the code sent to your phone via text message. Just pick what service provider you are with, your phone number and BOOM, the code is sent to your phone.

CON: Their offers have a 24 hour window until it expires so make sure you get the special code the day of.

TIP: Before you get overly excited about a deal, make sure to do some research on the restaurant who is participating. Sometimes the restaurants can be quite disappointing in customer reviews and I’m sure you’d want to know before shelling out your hard-earned money on a mediocre eatery. I speak from experience *cough* The Foundry *cough*.

Groupon
Caters: Los Angeles, Inland LA, Orange County
Newsletter: No schedule, summary style, colorful, interactive

Another great site that offers excellent deals to not just restaurants, but workshops, massages and various other things we enjoy. The offers details how many people have taken advantage of the discount and how much you will be saving.

CON: Their offers have a 24 hour window until it expires so make sure you get the special code the day of.

Restaurant.com
Caters: Multi-city
Newsletter: No schedule, colorful

They offer various coupons for purchase to participating restaurants that require you to spend X amount of money to get X amount off. This is perfect for exploring new restaurants. I’ve purchased many already and have yet to use them all. Care to join, anyone?

PRO: The participating restaurants are diverse. You can choose from Indian and Chinese to Hungarian and Brazilian cuisines.

CON: Coupons expire after a year from the purchase date. They require you to present the coupon before ordering and normally a 18% gratuity will already be added to the bill despite the quality of customer service you will be receiving. The search engine for restaurants is not user-friendly. They ask for your zip code and give you restaurants according to your proximity but it does not allow you to individually search for a particular eatery.

TIP: They always give a sense of urgency with their emails stating that the sale will only be available “TODAY.” Don’t believe the hype © Public Enemy. The sale always starts off at 50% off then trickles down to the final 80% off deal which normally lasts a few days. Wait for that 80% off and don’t buy anything less that deal. Lastly, do some research on the restaurant you are interested in because you want to use your money wisely.

REVIEWS AND MORE

Yelp
Caters: Multi-city, United Kingdom
Newsletter: Weekly, comprehensive, colorful, interactive, includes weekend festivities
Covers: Everything

What started as an outlet dedicated to “real reviews by real people” has become a social networking powerhouse connecting people from all over to gather for good drinks, good food and good company. It has somehow turned into an outlet for singles to meet and greet as well. Personally, this is probably the only site I use to look up new restaurants and reviews. I’ve been using Yelp since 2006 and was an avid reviewer until I got jaded with …. well, reviewing. Nowadays, I just research and bookmark my life away.

PRO: They have been around for a long time and have established themselves as an outlet for legit reviews. From restaurants, barbershops and clubs to spas, malls and pet groomers, they cover everything you are looking for. Traveling to the United Kingdom and wondering where to eat? Yelp have crossed borders to allow you to check out what’s on the other side of the world. While their forums have become filled with Elite members acting like they are god’s gift to earth, it can be very useful when you have a question about pretty much anything.

CON: Yelp can steer you wrong at times but keep in mind that the written words were produced from people with varying taste buds. These “real reviews from real people” can sometimes be lengthy or futile as many out there do not know how to actually review. Their newsletters are also scattered and lengthy.

Thrillist
Location: Multi-city
Newsletter: Daily, brief, colorful, interactive
Covers: Everything, weekend festivities

Not only do they announce/review restaurants we should try, they also have a lifestyle/consumer section that covers the latest in entertainment, gear and gadgets.

PRO: They usually include all genres together in one email (food, gear, gadgets, etc.) instead of sending you multiple emails for each section.

CON: Sometimes they will cover the same restaurants/events as their competitor’s. Could use some more original content.

Tasting Table
Caters: Multi-city
Newsletter: Daily, summary style, colorful, interactive, includes weekend festivities
Covers: Food and cooking

This is one of the few outlets that not only include restaurant tips/reviews but also covers cooking tips, ingredients, classes, food products and let’s not forget about drinks. This site is perfect for the all-around foodie who not only loves to eat, but enjoys cooking too.

PRO: Their newsletters are direct, user-friendly and most importantly, detailed!

Eater
Caters: Multi-city
Newsletter: Weekly, comprehensive, summary style, colorful, interactive
Covers: Everything, weekend festivities

The national restaurant, bar and nightlife blog, Eater, is very good at reporting new restaurants, ones who are undergoing remodeling or ones who are shutting their doors permanently. Their Web site is very interactive, colorful and makes me sit there for hours reading article after article. Love this site!

PRO: Their newsletters include the email’s main article, past articles and articles from other genres such as news, shopping or entertainment within your city. Web site is full of original content.

Urban Daddy
Caters: Multi-city
Newsletter: Daily, brief, colorful, interactive
Covers: Everything, weekend festivities

Although geared towards men, I still find this outlet helpful as it covers not only local favorites, but also gear, technology, leisure and travel – all of which I have an interest in. For women, this site is helpful in getting to know some of the things that men are interested in (if women are having trouble, that is). I don’t particularly look at anything else but the food emails, when they so kindly cover it.

PRO: Not sure yet ….

CON: Although distributed daily, not every email is about food. It can vary from restaurants, gear or travel to leisure and entertainment. This might not be the ideal Web site to sign up with for foodies looking for heavy food-related content.

Chow Hound
Caters: Multi-city, International
Newsletter: Weekly/daily, summary style, colorful
Covers: Food and recipes

I appreciate the fact that they send out recipes of various dishes. I made my first seven layer bar because they sent me a recipe-free instruction on how to make it. They have a basic recipe-free section that offers recipes that does not need exact measurements for cooking. Not only do they feature recipes, but they also include videos and a pretty good editorial section (can’t beat Eater though).

PRO: They cover various cities in the U.S., Canada and international borders. As a member, you are able to save recipes in the “MyChow” section.

Urban Spoon
Caters: Multi-city
Newsletter: No schedule, yet to see.
Covers: ???

I can’t say I am very knowledgeable of what Urban Spoon has to offer. I signed up to receive their newsletter(s) but have yet to see one. I’d like to know more about their coverage but I’m too busy to be checking out their site directly. That’s what newsletters are for … to be distributed to people who are too busy.

Food GPS
Caters: Multi-city
Newsletter: Confusing, unorganized
Covers: Everything

Personally, I do not frequent this Web site. I barely check out their newsletters. Wait … maybe you should not know this outlet. I have to admit that their newsletters are quite disappointing. They lack interactivity, organization and composition. When you receive their newsletter, it comes from a guy named Joshua and not “Food GPS” which automatically makes you think it is spam. Yeah, okay. Leave this outlet alone. *thumbs down*

RECIPES

Food Network
Newsletter: Colorful, interactive

I love Food Network. You get to save recipes in your “Recipe Box” and a variety of them are available from renowned chefs to aspiring culinary moguls. Their rating feature is great because readers who have tried the recipe are providing genuine tips and feedback. Their Web site is very comprehensive and organized well. They have sections profiling selective chefs and video content. If you’ve chosen to receive recipes from Food Network, they will send one to you every day, which is very nice.

Epicurious
Epicurious is the online magazine for Bon Appétit. Similar to Food Network, you can save recipes on the Web site and look up cooking/baking terms go get yourself educated in the culinary world. They also provide food guides and menus. I tend to check this site out after Food Network. Great recipes included.

RESERVATIONS

Open Table
I’ve been using Open Table for years and they’ve been wonderful to me. They offer the easiest way to make restaurant reservations and most importantly, it’s free. Most fine restaurants are partnered with them and recommend you use this outlet to schedule your next lunch/dinner. With every fulfilled reservation made, you gain 100 – 1,000 points depending on the restaurant and its promotion. With these points, you can trade them in for a gift certificate to any participating restaurant of the site. Sa-weet! They are also quick to resolve any problems you may have had with a reservation and/or points.

LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH

Food Porn Daily
I saved the best for last with these food porn outlets that are waiting to make you salivate and tantalize those oogling eyes of yours. I’ve spent countless amount of hours clicking and eyefucking the shit out of the pictures featured on this site. No shame. I still do it. It’s like a bad habit I cannot shake. *click* *drool* and repeat.

CON: Their photos are great but does not provide a recipe should you feel the desire to recreate such beauty to satisfy your tasting needs.

Food Gawker
I really like this site because, most of the time, recipes are included with the attractive photos featured. ‘Nuff said. Great site!

This Is Why You’re Fat
I can’t really say this is food porn per se. They feature photos of ungodly dishes that give you type 2 diabetes just from looking at it. Some dishes are rather disgusting because you cannot imagine another human being stuffing their face with a bacon, pork fat, ribs, donut-stuffed, 4 cheese casserole … or something to that effect.

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3 Responses to “FOODIES: outlets you should get to know”

  1. Yes for sure to OpenTable.com. I use them all the time and have 2400 points so far 😀

  2. Food! Awesome. Thanks for the resources for fine courses. 🙂

  3. 3 stan

    smh.


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