A meal in a restaurant is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It’s a time when our scattered family gathers and bonds, or new relationships are kindled over a shared dessert.
But those of us who love to dine out know that costs can add up quickly. Fortunately, your smartphone offers untold ways to trim your restaurant bill.
There are apps for everything from saving on gourmet meals to finding the closest and best happy hour. Other apps help you to locate a specific type of cuisine, such as kids meals or gluten-free fare.
Following are eight apps to try while eating out during 2016. Bon appetit!
1. Find great deals at everyday restaurants: Scoutmob
Scoutmob is a handy app for finding discounts at restaurants and bars in some of the most popular cities across the country, such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver and New York. As a bonus, the app – which is focused on local, independent businesses — can also uncover discounts at local stores and shops.
2. Save on gourmet meals: BlackboardEats
BlackboardEats helps discerning diners save up to 30 percent off gourmet meals in some of the top foodie cities in America, including Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
Former staff from publications ranging from Gourmet to the New York Times review restaurants for BlackboardEats. When you download the app, specials pop up on your phone as soon as they are offered. In addition, you can see a map of approved restaurants in your city.
3. Save on kids meals: Out to Eat With Kids
Don’t let your kiddos stand between you and a mouthwatering menu. Out to Eat With Kids can help you track down kid-friendly restaurants across the U.S. The app notifies you of discount and “kids eat free” promotions.
In addition to saving you money, this app can help you find restaurants that offer healthful menu options for kids as part of the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program.
4. Discover healthy meal options: HealthyOut
It seems like eating well is a bigger concern for more people these days. HealthyOut helps you find more healthful options at your favorite restaurants in more than 500 cities.
You can search by topics such as calories and diet “points,” nutrition tags such as “heart healthy” and “paleo,” and various types of cuisines.
5. Find the best restaurants: Zagat
Chances are you’ve heard of Zagat, the go-to guide for restaurant, shopping and hotel ratings. But did you know there’s also an app for that?
According to the company, the mobile Zagat app “helps you cut through the clutter to find the world’s best bacon cheeseburger or the trendiest new boutique hotel.” You can read reviews and ratings, and explore maps and videos.
6. Discover gluten-free restaurants: Find Me Gluten Free
Whether you have Celiac disease, gluten intolerance or are simply choosing to live a gluten-free lifestyle, the Find Me Gluten Free app can help you find gluten-free friendly businesses and share your experiences with others who eat gluten-free.
An added bonus? A portion of the proceeds goes to organizations that raise awareness of gluten-free eating.
7. Find delivery and take-out options: GrubHub
Want to eat restaurant-quality food in the comfort of your own home without actually having to cook? Check out GrubHub, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading online and mobile food ordering company dedicated to connecting hungry diners with local takeout restaurants.”
GrubHub’s app allows you to order directly from about 35,000 takeout restaurants in more than 900 U.S. cities and London. You can search by cuisine, restaurant name or menu item. The company also helps you find coupons and deals, and has a 24/7 customer service team to help with your order.
8. Find a happy hour: Happy Hours
There are several apps that promise to help you find the most happening happy hour with the best drink deals. But according to DealNews, the Happy Hours app has advantages over competing apps, such as a libations locator. DealNews says:
It helps you find the food and drink discounts, but it also allows you to see photos of each establishment and when the happy hours end. What’s more, you can sort your selection by features such as free Wi-Fi, live entertainment, and more.
Have a favorite restaurant app that didn’t make our list? Share it in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.