I have a weird love/hate relationship with Yelp. On the one hand, when I'm traveling, it helps me find a good burger joint or girls-who-love-balding-nerds fetish club. But some users can be unfair, rating a good restaurant just one star because another diner brought along a crying baby.
I, however, usually just want to know how good the food is, and that's where an ambitious new iPhone app called Chewsy comes in.
Launching today, Chewsy is something of a micro-Yelp. Chewsy lets users rate food. And not just in general terms. What makes Chewsy awesome is that it lets diners rate individual menu items.
The app asks the question, "What's good here?" But it also answers it by presenting dish reviews from other users. Menu items can be ranked from highest rated to lowest rated at a restaurant, give a rating and review for each individual dish, and show you the highest-rated items within a certain distance.
Like everything else coming to the iPhone these days, it has some game elements. There are achievements that can be unlocked by doing certain things, like trying five different burgers a week, or eating in three different cities in a month. The beta doesn't say what unlocks them, but it should be interesting.
Right now, Chewsy has data for 11 cities (including Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle) where people took part in the beta program, but anyone can download and add their own items. Since the restaurant locations are pulled from Google, and it uses the integrated GPS to locate you, it's just a matter of adding dishes and reviews.
The app is free and available in the app store right now. I've been using it for a couple of weeks now and have found it useful, especially in neighborhoods I don't visit much. I found a great plate of chow mein in Seattle's International District, and I will next use it to find a great burger in Portland. I hear they don't exist. The point is that food is a great way to get people to crowdsource.