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Taste app shows you where the locals eat

Forget star ratings. Dining app Taste makes you declare your favorite burger -- or sushi or pizza -- joint.

You know you have a favorite pizza place in town. 

If you've lived where you are for any length of time, you've got an opinion on where to go for the best burger in town. Or best sushi. Or best pizza.

Makers of the app Taste are counting on your fierce loyalties toward local establishments to power their new offering to the world of dining apps.

Taste, which launched in August, is based on favorites.

There are nine categories covering categories including coffee, burgers, drinks, pizza and sushi. For each category, you pick a favorite. When you pick one, that favorite gets 100 points toward its ranking.

"You only get one -- you can't give 5 stars to everything, you have to make a decision," said Zac Dixon, Taste's creative director.

In that way, you can bypass a pile of lukewarm or even spiteful reviews and get a fairly straightforward take on the popularity of local restaurants.

After you've soul-searched and made your choice, you can check in to restaurants as you visit them. The more you visit in a category, the more your opinion is worth. The app sets milestones for you to complete, like checking in at least once to each of the top 3 locations in a category. When you complete a milestone, you earn more points, increasing the point value of your opinion.

You may be thinking at this point, another dining app? The field is crowded as it is.

You're absolutely correct. There's Yelp, of course, with its 135 million reviews since 2005. AroundMe will show you what's … around you. And there are more specific-use dining apps like Bar Roulette, which finds the best-rated bar near you and calls an Uber to get you there while keeping it a surprise.

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Still, recent data suggest there's plenty of room for more of these apps. A 2016 survey from RetailMeNot, in which respondents could select multiple options, found 37 percent of those surveyed have used their phones to research new restaurants. Forty-nine percent have used their phones to look at a menu. And if folks are between the ages of 25 and 34, they're 60 percent more likely to research a new restaurant on their phone.

With all that in mind, Taste thinks it can distinguish itself through simplicity.

Dixon and Taste CEO Andy Seavers first got the idea for their app back in 2015. Production on the current version started in April. Taste sprang partly from a debate with friends over what the best coffee shop in Nashville was at a time when Dixon first took a liking to the beverage.

The app itself is colorful but uncluttered, and really the only information you see is favorites. And you can't review restaurants in other cities, which means you won't run into a 2012 review from an out-of-towner complaining about getting shortchanged on fried pickles at a bar.

By the way, if you are that out-of-towner, Taste could be a good way to figure out where the locals eat.

"When someone comes to Charleston [South Carolina], it's not just that they're asking what my favorite is because they just want to have a good burger," he said. "They really want to have to best experience possible."

Taste has spread to 31 US cities so far. The app is available only on Apple's iOS for now, but the company plans to release an Android version at some point. 

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