Article updated on November 28, 2022 at 4:00 AM PST

7 Google Features to Use When You Don't Know What's for Dinner

Google can have food delivered to your door, offer personalized recommendations and help you avoid crowds.

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Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
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Google Maps logo on a phone

Google Maps is a handy tool to have on hand when it comes to grabbing grub.

James Martin/CNET

We've all been trapped in the verbal purgatory of "What do you want for dinner?" Google holds the key to ending the spoken pingpong match. Whether you dread calling to place an order, want to try a new place or need recommendations when you're traveling, Google has a feature to help.

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Here's how Google can help you settle the dinner debate.

Getting started 

Whether you're at home or in an unfamiliar place, the best place to start your food quest is by searching Restaurants Near Me or Restaurants [insert location] in Google. You can also open the Google Maps app and tap Restaurants at the top of the screen.

There are multiple filters you can select to generate better search results. Tap the Filters icon (it looks like three slider bars in the top left corner of the screen) to sort results by price, hours of operation, cuisine type and more. 

Get better restaurant recommendations 

We've all got our favorite spots, but why not try something new? Google's Your Match personalized recommendations makes it more likely that you'll actually enjoy the new meal you try. Google uses information from restaurants you've visited and rated in the Maps app, as well as your interests and web activity to estimate how likely you are to like other restaurants -- similar to a Netflix recommendation. You should be able to see your percentage next to the restaurant's star rating. 

Personalized restaurant recommendations in Google Maps

The more you rate restaurants, Google will learn how to better recommend restaurants based on how much you might like them. 

Shelby Brown/CNET

To adjust your recommendations, tap the restaurant you're interested in and tap Your Match. From there you can tap Edit Food & Drink Preferences to customize based on interests, dislikes and dietary preferences like kosher or halal. Tap the Interested or Not Interested button, and tap Add Topic. From there you can peruse different cuisine types like breakfast, seafood or creole and update your recommendations by selecting the cuisine icon and tapping Add Preferences

Get a better idea of a restaurant's popular dishes 

If you're headed to a new spot or want to shake up your regular food order at a familiar haunt, trying a new dish feels risky. What if it's not good? In addition to looking at customer reviews and perusing the menu ahead of time, you can check out a restaurant's most popular and most mentioned meals on Google Maps. 

Choose a restaurant you want to visit in Google Maps and scroll down to Menu Highlights -- a compilation of photos and reviews from customers. From there, you can scroll through a carousel of images labeled Popular. You can also tap Add Dish to contribute your own positive experience. 

Just above Menu Highlights, you can tap through the People Often Mention section, which features reviews based on the restaurant's dishes. If a dish or topic is particularly positive, you'll see a little green smiley face next to the word. 

Popular dishes in Google Maps

What's good on the menu? Google can tell you.

Shelby Brown/CNET

Check out the restaurant in Street View

If you're unfamiliar with the location of the restaurant, making sure you reach your destination can be the most stressful part of the outing. Knowing what the restaurant looks like and being able to find parking can make for a far less anxious experience. 

A quick way to figure all this out is by using Street View in Google Maps. Search the restaurant you want to visit and tap the little image with the circular arrow to open Street View. You can also tap the restaurant's address and you'll be taken to the same place. From there, you'll be able to see what the location looks like, helpful landmarks, as well as street parking or nearby parking garages. 

Avoid the lunch and dinner rush 

Google maps wait times

In the Google Maps app, real-time information on lines, crowds and wait times is in red, but you can tap any other hour of day to see what you can probably expect to find at that time.

Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET

If you're not a fan of crowds, Google Maps can tell you when a restaurant will be at its busiest. Search for a restaurant and tap to open its full profile on Google Maps. Scroll down and you should see a bar graph-style chart under the heading Popular Times. The graph should populate the current day and the highlighted bar will indicate the current time. From theres, you can see when the restaurant is typically at its busiest, as well as corresponding average wait times. Tap the day of the week next to Popular Times or swipe left to view any day the restaurant is open. 

Find out which locations deliver or offer take-out

Delivery and take-out are the unsung heroes of folks everywhere who are too tired to cook after a long day. Anytime you're kitchen-averse, Google Maps can tell you which restaurants include take-out and delivery

Open Google Maps and search for a restaurant. Without even clicking on the choice, the restaurant should list options like dine-in, curbside pickup, takeout or no-contact delivery. If you click the restaurant, each option should have a green checkmark or a red x indicating availability. 

Let Google order dinner for you

I know I'm not the only person who dislikes phone calls. Thankfully, some restaurants on Google Maps offer an option to order online. At the bottom of each search result, you should see options to call the restaurant, get directions, view the menu or order online. 

Tap Order Online and you'll be able to choose an app with which to place your order like DoorDash, UberEats or Grubhub. If you have the app installed, you'll automatically be redirected to place your order for delivery or pickup. If you don't have the app installed, the service will open in your mobile browser. 

For more information, check out more helpful Google Maps tips and eight Google travel tips.