Successful summer vacations always have an unforgettable food element, whether it's that great picnic you brought to the beach, the food festival you drove out of town for, or the hole-in-the-wall you stumbled on in some new city. Sightseeing, family bonding, exploring new terrain, and eating well all go very well together. So to make sure your summer is the tastiest it can be, we rounded up our favorite (and most useful) foodie apps and products. Bon appétit!
1. Chefs Feed
Why We Like It: What do you get when some of the best chefs in the U.S. give advice on where they find their favorite entrees? Well, first you get a delicious double-entendre (since the app is a feed about what chefs feed on). But more importantly, you get respectable recommendations about what to order at thousands of variously starred eateries, currently in nine cities around the country. That's about to expand to over a dozen more cities, including some outside the States (where we hear eating is popular too). The app also includes chef bios and the Feed Me Now feature, which uses your location to find the most highly rated nearby dishes.
How Much: Free
Buy It: Visit ChefsFeed.com.
2. BiteHunter 2.0
Why We Like It: For those of us who like to travel, eat, and save money, this app is a godsend. It finds the best deals from a ton of discount dining sources and offers them to you on a (virtual) silver platter in real time! That means that, based on your location at home or traveling, you can have immediate access to great dining values. The good-looking photo-grid interface offers info about the deal itself, the restaurant's distance, and user reviews. It's easy to scroll to search, see top deals, or find discounts on a particular category of cuisine close-by. In this new version, you can purchase deals right from within the app. And as you might guess, they make it easy to share deals through your various social networks.
How Much: Free
Buy It: Visit BiteHunter.com.
3. Black + Blum Lunch Pot
Why We Like It: It's time to go your separate ways, melba and gazpacho, grilled chicken and salad, spaghetti and fruit cocktail. These stylish but functional lunch and travel pots are here to help. When full of their own respective goodies, they interlock, creating a watertight seal. When empty, the smaller one fits inside the larger one. And just to be that much handier, they come with a spork and carrying strap, and they're safe for both the dishwasher and microwave.
How Much: $22
Buy It: Visit Black-Blum.com.
4. Picnic Plus Bailey 2-Person Picnic Cooler Tote
Why We Like It: Old fashioned baskets are great for picnicking, but you're not your grandmother. It's time to upgrade your picnic-worthy wares. This carryall comes with just about everything a couple dining al fresco needs: A bottle opener, cutting board, and cheese knife; plus plates, flatware, cups, and cotton napkins. Even after all that, it can still hold a water bottle in the side mesh pocket and 16 cans in its insulated inner section. Now you know why it comes with both oversized handles and an adjustable shoulder strap!
How Much: $73
Buy It: Visit Brookstone.com.
5. B.W. Coopers Tea Mini Bottle
Why We Like It: What's the best way to conserve packing space but make sure you're able to slake your thirst along the dusty trail? Concentrate. More specifically, iced tea concentrate. Each of these little 4 oz. mini bottles makes a gallon of refreshing tea. Just add water and you'll be flush with delicious sweetened, unsweetened, pomegranate, or lemonade iced tea. Or spring for a 16-bottle case ($42) for those extra long trails.
How Much: $3 for each 4 oz. bottle
Buy It: Visit Coffee.org.
6. Roamz app
Why We Like It: This social app finds info on such feeds as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Foursquare. But unlike Foursquare, even without checking in, it'll give you helpful, current info on nearby restaurants and bars. Best of all for travelers, it's a great way to ferret out hidden gems and hot spots along the way the journey. After all, what better feeling is there than finding a local hangout—on or off the beaten path—that you might've otherwise overlooked?
How Much: Free
Buy It: Visit Roamz.com.
7. Mobile Foodie Survival Kit
Why We Like It: Since variety is the spice of life, this variety of spices will liven up any meal along your journeys. The 13 organic herbs and spices (Basil, Black Pepper, Cayenne, Cinnamon, Curry, Dill, Garlic, Ginger, Oregano, Onion, Sea Salt, Thyme, and Wasabi) come in unmarked 1 1/2-tablespoon containers. So wherever you go, in whatever land, you can mix and match your favorite antidotes to bland.
How Much: $26
Buy It: Visit UncommonGoods.com.
Fodors.com Travel Technology Columnist Scott Tharler is an expert in gadgets, gambling, and travel. He's written four books, plus hundreds of mobile and wireless tips for Sony and PC World. In addition to his daily Discovery News gadget blog, you can find links to other gadget articles, social feeds and lists of his current favorite gadgets at about.me/gadgetfans.
Photo Credits: 1. Credible, Inc.; 2. BiteHunter; 3. black + blum ltd.; 4. SPECTRUM IMPORTS, INC; 5. Cooper Tea Company; 6. Roamz.; 7. UncommonGoods LLC