How do you keep track of restaurants, dining research, eating notes?

I must admit that I am not very organized when it comes to keeping track of which restaurants I want to eat at, what to eat at which restaurants, as well as keeping track of meals eaten. I don’t have a great memory as well so often I eat something, I forget, and someone reminds me that the dish is actually kinda crap so I shouldn’t order it again, or I forget how the good dishes are like.

Would love to hear all the expert diners here on how you do it, website/ software you use to do the tracking, tips/ tricks, etc.

I currently do this:

  • I use Yelp bookmarks to bookmark some of the restaurants I want to go to, and put notes into the bookmark if there are specific things I want to try. Though its not a very good organizational system besides the ability to filter by location.

  • I bookmark food articles/ reviews, but has no particular organization system so those tend to get lost in a pile and forgotten

  • Nowadays I wrote about meals here so I will remember what I ate, but that’s only relatively recently I started to do that. Previously, good meals or bad I often don’t write about it and over time I tend to forget. Even now, I don’t write about average meals at smaller mom and pops because they never aspire to be great.

How do you do it?

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A simple Word document keeps track of our “regular places”. We tend to visit in roughly the order they are on the list - not completely anally , of course - but, if we were fancying south asian we’d usually go to a place higher up the list than one lower down. Place goes to the bottom of the list when we’ve been. The document has two other sections - “lunch only” and a list of places we want to try (currently only has one).

I usually write a review of meals (except chains) and have been doing that since 2007. They’re mainly for our own reference for the future but I do post most online - over the years that’s been variously to local boards, Egullet, Chowhound, Hungry Onion and TripAdvisor. I accept that my home area is unlikely to be visited by the vast majority of users of, say, Chowhound or HO so I know that posting online is something of a pointless exercise and accept that seeing my review “in print” is something of a vanity thing. I suppose that, going back years, it may have been more enjoyable and useful to have set up my own blog - but I really couldnt be arsed and still couldnt be arsed.

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Wow, I need to get organized!! I do have a bucket list on my phone, but that’s it.

No fancy softs. I put places I want very much to eat with a few notes in address book, it’s practical when on the street and need to reserve. I don’t know, bookmarks don’t work well with me, I bookmarked pages, but I prefer to search google again when I want to find something.

If travelling abroad, I do a google map for restaurants, and saves webpages research notes as PDF files. (to read on plane or transport. Most places have internet, but at times they can be very slow in especially in countryside).

I think during or after a meal, it’s best to have a simple text document sometimes just to note the ingredients of each plates. Photograph the menu! it’s very essential for recalling the meal.

For several years, I didn’t take written notes, but I photographed the plates for memory lane.

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This is a good reminder to post on your thread about best meal/dish or the year!

I use a combination of iCloud notes, yelp bookmarks, and sometimes google maps.

  • I take photos (geotagging!) and keep a chronological list of where and what I’ve eaten. For outstanding dishes, I put one to three stars. Like @sck, my memory for foods fades quickly, especially if I’ve been eating in a chatty setting. If my tasting notes don’t get recorded on HO or CH I’m likely to forget about what I ate.

  • I have separate 5 iCloud notes for the SFBA: one each for SF, the East Bay, the North Bay, the Far East Bay, and the Peninsula. I live in SF, and my SF note contains (1) neighborhood sublists with affordable restaurants I’ve been to and are easy to get into without a reservation. This is ideal for meeting up with people or quickly recommending places. (2) a to-eat list ordered roughly by breakfast, lunch, dinner with notes of dishes to get. This mirrors a google map of theee restaurants. I star restaurants when I finally eat there and (3) a disorganized list I’ve yet to integrate elsewhere. My iCloud notes for other 4 regions of the Bay Area are disorganized lists, with stars for places I’ve been to.

  • I use Yelp bookmarks for areas outside of the Bay Area. That way, I’ll see these bookmarks on the road and search my notes, HO, or CH for why they might be good suggestions.

I have a google map called “restaurants” (very creative, I know). Restaurants I intend to try get a blue pin; restaurants I’ve been to and intend to return to get a red pin.

I like that idea of starring the photos. Speaking of photos the organization system is a bit chaotic as well, with all the personal pictures also starred for various reasons. Time to perhaps separate the food pics.

Does Google Map allow detailed notes? Is it easy to create such maps? Thanks!

I think I am going to start using Google Map. Yelp bookmarks annoys me because I have a lot of bookmarks and they are divided into multiple pages. By default they only show you the places in that page. So for larger cities like San Francisco, its impossible to view everything on one page. And its impossible to ‘tag’ status of restaurants like ‘visited’.

Yes, clicking on a location icon opens up a dialogue box, which you can fill with notes, links, pictures, whatever. You can also customize the icons by importing your own images (I’m not that crazy yet, but I’m on my way). As for ease of use, it’s not super-intuitive, but nor is it all that tough to figure out. And there are plenty of help forums if you get stuck.

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I used a combination of spreadsheets and Google Maps, much like hyperbowler.

When traveling, I create my own Google Map for each city, putting labels on it for each restaurant I’d like to visit with notes and/or links back to reviews to remind me what to order and why it put it on the list. As I plan my day’s activities, I can easily see which restaurant(s) might be reasonable destinations and which of those fit my mood at the time. This work very well.

Sometimes, before making the Google map, I read a lot of sources and have a simple spreadsheet of restaurant name and number of times I’ve seen it cited. Then I can easily make sure I put the “can’t miss” on the map and don’t get distracted by the solitary amazing, engaging review of a restaurant no else seems to bother mentioning.

For places I live / visit regularly (i.e., not doing touristy things), I use spreadsheets, one for each region (e.g., “San Francisco”), each simply listing the restaurant name, cuisine time, neighborhood, specialties, and other notes such as “good for lunch”, “RSVP required”, “closes early”, “go with a group”. I bold the restaurants that seem especially appealing for easy scanning. This works okay.

I have separate spreadsheets for places I’ve been. These contain one column for each restaurant, and column contains notes such as “visited on XYZ with A, B, and C”, and then additional entries for each other dish we order. The bottom of each column a TO TRY section. This works well for me. (I find the people and date reminders and separate entries for each item makes it easy to jog my memory of a visit. It also makes it easy to spot dishes for which I may have different reactions each time depending on my mood.)

I’m not sure why I have separate “to eat at” and “have eaten at” spreadsheets. I think my decision-making model has “do I want to try something new?” as one of its first branches, even before cuisine.

I have tried yelp bookmarks and also general web browser bookmarks and neither worked well for me.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold