Eating out can be difficult for diners with dietary restrictions. How do you know where to go, what to order, and whether the server will be willing to accommodate you?
Tasteful is a new app geared toward vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free, and other healthy or restricted eaters. It's free and lets users search for appropriate dishes in their immediate area or in cities they'd like to visit.
So how does this app differ from options such as Happy Cow or Yelp? CEO Eswar Priyadarshan says Tasteful is unique in its breadth (260,000 restaurants thus far) and its focus on individual dishes. So a vegan can find something to order at eateries that aren't explicitly vegan or vegetarian. "The net result is that diet-conscious eaters often tell us that Tasteful has the best overall coverage as well as the hidden-gem dishes and restaurants," he says.
In Miami alone, the newly launched system lists more than 450 restaurants with vegan options. Notably nonvegan spots such as Pasha's, Novecento, Capital Grille, Tuyo, and Taqueria el Mexicano pop up with options (though the choices reveal mostly salads and sides). Nationwide, the app boasts 252,357 restaurant options in 8,000 cities with more than 3.5 million dishes.
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"We conceived and built Tasteful because products like Yelp and Happy Cow weren't as helpful for healthy eaters as they could be," says Jonathan Altschuler, cofounder and VP of creative development. "Rather than just being another restaurant finder, we wanted to provide information to health-conscious diners that enabled them to make informed decisions about where and what to eat. That's why we focus on the quality of the ingredients and overall food philosophy of the restaurant. We also wanted to allow for dietary flexibility so that no matter what your diet, Tasteful can help."
As far as how items make it into the app, Tasteful uses a combination of "curation, machine learning, and community input to verify the restaurant and dish information," Altschuler says. "We are quite strict when it comes to tagging the dishes for a particular diet and look for specific menus for vegan, gluten-free, and other items. That said, our community isn't shy about letting us know if we missed something."
So Miamians are free to weigh in about what they like and don't like. Tasteful is available in the App Store and Google Play.