A Closer Look at Zagat’s New Website and Mobile Apps for Android and iPhone

By Devon Glenn 

Though it was acquired by Google in 2011, Zagat is holding its ground as a stand-alone review service with the release of a new website and mobile app for Android and iPhone.

Zagat predates social media in curating user-generated reviews — its 30-point ratings system and quote-filled summaries are based on the judgment of human editors who mine the results of consumer surveys that, more than 34 years later, Zagat now collects on its website. As part of Google, Zagat editors can also incorporate user reviews from Google+ into their reviews.

Now, in addition to the “Zagat Rated” stickers that appear in restaurant windows, these reviews are displayed prominently in the search results on Google Maps.

On Zagat, the editors can pack in extra editorial content along with the apps’ search and map-based browsing capabilities.

“Through our digital products our goal is to help users make informed decisions about the best places to eat and drink,” a Zagat spokesperson said. “The new site and app combine the search experience that’s core to Zagat.com and the exploration that’s been the heart of our blog to surface the most notable establishments.”

Notable establishments, or “hidden gems,” as they’re called in Google’s blog announcement of the relaunch, “include establishments that are of high quality, have compelling character and/or are special, unique or notable,” the spokesperson added.

Many of these are highlighted in curated lists, such as “Bars Where You Can Escape the Heat in NYC,” as well as videos that showcase newly opened restaurants or offer cooking tips from top chefs.

The discovery service straddles the line between TripAdvisor and Yelp, which are based almost entirely on user reviews, and Village Voice Media’s apps, which are based primarily on editor’s picks.

Zagat also has plans to review shopping, hotels, and “other places of interest,” as it expands to 50 additional markets in the U.S. and beyond, including both local and travel destinations. Currently, Zagat covers 9 markets including New York, Austin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Photos via Zagat.com and Google.