Restaurant Search

Why is it so hard to search for restaurants online?

Unless you know the name of it (and even then it can be tough), you are stuck browsing through listings based on cuisine, price, and general distance from some address you enter. In New York, you can usually search by neighborhood, but this can sometimes be more trouble than it is worth. Using a service like Yahoo Maps can show you restaurants in the vicinity of your search, but the listings are far from complete, and don’t make it easy.

Googling for “restaurants near (or on) such-and-such street” doesn’t do much good either.

What I want to be able to do (and I suspect others might want, as well) is find a simple list of restaurants in a precise geographical area. For example, if I know I’m going to be on 23rd street for a meeting, I want to know all of the restaurants on that street. It would be nice, of course, to have the option to order the results by rating, or price, or cuisine, or whatever, but ultimately, I just want to know what restaurants are on that street.

Alternatively, what about times when you are walking around the city and see a restaurant that looks awesome, and you vow to return, only to get home and realize you have absolutely no idea what it was called? As it stands now, your only hope is to try to search for restaurants in the general area and browse through page after ad-filled page of junk that is meant to be browsed through with a different intent. If you’ve never tried to do this, let me just say, “It is hard.” More often than not, I remember what street I was on, or roughly, anyway. I sure as hell don’t know any real addresses, though. And how nice would it be to just see a list of restaurants in the order you’d see them walking down the street? Just simple text links to more information about the restaurants (where then you can display all the other fancy stuff like ratings and comments) ordered by location.

Something like this, of course, would be most helpful (practical) in big cities like Manhattan where one will be walking to these restaurants more often than driving. Further, creating something like this would take considerable physical exploration of the area, but could also be developed with help from others who may submit restaurants they know about.

I would love for something like this to exist, and almost want to make it myself, but I’m honestly not sure it’s something I could handle all aspects of. Maybe someone out there will hear this and get started, or maybe we could put some heads together and get something like this started. Perhaps it is something that could begin with accumulating data from other online listings and arranging it by street. Then the real field research could begin to supplement the current listings and we could start to collect data from users. Man, the more I write and think about this, the more I actually want to do it.

Is this something you would use if it existed for your city? Or am I just crazy?

Perhaps the most important question: Has someone already made this?