A couple of free Smartphone apps give the lowdown on where chefs like to eat, providing an alternative to reviews on Yelp and Google. The Chefs Feed app and the Find. Eat. Drink. app/website give recommendations from chefs for the curious eater who wants to know about the hole-in-the-wall spots favored by chefs Jose Mendin of Pubbelly or Michelle Bernstein of Michy's. The apps are also a good resource for out-of-towners visiting during South Florida's busy tourism season.
The tagline of the Chefs Feed app, which launched its Miami version in late 2012, is "Where do the best chefs eat when they're not in their own kitchens?"
It's fun to explore chefs' favorite meals at neighborhood gems. The Miami chefs on the app seem to love Vietnamese dishes, which is interesting given that South Florida is not known for Vietnamese food. Ortanique chef Cindy Hutson craves the rare beef soup at Pho Thang in the Palmetto Estates/Perrine area:
It's named correctly: rare beef noodle soup with lots of fresh herbs and bean sprouts ...Did I mention that it's less than $10?! The restaurant isn't fancy, but there are only a handful of good Vietnamese places in Miami, and this is one of them.
Jose Mendin, executive chef at Pubbelly and Barceloneta, favors the "Rolls-Royce of all risottos" at Cecconi's and Michelle Bernstein says she finally found good corned beef at Pomperdale's in Fort Lauderdale.
Once you hone in on a dish you'd like to try, you can add it to a "Dish List" for future reference or go ahead and make a reservation via Open Table.
It's up to the chefs to update information on their dishes, according to the app creators at Credible. Given the pace of openings and closings in the South Florida restaurant scene, it's yet to be seen how the app will keep up. For example, chef Alberto Cabrera recommends the BBQ shrimp at Red Light which is now closed; thankfully, chef Kris Wessel is still serving the shrimp at his new place, Florida Cookery.
However, the app designers at Credible say they aim "to update information about dishes and restaurants on a regular basis" and that they plan to check in regularly with chefs.
The app includes other cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New Orleans.
Find. Eat. Drink. is an online travel guide, as well as an app, with recommendations from chefs, bartenders and food purveyors. I discovered it while searching for places to eat in the Keys. I found a comprehensive list of chef Norman Van Aken's suggestions for where to eat and drink in Miami and the Keys. He put the list together a couple of years ago, but there are still several solid recommendations.
The chef selection here is more limited (about seven Miami chefs and bartenders are on this app versus more than two dozen at Chefs Feed). Here, it's interesting to see what chefs recommend in other cities, or what out-of-town chefs love in South Florida. Brandon McGlamery of Prato and Luma on Park (Orlando) recommends the swamp cabbage salad with stone crabs at Camellia Street Grill in Everglades City.
If you're a diehard follower of Yelp or of the South Florida food fanatics on Twitter, there may be less on Find. Eat.Drink that surprises you than on Chefs Feed. It's still worth a try by the avid eater, and it's also a great resource for sharing with out-of-towners.