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Reserve screenshotIt’s hard to pick the best feature of Reserve, a free app that posits—fairly—that it can be “your app for dining out.” With Reserve, a night of eating out is simplified into a few easy steps, all of which you can swipe through on your phone. It’s discovery, booking and payment (even splitting the bill) in one beautiful, intuitive app experience.

First, you can search for and discover great restaurants in your area. With the recent addition of Washington, DC, the app’s catalog of restaurant partners includes more than 450 restaurants in seven cities (Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, DC). All have been filtered to meet the Reserve team’s strict criteria for food, atmosphere and service. In New York, for example, the options include James Beard Award-winners and Times picks (meaning many aren’t cheap, but that’s what comes with eating well in New York). As simply a way to curate a restaurant to-do list in your area, Reserve proves to be of value.

Once you’ve picked a restaurant to dine at, you can request a reservation there. You can set the parameters as tightly (must be for 8:30 pm) or loosely as you like (anytime available between 7 pm-11 pm)—and then, you can go looser than that. If you’re unsure where you’d like to eat, or you simply want a reservation at whichever of three restaurants can accommodate your party, Reserve can handle it. Its clever concierge service does the work to get you what you’re looking for, keeping you updated via the app/text and even going so far as to recommend viable alternatives should your requested restaurant be fully booked.

And so with whatever assistance you’ve requested, once you have a table, you’re set up show up to eat and drink at your reserved time. You dine, you have a great time (or maybe you don’t, in which case you have the option of providing feedback that goes directly and privately to the restaurant for application), and then you pull out the app again to pay. Because you’ve linked a form of payment to your Reserve account, you can simply swipe a few times and get out of there. If you’re dining with other Reserve users, you can even swipe to split the bill in any of all possible configurable divisions—which in the end, might be the best feature of all.

Ian Livingston

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