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Can you get food from your favorite restaurant during the pandemic? Here’s how to quickly find out

SHARE Can you get food from your favorite restaurant during the pandemic? Here’s how to quickly find out

FILE - In this photo taken Monday, March 27, 2017, the Waze application is displayed on a smartphone in San Francisco.


It can be difficult to keep up on all the limitations of various restaurants out there. But you just might be missing the easy way apps can help you when hunger strikes.

While states across America have started to loosen restrictions, it’s tough to know where and how to get food on the go. The rules vary by state, county and even location when it comes to how a restaurant is allowed (or has chosen) to get food to its customers.

I don’t know how many times over the past couple of months I’ve searched on my phone to find out whether I can get the meal I want. Sure, restaurants will post updates on social media, but unless I make some sort of spreadsheet and keep it in my car, there’s no way I can remember it all.

When I say I’ve searched on my phone, it has been through a web browser, since I don’t need directions to my favorite places to eat. I know exactly where each one is located. But I have definitely been missing out by neglecting to use navigation apps when my stomach growls.

The Google Maps app gives you the options right under the search bar. On iPhone or Android, you’ll see filter buttons for “takeout” and “delivery.” If you tap on “takeout,” you’ll only see restaurants Google knows will let you pick up food curbside. Tap on “delivery” and the app will show only restaurants that will bring the food to your location either on their own or through a third-party delivery service.

If you search for or click on a specific restaurant, you’ll notice either a check mark or an “x” next to three options: dine-in, takeout and delivery. And Google Maps goes a step further by letting you know whether the restaurant offers no-contact delivery.

Business owners should make sure they keep this information updated using Google My Business.

The other helpful app you may already be using is Waze. Waze incorporates information from millions of users who report accidents, construction and other traffic holdups. The app has rolled out some new features including Location Personalities. Businesses can add these badges that will appear in the corner of the business’ icon on the map. The badges will show that the location offers either drive-thru, curbside pickup or both. 

You may not realize that Google actually owns Waze (acquired in 2013) which may be why these two apps offer such a similar feature. 

Other ways the crowdsourcing app is helping people find food during this time is through its partnerships with WhyHunger and No Kid Hungry. Waze now features more than 30,000 emergency food distribution locations on its U.S. map and is looking for other partners around the world.

Apple Maps also gives users the ability to see whether a restaurant offers delivery or takeout, but it’s a clunky road to get to the information. If you search for and then click on a restaurant, you’ll then need to scroll down, past photo thumbnails, hours of operation, address, phone number, menu link and website before you get to it. Apple Maps does give a lot of details about the restaurant under the heading “Useful to Know,” but it would be nice during this time if delivery and takeout options were listed first. 

You will also discover whether there is free Wi-Fi or outdoor seating and whether the place is good for kids and groups.

Next time you have a hankering for a bacon cheeseburger, don’t aimlessly search through a browser. Use these navigation apps for the easiest way to find out where to go and what you’ll need to do when you get there to ease your hunger pains.