Dining

This Thing Now: Google's Popular Times Tool

Use this tool to figure out when to hit that hot new restaurant
Google's Popular Times Tool
Photo: Courtesy of Google

We're pretty obsessed with This Thing Now. Here's how to get it into your life.

When we heard Google had launched a new feature that tells you when your favorite restaurants or bars are busy, we were all pretty pumped. Crowdsourcing location data from people's smartphones, much like mapping app Waze does, and applying it to restaurants is genius. Because we like waiting an hour to be seated for dinner as much as we like sitting in traffic for an hour (not at all).

I decided to try it out on my iPhone: I opened up Safari and searched for Jack's Wife Freda (a popular Soho lunch spot near Tasting Table's office) to see when might be the best time to snag a table—but couldn't find the tool's nifty bar graphs anywhere. Oops. It's worth noting that the new feature works only if you search using Google (duh—but if you're an iPhone user, you may have noticed that the default search engine is currently Yahoo; you can change this in Settings).

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Another key tip: Once you search via Google and find the restaurant or bar in question, you may need to click "more about..." to access the Popular Times info.

Swiping through the graphs, it was easy to see that Tuesdays are probably my best bet for a walk-in lunch at JWF (and Mondays are almost as busy as weekends at lunchtime—good to know).

Now, if only Siri could help me decide what to order, I'd be set.

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