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March 14, 2010

SXSW: Finding great food, based on its location

Posted: 02:15 PM ET

Location is obviously a big theme at South by Southwest Interactive this year - that emerging-technology conference that's going on this weekend in Austin, Texas. Whether you’ve elected to use Austin-based Gowalla or New York-based Foursquare, checking in and sharing useful tips with friends are the major tenets of these location-based applications.

But what if you took that concept one step further and consider a specific community?

I spoke with the co-founder of San Francisco-based about her Web site and mobile app that binds worldwide foodies together in a Foursquare-ish sort of way.

“The time was really right for something like this,” said Alexa Andrzejewski, a user-experience designer from Adaptive Path.

Andrzejewski traveled to Japan and Korea, where she discovered and developed an appetite for street food.  She wanted to inspire Americans to learn about and appreciate other foods from Asia, “aside from sushi,” she said. Plus, she wanted to help people to easily locate those dishes.

While in Asia, Andrzejewski noticed a phenomenon: passionate foodies were taking pictures of their fabulous dishes at restaurants and posting them to their social networks.  So she decided to create a location-smart food guide, à la Flickr, that would allow people to find, photograph and share specific dishes they crave.

Foodspotting launched in January, and it has since grown to 7,000 members.  The site features more than 20,000 kinds of foods worldwide.  As you would expect, the top cities are foodie havens - San Francisco, New York, and Honolulu.

“We’re kind of like the Foursquare of food,” says Andrzejewski, who launched the Foodspotting mobile app a week before SXSW.

Food spotters build their reputation whenever someone is enticed by the dishes you spot.  For example, you can earn ten points if someone ‘wants’ that pecorino crème brulee you managed to capture in some dessert habitat.  You’ll get 25 points if someone nominates or ‘noms’ your dish.

Your guilty pleasures can even pay off in the form of badges - bronze, silver, gold, platinum - earned for spotting the same dishes and food types.  Addicted to tiramisu?  Spot it 50 times and you’ll earn the platinum expert badge.

Andrzejewski says she plans to add more game-like features in the coming months.

Foodspotting also offers scavenger hunts for food enthusiasts.  I decided to attempt Foodspotting’s ‘SXSW Street Food Scavenger Hunt’ in Austin with iReport Senior Producer Lila King.

Our first taste was a heavenly pancake taco at the One Taco truck.  I’ve never been a fan of breakfast burritos or even breakfast for that matter.  But let’s just say if a pancake taco truck roamed the streets of Atlanta, I’d earn that platinum badge in no time at all.

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Filed under: Foursquare • location • social-networking sites • SXSW Interactive

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Jeff Goldblum   March 14th, 2010 6:09 pm ET

"...checking in and sharing useful tips with friends are the major tenants of these location-based applications."

Tenets. The word is tenets.

Tia Leoni   March 14th, 2010 7:03 pm ET

Jeff is right, the word is tenets.

Jo   March 14th, 2010 8:08 pm ET

Um...Look it up in the dictionary.
It's Tenants.

Mike Bratton   March 14th, 2010 8:20 pm ET

Jo...Tenants is, in fact, in the dictionary. It's true. But, in THIS's not the right word. Tenets is also in the dictionary, and it means

"An opinion, doctrine, or principle held as being true by a person or especially by an organization. See Synonyms at doctrine."

This would be the correct word in the context of this piece.

TENANTS...which you are right, IS in the dictionary, because I did look it up...means

"a person or group that rents and occupies land, a house, an office, or the like, from another for a period of time; lessee"

So, kudos to you Jo, for at least knowing how to look up words in the dictionary, and know that they in fact, exist...and, by extension, are WORDS. But, context is is editing.

Grammar Ninja   March 14th, 2010 8:24 pm ET

Jo is right. Tenants is in the dictionary. However, if she would have taken the time she would have seen that tenets is also there and in this case, tenets is correct...

grammar super-ninja   March 14th, 2010 11:08 pm ET

"Tenants" is appropriate metaphorically; "tenets" is appropriate literally. If the author meant tenets, she gets away with tenants with a bit of poetry.

Thomas   March 15th, 2010 3:34 am ET

As a Foodie, I say get over the spelling and get on with the story about and object of hunting and tasting great food.

nutsofdough   March 15th, 2010 7:30 am ET

shouldn't "phonetic" be spelled with an "f"...and a "k"...?

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Lynn   March 15th, 2010 12:58 pm ET

@nutsofdough – that's funny

brian springman   March 15th, 2010 2:22 pm ET

awesome new website!

Kevin   March 16th, 2010 4:39 pm ET

"But let’s just say if a pancake taco truck roamed the streets of Atlanta, I’d earn that platinum badge in no time at all."

Valerie, that's the problem with living in Atlanta, it is such a backwards thinking town that street food is almost non-existent here. It's a shame. I'm taking a trip to Austin in April and one of the main draws is the food trucks and great street food you find there. Places such as Mighty Cone and Hey Cupcake! in Austin make the place unique and fun to try new food. The harsh laws that Atlanta has in place currently stifles any type of activity such as this. It's sad because Atlanta has so many different cultures living in the city that street food would be such a welcome addition to living here. Sad to say I am not expecting that to happen here anytime soon.

Thanks for the tip on Taco One, I'll be sure to try that one morning while I enjoy Austin and it's open policy towards street food and the vendors who sell it.


Alison Weber   March 17th, 2010 10:25 am ET

Street food – this is why we love our "Strip" in Pittsburgh and Alexa's first introduction to street food!

Get the Dish on Your Best Dish « Grange Hall Media   March 19th, 2010 6:04 pm ET

[...] mayor in 4S, but for a certain dish rather than a location.  Foodspotting is new, but according to CNN's Sci Tech blog, they have grown to 7,000 members since [...]

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