Cartography hasn’t been this cool since Columbus. Google created a monster when it released the code to its mapping interface in 2005. Now everyone can pinpoint their favorite hamburger, cream puff, Sidecar, and Syrah. We’ve listed a few of the more useful, charming, or eccentric maps here.
1. Bars. The map on New York on Tap responds to the way New Yorkers think, overlaying its 1,800-plus bar icons on a subway map, which makes it instantly clear what’s most convenient. You can search by category—pool, Irish, lounge—or register and devise a personalized version. For cost-effective drinking in Chicago, Milwaukee, Baltimore, or Washington, DC, bookmark Drinktown. Its bar maps include nightly specials, although the site’s still spotty. Still, there’s obvious potential for a more thorough and national version of the site. The Random Pub Finder has a lovely map of London with what looks like red poker chips scattered across it; each chip is a bar, linked to a smart, witty in-house review with info on the nearest tube stop.
2. Beer. The Beer Mapping Project offers more than 30 city and country maps labeling breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, and beer stores, but its real strength is that these places aren’t randomly chosen. Founder Jonathan Surratt cares about good beer, and this map’s unlikely to steer you wrong. Each icon is linked to reviews on beer-aficionado sites. Place Mapper covers the astonishing beer scene in Oregon and Washington; Portland alone has a preposterous 52 breweries and brewpubs listed.
3. Wine. For touring oenophiles, Wines and Times, a map of wineries across the United States, is a terrific tool. The winery icons have hours and website info, and the whole map can be sorted by what’s open by week.
5. Menus. The best current version of a national menu map includes seven cities and claims to list 16,108 menus (they link to MenuPages). If you search your neighborhood, you’ll discover holes, but you’ll also find restaurants—that Lebanese hole in the wall?—that you thought were personal secrets. Still, the larger a map’s area, the less likely that it’ll reflect what’s really on the ground. Single-city mashups are often the best; San Diego residents have FoodieView to track down the best cheap eats and local hangouts. Residents of other cities can create their own on Wayfaring, which already includes dozens of random food maps, like this food mashup of Northampton, Massachusetts.
6. Cheap eats. Burritophile, the project of Dan Johnson, includes 1,000-plus reviews of burrito places across the United States, with the focus on California. The site includes a burrito blog, an articles section (“How to Keep Your Burrito Hot on a Road Trip”), and sentences like, “It’s rare that a burrito will have ingredient integration that keeps getting better and better” (El Castillito, San Francisco). Two charming but more modest efforts are Los Taco Trucks, a passionate digest of Seattle taco trucks with photos and reviews, and a map of the dirt-cheap food carts in downtown Portland, Oregon.
7. Chocolate/desserts. YummyBaguette.com, run by a pair of Toronto residents who seem to always eat dessert first, rates pastry and chocolate shops (with baguette icons, of course) in seven cities. The listings are best for Toronto, New York, and, oddly, Bangkok. (Scroll to the bottom of each list for the map.) The site must be a blood relative of Chocomap, an international guide to chocolate shops created by the Ecole Chocolat in Vancouver. It’s sleekly designed and a pleasure to browse.
8. Peripatetic bloggers. Bloggers review restaurants, and you want to know where they are. Enter Google. A number of bloggers have implemented mapping, including Hedonia, D.C. Foodies, and the sister site to LA.foodblogging, LA Eats.
9. Least necessary. That’s probably fastfoodmaps.com. The utility of this map is hard to grasp—aren’t fast-food places everywhere?
10. Oddest. The League of Awesomeness’s If the Earth Were a Sandwich lets you see the opposite point on the earth from any point you select. It’s got nothing to do with food, despite having “sandwich” in the name. We think it’s funny.