Finding something to eat nowadays is easy. But finding good, locally sourced food, or the best restaurants that serve it, can be a chore.
TasteAtlas is a new project that aims to make this easier by focusing on traditional cuisine, local food, authentic recipes and expert reviews.
TasteAtlas chose its name well — it’s a map of good food, but you can also search it for specific dishes or explore a single geographic region, like Liguria, Italy, a city like New York or a country like the United Kingdom.
A Croatia-based project which has been in the making for three years, TasteAtlas contains nearly 10,000 dishes, drinks and ingredients and nearly 9,000 restaurants, gathered from all over the world by a team of 30 authors and researchers.
A bonus: The site is so visually pleasing that it’s easy to get a beautiful infographic of best foods in a specific region, something TasteAtlas has been using as a promotional tool.
Once you select a specific dish, you’ll get detailed information on how it’s made, an authentic recipe and a list of quality restaurants that serve it.
Back in May, when the site was still in beta, I sat down in a Zagreb restaurant with founder Matija Babić to learn more about the project. I was initially skeptical; when I’m hungry and want to eat out, my instinct is to fire up Google Maps and find the nearest thing with good reviews.
“If you’re starving and don’t care about what you’re going to eat, sure, do that,” Babić told me. “TasteAtlas doesn’t try to compete with sites like TripAdvisor and Google Maps. And we’re not competing with Michelin guides. The latter focus on haute cuisine, while the former recommend whatever’s popular with tourists.”
TasteAtlas is different in several ways, he told me. First, it has an educational component: You can go there to learn about food and find what’s really great to eat in a certain area. And second, its reviews come from experts and true enthusiasts.
“We’re focusing on quality, not quantity.” Babić told me. For every food recommendation on TasteAtlas, you’ll see exactly who recommended it and why.
Having founded the popular Croatian news portal Index a decade and a half ago, Babić is a successful entrepreneur from before. I get the feeling he hasn’t created TasteAtlas with money as a primary motivation.
“You’re right. I wanted this thing to exist, and it hasn’t existed before. I really love eating out, and I wanted to make the best possible guide to lead you to good food.”
Being an ambitious, global project, TasteAtlas still has numerous omissions, some of which I’ve pointed to Babić. Some fairly big cities won’t return many results. Some areas — Italy, for example, are covered amazingly well; some others, not so much.
“TasteAtlas can never be a finished project,” Babić told me. “We add new dishes every day, and we’re planning to expand to cover gastro festivals as well as food markets in the future.”
TasteAtlas is available as a free-to-use web app at tasteatlas.com.