Finding a good restaurant – even in a city you’ve never been to – has never been easier. Thanks to Yelp, Urbanspoon and its various brethren, a good place to eat is generally just a few clicks away. What if you want to find a restaurant with a very specific atmosphere, though? Say you’re in the mood for a pizza at a relaxed place where the noise level is just right for a good conversation? Chances are, Yelp won’t be of much help there, but the newly redesigned Hoppit is putting these kinds of searches at the core of its service. The New York-based startup describes itself as the “world’s first ambience search engine for restaurants and bars.”
The service is now available in 25 cities and offers desktop and mobile web apps. Its apps for Android and iPhone should launch in early May.
To get started, you simply tell Hoppit where you are and what you are looking for. You can use keywords to search for specific places and dishes, but you can also just tell the service what kind of atmosphere you are looking for (classy and upscale, hipster, romantic, swanky and posh, etc.). From there, you can restrict your searches by cuisine, neighborhood, atmosphere (fireplace, dimly lit, view) and noise level. The site also aggregates food and beverage deals from Groupon and Gilt City.
To aggregate all this data about these restaurants, Hoppit uses what it calls “state-of-the-art natural language processing technology and related algorithms [that] take into account a consumer’s preferences and provide personalized search results.” For the most part, this works really well, though I noticed that while Hoppit will happily show you search results for virtually any town and zip code in the U.S., its filters don’t actually work in most of these places (the full-blown service is only live in 25 major cities, after all).
So if you are looking for that perfect French restaurant with a wine bar and exposed brick for your next date, give Hoppit a try.