I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, a medium-sized city that I know like the back of my hand. I downloaded FourSquare last year and started using it, but I found it mainly to be a toy. You check in at the places you go and maybe you eventually become mayor. It was kind of fun, but there was no obvious utility.
This weekend I went on a trip and rather than planning where I wanted to eat, I decided to rely on FourSquare to pick restaurants, and it turns out that it’s very useful indeed and becomes more useful the more you use it. You start out by using the Explore feature to show you restaurants that are popular on FourSquare within a certain radius.
Once you’ve started checking in at various locations, FourSquare can tailor its recommendations based on the places you’ve been, providing a pretty good guide to stuff that might be interesting to you around the neighborhood. The tips people use on FourSquare are often useful as well when deciding what to order.
I find that FourSquare works best when combined with other restaurant reviews. FourSquare can tell you what’s popular but not necessarily what’s good, so when choosing it helps to consult other sites like Zagat to get a second opinion on where to eat. Overall, though, I found FourSquare to be significantly more valuable than I would have guessed.