Introduction Restaurant “Black Book”


The Restaurant “Black Book” is a list of favorite, interesting and appealing restaurants. Some are old favorites we've been to over and over. Others have been recommended, but not yet visited. Still others are just more interesting, a better value, or a more fond memory than any other nearby place.

The Restaurant “Black Book” is intended to be used while you're on the road, for work or pleasure. Instead of running in to the same old chains or fast-food joint, use it to find a close restaurant which will give you something interesting to talk about.

The Restaurant “Black Book” is also a demonstration of Google Maps. The original version was a proof-of-concept for a client project. They had a list of support groups which they wanted to show on their site. Their idea was to simply list the groups in alphabetical order on a page on their site. Functional but boring. Talking with the client, we found that one of the most important factors for people looking for support groups was location - which one was closest.

Our recommendation was to show the groups on a map so the site's visitors could more easily find which was closest to their own location. When our client asked for a mock-up of how it might look and work, we started thinking about what data we had which we could show on a map. One of us already had a list of favorite restaurants and voila!, the Black Book was born. By the way, the client loved the concept and had us immediately change their site to use Google Maps to show their support groups.

Details, technical & otherwise.

Geolocation – Each time you visit the Black Book, our system attempts to approximate your location through a process called "geolocation". Simply put, your computer lets our computer know its "IP address" (which is kind of like a phone number) and then we do a reverse look-up to find out the latitude and longitude of the corresponding city. Geolocation is not perfect. Many large ISP's will report the city of their headquarters instead of yours.

For example, AOL will report Herndon, Virginia, even though you might be in Riverwoods, IL. The Black Book will then center the map over that city. If the Black Book can't determine your location, it will set the map so it shows all restaurants.

Sources – We've learned about the restaurants on the map in many ways. We've been going to some since we were kids. Others we read about in an airline magazine, travel book, or one of those city guides you find in a hotel room. Many are recommendations from friends or we found just by driving by. A lot of them come from the Check, Please! show on WTTW, Channel 11 in Chicago. We watch the show regularly and if one of the restaurants seems particularly interesting, we've added it to the Black Book. Another source is the Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 700 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More book and its companion web site

If you have a real favorite you'd like to see added to the map, feel free to use our contact form to make a recommendation. We'll give you credit in the restaurant's information window.

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