Zagat's iPhone app has most of the ingredients for making a great restaurant and nightspot ratings application for the iPhone--venerable content taken straight from the Zagat Survey, a phone number you can tap to initiate a call, a Web site link, OpenTable reservations and photos when available, plus filters for searching by category and sorting results by ratings criteria. The app is far more handsome than it used to be, and though sometimes slow, cleverly covers the time it takes to load content between screens with "outtakes," often cutting or sarcastic one-liners taken from user reviews.
An in-app browser makes for easily returning to the main page after browsing a menu online, and an advanced search field now lets you dictate all your criteria at once. There's a way to store favorites, and for iPhone 3GS users, there's the much-ballyhooed augmented reality mode that shows you what's nearby using the street view from your camera lens as a reference point (this is similar to Yelp's iPhone app, too.) Also like Yelp, Zagat To Go now lets cranky (or glowing) critics submit 240 characters worth of witty ratings then and there.
Zagat one-ups Yelp by offering an optional offline mode (you'll get to it in the settings,) for which you'll need a whole heap of stable Wi-Fi to download the 104MB content. This or other, less data-intensive forms of caching is something we'd welcome on any app that helps us hungry grumps find victuals.
Zagat To Go for iPhone will have the power to win over not just Zagat die-hards, but would-be foodies to boot. The cost, however, may drive away some potential users, though longtime Zagat loyalists will appreciate the extensive updates.