Austin BBQ Finder

Update! Austin Eats: BBQ for iPhone 1.0 is now available in the app store!

Austin Eats: BBQ

A little over a month ago, I decided to write a Austin BBQ application.  Specifically, I had all of the hungry visitors of SXSW in mind as I did, but I thought even beyond the conference it was be something generally useful.  With the help of some friends, I put together a dataset of BBQ joints (sourced from Yelp, Foursquare, and Gowalla), a mobile-friendly site, and an iPhone client.  Unfortunately, as I write this, the app is still pending review, but I expect (hope?) it will be generally available soon.


I sourced the original BBQ places list manually and then built the rest of the data using the Yelp, Gowalla, and Foursquare APIs.  The data that those services are incorporating are getting richer all the time.  I also ran an informal BBQ survey here in Austin over the past month to get an idea about people’s favorite places to get BBQ brisket, ribs, turkey, chicken, and sausage.  And yes, some definitely argued that if it’s not meat, it’s not BBQ.  🙂  Regardless, special designation were given to places which folks said had the best of a particular item.


The scoring system is based on a combination of Yelp, Gowalla, Foursquare, and survey data.

There’s an Austin BBQ mobile site that you can use to pull up the data and an iPhone app (when Apple gets around to approving it) which is even nicer for browsing the absolute BBQ mecca which surrounds us here in Austin.

Let’s Chow Down

I hope you that the data and the apps are useful to you and you eat some fantastic BBQ while in Austin.   It’s worth noting that Franklin, which scores particularly well, just opened their new location at 900 East 11th on Saturday.  It’s a bit of a walk from the Austin Convention Center, but it is worth it.

Please let me know if you have any feedback.


Idea #39: Avatar Favorites

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could sit for hours and pit one Twitter avatar against another, marking your favorites along the way?

For example, this is no contest.

@kastner @damon

If you see an avatar you particularly like, you should be able to favorite.  If I had this feature right now, I would definitely favorite @kastner‘s.  You could keep a copy of people’s past avatars and if they OAuth in, they could easily set their avatar back to a previous one they’d used.  So at that point, it’s more useful than just a fun game, it’s a simple avatar management app.

I like the name  The .com is taken, but presently blank.  There are plenty of other Favatar-based domain options currently, however.

If you wanted to go crazy, you could do the same thing for Facebook profile pics and allow those to be saved and set as well.  Setting your avatar across many social services at once would be a value add, as it’s something that a lot of people want to do occasionally.

Is anyone doing any part of this now?
Known Implementations:


Idea #36: In This Room / Who’s Here? App ( )

This is a kind of augmented reality app idea.  Basically intended to answer the question “who is in this room right now?” Especially useful at conferences but in other situations too, you could have a sort of overlay view of the room/building/city block you are in to see people who have their profile turned to public.  You could have a link to your twitter profile, a brief bio, a web site, a picture, and an “I’m interested in…” section.  You could quickly browse people nearby to see more about them before you actually meet.  In a conference setting, you may have a problem that either the wifi or the cell networks may crap out. You may have to resort to Bluetooth.  I presume that that is how apps like Bump work.
Another really interesting use case would be dating.  Learn more about the people who are here before you even talk to them.  Build on Steve Odom’s original Gelato concept by encouraging “reality-based dating” by having a Facebook or a Twitter authentication portion of it so you at least can associate it with a real profile.  It’s like Gary Vaynerchuk said in Austin at Texchange recently…”Facebook is becoming the Driver’s License and it’s on it’s way to the credit card.” Someone must be doing this for dating already. If you hear of any apps like this, please let me know in the comments.
Known Implementations: None
  • Yobongo (it’s not exactly the same, but it’s in the same ballpark)

Idea #35: Gonna Be Out ( )

This is a simplified calendaring app for small teams that helps you/your manager keep track of who is supposed to be in the office and who is not.  Working on a virtual team as I do, this seems really useful, but I suspect it could still be useful to those who work in an office (or maybe part-time telecommute).  There would be a simple text field for entry of when you’ll be out a la the 37signals Backpack “Reminders” data entry field. Something like “out tomorrow afternoon” or “dentist appointment at 3pm” would work.  It has to be stupid easy and the field has to be pretty smart with parsing.  In Ruby, a library like Chronic goes a long way towards something like this.
Instead of a typical top-down org chart view of who is on which team, instead, people can make a team and share it.  Anyone can make a team and those teams that you make are automatically in your view.  If someone else has created a view for you which seems like what you want then you don’t have to create it yourself.   You might even offer subscriptions such that someone could be notified if your calendar changes.  Like say Sally in Marketing wanted to talk to me tomorrow afternoon but I have a dental appt.  So I put into the system, “dentist appt at 3pm”.  When I do this, since Sally has subscribed to my changes, she gets an email/SMS/Twitter DM that says “Damon has updated his schedule…he’s gonna be out at 3pm tomorrow at a ‘dentist appt'”.  Sally then could take corrective action in her schedule to make sure that she talks to Damon after lunch instead of waiting until later in the afternoon.
Why not just use a traditional calendar?  To me, they tend to feel pretty heavy weight.  I don’t necessarily want to list every appointment, but I might quickly type something into a field and hit save. Also, have you ever tried to take a team of 10’s calendars and overlay them to figure out who is *IN*?  It’s a royal pain in the ass. So having a view that was broken up into “right now”, “this afternoon”, “tomorrow”, etc… to see a view of a team seems like a really useful idea to me.  I guess we’d have to see if it really is useful by building something and iterating on it with some teams.
Known implementations: None

Idea #34: “Twitter Radio” or “SpeakTweet”

Imagine an iPhone app or a mobile browser app which … (on a few minutes delay) delivered you a radio broadcast of your Twitter stream that you could listen to in your car while you drive.  You could turn some dials to adjust how much was coming at you, or who you were listening to…or maybe someone’s on a roll and you want to just focus on one person for awhile.
Just like traditional radio, advertising could be injected into the stream if they were on a free plan.  Paid plans could be streamed ad free.
Known Implementations: None

Fascinating. Here’s part of a solution from Mark Silverberg.  Thanks Mark!