Menu Sites: Filling A Void

I understand that most chefs probably aren't part-time Web designers—they have better things to do, like cook your food—and most restaurants don't bother hiring someone who is. But of all the industries to jump on the "gotta have a Web site" bandwagon, the restaurant industry is certainly lagging behind. The folks on think so, as do the editors at Bon Appetit.

It seems simple enough: Show me your menu or a sampling of what your cooking is like, have your address and phone number on each page, and go easy on the Flash-tastic factor. But alas, it appears some restaurants don't really care that many people these days only leave their computers to eat.

Filling the void is a new breed of online restaurant guide that offers actual menus for hundreds of restaurants. launched a D.C. version in November, and now is covering the nation's capital.

MenuPages, with 1,853 menus and counting, touts its find-a-food search capability, which is pretty nifty. Search for "tater tots" in Upper NW, for example, and Tonic pops up. (But no tater tot-bastion Bar Pilar, even though they do have the menu in the listings.) Looking for pork belly in Arlington/Alexandria? The site pulls up Bangkok 54, Indigo Landing and Restaurant Eve. Not foolproof but fun nonetheless.

Both sites offer user reviews and personal pages to keep favorite menus, and both sites will probably develop over time.

So until restaurants can get their acts together (props to Café Atlantico chef Katsuya Fukushima for planning to launch a blog), these sites are a nice complement to what's already out there.

Which are your favorite restaurant sites? How about the worst you've seen?