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April 15, 2011 12:01 AM

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Eatery Expert: Your New Best Foodie Friend

Listen up, Manhattanites: new Web site Eatery Expert wants to be your new go-to foodie friend....

Listen up, Manhattanites: new Web site Eatery Expert wants to be your new go-to foodie friend. The site, created by Lauren Saiger and Evan Machowsky in 2009, is a personalized restaurant recommendation service that currently specializes in the Manhattan area.

This is how it works: First, you e-mail Eatery Expert with your criteria at ask@eateryexpert.com -- perhaps you're looking for a Japanese restaurant with a full bar in TriBeca to host a birthday party, a fancy spot to take your vegetarian in-laws in Midtown or a cozy Italian restaurant for a first date in the East Village. (They'll even cater to more bizarre requests, like this one from a past user: "a burlesque supper club that serves Russian food located in lower Manhattan.")
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In a few hours or less, the epicures at Eatery Expert will e-mail you back with three to five of their top restaurant and bar recommendations. And the service -- though they don't like to call it that -- is free of charge.

Co-founders Saiger and Machowksy, who are based in the West Village and both grew up dining frequently in New York City, feel they're knowledgable on the subject of food and dining but don't fancy themselves experts.

"We're not trying to be reviewers or critics," said Saiger. "We specifically personalize and look at each request and then we respond to it according to what they're looking for exactly."

The concept was born after the couple became frustrated during a trip to New Orleans a few years ago. "When searching for restaurants, we went online to Yelp and Time Out but we really wanted more personal recommendations from a local or an insider," said Machowsky. "We've tried to make our site as personal as possible," he said.

"We keep a file of each person who writes in, so we'll try not to be redundant [with what restaurants we recommend.] We try to make it like a dialogue - it's less of a service and more of a friend thing."

The site, which has been in soft operation since its initial launch, has fielded more than 5,000 requests from satisfied users and plans to branch out into New York City's outer boroughs.

WWDBlog decided to give Eatery Expert a shot. In light of the sunny weather and with Cinco de Mayo swiftly approaching, we begged to know: what's a good spot to grab margaritas and Mexican fare in the East Village?

EE got back to us within ten minutes with the following picks: Mercadito, Diablo Royale Este, Vamos Tacos and Yuca Bar -- the latter of which they admitted was Latin fusion, not Mexican -- but hey, we're not splitting hairs. Now, to find the time to try them all...

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