Passionate about food, Ryan Mattison shares awesome eateries with Nomwell

“My wife and I are foodies,” says Ryan Mattison, founder of the dining app Nomwell. “And by that, I mean all the good connotations about that term. Dining out and enjoying good food is a big hobby of ours.”

As they traveled to other cities, Mattison and his wife kept a list of restaurants that they wanted to share with friends. But sending out an individual email every time they want to make a recommendation didn’t seem like the most efficient way to do things.

“We wanted to help out friends by letting them know what restaurants they should hit up or not hit up,” says the Chicago resident. “But as I looked around, there were no good options.”

The closest was something like Yelp, but Mattison says he wasn’t interested in writing public reviews or hearing what strangers had to say about an eatery. He wanted a more personal touch. After all, studies show that when people are looking for a place for dinner, they most often take advice from family and friends.

That was the inspiration for Nomwell, an app that lets you upload your list of favorite places for a nosh or check out which ones your friends recommend. It’s available for free on both iPhone and Android.

If you wanted to know some of Mattison’s must-tries for Chicago, his personal list of eateries includes Ramen Takeya, a Japanese restaurant not far from his office in Chicago’s WeWork Fulton Market. Another nearby favorite is Au Cheval, which he says “has arguably the best burger in town.” You can take a look at his Chicago favorites in a browser-friendly Nomwell list, as well as map and save it in the app.

Want to hear where the movers and shakers in the city’s restaurant scene dine on their day off? Nomwell also curates the website Chicago Tastemakers, which gathers top recommendations from food experts. Everyone from Michelin-starred chefs to food bloggers have weighed in with their favorites.

Mattison says he has always been interested in technology—he even tried teaching himself how to code when he was younger. He began college majoring in computer science, but after encountering carpal tunnel syndrome, he “jumped ship” to economics and worked in investment banking and venture capital.

A decade later, he returned home to the tech scene, building Nomwell while earning an MBA at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. After graduation, Mattison and his company were awarded desks in the university’s office space in WeWork Fulton Center.

Mattison says it’s been exciting being around so many other startup businesses.

“I’m really grateful to be part of WeWork Fulton Market,” Mattison says. “Every day we’re here, we’re thinking, ‘This is fantastic.’”

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