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Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 2.49.31 PMScouting the menu of a new dinner place can be a frustrating experience.

Google wants to help. When people search for a restaurant’s menu on Google, they get a special search result that lays out the menu for them to flip through, without having to get into a restaurant’s website. The offerings are sorted into tabs, and usually include price data.

It’s not perfect, of course: I’ve found that searching for a menu for some of my favorite eateries in the Bay Area occasionally turns up a blank, and some restaurants with non-standard menu layouts don’t come out quite right, but most restaurants have their menu data available. The most reliable way I’ve found to get Google to show me menu data is to type in the name of the restaurant, followed by “menu.”

The move is a strike at review sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon, which also offer menus alongside their restaurant reviews. With Google trying to improve its grip on local search, the new menu results are designed to keep people away from competing sites by offering them the information they need right on the search results page.

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