New York has always had a reputation as a place where you can get anything your heart desires delivered to your door, at pretty much all hours of the day (and night). And this has only gotten better with the advent of, oh, the Internet.
One could even argue that we're in something of a frothy post-recession golden age when it comes to convenient, borderline frivolous food delivery services at our fingertips. Below, our editors rate five different services for getting a piping hot meal delivered to your door:
Price: On top of the cost of your food, there's a delivery fee ($1.99 to $5.99, depending on distance), and an 18 percent service fee.
The lowdown: Whereas most delivery apps base your options on restaurants within your immediate vicinity, Caviar lets you order from a much wider range around your borough (if you live in Brooklyn or Manhattan, anyway). They also partner directly with restaurants who normally don't do delivery and send their own "food messengers," meaning you'll find lots of choices here that'll never appear on Seamless. The service launched last year, and is available in most large U.S. cities.
The experience: Caviar is a little on the pricey side, given the delivery and service fees, as well as the fact that a lot of the restaurants on here might be slightly more expensive than your typical take-out fare. (If you're ordering in midtown Manhattan, for instance, you can summon a burger from 21 Club.) That said, we've been using it for months and the novelty of ordering in from places that normally don't deign to send out a delivery boy (or girl) hasn't worn off. The meals are varied, updated frequently, and presented in the form of attractive, easy-to-navigate photos. The delivery people always call when they arrive, and are polite and professional.
The bottom line: If you're willing to spend a little extra to satisfy a specific craving — or try a hot new restaurant without waiting in line — this service is absolutely worth the extra cash.
Number of stars (out of 5): * * * * *
Price: Neither site charges a delivery fee, so you're just paying for the cost of your food, tax, and tip.
The lowdown: Though they still maintain separate websites, Seamless and GrubHub, the two behemoths of NYC's delivery world, actually merged last year. (And before that, Seamless absorbed competitor MenuPages.) Both are arguably easier to use in their app form than they are online, and work with an enormous roster of local restaurants, pulling up options based on your location that can be searched by ratings, price range, proximity, and the availability of special deals.
The experience: The choices can be overwhelming at first, but we don't know a single person without a Seamless account (okay, maybe one), and with good reason. There's no faster way to suss out your neighborhood's delivery options (and discover new local restaurants) without leaving your couch. The actual websites can be glitchy at times, and we've found that it helps to have accounts on both Seamless and Grubhub, as there are certain restaurants that are on one and not the other. Once you've got your credit card information and "favorite meal" options saved, however, ordering is as easy as pressing one or two buttons.
The bottom line: Not necessarily what you'd call a concierge-style delivery experience, but absolutely essential.
Number of stars (out of 5): * * * *
Price: This varies based on what meals are available on a given day, but generally, between $10 and $20, plus tax, and a delivery fee that runs around $4.
The lowdown: A new, rather gimmicky extension of Uber, UberEats allows you to order from a curated selection of meals — usually two options a day — from New York's trendiest restaurants. It's currently only available in Manhattan between 14th and 59th streets, between 11 am and 2 pm. Translation: they're setting their sights on the Midtown-office-lunch crowd.
The experience: Using UberEats is as easy as using Uber itself. If you open the app during the daily delivery hours, an "Eats" option appears next to all the usual selections (UberX, UberT, etc.) and shows you what meals are available. From there, you touch a button, confirm your order and delivery location, and someone appears with your food within minutes. (Our tester was eating Korean noodles at her desk about four minutes after she first pressed "order.") However, the delivery person didn't come to the actual office — but rather, an easier-to-find spot across the street — and grabbing a container of noodles out of a stranger's messenger backpack feels like a little bit of an odd way to acquire one's lunch.
The bottom line: If you're feeling indecisive, spendy, and want food brought to you immediately, this is a solid option. If not, skip it.
Number of stars (out of 5): * *
Price: No delivery fees, just the cost of your order, tax, and tip.
The lowdown: Delivery.com works much like Seamless or GrubHub, though they can also arrange alcohol and grocery delivery, as well as laundry service. Once you enter your location, the site shows you a variety of nearby options that can be filtered by price, rating, location, cuisine type, and special promotions. They also have a "delivery points" system, wherein each dollar spent adds up to 25 points; accruing 5,000 points gets you a $5 coupon, 10,000 points a $10 coupon, etc. There's also the option to swap points in or donate them to a variety of charities.
The experience: We found the layout to be slightly more user friendly than Seamless, and the options a bit different, as well. This had its upsides and downsides; one of our editor's favorite neighborhood restaurants didn't make the cut, but the site did allow ordering from one of her favorite small restaurants in a nearby neighborhood that normally doesn't deliver. One glitch: The site emailed a receipt that read "$0" without any order details, so our tester had to actually call the restaurant to confirm the order had gone through (it had). This entirely defeats the purpose of online ordering.
The bottom line: Definitely worth a try, if only to scope out potential new restaurant options to add to your delivery rotation.
Number of stars (out of 5): * * *
Price: There's a service fee of nine percent of your order, plus delivery fees start at $5 (depending on how far the place is), plus tip. Note: Like Uber's surge pricing, there's "Blitz Pricing," meaning deliveries can cost more during peak times. We never experienced it, though, and we ordered during weekday lunch.
The lowdown: This food delivery service basically allows you to order from any place that sells food, even if they don't deliver to your neighborhood, since it connects customers with local couriers who purchase and deliver goods. Plus, their service allows you to easily track the meal as it’s coming to you.
The experience: It was fun to track the courier and know exactly when to go downstairs and pick up my food (of course everything is done by credit card and you don’t actually need to see your courier). It came within 20 minutes. But there were some downsides:The order came without a fork (luckily we keep some on hand), and also, the delivery fees and tip made the total price almost equal to the dish we ordered from The Meatball Shop.
Bottom line: This is a fun service when you’re majorly craving something you can’t get nearby or have a hankering for something in a far-away restaurant. But the delivery fees make it too expensive to order for one. Do it in a group.
Number of stars (out of 5): * *