Until a few years ago, I had a drawer in the kitchen where I kept take-out and delivery menus. Most were from my neighborhood, but I had quite a few from other neighborhoods. I wanted to be able to make suggestions in case my friends’ kitchen drawers weren’t overflowing with menus. I also had a number of restaurants programmed into my phone so I could call up and order something on my way home from wherever I happened to be. If I timed it right, the food would get there as I walked in the door. Eventually, the internet solved my kitchen clutter and kept me from scrolling endlessly through my phone’s address book.
Online ordering ordering services solved an even bigger problem for me — talking to restaurants. Surprisingly, I don’t enjoy ordering food over the phone. Invariably I forget something and have to call back, can’t understand the order taker, get put on hold and the call drops, have no time to listen to specials, etc. Plus, if I order food at the end of the day it usually means I’m tired and don’t want to deal with the world. Online ordering services also got me out of comfort zone and kept me from “the usual” because getting the same thing over and over was easier than trying to order something new or breaking in a new delivery place.
And so, I found GrubHub, settled into a happy online ordering routine, and didn’t look back. However, when a new-to-Chicago service, Delivery.Com, moved into town a few weeks ago and asked me to give them a try, I decided to take a more thorough look at my online ordering options. I surveyed the field, and threw in Eat24Hours.Com as another contender. There are other online delivery services (DeliverWe, CEODeliveries, DiningIn), but these were either restricted to a particular zip code range or catered towards corporate ordering.
The remaining three services operate in the same basic way — enter in an address, find a restaurant and place an order. They’re all free to use, will remember your favorite orders, and let you throw dinner on your credit card. The biggest differences are in the range of restaurants and in the online ordering experience. They each have their quirks.
If you’re looking at sheer number of restaurants that are hooked into the service, GrubHub is the clear winner. However, both Delivery.Com and Eat24Hours.Com had restaurants that delivered to my home that GrubHub did not. They also seem to have restaurants from a larger delivery range than GrubHub. I didn’t get into the distance in miles, but a few places from Evanston popped up on Delivery.Com that GrubHub didn’t mention. There’s also a difference in the type of restaurants, though it’s slight. Delivery.Com seems to have more Mexican options and Eat24Hours.Com seems to have more Indian fare for my delivery area than GrubHub.
Each of the sites has different strengths, too. Eat24Hours.Com has a lovely tabbed menu and a running total of your order that follows you as you scroll. That’s nice because then you don’t have to go back and forth to see if you’ve met an order minimum or gone over budget. Their site was the cleanest, easiest to use site.
Delivery.Com has a scheduled delivery option right in the order menu. I didn’t realize how much I needed to have Thai food delivered at my door at exactly 5pm until I had it in my grasp. Brilliant! They give users of their site points for each order that you can spend on Delivery.Com goodies or put towards future orders. I like the customer loyalty program. The big downside? Most of the useful options are buried on the site and the whole thing is a little cluttered.
GrubHub puts the most popular items from each restaurant at the top of each menu, which is very nice for the order-challenged. They also bolster their restaurant numbers by including places that only take phone orders. For those who are equipped with smart phones, GrubHub is the only service that has an app.
I included screenshots of the first restaurant I found that intersected all three services in this post. Click on each to see the full screen to see how the sites display differently. More details and site information is available on my comparison spreadsheet. I hope it helps you make an informed online ordering decision.
Delivery.Com sprung for a week’s worth of lunch via their service. All other meals were paid for by the author.