I don’t know what took me so long to try it but now I’m a definite convert (to the detriment of my couch cushions). There are so many different apps now that let you order from area restaurants (from fast-food to national chains and the local mom-and-pops in between) and have your meal delivered.
The only question is which food delivery service is the best one, and that depends on what’s most important to you—price, availability, or variety. But mostly, you can’t go wrong.
Overview of the best food delivery services
When it comes to getting take-out, the old stand-bys used to be, “pick-up or delivery?” But the drawback was that only certain restaurants would deliver, and pick-up was frankly more effort than I was will to put in on those days.
With food delivery services, though, the world is your oyster (delivered fresh, and with a lemon wedge). Tons of restaurants participate with different delivery services, so it’s easy to find something you like and have it delivered.
Grubhub’s actually been around in some form since 2004, when it began as an alternative to paper menus. Over the years the company acquired more and more technology until today, when you can use the app or website to order food in over 3,200 cities in the U.S. and London.
To get started with Grubhub, download their app. You’ll be able to track your order and be notified when it’s on its way, plus see previous orders or schedule a future order. When you open the app, you’ll be prompted for your address — almost all the delivery apps ask for your location right away, which helps weed out unserviced areas. You can also use Grubhub’s website, but you’ll get more perks using the app.
Once Grubhub knows your address, it shows you the restaurants that will deliver to your location, plus the ones that offer pickup. Browse and find what looks good, and start building your order by adding dishes and customizing your options. Completed orders go in your “bag,” where you’ll also see delivery fees, taxes, and tip.
There’s no minimum for pickup orders, but there might be for delivery; it depends on the restaurant. I wanted to order a $10 sandwich from the shop in town, but the minimum order was $20, so I needed to keep shopping or move on. Delivery was $2.99, but delivery fees vary by restaurant. Most delivery fees I saw were under $6.
Grubhub also offers a membership program that lets you get rid of the delivery fees and earn 10% cashback, too. It’s called Grubhub+ (“plus”), and signing up gives you unlimited free delivery and unlimited cashback. Plus members also double their donations on Donate the Change orders and get access to “elite care teams,” or VIP customer support.
DoorDash’s app interface makes it easy to find what you’re in the mood for: Chicken, Mexican, and Dessert are a few common options, plus you can filter to find places that will deliver in under 30 minutes if you just can’t wait.
I can choose from “local favorites” (these are just the local franchises of big-name chains like Wendy’s) or “Featured National Partners” (the same, but with reduced delivery fees). I like the “Fastest Near You” option, which tells me I can have, for example, a Blizzard from Dairy Queen delivered to my door in 23 minutes or less.
Of course, the local restaurants I love are available, too. The app shows me their star ratings, delivery time, estimated price ($-$$$), and delivery cost.
With DoorDash, I can also search for pickup options, in case I have to leave the house and want to combine trips, for example. I can also see details of my prior orders, in case I want to see exactly what I got from a certain restaurant on a certain date. The app will show me how much I paid, including tip, delivery charge, and service fee, and let me reorder the same exact thing if I want.
My DoorDashers have been quick and courteous — one even drove back to the restaurant when he saw they had forgotten my burrito. I was glad I had boosted his tip ahead of time.
If you find yourself using the service quite a bit, you can sign up for DashPass, which is a subscription service that gives you $0 delivery on orders over $15. I tried the DashPass and loved being able to order meals with no delivery fee (although service fees and Dasher tips may still apply).
If you need more than a meal, Postmates is your best bet. While you can definitely order food to be delivered, Postmates delivery also will bring you what they call “essentials” — from toothpaste to Tylenol. Basically, if you can find it at your local CVS, Postmates will bring it to your door.
You can also order convenience items, including some groceries; my Postmates notified me that an order of flour, milk, and dryer sheets would be fulfilled by 7-Eleven. I also could have ordered a car charger, batteries, jumper cables, or playing cards.
Postmates doesn’t deliver to my small town, but if I lived in Pittsburgh, for example, I could have ordered from a few “Only on Postmates” exclusive restaurants, such as Carson Street Deli or El Burro. Delivery charges are typically $1.99 or $3.99.
Postmates also has an Unlimited option, offering free delivery over $12 and no “blitz pricing” at peak hours. Unlimited also boasts special perks for members and exclusive events and behind-the-scenes, but I’m not sure how attractive those are compared to free delivery, honestly.
After your free trial period, Postmates Unlimited is $9.99 a month or $99 a year; just two orders a month covers your investment, according to the company.
Using Uber Eats’ app is simple. You can sort restaurants by most popular or delivery time and filter based on price, max delivery fee, or dietary restriction (vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free). It doesn’t categorize restaurant types across the top as DoorDash does, so you can’t immediately browse for, say, Mexican food. You can browse that way on the Uber Eats website, though. But in the app, the restaurants are clearly labeled with delivery times, star ratings, estimated prices ($-$$$), and delivery fees.
Uber’s delivery prices, once a flat fee, are now based on location and driver availability, although you’ll see the charge listed clearly before you order. You can also expect to pay a service fee and a “small-order fee” if your total is less than a certain amount (usually $10 or $15).
So a meal from a restaurant just down the road from me would cost $1.99 to deliver, but one from the restaurant two towns away is $6.99 — something to keep in mind when your cravings aren’t geographically compatible.
Touting itself as “The neighborhood in your pocket,” Delivery.com, like Postmates, will deliver more than just food to your door. You can also order alcohol, dry cleaning, groceries, and gifts.
Delivery.com serves about 100 cities, and my small town didn’t make the cut. I tried instead to see what the service would be like if I lived somewhere else (sticking with Pittsburgh as an example). I could have my choice of five different types of pizza delivered to my home, but no alcohol, due to Pennsylvania’s state liquor laws.
To get started with delivery.com, you enter your address in the search bar along with what you’re looking for. Sort and filter your results by rating, distance, or minimum order. To order laundry service, specify whether you’re looking for wash’n’fold, dry cleaning, or tailoring; then schedule a time for your cleaner to pick up your stuff. I’ve always hemmed my own pants and sewn my own buttons, but the temptation is strong to send it out to be completed and returned later.
You can order delivery ASAP or schedule it for up to a week in the future; you can also go in on an order with a group using Split Pay.
Fees at delivery.com are set by the merchant, not the website, so they can vary.
Summary of the best food delivery services
|Delivery service||Orders & minimums||Fees|
|GrubHub||– Order food from 350,000 restaurants
– Service available in 3,200 cities in U.S. and London
– Minimums usually $10-$20
|– Delivery starts at $2.99
– Service fees may apply
– Free with Grubhub+
|DoorDash||– The leading food delivery service
– At least 850 cities in all 50 states
– Minimums usually $12-$15
|– Delivery starts at $1.99
– Service fees may apply
– Free with Dash Pass
|Postmates||– Food, convenience items, toiletries and more
– Available in all 50 states
Minimums usually $15
|– Delivery between 99 cents and $9.99; service fees and small cart fees may apply
– Free with Unlimited
|Uber Eats||– Food delivery in hundreds of cities around the world
– More than 200,000 restaurants
– Minimum usually around $10
|– Delivery fee varies; usually starts at $1.99
– Free with Eats Pass
|Delivery.com||– Available in 100 cities across the U.S.
– Food, alcohol, laundry, and groceries delivery
– Minimums as low as $8
|– Fees vary by store|
How I came up with this list
To come up with best food delivery apps, I started with my personal experience — DoorDash — and researched the sales volume, areas served, average delivery fee, and customer ratings to find the leading companies in this space — even if they hadn’t graced my doorstep yet.
I also wanted to include top performers in other markets, even if they don’t serve my specific location, which meant Postmates and Delivery.com had to make the list. They have the added advantage of expanding your order to include items aside from food.
Finally, too much takeout isn’t good for the waist or the wallet, so strictly speaking food delivery, in my opinion, needed to include a DIY option—enter Instacart.