When we're too glued to the couch or desk to actually take out the takeout ourselves, we want it to come to us. Fast.
But we've evolved beyond pizza. Delivery services are casting a wide net these days, bringing to your doorstep everything from sushi to barbecue to ramen to gourmet Indian fare from your favorite restaurants. The latest service to launch in Washington is UberEats, a service of the ubiquitous ride-sharing app.
To find out how well each service performs, we tested them during lunch.
Available: trycaviar.com and in the Google Play and iTunes stores
The selection: There were about 45 choices when we checked, around 12:30 p.m. They range from casual sandwich places (Fast Gourmet, Amsterdam Falafel) to pricey dinner spots (Johnny's Half Shell, Toro Toro). We ordered a bento box and edamame from Kaz Sushi Bistro.
Minimum order: None.
Delivery fee: Ranges from $1.99 to $5.99, depending on your distance from the selected restaurant. An 18 percent tip is included.
Total cost: $33.99, including $20.50 for a sushi bento box, $4.50 for edamame, $2.50 in tax, $4.50 in service charges, and $1.99 for delivery.
Hiccups: The Web site that allows you to check the order's status was still stuck on "preparing" when my driver called to say the food had arrived. And then he left the food unattended in our building's lobby and had vanished by the time I came downstairs. Anyone could have taken it. (When I returned to my desk, I got two e-mails -- "Your order is on its way" and "Your order has arrived" -- at the same time.) When I left feedback about the driver's disappearance, a Caviar rep responded promptly and added a $10 credit to my account.
Order placed: 12:47 p.m.
Estimated delivery time: 1:47 p.m.
Actual delivery time: 1:37, 10 minutes early.
Status of the food: Perfect.
Overall impressions: Better hope no one takes your lunch.
-- Maura Judkis
Available: www.doordash.com and in the Google Play and iTunes stores
The selection: More than 250 restaurants, ranging from the super-luxe (BLT Steak, Osteria Morini) to the, well, not-so-luxe (McDonalds, Wendy's). We ordered from Buredo.
[There’s no way we couldn’t try Buredo’s burrito-size sushi rolls]
Minimum order: None.
Delivery fee: $1 for first order, $4.99 after that.
Total cost: $13.50 for the Beatrix, a burrito-sized sushi roll of yellowtail and salmon. If you go to Buredo in person, it costs $11.75. DoorDash's FAQ section explains that some restaurants charge a higher price to offset the cost of using their service.
Order placed: 12:49 p.m.
Estimated delivery time: 1:37 p.m. You can watch your delivery status online.
Actual delivery time: 1:23 p.m. -- 14 minutes early!
Status of the food: Not a single grain of sushi rice out of place.
Overall impression: The service was flawless, but are you willing to pay for it?
-- Maura Judkis
Available: www.eat24.com and in the Google Play, iTunes, Kindle and Chrome stores
The selection: According to a search based on The Post's address, 161 restaurants, none of which excited us terribly, save for Maki Shop and Soupergirl.
Minimum order: Variable, from none to $30.
Delivery fee: Also variable, from free to $10.
Total cost: See below.
Hiccups: Um, everything? We were never actually able to place an order for delivery. We tried almost 10 restaurants over the course of two days, and every time, we got a message that we were not in the restaurant's delivery area, even though we had specified our location in the search.
Estimated delivery time: The system was estimating at least 45 minutes for most of the search results.
Actual delivery time: We'll never know.
Status of the food: Imaginary.
Overall impression: We are officially Gilbert Gottfried hangry.
-- Becky Krystal
Available: www.grubhub.com and in the Google Play and iTunes stores. (GrubHub and Seamless merged in 2013.)
The selection: Broad, and specializing in delivery of fast-casual fare. (Think Chipotle, Five Guys, Potbelly, etc.) Other major draws: Hill Country Barbecue Market, Carmine's and Boqueria. We ordered a roast pork sandwich from Sophie's Cuban Cuisine.
Minimum order: Variable, but $10 to $20 is fairly standard. (Carmine's is an outlier at $50.)
Delivery fee: Variable. Most restaurants charge less than $5 for delivery.
Total cost: $11.54, including $8.49 for the sandwich, 50 cents for extra green sauce, a $1.50 delivery fee, tax and a 20 percent tip.
Order placed: 12:50 p.m.
Estimated delivery time: 1:33 to 1:43 p.m.
Actual delivery time: 1:20 p.m.
Status of the food: Warm and ready to eat without modification.
Overall impression: It's hard not to be happy with an order that beats its delivery window.
-- Alex Baldinger
Available: www.orderaheadapp.com and in the Google Play and iTunes stores
The selection: More than 200 restaurants available based on The Post's zip code. Options from Five Guys and Sweetgreen to Rasika and Toki Underground. We ordered from G by Mike Isabella.
Minimum order: $15.
Delivery fee: $6.
Total cost: $25.68, including $11.50 for a mushroom reuben (not shown on the menu on G's Web site), $4.05 for a side of lemon potato hash (versus $3.50 at the shop), $1.56 tax, $2.57 tip and the delivery fee
Hiccups: A service rep called to say the mushroom reuben we ordered was not available. We swapped in the roasted cauliflower sandwich, but as far as we can tell, we were still charged for the more-expensive reuben. Then again, had we ordered and paid for the cauliflower ($10.35, versus $9 at the shop), we would not have met the order minimum.
Order placed: 12:58 p.m.
Estimated delivery time: 1:41 to 1:56 p.m.
Actual delivery time: 1:28 p.m.
Status of the food: Pretty good, probably better than it would have been had we walked and brought it back to the office. The sandwich was warm and the bread still crispy. Potato salad came "served hot" as promised.
Overall impression: Couldn't argue with the quality of our lunch, but the total price was hard to swallow.
-- Becky Krystal
Available: www.postmates.com, and in the iTunes and Google Play stores.
The selection: Wide-ranging. There's fast-casual (Shake Shack, Bub and Pop's, District Taco), there's bar food (Boundary Stone, Smoke and Barrel), there are old stand-bys (the Italian Store, Breadline). Postmates gets some extra points for also delivering beer and wine, as well as a "general store" section that will bring you Benadryl, baby wipes or batteries.
Minimum order: None. If you want to order a single slice from the Italian Store, you can.
Delivery fee: Variable. Delivery of one pizza from &pizza costs $6.75, while delivery of a pizza from the Italian Store costs $15.25. There's also "service fee" that equals 9 percent of your order.
Hiccups: Let's relive my Postmates Delivery Nightmare in real time.
12:55 p.m.: It's Taco Tuesday, which means delivery from any taco spot is $5.(YES!) I decide to order from Chinito's Burritos and get an email confirming my order three minutes later.
1:15 p.m.: My Postmates driver calls to tell me that she arrived at Chinito's and found the building closed. She asks what to do. I am puzzled. She says, "Oh, is this the customer? I'm sorry." (She thought she was calling the customer service team.) She tells me the order will be canceled.
1:19 p.m.: I get an email from Postmates telling me my order has been canceled.
1:25 p.m.: I'm not giving up on Taco Tuesday that easily. I place a second Postmates order, this time from Chupacabra on H Street NE.
1:29 p.m.: I get an e-mail telling me that my order was accepted. The driver will pick up my food in 11 minutes.
1:45 p.m.: Getting hungrier/hangrier by the minute, I look again at the handy Postmates order tracker, which resembles an Uber map. GPS shows that my driver is near the Verizon Center, and is currently 9 minutes away from the restaurant. Um, what?
1:56 p.m.: After circling downtown, the driver is heading for the Southeast-Southwest Freeway. I continue to watch as he decides to drive up Sixth Street from I Street SE to H Street NE.
2:08 p.m.: The food is in the car! Estimated delivery time to the Post is 14 minutes.
2:23 p.m.: My food arrives. The driver seems completely nonplussed about how late he arrived. No explanation. A "sorry, the traffic was bad" would have helped.
Status of the food: The tacos are fine - a little lukewarm, probably because they were supposed to be picked up about 40 minutes earlier.
Overall impression: Utterly abysmal. The service provides real-time tracking, but doesn't know when restaurants are open or to warn users that their driver is going to be almost 45 minutes late. Customer service is nonexistent: There's no reason given when an order is canceled, and no apologies after an order takes far longer to complete than estimated.
-- Fritz Hahn
Available: Via the Uber app in the Google Play and iTunes stores
The selection: Very limited in selection and delivery zone (downtown Washington from Dupont Circle to Capitol Hill). A handful (three or so) of dishes a day; so far participating restaurants have included Buredo, Duke's Grocery and DGS Delicatessen. We ordered from Glen's Garden Market.
Minimum order: None.
Delivery fee: $3; waived during the initial launch period.
Total cost: $12.10, including $11 for the Summer Harvest Salad (versus $10.99 in the shop), $1.10 tax and free delivery.
Order placed: 12:35 p.m.
Estimated delivery time: 12:39 p.m. (UberEats promises delivery in 10 minutes or less; drivers circulate around the area with meals already packaged in their cars.) You can track the progress of your meal on a map.
Actual delivery time: 12:40 p.m.
Status of the food: Perfect. Cool from the driver's insulated container, with impeccably crisp (not soggy!) greens and vegetables.
Overall impression: Fast, reasonably priced and a time-saver. Our only quibble is the current limited offerings.
-- Becky Krystal