No one likes to pick up the phone and call for delivery or take-out anymore. Instead, more and more food delivery is shifting to online, where you can order from just a few taps in an app.
The question is: Which app do you choose?
Business Insider put seven apps to the test to see which could bring us the freshest, fastest, and cheapest lunch.
There's a lot of options out there, but after trying seven head-to-head, we've ranked the ones we're most likely to use again.
San Francisco is a test bed for the biggest market leaders in food delivery, so we decided to find out. We ordered from seven different services — GrubHub, Eat24, Caviar, DoorDash, Postmates, UberEats, and Amazon Prime Now — in the ultimate delivery showdown.
Who are all these contenders? You've probably heard of GrubHub, which operates in more than 900 cities and owns Seamless as well as a few other smaller delivery companies
Depending on the restaurant and city, a restaurant will either send its own delivery staff after receiving a GrubHub order or the company will supply its own pick-up people.
Yelp-owned Eat24 is often the default ordering option on the reviews site, but it has a standalone app, too, so that it can serve up hot dishes in over 1,500 cities.
Yelp bought Eat24 in early 2015 for close to $134 million, its largest acquisition ever. Eat24 only works with restaurants who supply their own delivery drivers.
Caviar is owned by Square, the payments company. It's only available in about a dozen US cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York City, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
DoorDash just celebrated its third birthday, making it the youngest independent company on this list. In that short time, it has already expanded into 26 cities around the country.
Postmates, which has raised around $130 million, specializes in on-demand delivery for lots of stuff, not just lunches. You can check out the app in about 40 cities around the US.
Think Uber is just for cheap rides? Think again. Right now, its speedy food service, UberEats, is available in more than a dozen cities.
Amazon has long been a go-to place for buying pretty much everything — except hot food. Now it's trying to change that. Its lightening-fast Now service is reserved exclusively for Prime members and includes a boatload of essential shopping items as well as restaurant delivery.
You can use it in about 27 different cities.
Now that you're better acquainted with our seven chosen companies, here's our process:
We couldn't find one restaurant that appeared on every app, so we chose two equidistant from our office and selected similarly priced menu items. The menu: $6 worth of tacos from one and $6 worth of avocado toast from the other.
First up, Amazon Prime Now, which has a $20 order minimum no matter where you ordered from. Ouch. This would be a nonstarter for lunch if you were ordering for one person.
One bit of solace: Ordering is a breeze if you're used to buying things on Amazon — which most users probably will be since you have to be a Prime member to use the service.
To hit the minimum, we added some extra tacos (and a $10 off coupon to soothe our wallets). Since Amazon already had our payment and address info on file, we could at least whiz through checkout.
The estimated delivery window was pretty large: 1:33-1:58 p.m., or 35-60 minutes after we placed order.
Like Amazon, UberEats also had our payment info and "favorite" locations (like work and home) stored, so we happily skipped the chore of adding all that information.
Unlike other apps, Uber tells me there's no need to tip and there's no option to even add it onto my receipt. For food delivery this feels weird, but it is standard for Uber rides. Soon, my order is on its way.
Uber gives me the fastest delivery estimate: 1:18 p.m., less than 25 minutes after I place my order.
A lot of Eat24's orders come through the Yelp app (the company does a great job of reaching hungry people when they're already looking for grub), but we decided to order through the main app, which comes preloaded with all of the Yelp reviews and recommended dishes.
Eat24 was the only app that let us create a guest account. Frankly, it was nice to avoid signing up for yet another service that we'll eventually forget the password for.
The guest sign-in backfired in the long run because my app updated in the middle of this challenge. I couldn't use the app again to track my order, but thankfully Eat24 had sent me a link to track it through my email! Phew.
Caviar's slick interface looks pretty, but there's no way to search a menu once you've chosen a restaurant. Once again we hit a delivery minimum — though at $15, it wasn't quite as high as Amazon's.
Important note: Caviar waived the delivery fee because this was our first-ever order, but ordinarily it costs between $1.99 and $6.99, depending on the restaurant's distance. Because of how close Plant Café was, we factored an additional $1.99 into our final cost.
DoorDash time! An easy-to-navigate menu and no minimum delivery. Sweet.
Plus, once we ordered, DoorDash gave us a convenient little timeline that we could follow along with. From our time estimates, it looked like our DoorDash meal would arrive in about 45 minutes, hypothetically putting it in fifth place time-wise.
We can't complain about GrubHub's no-frills ordering process. Although the $10 delivery minimum was a best-case scenario compared with the competition, it was frustrating because you couldn't opt to pay the difference if you didn't hit it. Originally, we wanted to buy a fancy carrot juice instead of the burrito, but it left us $0.25 short ...
It looked like our order would take forever to arrive though, with a 55-minute (or more) delivery estimate.
Next up: Postmates. The card-scanning technology worked better here than anywhere else, saving us precious time.
Also, because Postmates also delivers groceries, we got a more thorough substitution check.
The $6 delivery fee rocketed our price up quite a bit, but at least there was no delivery minimum! It was neat to watch our Postmate get selected, though it wasn't clear what kind of criteria was used.
Aaaand then, with all our orders placed, the waiting game commenced. Our earliest delivery was supposed to arrive from Uber at 1:18 p.m., and the last one, Eat24, was pegged at 2:07 p.m. That's a drastic difference of 49 minutes.
Sure enough, at about 1:20 p.m., our Uber driver called and asked us if we could meet him at the curb or if he needed to come into the lobby.
But while we're on the phone with Uber, DoorDash rang and was already waiting in the lobby! Its estimate of 1:42 p.m. was way off, but in the best way possible; we had our food much earlier than expected.
Interestingly, DoorDash was the only service that included napkins and a fork with our order.
Meanwhile, our Uber driver parked across the street and then ran across the road to bring us our order. Finding the Uber delivery person was the easiest process of our seven orders, since we could track him in the app and see information like his photo and make/model of the car.
Arriving third: Caviar. The delivery person came into the lobby for a super-easy, swift delivery.
Next up, we followed Amazon's driver on the map until the blinking dot stopped down the block from us. Soon after, a man strolled into the lobby with our food, one minute past the earliest delivery estimate it gave us. Better early than late.
Our food from GrubHub and Eat24 arrived at the same time, from the same delivery person. He didn't technically work at either company. Instead, he's with TCB Couriers and handles deliveries for several companies.
By 1:40 p.m., only one straggler hadn't arrived yet. More than 20 minutes past Postmates' original estimate, we were still anxiously awaiting our delivery person.
It had been nearly an hour since we originally ordered all our food, so we were trying desperately to resist hunger-induced crankiness.
Like Uber, Postmates will get very specific on timing once your delivery person gets close, but in this case the estimate kept hopping backwards or staying the same even as the minutes crept by.
When our postmate finally arrived, he was quite friendly and easy to spot, thanks to his branded uniform.
One confusing note: Postmates doesn't let you add your tip until after your delivery person arrives. In theory, this makes a lot of sense.
However, the app also doesn't make that immediately clear, so we ended up not noticing the tip calculator until two days later when we next opened the app.
Finally, it was time for our favorite part of the test: the feeding frenzy.
We half-expected our food to arrive in various crazy conditions, but all of our toast orders turned out pretty much the same. Well, all except one ...
Since it's delivery, it's hard to tell where the mishap took place. Maybe the restaurant decided to change up its plating for the order, or it could have happened in transit. Here's what a model example looked like:
Note the avocado piled high on the bread, with the greens resting on top. Yummy.
Tacos are already a bit messy, and the box from GrubHub got a little crunched. Looks aside, all three containers cradled warm tacos.
Here's a closer look at the bruised GrubHub box. Interestingly, the Eat24 dish from the same courier had no issues.
With all food accounted for (and munched on), we pored over the details. Here's our ranking of each service:
Postmates lost out in this lunch test mainly because of its slow delivery and sloppy presentation. The high delivery fee ($6) and hidden tip didn't help either.
Since Postmates can handle your other delivery needs — like cold medicine from Walgreens or beauty supplies from Aesop — and we were impressed with its sophisticated tracking and friendly delivery, we wouldn't write it off completely.
But lunch orders? Never again.
We loved how fast Amazon's delivery was, but the sky-high delivery minimum and the need for Prime make it less useful for the average lunch.
(Though, like Postmates, Amazon lets you order nonfood items, making the service better suited for a Target shopping spree than a midday meal.)
Caviar was the only site to upsell us, even if it was only $0.30. The delivery minimum didn't leave the best taste in our mouths either, and the app's tendency to sacrifice a useful user interface for a pretty one lopped off some street-cred points, too, despite its fast delivery.
What to say about GrubHub? It wasn't bad. The $10 delivery minimum was bearable, we weren't that put off by the slightly squished box, and the $5 delivery fee was average.
A solid fourth-place finish.
Eat24 had the worst delivery estimate, making us think we'd wait more than an hour for our food. Even though it surprised us in the best way possible by getting there 20 minutes early, that incorrect estimate could be an inconvenience.
Think you have time for a quick phone call before pigging out? Think again.
Still though, the price here was comparatively cheap, cinching a third-place finish.
Uber wins points for making it easy to track the status of an order and keep tabs on where your delivery is at all times. Plus, it was the cheapest and third fastest.
But the lack of tipping is a bummer. We'd prefer the option to be able to add a few bucks in-app, especially if our driver is going out of the way to meet me in my office or risk his life running across traffic.
And the winner is ... DoorDash!
This service ended up being the fastest and barely more expensive than Uber. Hard to argue with results like that.
Ultimately, this was only one test. Maybe Postmates can really shine or DoorDash isn't always so zippy. But the challenge for these companies is that it takes one experience to make or break someone's opinion when there are so many other options to choose from.
They have to compete not only on price, but on restaurant selection and how fast they can get the food to you. It's not easy.
But that's just the way the cookie crumbles!