Best food delivery services in 2021: Grubhub vs Uber Eats vs Doordash
With the best food delivery services, you can order up whatever you’re in the mood to eat — pizza, sushi, or a dish from your favorite local restaurant — with just the click of a button or a tap on your phone. And after a little time, your food will show up at the front door. Food delivery services make it easy to have breakfast in bed, a healthy lunch, a spread for the whole family or a late night snack.
Food delivery services have become very popular in recent years, but never more so than during the pandemic, when dining out a no-go for many. Even with restrictions easing up on in-restaurant dining, food delivery apps are in no danger of being deleted from our smartphones any time soon.
This guide takes a close look at the food delivery apps that promise to bring you meals when you don’t want to — or can’t — leave the comfort of the couch. These are the best food delivery services you can use on your iPhone or Android device and what each one brings to the table.
What are the best food delivery services?
When it comes to the best food delivery services, it boils down to a choice between Grubhub and Seamless — the two services are run by the same company and are essentially interchangeable — or Doordash. All of those services have extensive reach and let you order from a variety of restaurants including local eateries and national chains. We think Grubhub’s support of multiple payment options gives it a slight edge, though DoorDash has a lot going for it, too.
If you’re already using Uber to get around town, the Uber Eats app will have a familiar interface for ordering meals to go. Several other food delivery options specialize in certain areas. InstaCart lets you order from grocery stories, while services such as Delivery.com and GoPuff include snacks and drinks among other household items that they’ll bring to your door. If you don’t mind picking up your own food, ChowNow lets you place to-go orders at a variety of local eateries in your area.
Food delivery apps adopted well to social distancing guidelines, with several adding options to let you specify where food deliveries can be dropped off so that you and your driver can stay 6 feet apart at all times. We’ve noted which food delivery services have added contact-free delivery options.
The best food delivery services you can try today
There’s a reason Grubhub is one of the first names to come to mind when you think of best food delivery services. Grubhub partners with an incredible variety of restaurants, from nationwide chains to your neighborhood mom-and-pop diner, for a selection that can satisfy just about every food craving you can think of, all on demand.
Using Grubhub, you can search for restaurants by cuisine or location, quickly order food from the menu and track your order from the app, all hassle-free and without any extra charges. (Individual restaurants may have order minimums and other fees.) Grubhub users can order delivery or takeout and take advantage of special deals available only within the app. And the app’s delivery instruction box lets you tell the driver where to leave your meal if you’d prefer a no-contact delivery.
While the app is free to use, signing up for Grubhub+ — a $9.99-per-month subscription — lets you enjoy free delivery.
DoorDash now boasts operations in 4,000 cities across North America in Australia (though GrubHub can claim a more extensive reach). Featuring a wide range of cuisines from sushi to fast food, DoorDash features easy ordering (including quick reordering of your favorites), with options to track your delivery, pick up your food or schedule your deliveries for the most convenient times.
The app includes a “Yum Score” that rates food quality and how well a restaurant works with DoorDash to get your food out quickly — a helpful feature if you want your food delivered nice and hot. DoorDash also lets you order alcohol and mixers from local wine and liquor stores where local laws allow. And as with other best food delivery services, a delivery instructions box in DoorDash enables you to specify where you’d like your meal dropped off for contact-free delivery. A $9.99-per-month DashPass lets you save on delivery fees.
Another one of the best food delivery services under the Grubhub banner, Seamless ferries around food from a wide variety of restaurants and cuisines, with full-menu options and without any extra fees, plus contact-free delivery if you prefer. As with GrubHub, there’s a $9.99-per-month membership if you want to save on delivery costs; otherwise using the app is free.
Customers can browse by food or location, and have their grub delivered at work or home; they can also arrange to have their meals ready for pickup. Though Seamless operates in a number of U.S. cities, it has the best coverage in New York City, partnering with everyone from big chain restaurants to neighborhood food joints to offer some of the best food on the go or delivered to your doorstep in the Big Apple.
Uber’s entry into the food-delivery-app wars feels like a natural extension of its ride-sharing app, bringing the company’s on-demand touch to the world of food delivery. Uber Eats users can easily search for their favorite restaurant or discover new food places nearby.
Then, with just a few taps, users can place an order for immediate or scheduled delivery and track the order in real time, just as if they had booked an Uber ride. You can pay either with a credit card or through credits on your Uber account, and from within the app, you have the option to tip the person bringing you your food as well as leave instructions for contact-free food delivery.
Another plus is Uber’s global reach, giving you good odds of being able to order food on demand across major cities worldwide. And the $9.99-per-month Eats Pass lets you enjoy free delivery, with an additional 5% discount on orders over $15.
No one can live on fast food alone. If your menu calls for actual groceries, you may want to turn to Instacart instead of the other best food delivery apps.
Instacart specializes in delivering groceries as well as household goods and — in the case of some stores — alcohol. (In fact, we consider Instacart to be one of the best grocery delivery services you can use.) The service boasts partnerships with more than 20,000 retailers across North America, and if your local store offers ready-to-eat meals, Instacart’s an option for getting those items delivered straight to your door. In fact, Instacart has just added a drop-off feature to minimize contact with the person delivering your groceries.
If you do plan on using Instacart for delivering groceries or prepared food you plan to eat right away, you’ll want to consider an Instacart Express membership, which costs $9.99 a month. That’s a way to get your food faster. Otherwise, Instacart has no membership fees, though you’ll have a delivery fee tacked on to each order.
Available in 28 cities and regions across the country, Square’s Caviar app brings you food from a rich selection of local restaurants, with real-time GPS tracking for deliveries as well as the option to pick up your food to save on delivery-and-service fees.
Caviar offers a number of in-app exclusive deals, and it focuses less on fast food compared with other apps. Instead, Caviar emphasizes other types of restaurants, and it lets you leave instructions for no-contact delivery when you checkout for your order.
Even though it’s now owned by Uber, Postmates remains ready to satisfy your food cravings 24/7 with the option to have just about anything delivered from local stores to your doorstep. You can order pizza, burgers, groceries or even things like clothing or cellphone chargers from local restaurants and retail partners. The company just introduced no-contact delivery options as well.
Postmates does include a delivery charge and surge pricing during peak hours, but a $9.99-per-month Postmates Unlimited service removes surge pricing and delivery charges for orders greater than $15.
ChowNow isn’t strictly a food delivery app — while delivery is available in select locations, ChowNow is largely focused on letting you place orders for food that you pick up at local restaurants. So if you’re looking for the convenience of having meals dropped off at your door, consider one of the other best food delivery apps.
Still, there are compelling reasons to turn to ChowNow, starting with the service’s focus on local eateries, instead of chains. That allows you to discover good, local eats that are close by, even if you’re stuck at home. Secondly, ChowNow promises commission-free ordering so that your final bill isn’t loaded down with unexplained fees. If you’d like to fill your belly while also helping out local restauranteurs, this is the app to check out.
Delivery.com wouldn’t seem to be a likely candidate for the best food delivery services since it offers a broad range of delivery options, including the ability to schedule pickups and drop-offs for laundry and dry cleaning. But food delivery is very much a part of Delivery.com’s bag of tricks.
In addition to ordering your favorite munchies for delivery or takeout, Delivery.com also can bring you groceries, beer, wine and spirits, so think of it as a one-stop source for all your food needs. In addition, a group ordering feature lets you split orders with neighbors and roommates to minimize the number of deliveries coming and going.
GoPuff takes a quirkier approach to food delivery, offering snacks, ice cream, alcohol and other items, including over-the-counter medicine and cleaning supplies. Those last two items may be of particular interest for people staying in because of the coronavirus outbreak, and GoPuff offers no-contact delivery options.
Think of this app as a mobile convenience store that brings you exactly what you need, day or night, without requiring you to hoof it to a corner store. GoPuff features a catalog of more than 2,000 products and charges a convenient flat delivery fee of $2. (Pay for a $5.95-per-month Fam membership, and you’ll get free delivery, which will save you money if you turn to GoPuff more than three times each month.)
How to find the best food delivery service
When evaluating which food delivery service to use, look into how extensive a reach a particular service has where you live and whether it can bring you food from restaurants where you like to eat. Consider which service charge extra fees, though that can be hard to look up, as many deliver fees are at the discretion of the restaurants from which you order.
If you plan on using a service extensively, see if there’s a monthly membership program. In many cases that membership fee can wipe out any delivery charges or reduce other fees. In some cases, you can even expect faster delivery if you’ve got membership status.
What you plan to order can determine what service you use. Grubhub, DoorDash and UberEats specialize in meals from restaurants. Postmates, Delivery.com and GoPuff handle other types of food delivery, while InstaCart focuses nearly exclusively on grocery stores.
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