D.C. delivery options have improved far beyond Chinese restaurants and pizza joints. The latest entrant to the delivery game, Caviar, brings Toki Underground, DGS Delicatessen, and Ping Pong Dim Sum straight to your door. I decided to take it for a test drive, along with Seamless, Grubhub, and Eat24, to see how the services stack up. For this quasiscientific experiment, all the orders took place around 6:30 p.m. on a Thursday. The restaurants I ordered from are about the same distance from my place in Logan Circle. The amount of food was roughly equal. And none of it was pizza.
Order: Taipei curry chicken and fried chicken dan dan noodles from Toki Underground
Delivery fee: Flat rate of $9.99
Estimated delivery time: 1 to 2 hours
Actual delivery time: Slightly less than 2 hours
Pros: This newcomer is the only service that delivers from Toki Underground, DGS Delicatessen, and Woodlands Vegan Bistro. Plus, it uses GPS to let you track your order. Also cool: A sharing feature lets users send a link to friends so they can pile their meals onto the same order. Oh, and they’ll deliver anywhere within the District.
Cons: Right now, only 11 restaurants are online. No delivery outside D.C.
Order: Two burgers from BGR
Delivery fee: $12.64 for $15.96 worth of burgers. Costs vary widely depending on where you order from, but some joints offer free delivery.
Estimated delivery time: 80 to 90 minutes
Actual delivery time: 45 minutes. But the delivery guy brought the wrong order. I emailed Grubhub the situation, and about 10 minutes later, got a call to clear up the issue. Twenty minutes after that, my burgers arrived. The total was 75 minutes, which is still less than the estimated delivery time.
Pros: It was fairly easy to fix the screwed-up order, and the delivery guy was super understanding.
Cons: The order was messed up. And the tax, tip, and delivery fee was more than the cost of the burgers.
Order: Paneer pakora and tandoori chicken from Himalayan Heritage
Delivery fee: No delivery fee from Himalayan Heritage—and many of the other restaurants on the site. Chances are you won’t pay more than $1 or $2, although a rare few charge close to $10.
Estimated delivery time: 60 to 90 minutes
Actual delivery time: 80 minutes
Pros: The search function lets you easily sort which restaurants offer free delivery. And Yelp reviews are linked to the restaurants so customers know (kind of) what they are getting themselves into.
Cons: A somewhat messy user interface
Order: Dolmas and lamb skewers with rice from Meat in a Box
Delivery fee: $2 for Meat in a Box. Delivery fees vary from place to place.
Estimated delivery time: 45 to 60 minutes
Actual delivery time: 35 minutes
Pros: This popular delivery service offers a number of food options no matter the neighborhood or the craving. Seamless and GrubHub merged back in 2013, so there’s a lot of overlap in their offerings. It’s also the fastest delivery I experienced. The food came warm, and there was even the extra yogurt sauce I requested.
Cons: Delivery coverage varies based on the restaurant.
Photos by George Perkins