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There’s a vicious battle waging right now, and it’s highlighting the disparity in taste levels amongst our friends and neighbors. What? The primaries? Oh no, not that. I’m talking about the fight to become Richmond’s food delivery service alpha dog. We live in the age of I Want That Now, Preferably Without Getting Off My Couch, and quite a few companies now capitalize on it — in fact, another launched just last week. To help you keep them all straight, here's a guide to ordering out for eating in.
Let's kick off with local business Quickness RVA, a bike-based delivery service. (Greener, cleaner!) While it doesn’t have a phone app, as many of its national competitors do, the clickable map on the Quickness site is incredibly user-friendly and pulls up a list of restaurants available by region. And, bonus: its online delivery launches on April 18. (Phone calls, be gone!) Some restaurants use Quickness exclusively because of its environmental commitment, so a few gems that aren’t available from national services can be found on the list. Quickness bikes pedal from Willow Lawn to Church Hill, and from the river up to Brookland Park; their service is broken into five regions that can loosely be described as Shockoe Bottom, central downtown, the Fan, the Museum District and North Side. Moreover, it's the only service that will also grab your groceries for you — call the dispatcher with your list and store of choice, and they'll do the shopping for you. Included in your grocery bill will be a delivery fee based on your location, and you can pay with a credit card upon arrival.
Not a lot of difference exists between the newest mobile ordering app, Groupon-owned OrderUp, and the reigning national apps, Grubhub and EatStreet. The list of Richmond restaurants OrderUp is building seems similar in quality — though not exactly the same cabal, by any means — and like the others, you can sort out what you want by region, cuisine and price range. OrderUp doesn’t yet offer the myriad coupons and rewards schemes that its competitors do, and to be fair it only just launched in Richmond last week, but it does let you track your delivery driver every step of the way (à la Uber), which is nifty. This new company's delivery range essentially covers the Fan, North Side and the downtown area; it stretches from I-195 through Shockoe Bottom, and from the river up to Hilliard Avenue.
Perks of Grubhub are immediately visible wait time estimations and a solid reputation for customer support. This service offers the most customized information for each restaurant listed, and it'll bring food to just about anywhere, but there's a catch: You can accrue delivery fees upwards of $10, depending on your location.
In EatStreet’s corner are a live chat window for any burning questions you have about your Chinese food, and lots of coupons, promotions and specials. It also offers the ability to order for a specified delivery time, even if you're placing your order when a restaurant is closed. [Ed. note: Individual restaurants must opt-in to this service. We tried a handful of Richmond-area restaurants and didn't have much luck in the arena, but it's still a nifty capability, for those that do.]
Relative newcomer Yelp's Eat24 is also trying to get in on the game, but like OrderUp, it's still building its relationships with restaurants and offers a smaller list than Grubhub and EatStreet. Eat24 listings are directly connected to Yelp reviews, of course, and there’s an option to find out “what’s good” according to reviewer recommendations on every menu.
Try them all out to see what you like, because your mileage may vary. My "money" is on Grubhub in the national arena, but my actual money will always pay those cute Quickness bikers to hustle over a still-melty Lamplighter Bianchi Italian sub.
Clarification: Quickness RVA's online capabilities do not launch until April 18; this piece has been updated to reflect this.
Correction: EatStreet still offers its order-ahead service, though individual restaurants must sign up for the capability. This piece has been updated to reflect this.