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Oct 22, 2012 08:21 AM

Online food ordering sites for local restaurants

I know there are a number of ways to order food from restaurants online: Foodler, GrubHub, Seamless, as well as LivingSocial. Perhaps there are others of which I'm not aware?

Anyway, I'm curious your experience with these different companies. What are their relative merits (or demerits)? How did you choose which one to use? Do you use more than one on a frequent basis? Any other information that might be helpful for a user to know?

I'm in Watertown (if location is relevant), but I imagine this information might be helpful to anyone ordering food in and around Boston.

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  1. I would be interested in hearing comparisons, as well. I have to admit, though, I have avoided these sites, in part due to my experiences with the old DiningIn. I am skeptical about how one service can accurately and effiecient handle multiple restaurants. DiningIn could not, and they handled far fewer restaurants than Foodler or GrubHub do, but technology has improved since then, so maybe that would help.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Alcachofa

      DiningIn is completely different from foodler or grubhub. The former is a delivery service, the latter two simply forward your order on to the restaurant to process the same way they would have if you called them.

      I don't know about GrubHub but Foodler (which I use a *lot*) also serves as a front end to DiningIn, MixMenu and other delivery services. I tend not to use any of those as they're very expensive, but it's nice that you can get food delivered from places that don't do delivery.

      I loathe GrubHub & Seamless' interfaces so I just use Foodler.

      1. re: jgg13

        You know, the last time I looked at one of these sites, it was GrubHub, and I was pretty outraged at the interface. So, I'll have to look at Foodler again.

        1. re: Alcachofa

          I mainly hate the web 2.0-ness look & feel that they use. That's a L&F that I rarely like, I think it's pushed into situations that it shouldn't be.

          I think in general it has become better - for instance it used to be that you couldn't separate out the places that'd deliver to you vs those that wouldn't.

    2. Most of these companies simply take your order and fax, email or text it to the participating restaurant.
      Some may also interface directly with the restaurant computer system.

      1. I've used Foodler and GrubHub, and I didn't find much of a difference between them. I mostly use Foodler now. It's fine, it does the job.

        If I know that a restaurant has its own delivery system, I will usually order directly as I find that to be faster; the primary reason I'd check Foodler is if I don't know what I want and want to skim my options: having them all laid out in front of me can help me make up my mind. I'd say use the website that way about five times as often as I use it to place an actual order.

        4 Replies
        1. re: TimTamGirl

          Thanks, TTG. This is the kind of feedback I was hoping for. Good to know that the direct route is faster, but that Foodler provides nice "browsing."

          1. re: TimTamGirl

            I've never noticed it to be any faster.

            1. re: jgg13

              That might not be universal: it might be to do with the restaurants I order from or where I live, or some places might actually handle Foodler requests differently (e.g., online orders might not be as well integrated into their business as phoned orders); but I've definitely found direct-ordering to be a bit faster most times.

              I'll second the compliments below for Foodler's refund policy - it's really smooth and customer-friendly.

            2. re: TimTamGirl

              I used Foodler a lot for lunch before the "real food" moved into Kendall Sq. It was particular nice for take out deliveries at the little places that sometimes were so overwhelmed with the lunch rush that they could barely get to the phone.

            3. One benefit of Foodler is that you earn points every time you order. When they accrue you can turn them into Foodler bucks to use on your order, or you can redeem them for things like Amazon gift cards. I don't know if GrubHub does something similar. I'm sure that you're paying for the points somehow - perhaps the prices are slightly higher through these services than if you went to the restaurant and ordered take-out directly.

              6 Replies
              1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                Seamless is a staple of life in NYC. Many banks, law firms, and other large businesses use seamless to allow their employees to order after-hour meals. And many residents (myself included) use it extensively to order from home. Seamless restaurants have a direct interface, so the order goes directly to them, and each restaurant is responsible for its own deliveries. It works quite well, with hundreds (thousands?) of participating restaurants.

                In Boston, seamless is more limited, primarily because Boston has less of a meal delivery culture than does NY. In Boston, some restaurants use Dining In to handle delivery, but those restaurants are clearly marked (and I personally would never order from them). But for those Boston-area restaurants that do do their own delvery, I have had very good luck using seamless.

                1. re: Blumie

                  I only tried Seamless Web once. Our food never showed up and when we called to find out what was going on, they said that they no longer delivered from that restaurant, or to our area, or something.

                  1. re: Pia

                    seamless doesn't deliver; it's just a website. the restaurants are responsible for their own delivery. and restaurants can screw up a delivery, just as they can when you order from them directly.

                    like most people in nyc, i use seamless all the time. on rare occasion things get screwed up. but it's always the restaurant's fault, not seamless's. and i think screw ups are less likely with seamless because you're ordering electronically, so something getting lost in the translation is less likely.

                2. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                  The prices are identical. It's no different than if you call in to the restaurant yourself.

                  That said, sometimes the information is out of date vs. their current menu so it's not always 100% the same, but not in the way that you mean.

                  1. re: ChocolateMilkshake

                    The point system on foodler is great. It's more like a customer loyalty program.
                    The wife and I use foodler at least 3 times per week. We were loyal grubhubber's until we discovered foodler. They all allow you to discover places you may have over looked or did not know about.

                    1. re: jcab923

                      We like foodler, too; and the points add up fast - we always just apply them to another order, and happily enjoy the $10 or $20 rebate!! :)

                  2. I've ordered occasionally from Foodler and it works well as others have said. I got a delivery recently where the restaurant forgot part of the order (a small salad). When I pointed it out to the driver he apologized and said he'd report it back and I'd get a refund. I kind of anticipated a minor hassle - having to call or report it myself - but I got an email that night from Foodler saying they'd refunded the cost of the item to my card. Credit goes to the driver and the restaurant for acknowledging and rectifying the mistake, but I was also pleased that Foodler took care of it so quickly.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MichaelB

                      As a very frequent user of Foodler (and less frequently, GrubHub), I can tell you that mistakes rarely occur, but when they do, my experience mirrors yours, Michael. There's a Jamaican restaurant I order from semi-frequently and they are quick to call me and notify me they're out of a particular item, happily subbing in anything within a buck or two radius. On one occasion they totally spaced the entire order mon, but Foodler was on the scene, emails sent, and refunds issued (along with additional Foodler bucks) within 10 minutes of my notifying them.

                      There's a fair amount of overlap between Foodler and Grubhub but I usually check both to see what their offerings are, as these things, particularly with GrubHub, change. DiningIn is crap, but they're the only one that'll deliver Coppa to my door.

                      I am on the lookout for a delivery company that'll literally go the extra distance. Like deliver from Allston/Brighton and Camberville mostly (I live in the S.End). Some of the Allston/Brighton restaurants will do it if they're in the mood. There have been many Sundays where I would kill for some pollo a la brasa to be delivered to my couch.

                      One must obviously order strategically - having said that, I give extra points to the restaurants who pack things with care - puncturing steam-vents and separating noodles from broth, etc.

                      Food delivery is so fun. I still get giddy everytime. The world is our oyster, but don't order em for delivery.