How great would it be if you never had to call another restaurant for delivery? What if your favorite Arlington restaurant allowed you to order your food online?
One of the things I love most about Arlington is the takeout and delivery "scene." There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of local restaurants offering some of the finest takeout and delivery around. The choices are wide and exceptional, and I'm sure that almost all residents have at least ordered out a few times, if not regularly from local restaurants. I, for one, never liked dialing out for delivery or takeout because so many times my food would not arrive as ordered. Then I would have to wait for a new item to get delivered possibly taking more than an hour. Restaurants can be noisy places, so I really can't blame anyone for getting an order wrong when taking it over the phone. I tend to talk quite fast, so it is probably all my fault, after all.
I found a solution to all of this soon after moving to Arlington. There are websites that allow you to order takeout or delivery online. You can enter exactly what you want in the order, pay by credit card, and just wait for your food to arrive. There are dozens of Arlington restaurants that participate in online ordering, and there are a handful of good websites/services that you can utilize to get your grub on without even picking up the phone:
Foodler (www.foodler.com) is my favorite of these sites, largely because the service itself is free. Foodler acts as your agent, taking your order and then transmitting it to your local restaurant via fax or email. Some restaurants may charge a delivery fee, but this is no different than if you called in your order. Foodler also seems to have the largest participation from Arlington restaurants. All the menus and prices are online, so you can click on your favorite restaurant and pick and choose right from the menu. Foodler allows you to pay online and include the tip for the driver before placing your order. You also have the option of ordering takeout, and there are many more restaurant choices that are takeout-only. Once your order is submitted to the restaurant, Foodler will send you a confirmation e-mail giving you an estimated time of delivery (or time to pick up). In addition, there is a nifty ratings system that allows you to rate your dishes (one to five stars) and each time you vote you get "Foodler Points" good toward free meals.
DiningIn (www.diningin.com) is an online food delivery service. There is a standard delivery fee of $6.99 for each order. DiningIn differs from Foodler in that it focuses on restaurants that do not have their own delivery service. The site has its own staff of drivers who pick up and deliver. As a result, the list of restaurants is a little more upscale than your standard delivery fare. While the majority of the restaurants on their list are from outside of town, there are some participating Arlington restaurants. DiningIn posts a full menu of each participating restaurant and allows you to order and pay completely online. Most orders are estimated to arrive one hour after ordering, but in my experience this can take significantly longer during peak times. Your DiningIn order can sometimes arrive cold because of the long delivery time, unless you order sushi of course. You can also use Foodler to order from restaurants served by DiningIn. Of course, you will still need to pony up the $6.99 delivery fee when choosing DiningIn-served restaurants via Foodler.
MixMenu (www.mixmenu.com) is a food delivery service much like DiningIn, with a twist. MixMenu has a standard delivery fee of $5.99 and can sometimes have specials for free (or discounted) delivery. MixMenu differs from DiningIn in that it does have a small amount of participating restaurants that have their own delivery staff. Delivery will usually be much cheaper (or free) from these restaurants. During the ordering process you will be informed if the food is being delivered by MixMenu or by the restaurant. The list of participating restaurants is huge, but I am yet to find any of my favorite Arlington restaurants on the list. One advantage to MixMenu is that you can order from restaurants that are geographically out of range for DiningIn, including many in Boston. You should assume a longer delivery time for the far away locations.
With all of these choices, why would anyone fire up the oven on a warm summer day? I would much rather be waiting for the doorbell to ring, and then enjoying a pizza and some Ben and Jerry's delivered right to my doorstep without even picking up the phone. The next time you don't feel like cooking, give one of these sites a try, and please feel free to comment with your experiences, or even your favorite online restaurants!