Your guide to restaurant delivery apps in Metro Detroit
There's never a good time for a state-wide shutdown of restaurants' dining rooms. One tiny sliver of a silver lining, though, is that this is happening in an age where it's completely normal to have hot restaurant food delivered to your house, and the technology is already in place to do so.
A few years ago, Metro Detroit wasn't in the service area of a lot of national delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and Postmates. We've got them all now, delivering everything from fast food combo meals to just-seared steaks from restaurants to porches across the city.
Because carry out, curbside pickup and delivery is currently the only way to get food from a restaurant, many diners may be using these apps for the first time. Here's what you need to know.
First, if you have a restaurant in mind that you'd like to support, go directly to them. Depending on the style of restaurant (your neighborhood pizza spot, etc.) they may already employ delivery drivers. Others, like Detroit BBQ Company catering and Polish Village restaurant in Hamtramck, have started using catering vans as delivery vehicles.
(And for a real "I'd never thought I'd see the day" moment, after more than 40 years of famously being cash-only, Polish Village Cafe is now accepting credit cards, one of the last food businesses I've seen to do so.)
Second, the general feeling among restaurant owners, workers and customers is that if you have the means, consider tipping the 20-25% you would normally for a sit-down meal if you are ordering delivery or carry-out directly from the restaurant.
A tip for using the apps: order before you get super hungry. Many of the third-party apps post wait times of 35-45 minutes. I've noticed the better the quality of food, the longer the wait time is, and naturally there's also a longer wait during mealtimes. If you're using an app for the first time, you're going to also need a few minutes to create an account, enter your payment info and fill your cart, too.
Here is some additional info about each third-party delivery service, all available via your smartphone's app store for free. Most of these allow you to send notes to the driver to leave the food on the porch or in a designated place, to lessen contact with other people.
Grubhub: One of the first food-delivery apps to pop up in Metro Detroit, Grubhub offers a monthly club for frequent customers. For $9.99 a month members can get unlimited free delivery on all orders, plus 10% cash back and other perks. Grubhub delivers food from independent neighborhood restaurants and cafes, casual chains like Leo's Coney Island, and fast food such as Taco Bell and KFC. Seamless is a similar app that is owned by Grubhub.
Black and Mobile: New to Detroit, this food-delivery service highlights black-owned businesses and gets their foods into the hands of customers within a five or six mile radius of the restaurant. Eateries are listed by either "east side" or "west side," and include spots like Conant Street Grill, Rio's Kitchen and the newly reopened Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles. Download the app or order from the website, blackandmobile.com.
Uber Eats: Like many of the other apps, Uber Eats also has a pick-up feature, allowing users to order and pay via the app, and then go to the restaurant and simply grab your meal. You can browse the app based on price range or dietary categories. Like your Uber ride share account, each user is assigned a code to share with friends. If they use your code for their first Uber Eats order, they get $7 off and you get $20.
DoorDash: The largest of these third-party services, DoorDash announced Tuesday that it and its sister company Caviar will for 30 days not take commissions from independent restaurants that are just signing up, and additional commission reductions are in place for those already connected. The service, which carts around food from Detroit restaurants like HopCat, Bucharest Grill, Crispelli's and others, has switched its default delivery method to "no contact," meaning drivers (who have been equipped with hand sanitizers and gloves) leave the food at the door rather than ringing the bell for a hand-off. Customers can still toggle and choose the latter if they wish.
Postmates: In addition to delivery and pick up from fast food, chain and independent restaurants, Postmates has some unique offerings like delivery from your local 7-Eleven. Get your junk food fix with a Slurpee and a bag of Cheetos, but you can also get fresh fruit, yogurt and sandwiches. They'll even deliver Starbucks and Dunkin'.
Chowbus: A subscription-based food-delivery app that gives members free delivery and other types of discounts, including skip-the-line pick up. Chowbus specializes in restaurants that offer Asian cuisine, including bubble tea cafes. It's currently servicing the Ann Arbor and Lansing areas.