When The Food Feels Too Far Away, Order In

by Audrey Thorne ’19

There are lots of reasons to order in. Sometimes the winter cold is just too much to venture into. Sometimes the walk is daunting. Sometimes the restaurant in question delivers in under an hour and the trek there and back would take the same time, so it just seems easier to order in. And often, the ordering method that allows me to give the maximum detail for what I want so that I know I will get what I want and the minimal time spent sounding awkward on the phone wins out.

The first day I attended Harvard summer school in 2014, my parents took me out to a thai lunch in the square. That late afternoon I dined in Annenberg with my roommates. That night I made an account with Seamless. I was still craving the delectable fried rice I had eaten earlier that day. Not really wanting to spend money on food with a free meal plan, it took two weeks for me to break down and order again.

Seamless has a multi layered filtration system for finding new food places, with star rankings that I have learned to trust. I did not use that the first night, though, because the night I first ordered from Seamless I just wanted my Spice fried rice. Living in union dorms for the summer, I was able to enter a real address, ask the deliverer to call me upon their arrival. After an hour, an unknown number popped up on my food. I hurried excitedly downstairs. The delivery man told me he had been waiting for almost ten minutes. Apparently the instructions to call up were not well translated. I did get my food, still hot, in the estimated delivery time, I just felt bad because the poor guy had waited for me downstairs in the time it would have taken for me to walk to the restaurant. I ordered three more times during the summer, and each time the message to call was poorly translated. Otherwise, the delivery service was just as advertised.

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Picture courtesy of Seamless

Coming from New York and not having tried to get food delivered from anywhere except the thai place that I did not know no longer delivers, I assumed most places would deliver. After being in Cambridge for a few months, I found that the usual call and deliver method is rather unpopular. Many of my favourite places do not have their own delivery service via a phone line and often they do not even deliver through an online service like Seamless.

At the end of last semester, however, I was made aware of DoorDash. I downloaded DoorDash for the sole purpose of having places that did not normally deliver, deliver. Offering ASAP or a specific time delivery while the restaurant is open, and pre-orders for the next day once the restaraunts in question is within an hour of closing time, DoorDash boasts selections such as Liquiteria, Au Bon Pan, JP Licks, Dumpling House, and Felipe’s. On the easy-to-use app, DoorDash advertises times between thirty minutes and two hours for delivery. Skeptical of if the $5.99 fee, excluding tip, would be worth getting Felipe’s in 50 minutes, I waited for DoorDash’s time to come.

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Picture courtesy of DoorDash

Reading period, after watching the hours blend together as I got not as much work done as I had hoped in Lamont, I decided it was time. I would not have to take a break from working and I would get to eat one of my favorite foods, so it was a win-win. I watched the delivery process unfold on my phone through the order tracking portion of the app. 23 minutes after placing my order, my phone started buzzing. On the other end was a man telling me he was downstairs. I grabbed my ID card, speed walked out of Lamont, and ran to Greenough. As I approached the entrance I heard a man in a long coat holding a brown bag ask “Are you Andy?”

“DoorDash?”

“Yes.”

“I am so sorry for taking so long. I was in the library.”

“Next time just put in that address and I could take it to you.”

“Really?”

Despite having several times been told that the perk of living in Greenough is that it’s outside-of-the-yard address makes food deliveries possible, DoorDash actually delivers to Harvard buildings. One can put the name of a dorm into the app and it will come to wherever one is on campus in less than the predicted time. My burrito arrived as warm as the welcome of my DoorDasher, and the food was what I had ordered online to a T.

Still, I wondered if I was on the best food delivering website. GrubHub I have found to have almost the same options as Seamless, just three fewer options at 20 restaurants. Offering solely restaurants I had never tried before, GrubHub pushed me to try new foods and delivered in the expected amount of time. With fees varying by restaurant, from free to $3, GrubHub is worth considering.

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Picture courtesy of GrubHub

Overall DoorDash has my favorite options and I found Seamless and GrubHub hardly distinguishable. If all three have the food one needs, Seamless and GrubHub have the lower fee and still get the delivered in the estimated time. However, if I am craving a late night burger from Tasty, or a tasty smoothie while Lamonstering, DoorDash is the only option, and it is a great one.

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