Ordering from a delivery service is financially ludicrous and absolutely irresistible.
I took Friday night off to relax and catch up on some films. You should watch Parasite, by the way.
Thanks to a three hour depression nap I'd taken earlier that evening, I wasn't in the mood to leave my apartment for food. Dave Ramsey weeped as I opened up Uber Eats to order two rolls from Rockin' Rolls Sushi Express.
The total cost was $34.11. For just two rolls.
Food delivery services are hard to avoid if you're a busy Charlottean.
Between carving out your career, side hustles, dating, and generally not wanting to move from your couch, the food delivery corner of the gig economy promises convenience. But that convenience comes at a substantial markup.
The big four in the market are Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, and Grubhub.
I keep all four apps on my phone. I think it gives me the widest variety of food possible. But I never thought to compare shop to see which option saves me the most money on the same order.
Curious, I set out to see which food delivery app is cheapest in Charlotte.
To start, I tried out Hooters from the Uptown location.
I ordered Hooters once on Thanksgiving Day after my family had left my house where I was hosting dinner. I was vegetarian at the time, and I hadn't kept any Thanksgiving leftovers. Hooters was the only thing open. That poor driver must've thought I was the loneliest man in the world, ordering Hooters on Thanksgiving.
Here are the results.
Hooters - 8 plain fried boneless wings, no dressing. $2 tip.
DoorDash - $15.90
Uber Eats - $16.78
Grubhub - $17.75
Postmates - $19.93
DoorDash came in cheapest, but they applied a $2.39 discount to my order. Uber Eats left off their $0.99 delivery fee. Postmates also left off its $1.99 delivery fee, but still ended up as the most expensive option, coming in at a whopping $19.93, which is the most expensive order in the entire experiment.
Next up, I wanted to try another chain, but one a little more local. I chose everyone's favorite Mexican street food restaurant Sabor. I chose my favorite dish, the carne asada fries.
Weirdly enough, I noticed that the base price of the dish was not the same across apps. Carne asada fries are $9.25 on Postmates, $9.50 on Grubhub, $9.95 on DoorDash, and $10.25 on Uber Eats.
Update (11:41 AM, 1/21/20): A rep for Sabor let me know that different services charge different rates to the restaurant for each order. To keep the service profitable for the restaurant, base prices are often modified across apps.
But with everything factored in, ironically enough, it's the app with the most expensive base price (Uber Eats) that had the cheapest total cost of delivery.
Sabor Latin Street Grill - Carne asada fries. $2 tip.
Uber Eats - $16.63
Postmates - $17.39
Grubhub - $18.18
DoorDash - $18.85
This time, none of the apps offered me a discount. Uber Eats came in as the least expensive option, a full 2 bucks and a quarter more expensive than DoorDash's $18.85 total.
Next up, I tried out Dilworth Neighborhood Grill. Its central location to popular neighborhoods like Myers Park, Uptown, and Southend make it an attractive workday food delivery option.
Dilworth Neighborhood Grill - Greek chicken pita with a side of rice. $2 tip.
DoorDash - $17.85
Uber Eats - $18.25
Postmates - $18.37
Grubhub - $18.66
Again, none of the apps offered me a discount. DoorDash nets another win as the cheapest option. But Dilworth Neighborhood Grill had the smallest parity in price, as there was less than $1 separating the least expensive option from the most expensive option.
Lastly, we head to Teriyaki Madness. I decided to go with a vegetarian friendly option to see how our meatless neighbors are dealing with the apps.
Teriyaki Madness - Tofu teriyaki bowl, regular size, with white rice and steamed veggies. $2 tip.
Grubhub - $15.82
Postmates - $17.17
DoorDash - $17.71
Uber Eats - $18.07
For the first time, Grubhub is the least expensive, and it's by the largest gap on the list so far. Going with Grubhub for Teriyaki Madness would save you $1.35 compared to the cheapest option. Uber Eats ended up as the most expensive for the first time due to an absolutely ridiculous "Small Order Fee" which adds $2.
The Final Tally
Uber Eats Average - $17.43
Grubhub Average - $17.56
DoorDash Average - $17.58
Postmates Average - $18.21
On average with this admittedly small sample size, Uber Eats was on average slightly cheaper than Grubhub, which was slightly cheaper than DoorDash. All three were significantly less expensive than Postmates, whose gigantic Hooters thrust them into the top position.
But the real cost here? How high each app marks up the price.
The cheapest option for carne asada fries is over $6 more than if you got in your car and drove there yourself. Grubhub adds nearly $10 for your Greek chicken pita at Dilworth Neighborhood Grill. Uber Eats adds nearly $10 when you order Teriyaki Madness.
You pay extra to get food that takes longer, delivered to you lukewarm in a styrofoam tray by a stranger who can barely figure out how to park at your building. So is it really even that much more convenient?
Next time I open up a food delivery app, I just know my stomach is going to turn a little bit at these prices.