Life Beyond Seamless: A Guide to the Brave New World of Food Delivery

Eggs something from Juventino photo via Caviar
Gorditas de Pueba from Juventino
photo via Caviar

On-the-go New Yorkers aren’t ashamed to admit how much of their income they tend blow on takeout—some regularly spend up to $1,800 per month! But considering the rate in which new food delivery startups have flooded the market, old standbys like Seamless may soon become about as relevant as MySpace. So the next time you’re craving baked clams, BBQ ribs or pad thai noodles enjoyed from a corner of your couch, here’s a brief breakdown of what’s out there right now, from Maple’s celeb-chef driven service to Arcade’s ridiculously simple app.

Caviar: Consider this the high-end alternative to Seamless—sure the thousand-strong online restaurant hub can get you pork fried rice from Red Hot 2 in a hurry, but Caviar works exclusively with premium clients. Which means that, for a flat fee of only $5 (rolled back from $10), you can order from a select group of approved eateries, many of which don’t otherwise offer delivery, such as top ramen shop Chuko. And each available menu item is accompanied by a high-res colored photo—making it all too easy to impulse-splurge on Frankie’s Spuntino’s housemade cavatelli with hot sausage and browned sage butter, or Wilma Jean’s fried chicken sandwich, with a side of crispy okra chips.

Arcade: Taking the scrupulously curated home delivery bit one further, the Arcade app offers just one dish from one participating restaurant each day. Launched by the founders of Served by Stadium (yet another to-go focused start-up, that allows patrons to mix and match items from various restaurants), members receive a text at 10am concerning that day’s selection (such as dan dan noodles from Han Dynasty). If you reply with a “yes” by 11am, your food will be shuttled right to you at 1pm, just in time for lunch!

Maple: Even David Chang has gotten into the delivery game—except his small (but remarkably well-financed) food service business has removed restaurants from the equation entirely. Instead, they’ve assembled a “culinary board” of all-star chefs, including Mark Ladner, Brooks Headley and of course, Chang, who help conceive the travel-friendly dishes that are executed by Soa Davies, a six year veteran of Le Bernardin. But even though the commissary kitchen is actually in Brooklyn, Maple’s current delivery zone is even more limited than its menu; it’s currently only serving the denizens of FiDi.

Wunwun: Not interested in being limited to a dish or two? Wunwun is essentially Seamless on steroids, expanding well beyond the food world to deliver anything to anywhere, and do anything for anyone. Hell, for $15 an hour, a Wunwun staffer will happily wait on line, for your daily allotment of Cronuts.

Postmates: This San Fran-based, third party delivery service with an outpost in DUMBO also has its fingers in a number of pots, employing a team of freelance couriers (if you have a car or a bike, you can totally sign up for a job), that transport everything from office supplies to burgers and fries to groceries, in under an hour and at no extra cost. 


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