Once upon a time, when people were hungry and in a hurry they had to either run through a fast-food drive-through or actually go through the trouble to make a phone call and talk with a human being to place an order to be picked up or delivered. Such archaic practices are giving way to online ordering, a much more cold and impersonal way to order your food.
All sarcasm aside, I actually love ordering food online. You skip the line, there’s much less chance of a failure in communication (which leads to improper orders), and you can take as much time as you want to look through the various options that are available without eating up anyone’s time but your own.
The restaurant industry has had large-scale ordering websites in place for years now, but we’re only just now starting to see the tip of this iceberg appear in the mobile app world. Today we’ll take a brief look at the state of ordering food using only iPhone apps.
Let’s start with the best. I’m a huge fan of this particular chain of burrito restaurants. They’ve got it all: fresh ingredients, amazing flavor, great design and burritos that are bigger than your face.
They also have a really stellar online ordering system that allows you to individually craft burritos for members of your group, assign a person’s name to each order, then throw it all in one bag for checkout.
The iPhone app follows this same format, and is possibly an even better implementation of the technology than the website. In addition to being quite attractive, the app is super user friendly and captures the essence of the Subway-style custom burrito building that you experience at the store.
I’ve used this app several times to place my own orders and it works just as promised. I have my favorite order saved so that the entire process literally just takes a few seconds. Another thing that they really get right is providing the option to pay through the app or later at the store. I trust Chipotle’s app with my credit card information but if you’re a little more hesitant, you can still use the app without sharing any financial information.
Pizza Hut deserves an honorable mention for applying some creativity to the ordering process and really taking advantage of the iPhone’s technology.
Rather than simply choosing items for your pizza, you actually go through the steps of building the pizza yourself in an simulated experience. You shake, tilt and pinch your way through adding and arranging ingredients just the way you want them and Pizza Hut will build you a real pizza based on your digital creation.
Don’t worry, the interactivity is really just a fun bonus, ordering through the app can still be done quite quickly. You can also use the app in “Demo Mode” to just play around with all of the fun features without actually placing an order.
It won’t always be the case that your favorite place has its very own iPhone app, but that doesn’t always mean you’re out of luck. If you live in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Denver, or Boulder, you can use the GrubHub app to quickly access any restaurant in your area with delivery options.
GrubHub goes way beyond simply ordering and provides reviews and ratings for restaurants in your area and allows you to filter the options by cuisine. The app is off to a great start, hopefully they’ll continue to expand the set of cities that the app covers.
More Apps for Ordering Online
The apps above are the three that really stood out to me, but there are quite a few more online ordering apps available for the iPhone. Here are a few more that caught my eye.
“The Official UK and Ireland Domino’s Pizza iPhone ordering application. Fancy a meal deal? It’s only a tap away with our easy to use turnstyle menu. Build your own pizza or create a half & half pizza with easy ‘slide’ and ‘pinch’ features. Can’t decide? Then use the Pizza Slot Machine and we’ll suggest a tasty Domino’s Pizza for you to order!”
“Papa John’s now delivers with the best pizza ordering application for your iPhone or iPod Touch. Earn free pizza with our Papa Points reward program (account login required). ”
“Snapfinger is the internet’s largest restaurant site for online and mobile food ordering. Whether you just want to skip the line at lunch or order dinner on your way home from work, Snapfinger is the fastest, most convenient way to locate and order food from your favorite restaurants. It is like having your own personal drive-thru window for your favorite restaurants right on your iPhone.”
“From sandwiches to salads, Jason’s deli offers healthy food that everyone can feel good about. Now these ‘deli’cious choices are available in the convenience of the Jason’s deli app!”
“Tap.Order.Eat. Available in New York City and San Francisco with more cities to come. CityMint, a location based delivery app has been featured on WABC, WPIX, NY Daily News, Gothamist, TechCrunch and 7×7 Magazine. Hungry? Discover the ease and convenience of CityMint’s mobile food ordering platform.”
“Order delivery and takeout food from restaurants in your area faster and easier than ever before by using SeamlessWeb. Simply enter your address or let your phone’s GPS find your location and choose one of our thousands of restaurants in New York City, New York Metro (Hoboken, Jersey City, Stamford, Greenwich), Washington DC/Northern VA and select areas within Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.”
Do You Order Food Online?
Once I discovered the ease and convenience of ordering food online and skipping the line at the register, I never turned back. This process continues to become even more convenient as more restaurants turn to the iPhone. How about you? Do you frequently order online or through your phone?
If so, leave a comment below and let us know what restaurants you use that allow you to place orders either through a browser, an iPhone app or both!