Sites for the hungry and phone-weary

You want to order your next meal for delivery, but don't feel like being put on hold or repeating yourself. These sites let you browse menus and order in locally online.

It's the end of a long day, and your stomach is starting to growl. You've got nothing appetizing within reach, you don't feel like venturing outside again, and you certainly don't feel like being put on hold by the local deli. It's time to order in online.

Domino's recently announced that has enhanced its site for online delivery ordering , and even though the pizza business seems to be leading the restaurant industry in online ordering, there are quite a few online services that will help orchestrate your next meal delivery.

Although the sites in this roundup provide varying degrees of usability--and I can't vouch for their reliability--you should find use for at least one of them.

Restaurant delivery services

Delivery.com Enter your address on Delivery.com's home page, and it provides a list of all the restaurants in your area with which it has partnered to deliver food to your area. Those located in metropolitan areas will naturally have a better selection of restaurants than those in more rural areas, and even in the city, third-party delivery may mean longer waits than usual.

That said, the ordering process is pretty simple. After you choose the restaurant you want (you can sort your results by cuisine, distance, and ratings), you can click through its menu, customize your meal, and select a delivery time. Delivery.com then contacts that partner, places your order, and collects a fee from the restaurant for referring you. You'll pay for the price of the food and delivery only.

Delivery.com
Delivery.com makes it easy to order food in from local restaurants. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Domino's Domino's recently revamped its site to improve the online-ordering experience, and it has succeeded.

Create a Domino's account, and you'll find Domino's locations in your area. If ordering a pizza, you can easily select its size, type, and toppings. Domino's says you will be able to track your pizza from the point of order to delivery. It even has the option to track your order on Facebook and Twitter.

Although I didn't have the opportunity to try out Domino's delivery, one person who has used the service, "KJ," said she "loves" the site's "pizza tracker."

Domino's
Domino's lets you track your pizza from order to delivery--via Facebook or Twitter. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

GrubHub GrubHub lets you order food online and have it delivered to your doorstep by local restaurants. Unfortunately, the site provides its service only in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Anyone living outside of those metro areas won't be able to use GrubHub.

But if you do live around those areas, you'll find a slew of restaurants that will deliver. When you pick the restaurant you want to deliver to your home, you need only to look through its menu, pick your food, and input your address. GrubHub will then contact the restaurant and place your order. Whenever GrubHub places an order, the restaurants pay the company a fee. It's a convenient service; I just wish it supported more cities.

Although I didn't have a chance to try out GrubHub, I did find quite a few tweets on Twitter that talked about how reliable the service is. According to one user, Dupreeblue, they "use GrubHub all the time and have never had issues. More choices, less delivery fees as well."

GrubHub
GrubHub's ordering system is designed well. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

MealAgent Like GrubHub, MealAgent caters to users only in select states. In fact, just a handful of states are listed on the site.

Although there aren't as many restaurants listed as I would like, the site makes it quick and easy to place an order. You can look through a restaurant's entire menu, choose various items to order, and you're all set. It's then added to the cart and paid for. It's a simple service, but it doesn't quite compare to the others.

MealAgent
MealAgent is a little ugly, but it makes ordering easy. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Papa John's Papa John's also allows you to order pizza online. When you get to the site, you can input your ZIP code or address. It then finds all the Papa John's stores in your area. Unfortunately, in my area, the site only provided carryout options--no delivery was available.

I'm not overly impressed with Papa John's pizza creation tool. It doesn't provide as many options (in terms of toppings, sizes, and pizza types) as those offered by Domino's and Pizza Hut. But Papa John's does match the competition nicely with all its extras. You can order via SMS, the company's mobile site, or use any one of its social-networking widgets to place your order. With a better pizza creation system, Papa John's could have an ideal online ordering service.

Papa John's
Papa John's has a less than ideal pizza creation system. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Pizza Hut The Pizza Hut online-ordering service works beautifully. After you register for the site by inputting your address and phone number, you can immediately start ordering pizza. Besides picking the kind of pizza you want, you can also choose its toppings. It's an intuitive and quick experience. Once complete, you can pay on the site and have it delivered to your house.

Pizza Hut's service supports many locations across the United States, but beware that in some areas, you won't be able to get the pizza delivered. In fact, I was able only to pick up pizza at a local Pizza Hut for my town--no delivery options were available.

Pizza Hut
Ordering pizzas takes no time with the Pizza Hut interface. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

My top 3

1. Domino's: It's new, and with all the extras, it's the best.

2. Pizza Hut: It can't match Domino's, but it's close.

3. Papa John's: With mobile extras, Papa John's is just behind Pizza Hut in online ordering.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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