Getting dinner delivered was a drag when I first moved to Long Beach. For years, not wanting to cook a meal meant dancing between dialing the phone for another mediocre late-night pie from Big E’s Pizza or calling for some whitewashed noodles and curry from the few Thai places that staff their own driver. But with the advent of delivery services like Postmates, Doordash, Grubhub, Amazon Prime Now and even the city’s own Maritime Bike Courier service — which has signed up dozens of never-before-delivered restaurants, like MVPs on 4th Street, through Eat 24 — all that is changing.
It might have taken some time for the big-name delivery-on-demand companies to make an effort in Long Beach, but 2016 is the year that all kinds of food and drinks from hundreds of local restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops and juice bars across the city are finally available at the click of a button or with the quick scroll on a phone. Where Long Beach was once lacking in delivery options, there are now almost too many. Not only are you tasked with deciding which restaurant you want food from, but you must also decide which app you prefer to use to have it delivered.
I’ve tried Postmates, Doordash and Grubhub in the recent past to order things like catfish po’ boys from Crazy Creole Café, bibimbap bowls from all-time-fave Sura and plates of pollo mesapa from Honduras Kitchen when the pajamas are stuck on my body and the cravings just won’t quit. Yet, none of them have been as simple, cheap or adventure-encouraging as I’d hoped.
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Last weekend, UberEATS finally launched its delivery service in Long Beach (though not its “instant” lunch service), making it the last of the competing big-name gig economy apps to start serving the city. Its arrival in Long Beach’s now-crowded market — despite being almost two years after the ride-sharing service’s initial attempt at food delivery (then called UberFresh) first dropped in L.A. and six months after Uber rolled out its new standalone UberEATS app — is still a game changer.
For one, UberEATS has a flat $5 delivery fee for everywhere, meaning it costs the same (tip is included) to get you food from Los Altos as it does from downtown. Secondly, that flat fee doesn’t come with any other hidden agendas. The menu prices listed for the 25 restaurants the app currently sells from appear to match what the restaurant itself would charge if you bought it there, and unlike Postmates, where a $10 dish can turn into a $22 order after hefty delivery and service fees, there is nothing extra to pay here except tax.
Uber’s investment in some pretty food photography for popular dishes at each restaurant – including places that are harder to find or nonexistent on other apps like Hamburger Mary’s, Halal Guys, Bo-Beau and Gaucho Grill – is a nice differentiation too. It helps speed along the decision-making, reassuring you that what is described will appear as promised.
On several orders made this week, the whole process, from hitting confirm to food in hand, took around 30 minutes (they ping you when the courier leaves the restaurant with your food), which is not much longer than I would have waited if I was sitting at a table inside and far faster than any other time I’ve tried to have food brought to me at home. With all the new delivery services flooding Long Beach, we'll never have to dial up for mediocre dinner again.