If you needed more evidence that Uber is slowly — service by service — taking over the world, then look no further than uberFRESH, the company's ever-expanding food delivery service.
They’re already driving you everywhere, financing your vehicles and giving you your flu shots. So, of course, why not feed you, as well? Say hello to uberFRESH’s new L.A. dinner service, which further encroaches on the territory of Grubhub, Eat24, Seamless and the like.
Following the successful expansion of its lunch service, which launched in L.A. in August, Uber is partnering up with different local restaurants to deliver meals during the dinner hour. It’s currently not a service that's available every day (weekdays only, 5:30 to 8 p.m.) and it’s not yet everywhere in the city (sorry, Eastside and downtown), but the concept manages to encompass a pretty ambitious swath of the Westside, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Hollywood. (Full coverage map available here).
Beginning this week, you'll be able to choose from two restaurants, offering one menu item apiece. While some eateries, such as Bay Cities, only do lunch, others, such as Fundamental LA, will do both lunch and dinner. You can order multiple meals — as many as you want, in theory. In practice, however, that’s not always reliable. The drivers sometimes will be down to their last meal or two, which means you’ll have to place another order (and pay another $3 delivery fee) if you wanted more.
Lunch drivers carry up to 100 meals at a time, but the dinner drivers we spoke to last week carried only five, ostensibly because dinners are hot and they want to make sure the meals don’t cool too much during the course of driving around. You can call or text your driver through the app to verify he or she has what you want. One thing to note is that while Uber has added a few veggie items to the lunch menu, uberFRESH dinner offerings are decidedly carnivorous. Vegetarians perusing the weekly menus will simply read: MEAT. MEAT. MEAT. AND MORE MEAT.
So how’s the food? Mostly good — sometimes very good. A steak sandwich from STK traveled the least well — while the flavors were good, the hot sandwich wilted in the airtight container. A roasted chicken breast from Fundamental LA was nicely done, its accompanying mushroom couscous rich and buttery. Littlefork’s birch beer BBQ sauce was innocuous, but the pork ribs that came with it were tender and flavorful.
In the course of our research, we asked all the drivers what they thought of the delivery service, and they seemed to like it. The drivers also do regular UberX service but receive a flat hourly rate during the meal times. Of the four times we ordered uberFRESH, three of the delivery drivers were women. A small sample, to be sure, but interesting, since our UberX drivers for regular transportation have almost always been male. We asked one of the drivers, Julia, about that — she said she prefers delivering food to regular driving. “I like getting an hourly rate, and I like not dealing with drunk people in my car,” she said. “I think a lot of women drivers prefer this.”
There are occasional traffic hiccups, causing the food to take slightly longer than (from their blog) “less than 10 minutes,” but overall the service is a winner.
Uber winnowing the dinner selection down to one item from one restaurant (two restaurants beginning midweek) may annoy some, but it’s also oddly freeing, and rids one of the feeling of being paralyzed by too many choices (think: Cheesecake Factory, whose menu has a search feature). Monday's dinner is a rice bowl with chicken, end of story. Don’t want it? Try again tomorrow.