As a resident in a central part of Johannesburg, I am in range of a number of restaurants – most of which are available on delivery platforms like Uber Eats and Mr D Food.
My roommates and I often take advantage of these delivery services to order food from a range of restaurants, including the occasional fast food outlet.
These platforms generally perform impressively, but we have always wondered how quick a delivery service like Uber Eats is compared to driving to the restaurant and ordering food yourself.
We were also curious about the pricing difference between the meals listed on Uber Eats and the restaurant’s menu, although these price differences can vary depending on the restaurant you are ordering from.
To this end, we decided to have a race on a Sunday evening between me and the Uber Eats delivery service.
Set-up and planning
To make the race as fair as possible, we decided to order the exact same meal from the same restaurant – RocoMamas at The Colony shopping centre on Jan Smuts Avenue.
This restaurant is located about four minutes from our apartment, which I assumed would give me the advantage over Uber Eats.
The test was simple: My roommate would order his meal on Uber Eats at the exact moment I walked out the door to drive to RocoMamas.
Once at RocoMamas, I would order my meal and wait for it to be prepared before driving back home, food in hand.
Meanwhile, the Uber Eats order would be prepared for my roommate, with the app keeping him updated on the estimated time of arrival.
Once the Uber Eats driver arrived with his food, all he would have to do is walk outside and collect his meal from the driver.
Whoever made it through the front door with their food first would be crowned the winner.
We decided to forgo ordering over the phone the meal I would be picking up, as I was confident in my ability to beat the Uber Eats driver without the advantage.
The meal that we both ordered was a Double-Up Bacon, Cheese, and Guacamole Burger with a side of shoestring fries. The standard version of the burger is pictured below:
Starting from the same room in our apartment, we started the race at 18:39.
Below is the blow-by-blow account of the events that followed:
- 18:39 – Race begins. Roommate orders his meal on Uber Eats and I leave the house. The estimated arrival time for the Uber Eats delivery is listed as 19:10 in the app.
- 18:45 – I have reached the RocoMamas, parked, and have just placed my order. The number of delivery scooters parked expectantly outside the restaurant makes me nervous.
- 18:52 – The estimated arrival time in the Uber Eats app changes to 18:56. My order is still being prepared.
- 18:54 – The Uber Eats driver has picked up the food and is minutes away from delivering it to my roommate. My order is still being prepared.
- 18:59 – I collect my food and hastily leave the RocoMamas.
- 19:00 – Roommate has picked up his food from the driver and has re-entered the house, victorious.
- 19:03 – Three minutes later, I enter the house with my food in hand.
I was seriously impressed at the performance of the Uber Eats service, considering I drove to and from the restaurant as quickly as possible, ordered much faster than I normally would, and waited anxiously for my meal by the counter so I could leave as soon as it was ready.
It turns out that my confidence in my ability to outpace Uber Eats was misplaced, despite the RocoMamas being such a short drive away.
Had I called ahead and ordered before leaving the house, I may have shaved around four minutes from my time and won the race, but this would still be roughly the same as the Uber Eats delivery time.
It turns out that using Uber Eats is around as fast as driving and picking up food yourself, meaning there is no reason not to use it—aside from the cost of delivery.
Both of our meals were similar in quality and cohesiveness after being driven from the restaurant, and both tasted fantastic.
My roommate and I compared the price for our identical meals, which is listed below:
- Standard Takeaway – R106
- Uber Eats order – R132
It should be noted that the Uber Eats price includes the standard R10 delivery fee, but does not include any tip amount.
This means that the price for the meal on Uber Eats—excluding the delivery fee—is R122, compared to the R106 when ordering from the restaurant directly.
These price variations depend on which restaurant you order from, but for the RocoMamas we tested, it costs you around R26 more to order through Uber Eats than to go pick the food up yourself.
This price does not include a tip for the driver, and if you are regularly giving R15 tips, you could be paying an extra R40 on your RocoMamas orders.
Despite this, the efficiency of the Uber Eats service is impressive in central areas and I will definitely continue to use it to order food from nearby restaurants.