Caviar is a food delivery service that allows you to order from higher end local restaurants that don’t typically offer delivery.
Acquired in 2014 by the company Square, the app and website partners with local restaurants in a growing number of cities and gives those restaurants more freedom to provide delivery service on their terms.
In this article we’ll give a brief guide to Caviar, then show you how to use their app, including parts of the app you might miss on first glance. We’ll also provide an updated list of cities where Caviar is available and answer other questions you might have about the service.
What Is Caviar?
Part of the Square family of services, Caviar’s business model is built around partnering with high-end restaurants that don’t typically offer food delivery. They make delivery possible for the best restaurants by giving them more freedom to define delivery service on their terms.
Restaurants can remove items from the delivery menu in real time, or can use the Caviar app to simply turn off delivery service if the kitchen is in the weeds or they want to prioritize service for in-house diners. Many restaurants on Caviar will pause delivery service on weekend nights so as to make sure they are accommodating diners, then use the app to help business during days and weeknights when the restaurants aren’t typically as full.
A Brief Guide to the App
The Caviar app is available as an iOS and Android app via the App Store or Google Play. The app is free on both services. For the purposes of this article, we’ll look at the iPhone mobile app, but the app is nearly identical on both services.
The Caviar app works in three different ways.
- It allows you to browse menus and select food items
- It works as a payment app, allowing you to pay for the food in different ways
- The app provides logistics to make sure the food is picked up and delivered
The first way the app works is by allowing you to browse menus and order food. The homepage of the app will assess your location (provided you turn on location services) or you can provide it by entering your address. Once it knows where you are, the app will populate with local restaurants that are partnered with Caviar, are open for delivery, and can provide service to you at that time.
It looks like this:
Once you’ve found a restaurant you like, you select it and then you can begin browsing the menu. The app separates out popular dishes of people who order there regularly. Once a menu item has caught your eye, you can select it and add it to your cart. But before you do, there’s an extra step that you might not find on other apps.
On the menu item page, it not only asks you for the number of dishes you want, but also gives you the option to add requests for the restaurant. It also asks you to also make your selection for what happens if the item is unavailable.
You can substitute with a restaurant recommendation, remove the item and have no substitution, or cancel the entire order.
This is something you don’t typically see on delivery apps, but Caviar makes sure to offer it because a big part of their business plan is being extremely friendly to restaurants. These higher-end places want the flexibility to be able to remove an item from delivery, especially if they’re running low in the restaurant or 86’ed the item (restaurant lingo for running out of a dish).
They are supposed to mark that down on the app, but sometimes restaurants don’t have time in the rush to mark an item as being unavailable. This option lets them take an order and replace it, or lets the user cancel.
Once you’ve made all your selections, you still have options once you’ve reached the check-out page.
There you can add requests for the restaurant, and put any dietary restrictions you might have. You can also add instructions for the courier, letting him or her know the best way to reach you once at your home or apartment, a code to get past a gate, or any other information they should have to make your delivery painless.
You also have the option to change your courier tip — most are set automatically at 18 percent, though you can set your own amount, or change it to 15 percent or 20 percent depending on how you want to reward the driver.
There are also options for payment, which lets you select whether you’d like to pay with Apple Pay or a major credit card. Lastly, you can enter a promo code, which can get you a discount on orders.
Things You Might Miss
The app is pretty straightforward for people who know how to use delivery apps, but there are a few wrinkles that separate Caviar from the competition, and a few things you might not know where to find.
If you’ve got a favorite go-to order that you want to return to quickly, Caviar gives you the option to load up your past delivery orders. You can update your star ranking for the order and see what dishes you got for ease of reference.
To find your previous orders, you first click on the person icon in the top left corner, which will load up your account.
There, you will get a menu, and one of the options is “Order History.”
Tap on that and you’re all set to view past orders.
Another option in the app is to generate a code which you can use to refer friends and earn $10 in delivery credit to use with the app.
To find your code, tap on the person icon in the top left corner of your home screen to get to your account settings. Once there, you’ll see at the top of the page there is an option to Refer Friends.
Click that, and you’ll be taken to a page where you can copy your personalized code, or email or text your friends directly with a sign-up link. As soon as they make their first order, you will be credited for the referral and can spend that cash on your next delivery order.
While not technically part of the app, Caviar has an blog that’s a really handy guide to the service and updates to the app.
Recent articles include one about ordering for paleo diners and the introduction of the Healthy Enough recommendations, which are hand-selected restaurants that appear on people’s ordering pages that allow them to review restaurants with healthy(ish) items that are delivering in their area.
Other Stuff to Know About Caviar
How It Compares to Competitors
The biggest differentiator between Caviar and such competitors as Uber Eats from Uber, Seamless, and Postmates is that Caviar tends to be much more restaurant-centric when it comes to its service.
Restaurants can pause delivery service, remove items at the touch of a button from its delivery menu, and more, options which are not typically offered or encouraged by competitors. This is a trade-off; it means that Caviar can offer delivery from restaurants that wouldn’t offer the service with someone else.
Where Caviar Is Located
Caviar currently serves Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Philadelphia, Queens, Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area (including the East Bay & Marin), Seattle, Portland, and Washington, D.C.
Is Tipping Required?
Tipping is encouraged for Caviar drivers, and available to be done through the app at checkout. You can also add a tip after delivery, or choose to tip cash in person if you prefer.
A Smart App for Fine Dining
The Caviar app is a pretty standard food delivery app in some ways, but some slight tweaks that make it more restaurant-friendly need to be understood and learned when you are new to the app. These are small prices to pay for the chance to order delivery from some of the best restaurants in your city, though.
Learning to use the app will give you the power to bring fine dining to your couch. Take advantage of it.