My wife was out of town recently, so I did what any typical man would do while his wife is away – I had food delivered and watched Apocalypse Now Redux. Since I previously reviewed GrubHub (which, sadly, seems to have even reduced their presence in Lakeland since that post), this seemed like a good time to review the major restaurant food delivery service in Polk County, Takeout Hero.
Takeout Hero does offer delivery from an impressive array of local restaurants (their web site claims over 40 currently, and I believe it). For this experiment, I chose to order from Hallback’s Bar & Grill in Lakeland.
I found Takeout Hero’s web site easy to navigate. There is a delivery fee that starts at $3.99 and increases with distance from the restaurant to the customer. You are allowed to schedule delivery days or even weeks in advance, and I would encourage this. I began placing my order a little before 12 noon and was initially allowed to choose a 1PM delivery time. In the few minutes it took to complete my order, 1:30PM was the earliest time available. So planning ahead should allow you to select the time that works best for you.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve read about Takeout Hero is that they also have an upcharge on menu items, meaning that food costs more via Takeout Hero than if you went to the actual restaurant. In this case, both meals I ordered were listed at $11.95 on the restaurant’s web site but cost $13.74 through Takeout Hero. That’s nearly a 15% markup and can become costly if you’re ordering for several people. I felt it was excessive on top of the delivery fee, but every customer can decide their own budget constraints. The web site defaults to an 18% tip for the driver, which I felt was quite reasonable, but you can change this amount before finalizing your order.
The photo above is a partial screen shot from the Takeout Hero web site shortly before my food was delivered. I like the idea, but I can’t say the information was helpful. For example, “Reviewed” with “43 minutes” didn’t really tell me anything. This step was completed less than 43 minutes after the order was received, and more than 43 minutes before the food was delivered, so I wasn’t sure what the time estimates meant.
The good news is that they did deliver punctually at 1:30PM. The driver was very professional and courteous. The food was hot. So the quality of service was quite good.
I ordered two meals to better sample Hallback’s food. One was a BBQ bacon cheddar burger with french fries. The other was fish and chips with tartar sauce and slaw. And the food was all delicious. The burger was well done as I had requested via the web site. The included tomato slices were hearty. The fries were delicious, lightly seasoned with pepper. The fish was tender but crispy on the outside – Hallback’s included 2 containers of tartar sauce, when most restaurants would have skimped on one. I’m not a slaw fan, but a generous portion came with the meal.
So I was very impressed with Hallback’s food and would not hesitate to visit the actual restaurant. They are located in Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in southwest Lakeland.
As much as I like the idea of Takeout Hero, I feel it needs some work to be really effective. The combination of upcharge and delivery fee felt excessive. The total cost, with delivery fee, sales tax, and driver tip, came to about $39. Timing was excessive also, but you can avoid this by ordering well in advance. On the other hand, Takeout Hero has been in business since 2013, so they are apparently doing something right.
And if you plan to watch Apocalypse Now, watch the Redux version, trust me.
If we’ve inspired you to visit Hallback’s Bar & Grill (or experiment with Takeout Hero), or if you’ve already been and want to share your experience, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And if you have Polk County restaurant tips, please let us know via the Contact Us page. Thanks for visiting and happy eating!