Easy eats with online ordering

Chef Du Jour

Had a hectic week? Too busy or tired to cook? Or just want a special meal for that special someone, but want to eat at home instead of dining out? Don't let your inability to cook scare you: Order in.

Even though I love to eat out, it can get a little tiring. Besides, all this bad weather gave me a perfectly good reason to stay in.

I found two Web sites that were perfect for what I wanted. The first site, A La Carte Express (www.alacart.com), features menus from over 80 restaurants in the D.C. area. The site is great, easy to read and user-friendly.

You can search the site by three different categories: location, restaurant name and cuisine. Unfortunately, a search for Tenleytown produced only one restaurant result, so I went back and searched for 30 minutes in locations such as Chevy Chase and Georgetown. Finally I decided on a restaurant.

Ordering is extremely simple. You can either call the restaurant with your order or place the order online. You receive a confirmation number if you order online, but I prefer the old-fashioned telephone method; it's easier, especially if you have questions that a computer cannot answer.

I liked the little footnote on the site, reminding customers that these restaurants are not fast food joints and the order takes a little time. My order did take some time, but it was delivered piping hot and the quality of the food was good. After transferring the food to my plates, we had a cozy meal from a great restaurant in the comfort of my apartment.

All of this online ordering got me to thinking about why I couldn't order online from Tenleytown restaurants. Then one night my friend invited me over for dinner. She had ordered food from a Chinese restaurant in Tenleytown that delivered and accepted EagleBuck$.

If you access the EagleBuck$ Web site through the my.american.edu portal, you'll find more than 25 local restaurants and food vendors, ranging from pizza places to more upscale restaurants like Chef Geoff's. You can even order flowers for your special someone and have them delivered to your room or to a restaurant without having to use cash. No fuss, no worry and you come out looking like a big spender.

Not all of these restaurants deliver, but all are reasonably close to campus. The ease and convenience of these two ordering services cannot be beat. Pick up the phone or log in, and that's about all there is to it. Even if the restaurant you pick does not deliver, it would be hard to beat the ease of using EagleBuck$.

And, OK, I have a guilty pleasure to confess: Philadelphia Cheese Steak Factory. On that note, bon appetit!

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