Why is there so little delivery in Cincinnati?

The Cincinnati metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million people. It’s the largest metro area in Ohio, and ranks #24 in the US.

With so many people, why the heck can’t I get Indian delivered to me on a Friday night?

I was working at home, late on a Friday night, and really wanted Indian food. I can get food delivered to me: two different Chinese restaurants and three pizza places (theoretically) deliver to my place.  But that’s it.  In other cities– most larger, and many smaller, I can get other cuisines delivered as well.  I only have Chinese delivery because of my proximity to Clifton, and in most of the other neighborhoods I’ve lived in, pizza was the limit of delivery.

So, this is isn’t a discussion about why people won’t deliver to MY neighborhood.  I get it, it’s up and coming, and a lot of delivery drivers have had bad experiences.  However, why is it that barely anywhere in Cincinnati can you get non-pizza delivery?  You would think that one of the Indian restaurants or Thai restaurants in Clifton would deliver, or that Hyde Park would have a crazy amount of Thai delivery.  A quick google search leads me to a Metromix page that references Indian delivery, but none of the restaurants actually appear to deliver.


So, what delivers in your neighborhood? And what kind of food would you like to see delivered?

42 thoughts on “Why is there so little delivery in Cincinnati?”

  • @winemedineme After years of travel and visiting friends in other cities, I’ve often wondered why we didn’t have more delivery options too.

  • The other issue is OTR specific delivery. Even if a place is 4 blocks away, it doesn’t mean they deliver to OTR (or specific streets).

    If I could get thai delivered I’d be a happy camper, or some other options on pizza besides larosas

  • Problems of delivery to neighborhoods is one thing/excuse. Why not limit delivery to daytime only, maybe? What about all the other areas? What’s the excuse there? Whether city or clustered suburb, delivery for anything but pizza is sorely lacking.

    Here in Fairfield we’ve many great Mexican places, Chinese places, a couple mom & pop food places, and not one delivers. Well one Chinese ONLY if you order $20 of Chinese!–for one person– that’s way too much food– & they are not that great. We’ve got chain pizza places that deliver gross pizza (sorry my opinion) & 2 mom & pop pizza places that never deliver. And they have great sandwiches dinners?! All w/in five or 10 minutes of 1000s of homes or businesses. What’s their excuse?

    I wish a great food place would open up in the Jungle Jim’s mall and DELIVER. Between the customers in his store & various ethnic groups in this area, it’s mind boggling pizza is the ONLY thing that delivers.

    Tired peeps/homebound due to illness/folks who don’t drive a lot, would really appreciate home delivery of food besides *sigh* pizza. My 90 yr old mom has complained about the same issue for years. YEARS. Larosa’s delivers but again for a certain amount only and my mom doesn’t eat much & left overs are not always good (grilled chicken salad, for instance)

    I think this blog post should go to EVERY RESTAURANT in my zip code, and everybody elses! 🙂 Thanks for the post.


  • I have often wondered the same thing about Indian… Since your post has made me think about what is delivered to my area, there is a decent amount. We get sushi/thai, chinese, and pizza. I still miss my burger, fries and milk shakes from when I lived in Atlanta.

  • I’m all the way down on 4th street so I feel your pain! NOTHING delivers! When I lived in Clifton my favorite delivery was Maki Express, the sushi place. But, it would cost an arm and a leg to get in delivered! :/ something’s gotta change!

  • I agree, but this is not just a Cincy issue, many other cities have the same problem. I know that, in part, the problem here is the geography. I live 9 minutes from the Reds Stadium by car, and I cannot even get Donatos delivered! Being on the Fort Wright/Covington border is ugly :-0

  • I’m with you! When we lived in Pleasant Ridge, we could get one pizza place and one chinese place delivered. PERIOD. Now we live in Madeira where we can get a couple pizza places, one thai and presumably that same chinese place from the old house. But the choices are so limited!

  • I’d be up for helping to figure out a local restaurant delivery service (ala DineIn.com). I’ve found web software open source. Could start with (local) restaurants that already do take out, maybe restaurants in the basin, and delivery anywhere within 2 or 3 miles (incl UC & hospitals, downtown residents & hotel guests, and lawfirms & accountants in that geography). Work out from there. I’ve beem thinking about the logistics for a while. Happy to share with anyone who’s willing to implement. I heard TakeOutTaxi was tried here a long time ago but there were a variety of reasons that it didn’t work, none of which are relevant today. Let’s do it.

  • I think that Deep India in Clifton may deliver – over 15$ for delivery, which is a lot of Indian food! Maki also delivers sushi, but idk how much it would cost to get to OTR.

  • Ah…memories.

    For several years in another lifetime, I lived in midtown Manhattan for a portion of the year. It was mind-numbing, the number of delivery menus that were CONSTANTLY being slipped under the door…pizza, deli, Indian, Chinese, Thai, sushi, Vietnamese, Greek…the list goes on almost endlessly. And most of the places delivered until 2 or 3 a.m. every day, if not 24 hours a day. In fact, there was a bakery just down the street that delivered 24 hours…have a craving for a cannoli at 3 a.m.? Not a problem. Several nearby places would deliver GROCERIES, for God’s sake.

    I understand that Cincinnati is not New York City. But with a population of more than two million, we should certainly have options than are currently out there.

      • Julie

        Do you remember when Kroger tried offering home delivery? I think it was pre-internet..maybe late 80s or early 90’s. The delivery seemed a bit steep but some of us thought they should have a sliding scale based on miles to make it do-able 🙂 But they offered a flat fee to keep it fair but..obviously was too high as it did not work. Perhaps they were ahead of their time. I have a friend living at a compassionate care home that can not drive and more food delivery & grocery delivery would be great. Maybe that’s another post?

        at The Boyfriend
        My neice and her beau of many years live in Brooklyn and have many delivery options. They love it even tho they mainly cook their own food due to gluten free issues, but even still they have options!

        • @Sophiaz123…

          Since posting my original comment, I’ve thought about the Cincinnati vs. New York (i.e., what-do-they-have-versus-what-WE-have) situation.

          (1) In any of the boroughs of NYC, food delivery is a part of the cultural fabric of the city. People EXPECT to be able to have food delivered to them. And, as you said, it has little to nothing to do with laziness. When restaurants establish themselves in New York, delivery is very much a part of their business model. Here? Not so much.

          (2) New York (including Brooklyn) has a geographic uniqueness. NYC has such a compacted population. In Midtown, scores (even HUNDREDS) of thousands of people can live inside a relatively small area. Moving around NYC via automobile can be a nightmare at any time of the day, on any day of the week…many of the major thoroughfares can become virtual parking lots during rush hour. But the city can be navigated amazingly (almost startling) quickly by bicycle at any time of the day or night on any day of the week. The vast majority of food delivery is done in NYC via bicycles, mo-peds, scooters, or similar vehicles. In the years that I lived there, I was often surprised at how quickly food could be delivered from 20-30 blocks away…even during heavy traffic times. (Place an order…the food is cooked…the delivery person jumps on a bike or mo-ped and runs against the flow of traffic on one-way streets to arrive at the delivery site within a couple of minutes of departure time.) This is not something that can be readily duplicated in the Cincinnati area because of how spread-out the city actually is.

  • the “problem” of food delivery isn’t a ‘nati problem. i live on the west coast (cincy native), and we really don’t have any delivery here either (besides papa johns and one local pizza chain). the problem has zero to do with geography and 100% to do with cost. it isn’t cost-effective. if you want your chinese or phad thai or pho or sushi or pasta or whatever it is, either learn to cook it or get off your butt and go pick it up yourself. too many years of stingy tips and rising gas and insurance prices have led restaurants to either stop offering delivery or to never offer delivery in the first place. i’ll be the first to admit that i’m pretty stingy on tipping, but then again, i don’t complain when I have to drive a mile or so to go pick up some take out. it really only takes five minutes anyways, right? only person i know who has done delivery in the past ten years had a rule that the delivery area was only within walking distance, so basically, they would only deliver to the three or four block long business district, since personal auto insurance generally doesn’t allow business use, and most businesses are too cheap to insure somebody’s personal vehicle.

    as far as neighborhoods go, there’s no way i would ever deliver anything to OTR, corryville, avondale, or clifton heights after about 8 pm, any time of year. it isn’t worth risking my life.

    • What about delivery bikes? Plus, I know you live on the west coast, but have you been to OTR lately? You wouldn’t be dodging bullets. What about other, “nicer” neighborhoods?

    • Some may not have a car, only share a car part time, or have health issues the prevent FREEDOM to leave house whenever you want..and you’d like something different to eat. If stamina is an issue, same thing. Sure most of us try to think in advance but not everybody can just hope in a car whenever. We try to tip well and xtra if raining or snowing. And offer the guy hot coffee & cookies 🙂

      So it’s not a lazy thing by any means…ok maybe sometimes if one has worked 60 hours a week at work, come home and had a drink or two and doesn’t want to ‘drive anywhere’. A friend of mine has had that happen. Sure we eat grilled cheese, PB&J but sometimes Chinese or Mexican sounds good.

      I understand the cost issue but for close places I’m talking about, like Julie said, bikes would work! Now, we have a very steep hill so would go back to extra tipping, lol 🙂

  • Well, it actually does involve geography, to get to where I live you have to drive around several hills that are not an issue in other parts of the country. It is what limits my options here.

    I am saddened that people feel that OTR, CUF, etc are remarkably dangerous. They are all much safer than anywhere in, let’s use Flint, MI as an example. Flint has one fourth the population, and the same murder count for 2010 as Cincy. No place in Cincinnati is worse than the best place there, and yet no martial law has to be declared and pizza is delivered all over the city.

  • OTR, Clifton, Hyde Park, Oakley are all walking communities. It would never occur to me to have Deweys, Baba India or any other nearby eatery deliver to me since part of the fun is walking in the neighborhood.

    Also, the owners of Baba India own restaurants in a number of these neighborhoods so in theory, they’ve already delivered Indian food to you. 🙂

    • I don’t quite get the logic– just because they’re walking communities doesn’t mean that delivery wouldn’t be an option or a desire. Think about a city like New York or Chicago, both very walkable city, but also cities where delivery is incredibly common. I would have preferred to not have wasted time driving to get food and driving back, as I was working.

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for delivery, even in a “walkable” neighborhood.

  • since i live 1/2 block from ludlow ave in clifton, i’ve never really thought about delivery… i just walk down the street and pick it up.

    i can see how it’d be a nuisance in other neighborhoods, though.

  • In East Price Hill we have TWO companies that will deliver: Queen City Pizza and LaRosa’s. No Indian, no Chinese, no Thai. Not even Dominoes will deliver to us. The normal chains tell us it’s too dangerous. We have NO Indian on the West Side at all.

    When I lived in East Walnut Hills – until 2008 one block from DeSales Ave – the ONLY company who would deliver was LaRosa’s. Everyplace else told me it was too dangerous.

    Many of you do not like LaRosa’s but I eat their delivery for two reasons: 1. no other options and 2. they support Cincinnati and their customer base by delivering in areas deemed “too dangerous” by other companies.

  • When I lived in Walnut Hills several years ago (okay, more like 5 years ago), I always craved Indian Food and I would have to drive all the way down to Krishna Indian Carryout to pick it up myself. In the few short years (5) that have passed since then, I’ve mastered cooking Indian and Thai on my own so well that I don’t miss the carryout, and generally just pick it up on my way home if I don’t have time to make it. With Mason not really being a walking neighborhood, delivery persons on bike probably wouldn’t work, but I think in cars would encourage me to order more often. Maybe this post will send a message to local businesses? I hope.

  • Umm.. In Hyde Park (aka “where white is right”™) there are three asian delivery places:
    Yat Ka Mein

    Sadly, we don’t have Indian delivery. Although, if Baba delivered, there would be no one in the shop.

  • If there were money to be made delivering food, someone would be doing it.

    Also, if you ever order LaRosa’s you must not have any good dining in your hood at all, or you must not have the culinary knowlege to heat up a DiGiorno, or you must have dreadful taste in pizza.

  • Try living on the Westside. Here in Covedale Larosa’s, PaPa John’s & Queen City Pizza deliver. That’s it. Then again, there are so few decent dining choices over here that I wouldn’t really want anything delivered that’s around here……..

  • Multiple-restaurant delivery is actually a pretty tough biz… Only recently has the right tech become available @ an affordable price. Now that people are becoming more used to the idea of ordering food online, we’re definitely seeing a pick up among restaurant and restaurant delivery service online ordering. no clients yet in Cincy, but you could use our software !

  • Up in the burbs we get Pizza from about 6 places. We also have jimmy johns which will delvier on sandwhich. Nothing else either.

  • Eat 24 Hours food delivery is free and offers the best service and selection. It’s defiantly worth the visit, extremely convenient, easy to browse menus, cupons and special offers from you favorite restaurant.

    Currently expanding to include the Cincinnati area!!!

  • There was a guy doing multi store bicycle delivery in Northside for awhile. He moved on for a non business reason I believe.
    I believe China Kitchen in Clifton delivers for a $20 minimum?
    Sometimes, when you have been out working in the yard or basement, you just don’t want to go into a place of business, so it’s not just a walkability thing.

  • We are sharing the frustration tonight. Our delivery options are pizza or Chinese. We had to go with Chinese…again! http://www.foodexdelivers.com/ if you can put zip code 45230 in your delivery options, you would have A LOT of happy people in this part of town. 😉

  • So this is an old post but I’m going through it as we speak. My choices are 5 different pizza places: Marco’s, LaRosas, Naked Pizza, Donatos and Papa John’s *frustrating*!

    I went to OSU (go bucks!) and miss it every night. They literally send out a book – ala Reach magazine that lists every restaurants with their menus that deliver and it…was…glorious! Now which pizza place should I pick from this time?

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  • ZootedDelivery.com
    They deliver from over 20 restaurants in Cincinnati that don’t currently deliver. They are open 7 days a week from 11am-12pm.

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