Bitcoins burning a hole in your pocket? Try ordering some takeout

You can already spend Bitcoins on hand-crafted goods on Etsy, and you can keep romance alive on OKCupid using the crypto-currency. Now, thanks to Foodler, you can order food with Bitcoin from more than 17,000 restaurants nationwide.

Paying for food online with Bitcoins isn’t new. Pizzaforcoins has famously set up a site that takes Bitcoins in exchange for ordering a pie from your local Domino’s. Some entrepreneurial food purveyors online, such as Bitcoin Coffee, also deal in the digital currency. (For a detailed explanation of how the Bitcoin economy works, check out my colleague David Meyer’s comprehensive post.) But what’s interesting about Foodler is its scope.

BitcoinsFoodler is an online delivery and takeout portal a similar to GrubHub that hosts menus and handles orders for restaurants in 48 states, and it has made Bitcoin another option for payment alongside credit cards, debit cards and cash on delivery. You can’t pay for a pizza or your mu shu pork order with Bitcoin directly to the delivery guy, but Foodler has set up an account portal that generates a unique deposit address and QR code, which customers can use to deposit their Bitcoins. Using the current USD exchange rate, Foodler turns them into FoodlerBucks, which can then be used to pay for orders and even tip through its online portal or mobile app.

It might sound like a marketing gimmick, but Foodler CEO Christian Dumontet said the company is firm believer in innovation, whether it’s technological, economic or, in the case of Bitcoin, both.

“We understand that Bitcoin users are a small, but influential, group of early adopters and Bitcoin orders will likely be a small percentage of all Foodler payments this year, but as early adopters ourselves, we are excited to support the community and help it grow,” Dumontet said in an email. “We were surprised to receive our first Bitcoin payment from a customer in San Francisco just hours after making it available in our system – prior to any kind of public announcement.”

Of course, given the recent nosedive in Bitcoin value, some people may be reluctant to part with their Bitcoins just yet – it would take four times the amount of Bitcoin to buy an $8 burrito today than it did last week. Still, Dumontet isn’t letting the volatility of the crypto-currency phase him. He said would Foodler would hold on to the some of the Bitcoins it does receive, instead of immediately cashing them in for U.S. dollars, and it plans to participate in the Bitcoin economy by seeking out vendors that accept the currency.