Running a restaurant is an exciting and rewarding career. But when it comes to your customers, it’s all about the food they eat and how much they enjoy it. If you want your customers satisfied with what they order, your menu is a vital part of the process. They need interesting names, detailed descriptions, and the right information to choose something they’ll enjoy. Your menu design makes a big difference in the customer experience (CX).
There are more than one million restaurants in the United States and nearly every town in America has multiple options for dining out. So if you want your establishment to stand out, you have to pay attention to the small details. Your menu is one of those elements that can make or break your business.
One of the best ways to figure out what you need for your own menu design is by studying some of the better examples. Take a look at these 14 menus to find some inspiration for your own creation.
1. CoreLife Eatery
According to industry reports, consumers are looking for healthy food options and foods that are locally sourced and responsibly grown. About 80 percent of customers pay closer attention to the nutritional content of food than even two years ago. CoreLife Eatery taps into that trend with a menu filled with fresh foods. With their online menu, they focus on how items are responsibly sourced and highlight their green bowls.
2. Michi Ramen
Another menu design worth studying is Michi Ramen’s. Their online menu features simple flat icons and explains the simple ordering process of picking a ramen noodle, choosing a broth and adding toppings. When you’re ready to order, choose a location and options using simple checkboxes.
If you’re looking for a menu design that’s a bit simpler, try Rouge’s categorized menu with the barest of descriptions. Notice how the menu is broken into sections, such as a main menu, brunch, cocktails, wines and others. Under selections like the cheese plate, you’ll find a very simple description of “soft, salty, stinky” to describe the cheeses.
4. Pizzeria Beddia
Pizzeria Beddia offers a PDF version of their menu so you can check out the offerings before you go and make some decisions. The font matches the fun atmosphere of the restaurant, which features images of a dog ready to eat pizza and close-ups of food prep.
5. Quo Vadis
Quo Vadis is located in London and features PDFs of their menus for breakfast, a la carte and puddings. Note the grid design of the menu and how it creates a nice flow for the user to read from one section to the next. This type of simple design allows diners to make a quick selection of food.
6. Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar
Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar & Wine Bar Cafe features PDF copies of their menu design. They offer a lunch menu, wine menu, dinner menu and what they call an “in-between” menu for those dining between lunch and dinner or those who don’t want as much to eat. The screenshot above is of their dinner menu. Notice how they highlight their specialty of oysters with a boxed section. This draws attention to that item and is a great technique to use for menus to draw attention to a specialty item.
7. The Dead Rabbit
The Dead Rabbit’s menu design is sleek but detailed. The prices are listed to the right for those who are budget-conscious. Note the detailed descriptions under each bolded item. For example, if you order a Cumberland Sausage Roll, you know you’ll get a puff pastry with smoked bacon. On the other hand, if you order Hand-Cut Truffled Chips — oh my gosh those sound good — you know they use curry mayo and malt vinegar aioli.
8. The Dapper Goose
The Dapper Goose uses a strong menu hierarchy that works well for fast browsing. Look at the dinner menu and you’ll see clear headings such as Cheese, Small Plates and Large Plates. Under each section, the name of the dish is bolded and then the description is in standard text.
9. Row 34
Row 34’s menu design is simple and makes use of the space provided without making the design seem overly crowded. Note the unique placing of information on this menu. Sections are divided by lines and then the title of the dish is in bold while the description is right next to it in non-bold. Finally, the price is aligned to the right. The hierarchy is clear but clean and takes up less space than putting elements on top of one another.
10. The Exchange Pub + Kitchen
Look at the menu design for The Exchange Pub + Kitchen. This particular restaurant features gourmet seasonal offerings sourced locally, so the menu changes frequently. With that in mind, the design is simple and easy to change, but the pops of red draw attention to chef specials. Details about each item are located directly under the name and the price is to the right. Each section is boxed into a separate section, so eaters can choose the main dish, a side or a starter.
Giraffe does something unique with their menu options by placing a small note next to the items that are new. This works well for regular patrons who might want to try something they’ve never tried before, but it also signals to newcomers that they regularly offer unique dishes.
12. Rapid Fired Pizza
Rapid Fired features both customizable and ready-to-go menu items. The online rendering of their menu design shows some of the popular choices, such as Pesto Chicken, the Hawaiian and Triple By Pass. Under each name is a description of what is in the dish and how many calories it has.
13. Benito’s Hat
The menu design for Benito’s Hat highlights an image of one of the menu items to the left and then lays out the different options in the right column. Within the column are three additional columns — the name of the food with a description under, an arrow icon and the price of the dish.
14. Le Mugs
Le Mugs does something kind of unique by offering an interactive experience rather than a flat online menu. As you scroll down the page, a line trails its way down highlighting salads, sandwiches, sushi, desserts and cocktails. Because items are hand-crafted to order, there isn’t a set menu — but the website highlights how the menu works.
Find Your Inspiration
After studying the menu design options out there, you should have some ideas of the things you’d like to feature on your menu and the overall design that matches the personality of your establishment. Think about what you’re famous for and the image you want people to have when they view your menu, and then come up with a functional but exciting menu concept.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.