The A-Z of Restaurant Menu Design

A menu is the game-changing tool in any restaurant’s marketing plan. It not only represents and reflects an eatery’s personality, but also throws light on overall operations, boosts profits, establishes the budget and helps maintain the freshness of the brand in the customer’s mind forever.

The restaurant menu should create a favorable impression and also leave a lasting impact on everyone who holds it or sees it digitally on the restaurant’s website. Create website for restaurant and having an online menu is absolutely important for restaurants that wish to survive in the highly competitive industry. The menu should also make the diners feel that they have chosen the best brand for their memorable meal. The menu must be the reason why guests are content about being there, wanting to come back and also recommend it to near and dear ones. 


1. Use Restaurant Menu Design To Give Prominence To Dishes That You Want To Sell:

Restaurants must concentrate primarily on the menu’s design. Unless it is neat and easy to read, guests will find it difficult to navigate. Also, the menu design must highlight the most profitable menu items.  

Restaurants can also use boxes to highlight their chef’s specialties or their own signature dishes. This breaks the monotony of the menu format, provides a pleasant variation, increases design value and also guides new customers to the restaurant’s specialties.

Restaurants can use ‘DECOYS’ in the menu highlights as part of the menu pricing strategy. These are dishes that are consciously priced extremely high to make the other profitable items of the restaurant look cheaper since they lie in the medium-price range

2. Convert the Menu Into A Sales Tool:

The menu is a restaurant’s ‘silent salesperson’. The menu must be used to highlight items that garner greater support and profits. Such items can be listed under categories like ‘Chef’s Specials’ or ‘Most Popular’. Several Menu Engineering and Design tricks can also be used to maximize profits.

3. Stylish Restaurant Menus:

If the restaurant wishes to conquer the fine-dining restaurant industry and win a clientele with refined culinary tastes, it must use a stylish menu. Stylish restaurant menus need not necessarily be complex. Even the simplest menu design on a plain paper with a carefully selected typeface can inspire those who seek class and elegance in every choice of theirs.

Restaurants can follow the ‘golden triangle design trick’ to catch the reader’s attention. This trick is based on the idea that when people see a page, their eyes start gazing from the center, then move to the top right corner and later, to the top left – thus, forming a triangular pattern. So, items that the restaurant wishes to sell more must be placed either at the center or the top of the menu ensuring that guests spot them rapidly. 

5. Avoid Currency Symbols:

Restaurants must bid adieu to dollar signs ($) on both the physical and digital menu. A study has revealed that diners who order using a menu without the symbol are likely to order significantly more. Since every guest knows what the number beside the menu item means, it is redundant to further explain it using a dollar sign. Since the sign triggers negative associations about expenditures, it is advised to omit it altogether. Thus, easing price pain points is mandatory for all restaurants on its respective menu.

6. Use The Power Of Photography:

Any business that wishes to survive, compete and make profits has now realized the power of photography. An image is equal to 1000 words. When coupled with a copy that is minimal, yet convincing, photographs can change the tide in favor of the restaurant. Drool-worthy images spice up an otherwise mundane menu design. When customers are confused about what to order, scintillating and appetizing images of your food can help them decide their meal options for the day.

Pictures are quite tricky to use. Restaurants often do not know how to use the right amount of images – they either use too much of it ending up creating a negative image or use too little, failing to create any impact. Thus, restaurants must use images sparingly, but place them in the right spots to initiate CTAs. Also, photos must align with the rest of the design elements.

Using a photo beside a menu item is shown to increase sales by 30%

7. Optimize The Website’s Online Menu & Ordering System:

Make sure that the online menu used on the restaurant’s website is easy to read. This determines whether the diners decide to make a visit to the restaurant or not.

While it is okay to upload a PDF format of the menu on the restaurant website, it is most advisable to get the same design written directly on the webpage (preferably in HTML format) so that the user-experience is enhanced and search engines crawl you text and offer it as results during searches.

The online ordering system and menu must be personalized and made to match the brand as much as possible. The online menu must be filled with high quality images of all the menu items so that customers know beforehand what they are ordering and what they can expect during the delivery. When customers browse the online menu, there are no restaurant staff to guide them. These images and descriptions must be sufficient to help them make informed decisions.


1. Rustic Wood

This design suits eateries that offer finger foods and traditional meat dishes like ribs or BBQ. This will satisfy guests who seek a casual blast to the past. By adding letter-pressed text, one can also make the menu look authentic.

2. Modern Illustration

The menu design can include art and also be classic at the same time. Restaurants can use bright colors or a Black & White color combination on the menu and match it with the decor of the restaurant. Some local artists can also be highlighted to let the guests know your connection to the community.

3. Pop Up and Tab Options

Creative menus complement the culinary offerings with interactive designs. If the menu that you offer offers guests a lot of customization, this menu design idea is ideal. The guest can use the menu to develop their own perfect wrap or salad. Kids will also love such menus as it gives them a lot of variety and options to experiment with.

4. Newspaper Bistro

The names of dishes can be placed like newspaper headlines. The layout must be one page with blocked sections to attract the attention of guests to popular items. The usage of large typography and playful puns will make people enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of the restaurant. Upcoming items can be featured in the ‘WHAT”S NEW’ section to encourage guests to return very soon to experience the taste of the new item.

5. Bound Book

Menus that resemble a bound book are meant for restaurants that have a lot to offer their customers. Such menus also help to represent restaurants in a conservative and pragmatic way. Leather or faux leather can be used on the menu to emit a sense of luxury and sophistication in texture and weight. Such menus should only look like a book but not read like one. Text should be limited and the menu separated into distinctive sections (using Table Of Contents with page numbers).


1. Limit Options

It is always advisable to stay minimal when it comes to menu design. This is advised to avoid the customers from experiencing decision paralysis. A restaurant menu must not have more than seven items per category. Otherwise, it would affect the bottom line as people find it hard to make decisions.

2. Brand Consistency

Menu design elements differ from one cuisine to another. Design elements that fit a burger joint’s menu will not look suitable on a menu meant for a fine-dining restaurant. The brand’s color, fonts, voice tone and overall aesthetics must be present in the menu design.


Restaurants must decide the size of the menu before sending it for printing. While choosing the size, restaurants must keep in mind factors like the layout chosen, the number of items offered on the menu and the size of the font.

Some common restaurant menu sizes are:

Lunch Menu – 8.5” X 11”

Dinner Menu – 8.5” X 11” or 8.5” X 14” or 11” X 17”

Drinks or Desserts Menu: 4.25” X 11” or  4.25” X 14” or 5.5” X 8.5” (Restaurants can also go in for table tents in place of the conventional menus for telling guests about the desserts or beverages)


1. Bi-Fold Menu Design Template

This Bi-fold menu design template is suitable for restaurants that offer simple and limited varieties. Such templates are available in both A4 and US letter size and usually make use of big enticing images that boost sales.

2. Trifold Menu Design Template

This template is best suited for menus of cafes, coffee shops, food trucks or restaurants. They have well-organized layers and are available in A4 size. 

3. Kid’s Menu Design Template

Such templates make use of images of children, bright and lively colors and very minimal text. Items are grouped under various distinct categories with images meant to attract children.


Now that you are familiar with the intricacies of restaurant menu design, also keep in mind that restaurant menus must always be kept fresh, relevant and profitable. A restaurant menu must always be used as a tool to fight competition and maintain profitability. A constant analysis of what works best and what is not yielding any results will enable restaurants to make necessary adjustments. So, if you wish to create a menu that is as worthy as your food, do it well. Get in touch with Restaurantify for any digital marketing needs for your restaurant.