The science of restaurant menu design and what you need to know

It’s no secret that restaurant branding – specifically in terms of restaurant menu design –  is truly an art form. Be it unique, exquisite, quirky, or reminiscent of the latest fad in bringing the scrumptiously delicious to life, there’s much to be appreciated about menus that possess that special quality. Think of it as a certain creative ingredient (or perhaps an entire recipe) that only serves to elevate a pleasurable dining experience – even if from the very first brand interaction.
Below, we bring you 5 outstanding restaurant menus, and why we believe they’re prime examples of complete culinary design genius at work:

Brass union

I love everything about this concept! I’m such a mark for industrial-style design and you can’t get much more industrial than menus made to look like invoices straight out of a 70’s-era brake pad factory. The layout is straightforward and easy to navigate, and the descriptions of the items aren’t too long and complex. Overall, this menu doesn’t look very daunting when it’s first presented to you. For authenticity’s sake, I hope these menus are printed on a dot-matrix printer.

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Some burros

Who doesn’t enjoy bright and friendly colors paired with bold, hand drawn lines? This menu design makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I like that the only actual menu descriptions are specific to this brand’s speciality items. It definitely helps to keeps the clutter to a minimum – and let’s be honest…it’s Mexican food. If you don’t know what a taco is, then I pity you.

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Black tap


It’s so easy to get minimalist design wrong, but this team got it oh so right. The flow of this design is great because what this restaurant does best is placed front and center. I’ve been to so many restaurants that bury their signature items deep in the menu, and I’ve never understood why they do so. If you are known for a signature dish (or even have it in your name), then it makes perfect sense to ensure that it’s a cinch to locate on the menu.

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Made

The ingenuity of this menu is to be applauded. The design team kept the actual look of the menu simple so that the experience of going through the menu is what stands out to the restaurant patron. It’s so intelligently thought out –  brunch, side items, and drinks take up the least amount of room so they are up front, while lunch has a larger selection, followed by dinner (which typically has the largest selection overall). This menu just begs to be explored, no matter what time of the day you are visiting the restaurant.

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Salty’s

When I’m going to a seafood restaurant, this is the kind of menu I want to see. The illustrations are great, and the overall feel of the brand definitely reminds me of the beach. The menu being rubber-banded to the wood backing board is a nice touch, too. Overall, the presentation is an inexpensive, easy way to make a customer feel perceived value in their meal, all while enhancing their dining experience.

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Do any of these menu options whet your appetite to further bolster your restaurant’s brand to create a positive dining experience to make your customers take notice – and come back for a second helping? Contact our team of uber-talented creative design experts today to determine how we can help you achieve your goals!

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