Restaurant Owners: Designing A Menu That Whets Appetites

menu design ideas

The food and ambiance might be the best part of your restaurant, but the menu is the first tangible thing your diners get their hands on. Your restaurant’s menu is a major marketing point because it – along with how the waitstaff describes the food – is how patrons decide which dishes to try. That means that while your menu is a list of the foods you offer – in reality – it’s so very much more. We understand the importance of using your menu as a marketing tool and appetite tempter. That’s why we’ve come up with these seven menu design ideas you can easily create with our design tool and your restaurant expertise.

  • Group foods in like categories (appetizers, entrees, desserts, etc.) and in meal groups. For instance, group meat, fish, and desserts with wine pairings. Create whole-meal sections, too, by grouping appetizers, salads, entrees, desserts, and beverages. It gives your menu definition and makes a pre-paired meal an easy dining experience.
  • Choose a background color for your menu that doesn’t distract from the menu, itself. Generally speaking, a watermarked image in the background is preferable to a full color food photo in most instances. Conversely, if you design a menu with a dark versus white background, a food image can pop right off the page and really whet appetites. Our DIY design tool has a plethora of image options to choose from.
  • Try adding stylized text boxes and shapes to highlight daily specialties, specialties of the house, chef’s choice dishes, etc. If your eatery is family-friendly, create special menus for children with coloring pages, fun activities, and riddles for the younger set. Flyer paper is a great option for children’s menus because you’ll need to order them affordably and in bulk.
  • Does your café or restaurant regularly host trivia nights, game nights, or meet and greets? Use the back of your menu for trivia questions and game boards. If you offer delivery this is a fantastic option as well, because patrons will take your menu home and can order from there. Win-win.
  • Use color carefully in your menu design ideas. Many consumers view greens and yellows on the menu as signs of freshness. You still need to tread carefully when choosing colors and tones of color. Think about the difference hunter green versus grass green and carrot orange versus Halloween orange can make in your consumer’s mind.
  • Speaking of color, the bright primary colors you might choose for a restaurant that caters to children’s parties and events simply will not work for a high-end, elite restaurant that features fine dining. Choose colors with care and with your target market in mind.
  • Make it easier for consumers to make a meal choice – and for your chef and waitstaff to provide excellent service – by limiting your menu to your very best options. 100 items on the menu versus 25 items can make a big difference to your consumer’s perception of your establishment as well. A huge menu can seem overwhelming, while a smaller menu speaks to your specialties and expertise.


Whether your restaurant was built for fine dining, children’s parties, or something in between, these menu design ideas can help you get your restaurant started on the right foot. They can help you create the menu your restaurant needs to create the ambiance your patrons appreciate – and the full house you deserve.