Nobody goes to a restaurant for just the food anymore — you go for a complete experience. That includes some nice decor, a smiling friendly waiter, and having the word "bottomless" tacked onto every drink you order. The menu is just a small part of that whole song and dance.
These menus are proof that restaurant owners are stepping their game up to make your meal one to remember. No more thin paper throwaways or greasy plastic binders covered in crayon scribbles — these beauties are clever ways restaurants have showcased their items. Now that's delicious design.
For The Student Who Likes To Keep It Neat
The neat-freak inside of us all would go crazy for this good looking menu. The owners of this restaurant called back to their student days when creating this menu since this bad boy is as color-coordinated as they come. It's so scholastic that we're expecting a highlighter to come with it so diners can highlight what they want.
We love the way the "Drinks" section is offset differently from their food to draw attention to it and show that it's different. We'd still only order bar-rail though.
The Perfect Kids Menu
Kid's menus are the bane of any restaurant experience. There's really no way to make the paper menus and crayons they give kids stylish without confusing or making the kids upset. This one restaurant came up with an ingenious way to keep the kids entertained and give them a functional menu.
Etch-a-Sketch's are back from the 90s ready to solve some problems. After the kid orders from the plastic menu, they're given an Etch-a-Sketch. This is a great way to get rid of the wasteful paper menus while also give the kids something to keep their hands busy.
Chock A Block
We've all been to a restaurant and gotten a dud of a menu. You know the one — it's the ugly duckling because its pages are ripped, it's weirdly already wet, and it's so horribly creased. That's not a problem at this restaurant where the menus are an excellent hack to slow down the wear.
If you want to wreck this menu you'd have to bring your wood whittling kit with you, and you probably left that at home. The only downside is the tiny lettering, so don't leave your glasses with the kit.
This Menu Has Gone Down The Toilet
If you want to keep it real and keep your diner's expectations really low, then this menu will do just that. It's got an unexpected design for a place where people eat food, but hey, at least they're not telling you a crock of lies about their restaurant experience.
Hopefully, this is made out of at least 2-ply because it could get expensive reprinting the entire menu because it got wrecked. If there are more than two people dining there the menu will need replacing every day.
This Menu Knows Where Its Wine Is Going
This restaurant knew exactly what to expect from its wine-drinking patrons during happy hour or a day with a glass of red as a drink special. Actually, they knew what to expect and where to expect their wine to go. This place doesn't suggest you wear white either.
This is a great idea for any bar menu. We've all been in a situation with our dramatic friend Sheila when she's had a bit too much and spilled some red wine on herself and is now crying about ruining her favorite dress. Just hand her this menu and she'll be fine.
When The Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Pizza Place Menu
Ordering pizza at a restaurant is always a hail mary. It's not like the walk-in places where you just grunt and point at the slowly rotating slices — at restaurants, you're spending $20 on a pie and you don't even know what it looks like. This isn't the time for a blind date!
This ingenious hack takes all the guesswork out of ordering since you'll know exactly what the pizza's going to look like before it even comes out. It's basically Tinder for menus. Swipe right on that 4-Formaggio pie for me, please.
Hang 10 For These Cool Menus
We all love a good stylized menu, but sometimes they look way too busy for our liking. When the title's huge and the font is doing crazy stuff to catch our eye it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. The restaurant cooked up a simple way to do some marketing that's as delicious as their burgers.
Look how great and clean these menus look while also being great signage for the restaurant. These bad boys are doing double duty as advertisements and menus and we're all here for a clever multitasker.
This Juice Press Knows We Have No Idea What's Going On
This menu is perfect for all of us who have ever walked into one of those hipster juicery places with their chalkboards, ginger, and tiny shots and felt overwhelmed by it all. They're way past antioxidants and they've moved onto a higher plane of superfoods that will make us healthy. Thankfully, this menu holds our hand as it walks us through it.
This is the perfect example of how to explain juicing, with pictures, diagrams, arrows, and a number list. Should it be this complicated? Who knows, maybe celery juice is a complicated soul.
Here's The Short Of It: This Kid's Menu Makes Sense
Kid's menus are obviously made for children. So instead of leaving their younger patrons high and dry and placing the kid's menu way up on the wall behind the cash register where they couldn't read it, this restaurant put it at a height where kids could easily see.
This is a brilliant idea, but it doesn't work for every kid. Ironically, this child would probably have an easier time seeing the adult menu than the child one. If only the countertops were higher...
Anatomy Of A Sushi Roll
If it's your first time trying a sushi roll it can sometimes be confusing. With a name like "Dragon Roll" and no ingredient description, you might choose to stay away just in case the restaurant actually found the mythical creature and killed it. You don't want that kind of karma on your hands.
This restaurant made this menu brilliantly scientific. It's like taking a dissection class in university — you're seeing all the delicious insides of sushi broken down into helpful little graphs. You can't use it to cheat on the next test though.
The Blessed IPad
Even though it's not a new thing for restaurant menus to be served on iPads anymore, the thought is still genius enough to make this list. It's such a great way to reduce the waste of plastic or paper menus, and when you need to change something you don't have to reprint the whole batch.
What we've all wanted to figure out though is how to get to the games on these things. When the server's taking forever to come back to the table all we want is to play Angry Birds. They're just so fun to fling...
Menu Lights — Good Idea In A Bad Area?
This is a case where the menu may be better designed than the restaurant that it's being used for. Instead of settling for a normally lit dining area, this restaurant decided to give its patrons an interesting experience by placing them in the dark. Are they dining in Hollister by any chance?
Menu lights are a brilliant (haha) hack that fixes a problem that shouldn't exist. Maybe they should hire the menu designer as their electrician too.
A Menu For Anyone Who Online Shops With The "Lowest To Highest" Filter
We've all been on a budget at some point and our friend has begged us to come out to the bar. We go of course, but it's embarrassing looking at the menu for a solid 10 minutes while you scan for the lowest priced liquor with the highest alcohol content. You've got the Rainman numbers circling around your head as you stare at domestic draughts.
This clever menu takes embarrassing math out of the equation by making the cheap alcohol big and bold. Now you're going to have to pretend you're looking around...
Order An Old Fashioned While Being Old Fashioned
Restaurants are selling experiences, so when they're themed it's like a mini version of Halloween you can sit in on for an hour. Except at this Halloween party nobody passes out on the floor and there's more food than just stale chips.
This cute little restaurant took their menus to a new level of thematic awesomeness with their stamp ordering system. With this old-timey style, it'd be a waste if you didn't tell the waiter you were "just passin' through" and that you're looking for the "fastest gun in the West." They probably won't laugh though.
This Restaurant Knows We All Do This
If you've ever made fun of someone for taking a photo of their food then you're doing it with a guilty heart because, let's face it, we've all done it. Whether it's that mean chili you cooked at home that you're so proud of, or the chicken parmesan out at your favorite Italian spot, we've all snapped a quick photo.
This genius menu just makes it easy for us to know which items would be the best to Instagram by placing a little camera icon beside them. This is great marketing, but we hope people choose based on taste.
This Graph Will Get Your Night Started
We've all played the game where we tried to figure out whether we should order a drink based on its alcohol content or its taste. We want our tastebuds to be happy but we also want our night to be awesome. If only there was a magical graph that did the work for us...
Here it is, the magical graph of beverages. This restaurant wants to help you tailor your experiences and your drink choices. This would also be an interesting way to judge someone on a first date. You'll think, "hmm okay, 3 Passionations, what does that say?"
Perfect For The Coffee Snob In Training
If you've ever wondered where that coffee snob at work learned all his cool lingo, foam temperatures, and knowledge about bean roasting, the answer is here. No, he didn't work at Starbucks, he just learned from the back of this menu.
Despite how fun it is to joke about coffee snobs, this menu is a cool way to learn more about what you're drinking. It also helps you watch your calories, dairy intake, and ice cream consumption. Always, always, maximize the ice cream consumption.
If You Like Choosing Paint Colors You'll Love This Menu
Listen, we all love a good trip to the hardware store to aimlessly browse the paint color swatches. You don't even need to be repainting anything — it's fun just to debate what's the best white of the bunch. It'll always be "eggshell" though.
This brilliant little handheld menu takes all the fun of home decorating and wraps it all in a food service bow. You won't want dessert at this place — a walk through the paint section of the hardware store will satisfy your craving.
For The Avid Journaler
If you're going to read it, it might as well look like something you'd want to read. This restaurant understands that people just want their lives to follow a certain aesthetic so they made this cute little menu that looks like a journal.
This is the cleverest fakeout we've ever seen. When you're ordering you'll look like you'll be following an intellectual pursuit. Just throw on a turtleneck and a slight scowl and you could be a poet. Too bad everyone else at this place is doing the exact same thing...
This Simple Breath Of Fresh Air
Menus are always getting more and more complicated as chefs come up with delicious creations in the kitchen that require an essay on what's in them and how they're prepared. There's nothing wrong with that of course, but sometimes we just want toast.
This restaurant felt our weary eyes getting tired of reading through descriptions that make us feel like we're writing the SATs. Look at those great choices that won't give you a headache. We'll take the toast, please.