There’s an old adage that people eat with their eyes as much their mouths. But that doesn’t just apply to the food. How you present your restaurant menu to the world is as important as the dishes themselves. Especially in a bar environment, where drinks are flowing, and people get hungry fast.

Your bar menu needs to be simple, attractive, and easily legible, so customers can find the items they want, even in dark and hectic conditions.

Though the design needs to match your bar’s brand and overall needs, we’ve collected some handy bar menu design tips that can help put your bar menu front and center when hungry patrons need it most.


Show off your food!

Normal menu convention might tell you that pictures cheapen your establishment. But in most bar environments, a little visual flair can go a long way toward whetting appetites and keeping happy customers in your bar, rather than running to a local pizza joint instead.

Think about it – if your customers are starting to get hungry, what’s more appetizing? A menu full of words and prices, or a giant neon pizza beckoning from across the street? To keep people from leaving make sure your world-beating basket of wings looks even better than anything they can get somewhere else.

That said, you still need to treat these pictures with care. Hire a professional to take actual pictures of what customers will receive. No stock photos… ever! And make sure they’re well-framed and lit, so people don’t have to discern what’s on the plate, just how much they want it.

Big and bold fonts are the name of the game

Again, where traditional restaurant menu designs usually benefit from modern, more contemporary font choices, bar menus need to be a little bolder and more noticeable. Of course, you don’t want to go overboard and should keep your menu designs aligned with your bar’s overall brand aesthetic. But also consider the social, kinetic flow of most bars.

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Design Your Menu

Conversations are often loud. Televisions line the walls. Music is regularly blaring from the sound system. There are a LOT of things that can draw your customers’ attention away from your food and drink offerings. But if customers catch a glimpse of the words “famous potato skins” peeking out from behind a ketchup bottle, it can immediately influence an impulse purchase.

(And not for anything, but once one person orders something for the table, others are likely to follow.)

Don’t be shy with buzzwords!

Let me ask you this: What sounds better, a “cheeseburger” or a “juicy, charbroiled, quarter-pound Angus beef cheeseburger?”

Yeah, we thought so. Even in a society that speaks through emojis and likes, words are still powerful ways to stimulate the senses. And it doesn’t just apply to common bar food options. If your bar is offering a “higher-end” option, like lobster or a prime steak, make sure those descriptions match the quality of the entrees you’re offering.

The tone of the copy should be fun and be inviting, but ultimately, your words need to establish the value and enjoyment your patrons will receive when eating there!

Written by   |  
Brad Bortone is a writer, editor and content marketer, published in areas ranging from content strategy to music reviews, and seemingly everywhere in between. Brad's love of the food industry began during his tenure with Johnson & Wales University's web team, writing countless pieces about - and enjoying countless lunches from - the school's esteemed culinary program.