The menu is an indispensable part of any restaurant. The more thoughtful and unique your restaurant menu is, the more attention and sales you drive from the customers.

Many restaurant owners have become too comfortable with what they’re offering and forget to refresh their menu. The competition is fierce, and customers are constantly looking for new choices.

Whether you’re creating a new menu or upgrading your existing one, here are some popular menu items you can consider adding.

Tips on Making a Good Menu

Before taking a look at the menu items, let’s go through some tips to help you pick dishes and create a menu easier.

Pinpoint the Signature Dishes

Some restaurants sell too many items on a single menu, making it impossible to know which main dishes highlight your brand. This can lead to diners feeling overwhelmed by hundreds of choices, and don’t know what to decide.

Take a few main courses and make them your signature dishes. Pick popular dishes or go on review pages such as Yelp to see which menu items your customers reference as their favorites.

Make those main dishes stand out on your menu by putting them in call-out boxes or putting heart icons next to the names. This will help new customers who are indecisive about what they want to order.

signature menu item

Narrow the Focus of Your Menu 

A restaurant offering dishes from a variety of cuisines, from Chinese to Western, won’t be able to stand out. It’s harder to provide the best food, and customers tend to trust restaurants specializing in one type of cuisine more. So, it’s important that you know how to narrow your restaurant’s focus area.

Make Sure Your Ingredients Are Ready

Make sure you always get the ingredients you need so your chefs can cook without interruptions. Having good relationships with suppliers is a good way to maintain the stability of ingredient supply.

You can also change menu items depending on time and seasons, or offer new dishes in a limited period of time. This surely will attract customers and make sure your menu isn’t outdated.

Add Descriptions to Your Dishes

Adding simple descriptions below the name of the dishes in the menu will help customers a lot, especially when the dishes are foreign to them. It’s the quickest way to explain what the dishes consist of and how they’re cooked.

The Design of Your Menu

The design of your menu should match your restaurant style. For example, if your restaurant style is European, your menu should have European-style images or elements.

Moreover, if a restaurant menu contains only text, it’ll be difficult to imagine what that dish is like. Or if there’re only photos, some guests will want to know more about the ingredients. So the best solution is to combine the best of both worlds.

To help you find your forte and suitable dishes for your restaurant, here are some popular menu items we recommend adding to your menu.

Appetizers 

Appetizers are served 10 – 15 minutes before the main courses. These dishes often come in small amounts to stimulate the human taste before enjoying the following dishes. 

In European cuisine, the appetizer plays an extremely important role. It’s considered a beauty in culinary culture. In different countries, appetizers will have different names as well as different dishes and flavors.

Some popular appetizers include salads, breadsticks, onion rings, French fries, baked potatoes, Mac and Cheese, etc.

Comfort Food 

Comfort food, just like its name, can be any dish that makes you feel better. They bring a familiar, yet delicious feeling, making the eater feel comfortable, pleasant, hearty, and filling.

Starchy foods such as cakes, bread, donuts, pasta, macaroni, etc. are usually the first and most friendly choices for comfort dishes. They are a thousand times more attractive in times of sadness.

In addition, sugary foods such as ice cream, chocolate, candies, etc, as well as fatty, cheesy dishes are also on this list.

donut as comfort food

Local Ingredients

Dishes made of locally-grown and -produced ingredients have become increasingly popular, especially among health-conscious and environmentally-conscious diners. For example, if you choose to purchase meat from a nearby farmer, you’re using locally sourced ingredients.

Using local ingredients boosts the development of the local economy and helps the environment. Food transportation is reduced because the distance to move food from one locality to another is shortened, hence the decrease of emissions.

Dishes for Kids

Food options for kids will surely attract families to come to your restaurant. Kids’ foods should be nutritious and designed in a lovely, visually stimulating way. Some favorites of children include chicken nugget, tomato soup, ice cream, mini burgers, mini pizzas, corn soup, etc.

mini hamburgers for kids

Gourmet

The definition of gourmet food may vary depending on where you are. But one principle applies to gourmet food is that it’s made of fresh and high-quality ingredients, and presented delicately.

Many restaurants are making gourmet versions of crowd-pleasing dishes to put a new twist on them. Pizzas, for example, are one of the most well-known and popular menu items. Chefs can use expensive, or organic ingredients such as sweet potato, goat’s cheese & pine nuts, or egg florentine to upgrade the pizza toppings. The sky’s the limit! There are many things you can try to level up popular menu items.

Start building your unique restaurant menu

To make your restaurant stand out and enhance your customer experience, don’t be afraid to add, experiment, and be creative with popular menu items. Over time, you’ll learn what types of dishes that your customers favor most. You’ll never know what works best until you try!

To learn more about how to run a restaurant more effectively, check out our restaurant management guide.

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