7 tips for writing appealing menu descriptions for your restaurant (with examples!)

Spice up your restaurant's menu with captivating descriptions. Dive into curated examples and strategies tailored specifically for restaurant owners.

In a world driven by quick choices on delivery apps, your menu descriptions can make or break a sale. Since diners spend a fleeting 109 seconds perusing a menu, it’s essential to make every word count.

To help you create appealing menu descriptions for your restaurant, we've compiled seven key tips that are sure to make your menu stand out from the crowd. So, let's dive in and discover how you can elevate your menu descriptions to entice and delight your customers!

1. Keep it short and sweet

When it comes to menu descriptions, brevity is key. Keep your descriptions concise and to the point, highlighting the unique features and flavours of each dish. Remember, your customers are eager to make their choices quickly, so make it easy for them. Short and catchy descriptions are more likely to capture attention and trigger a craving.

Imagine walking into a restaurant, hungry and ready to indulge in a delicious meal. As you sit down and open the menu, your eyes scan the page, searching for the perfect dish that will satisfy your taste buds. But wait, what's this? A lengthy description that goes on and on, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to choose.

But don't mistake brevity for lack of detail. Even though you're keeping it short, make sure to include enough information to entice your customers. Highlight the key ingredients, cooking techniques, or special touches that make your dishes stand out. Paint a vivid picture in their minds, allowing them to imagine the delightful flavours and textures that await them.

Example: Barbecue chicken wings

Stronger example: Six wings coated in our signature house-made BBQ sauce. 

Why it works: Includes quantity of wings, strong food descriptors, and is concise.


2. Spotlight dietary, sustainability, and health elements

In today's health-conscious world, many customers appreciate menu choices that align with their dietary needs and values. Highlighting any dietary options, sustainable ingredients, or health-conscious aspects of your dishes can make a significant impact on your customers' dining experience.

By providing this information upfront on your menu or website, you can cater to a wider range of customers and showcase your commitment to their well-being. Whether it's gluten-free, vegan, organic, locally sourced, or low-sodium options, highlighting these dietary, sustainability, and health elements will undoubtedly elevate your customers' dining experience.

Example: Quinoa and Grilled Vegetable Bowl

Stronger example: Nutrient-rich quinoa & grilled veggie bowl. High protein, gluten-free, and locally sourced.

Why it works: Quickly communicates health benefits & sustainability. Appeals to conscious eaters.

3. Use Active Verbs

Audit your restaurant’s menu descriptions for passive verbs and switch them out for active ones.

Active verbs add power and excitement to your menu descriptions. Instead of using passive language, opt for verbs that energize the reader. For example, rather than saying "Our steak is served with potatoes," say "Indulge in our succulent steak, perfectly paired with creamy mashed potatoes."

When it comes to crafting enticing menu descriptions, the choice of words can make all the difference. By using active verbs, you can bring your dishes to life on the page and entice your customers' taste buds. Instead of simply stating what your dishes consist of, you have the opportunity to create a sensory experience through your words.

Example: Salad with dressing.

Stronger example: Fresh greens drizzled with tangy vinaigrette.

Why it works: Active verbs make the dish sound more appealing and vivid in the diner's mind.


4. Use Emotional Triggers

Tapping into your customers' emotions can be highly persuasive. Think about the feelings and experiences your dishes evoke and incorporate them into your menu descriptions. For instance, you could mention the comfort of a homemade soup, the nostalgia of a childhood favorite, or the adventure of trying a new and exotic fusion dish.

Descriptions like "comforting chicken pot pie" or "decadent triple-chocolate cake" can evoke fond memories and cravings.

5. Proofread and Update Regularly

Nothing can undermine the appeal of your menus like spelling errors or outdated descriptions. Make sure to proofread all your menu descriptions for accuracy and clarity. Additionally, regularly review and update your menus to reflect any seasonal specials or changes to your dishes.

This demonstrates your attention to detail and ensures that customers receive up-to-date and accurate information.


6. Adapt to Regional Trends

Localise your menu based on regional preferences to establish a loyal customer base. Learn which cuisine types are trending, and understand your eaters’ tastes and preferences. Share these insights with your team, and write menu descriptions that highlight your locally sourced ingredients.

See the most popular delivery food in your area here >

7. Appeal to the senses with your menu descriptions

Use descriptive language that paints a vivid picture of the dish, its aroma, and its taste. For example, instead of simply stating "Grilled Chicken Breast," try "Juicy char-grilled chicken breast marinated in a zesty herb blend, served with fragrant jasmine rice."

By using descriptive language like this, you not only appeal to the visual senses of your customers but also engage their imagination. You create a sensory experience that goes beyond just reading words on a menu. Suddenly, your customers can almost taste the dish, smell the aroma, and feel the textures.

Studies from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab show that menus with rich descriptions boost sales by up to 27%.

Here are 100 adjectives to describe your food for inspiration:

  • Aged
  • Aromatic
  • Artisanal
  • Authentic
  • Bountiful
  • Bold
  • Bright
  • Buttery
  • Candied
  • Caramelised
  • Char-grilled
  • Classic
  • Colourful
  • Comforting
  • Cool
  • Creamy
  • Crispy
  • Cured
  • Decadent
  • Delicate
  • Delicious
  • Delightful
  • Delectable
  • Divine
  • Earthy
  • Exotic
  • Exquisite
  • Fiery
  • Flaky
  • Flavourful
  • Fragrant
  • Fresh
  • Fruity
  • Fusion
  • Gourmet
  • Healthy
  • Hearty
  • Heavenly
  • Homemade
  • Infused
  • Inviting
  • Irresistible
  • Juicy
  • Lavish
  • Light
  • Luscious
  • Luxurious
  • Marrow
  • Marvellous
  • Marinated
  • Mellow
  • Melt-in-your-mouth
  • Moist
  • Mouthwatering
  • Nourishing
  • Nutritious
  • Pan-seared
  • Peppery
  • Piquant
  • Protein-packed
  • Refreshing
  • Rich
  • Ripe
  • Robust
  • Rustic
  • Sautéed
  • Satisfying
  • Savoy
  • Seasonal
  • Seasoned
  • Seared
  • Sensational
  • Sharp
  • Silky
  • Simple
  • Sizzling
  • Slow-baked
  • Smoky
  • Sparkling
  • Spicy
  • Stuffed
  • Succulent
  • Syrupy
  • Tangy
  • Tantalising
  • Tart
  • Tasty
  • Tender
  • Tempting
  • Toasted
  • Toasty
  • Unique
  • Unforgettable
  • Umami-rich
  • Vegetarian
  • Velvety
  • Vibrant
  • Warm
  • Wholesome
  • Zesty

Other basic menu tips

In addition to the seven tips mentioned above, here are a few more basic tips to consider when crafting your menus:

  • Include the origin or inspiration behind a dish to add intrigue and storytelling to your descriptions.
  • Organise your menu descriptions logically, grouping similar dishes together to help customers navigate with ease.
  • Use formatting options like bold or italicising to draw attention to key elements or standout ingredients.
  • Invest in high-quality photos for every menu item
  • Streamline your menu by removing low-selling or complex items
  • Dynamically A/B test menu pricing & structures for individual stores and platforms
  • Customise prices by platform to route customers to your desired channel

Happy Menu-writing!

In the digital age, where choices are vast, and attention spans are brief, menu descriptions matter.

By implementing these seven tips, you'll be well on your way to creating mouth-watering menu descriptions that leave your customers craving for more. Remember, the power of well-crafted menu descriptions lies in their ability to evoke desire and bring your dishes to life in the minds of your customers. So, get creative, experiment, and continually refine your menu descriptions to ensure your restaurant always stands out!

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