CSTLdesign News

5 WordPress Restaurant Menu Plugins to Whet Your Appetite

Restaurants have been around since at least the time of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, when they were called thermopolia — or literally “a place where (something) hot is sold.”

And you can be sure that even from the earliest days, the question, “What’s on the menu?” was primary in most customers’ minds.

menus

If you’re building a restaurant website, no doubt you’re going to have to answer that age old question.

One of these five plugins below should help you do that. We go over each in detail and take a look at their pros and cons.

Be sure to check out the comparison chart and overall ratings at the end.

Ready? Let’s dig in!

1. Restaurant Menu Manager

restaurant-menu-manager

The Good

This plugin uses custom post types. You add each new item to a custom post as you would a regular post. You can also create “menu types” as you would categories. So, for example, one item can go into a “Lunch” menu, a “Dinner” menu, and a “Specials” menu.

This is handy as it gives you a lot of control.

Another nice feature of this plugin is that it lets you display menus both in accordion form and in tabs (as in the image above).

It also uses images from your featured image holder. And, of course, you can place more images in the description area if desired.

It is responsive.

The Bad

One thing to note about the display is that you may get different looks in different themes. And by that I mean some may not work out for you so well. It seems some menu items might misalign a little.

It also seems there’s no easy way to control things such as color of the pricing box, although you could dig into the CSS file if you know what you’re doing there.

Overall

This is a nice plugin with basic controls that make a lot of sense. You just have to make sure it plays nice with your specific theme.

Features

  • group items
  • images
  • prices
  • descriptions
  • integrate other plugins
  • accordions & tabs
  • visitor comments
  • translation ready
  • shortcode based
  • responsive

2. WordPress Ultimate Menu Maker Lite

ultimate-menu

The Good

This plugin is custom post type based, and of course custom post types typically offer nice flexibility.

There is a drag and drop feature where you can create new menus and then drag menu items into them, but this type of “convenience” is outweighed by the lack of documentation elsewhere. Anyone with the knowledge to set this menu system up would be just as happy with a more traditional “check box” system.

In other words, something like this might be nice for a client who expects things to be push-button easy. But other aspects of the plugin are not as easy, and so making this one aspect easy is not going to save the day for technologically challenged clients.

The predefined calories custom field would be nice for some restaurants. There is also a “Weight” custom field, but I’m not sure how practical that is. I don’t think I’ve ever seen restaurants reporting “weight.”

There are also predefined “tags” you can add to items such as “spicy,” “hot,” “featured,” “vegetarian,” etc. These, however, come with little icons that may not go with the style of your site. You’d maybe need to change them. (No easy solution for that.)

It appears the plugin is responsive.

The Bad

Very little documentation, although the author does provide a test site where you can go and play around and kind of work things out for yourself. While a test site is over and above what most offer, it doesn’t make up for the lack of documentation.

That said, if you’re familiar with custom post types, you should be able to figure this plugin out (but you’ll still need to do a little uncalled for hunting around).

The overall appearance doesn’t really impress. In fact, in some cases it looks awkward and unnatural. Menu items are displayed by showing an image to the left and then all the way to the right the price is displayed. If you have a lot of space there, it looks strange.

I also found the plugin misaligned text in certain themes.

Overall

The lack of documentation can be overcome easily enough by someone with experience with custom post types; however, for every positive point (such as using custom post types), there seems to be a negative point that holds this plug back (such as design).

Features

  • group items
  • images
  • shortcodes
  • prices
  • descriptions
  • responsive
  • drag & drop
  • calories custom field
  • menu item tags

3. Food and Drink Menu

food-and-drink

The Good

This is custom post based, which give you flexibility. Very good documentation. This plugin lets you easily set up sections in a menu and place items into the sections (such as starters, entrees, deserts, etc.). It also lets you easily order items in a menu.

You can also easily display single items with a shortcode if you have the need to.

The plugin also comes with a widget that lets you show individual items in your sidebar. This didn’t really display so nicely, to be honest. And while you could make up items especially to display there, it didn’t link to anything either, and so it’s usefulness was somewhat lost on me.

It comes with a kind of drag and drop feature for setting up menus (although technically you click things into place and they move there automatically).

It also comes with a few different templates and the ability to control a few basic settings, like image size.

The Bad

Although not necessarily a very large “bad,” the plugin doesn’t link individual menu items to their own page as many plugins do that use custom post types. This means that all the info you’ll see about the item is what’s on the front page of the menu itself. Of course you could build in a link if you needed to do that.

This plugin does let you set up your menus in one or two columns; however, I found the two-column approach either created alignment problems or displayed the items in an unattractive way.

Overall

This is a nice custom post based plugin that comes with a few templates built in. The final display of the menus seemed attractive enough (except in two-column mode), and the plugin on the whole seemed pretty intuitive.

Features

  • group items
  • images
  • shortcodes
  • prices
  • descriptions
  • responsive
  • drag & drop
  • multiple layouts
  • widgets
  • templates
  • legal disclaimer footer

4. WPPizza

WPPizza

This plugin is more than a menu plugin. It also allows customers to place orders, and it keeps track of those orders. And so if this is something you need, it might be worth looking into.

As the focus of this post is to compare plugins that can put a simple menu on a site, however, we won’t really be looking into all those other aspects of this plugin. We’ll only be paying attention to its menu functions.

The Good

Custom post based, this plugin offers a lot of flexibility, and it is already set up with many different options for things like meal size, additives, opening times, etc. It also helps that these sections are pre-populated with some data to give you a quick idea of what they’re about and how they work.

This plugin also comes with a number of themes that you can use. Getting them to work nicely with your theme is slightly involved, but that’s to be expected to some degree.

The Bad

This “bad” isn’t really a bad. It’s actually more of an “average.” And what that refers to is the design. While you can make the menu fit your theme even better than it might originally, it seems there still something of a boxy, not-quite-styled feel to it.

For some it may be perfectly fine. It’s just that after seeing the way some of the other plugins looked, this one didn’t quite make as much as an impression on the design front.

Overall

With all the functionality that this plugin offers, and even though it does come with multiple themes, the appearance of the menu items themselves look relatively average in the end. They are clean, and there doesn’t seem to be any major issues, but a number of the other plugins seemed to look more attractive out of the box.

That said, this plugin really does give you more beyond a simple menu, and so if you need that, the out of the box appearance may not come into the mix quite as much.

Features

  • group items
  • images
  • shortcodes
  • prices
  • descriptions
  • responsive
  • multiple layouts
  • widgets
  • templates
  • COD orders
  • multisite
  • multilingual
  • WPML compatible
  • tracks orders

5. Foodlist

foodlist

The Good

This plugin comes with lots of control. It employs an attractive drag and drop system that should be easy for non-techies to understand (after some initial getting used to). There are shortcodes for everything – menus, menu sections, menu items.

It also offers easy to access CSS editing. In addition, it has easy template editing by moving around shortcodes inside of a template editor.

Once something is created, it’s easy to reuse it elsewhere. For example, a menu item can be used in several menu sections in the same menu, as well as in completely different menus.

The Bad

This menu more than most any of the others can look very different with different themes. Of course that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you may find that you need to make a number of CSS adjustments just to get things looking decent. And while there’s a very handy CSS editor section, some things that you may have to change, like padding for images (as I did), was not easily identified at first, and it required going into the page and inspecting the element first.

Menu items are not linked to their own page.

Overall

This is a very nice menu plugin that offers lots of control, letting you easily set up templates as you would like, for example. It’s also very attractive in the backend, employing a visually attractive drag and drop system that should be easy for novices to navigate after an initial bit of training.

Features

  • group items
  • images
  • shortcodes
  • prices
  • descriptions
  • responsive
  • multiple layouts
  • templates
  • easy to edit CSS
  • demo data included
  • drag and drop system
  • tooltip step-by-step instructions

Comparison

As there are a number of nice menu plugins here, one small feature here or there may end up making the difference between them for you. Also keep in mind that not all features for each plugin are listed below. See the individual sections to get a more complete overview of the individual plugin.

 

Restaurant Menu Manager WordPress Ultimate Food and Drink Menu WPPizza Foodlist
Group Items yes yes yes yes yes
Images yes yes yes yes yes
Shortcodes yes yes yes yes yes
Prices yes yes yes yes yes
Descriptions yes yes yes yes yes
Responsive yes yes yes yes yes
Multiple layouts yes no yes yes yes
Widgets no no yes yes no
Templates no no no yes yes
Easy CSS no no no no yes

 

Who Wins?

This was really very tough. There were a number that I thought did a very good job but for different reasons. I believe it really is going to depend on what you need most.

  • Restaurant Menu Manager: 4.5/5
  • WordPress Ultimate Menu: 2.5/5
  • Food and Drink Menu: 4/5
  • WPPizza: 4/5
  • Foodlist: 4.5/5

Personally, I liked that the Restaurant Menu Manager plugin gave you the option of using either accordions or tabs in addition to a straight menu. But you might be able to pull that off with some of the other plugins if you combined them with an accordion/tab plugin.

We’ll also give a nod to the Foodlist plugin for its backend control and attractive drag and drop system. If you’re a developer turning a site over to a client to manage, it will be easier for them in the end if they can “see” what’s going on with their menus as they’re trying to set them up.

So those two shine, but as mentioned, there were others that really did have some unique functionality that might make the difference for you.

Photo: sidewalk menus