Web Design & Development

The 7 Best Restaurant Websites to Visually Tempt Your Tastebuds

When it comes time to eat out, there’s nothing more tempting than the promise of a great experience involving all of your senses. From how the food looks on its plate to the overall atmosphere of a restaurant (the texture of the table, the aroma from the kitchen, the fragrance of floral centerpiece), there’s no detail too small in the world of dining. If you want your restaurant to generate the type of word-of-mouth buzz necessary to thrive in today’s competitive dining world, then attending to all of these details isn’t enough. From the very beginning of your client’s experience to the very end, each interaction needs to exceed expectations. And, while there’s plenty to consider within the walls of your dining room, one element that absolutely cannot be overlooked is your website.

Whether your customer is landing on your restaurant’s website to find directions, make a reservation, or take a peek at your menu, your website initiates the entire dining experience. As dramatic as it might sound, falter anywhere on your site and you’re already doing damage to your customer’s dining experience – before it even begins.

Of course, the best restaurateurs understand this, which is why their websites are designed to be so much more than just an online business card. An extension of their restaurant’s entire ethos, the best restaurant websites have the ability to give you all of the information you need, while sparking anticipation and excitement about the experience to come — even for those hungry customers who are simply looking to order take-out.

Beautifully designed from layout and navigation to color schemes and images, the best restaurant websites — including these seven — understand what it takes to make you hungry and, even more importantly, how to keep you and your friends coming back for more.

The 7 Best Restaurant Websites

  1. Work & Class

    One of our favorite things about this Denver-based fusion restaurant is that its website immediately invites you into their dining room. Clean and attractive, the dining room image lets new customers know what to expect when they arrive, allowing them to set their expectations accordingly. This simple website strategy does a lot to mitigate bad reviews or disgruntled customers because it conveys both transparency and honesty. Overlaying the dining room image, Work & Class uses custom illustrated icons to set the mood. The bold font, which varies in size across the homepage, adds to the laid-back, casual vibe that the restaurant is known for. Rather than using a menu to conceal its information, the website opts out of a standard navigation bar, putting all of the information its customers want directly at their fingertips (like operating and happy hours). Coming off as more of a trendy flyer, this restaurant’s website demonstrates that it knows how to speak to its crowd – both visually and literally. In addition to the attractive design, Work & Class uses fun, tongue-in-cheek copy to further prepare you for your dining experience, including phrases like “Ewe should be here” and nicknaming its Happy Hour the “Early Work Release Program”.

  2. Nopa

    Using a black header background, rather than the obvious white, San Francisco’s Nopa restaurant immediately informs you that it’s more than just a casual dining experience. In fact, using just three simple design elements – custom font, the black header, and a large professional image of the restaurant’s dining room — Nopa sets the tone for the overall experience, elevating itself above the online competition. By keeping the homepage as simple and, in its case, formal as possible, customers engage in a crafted online experience, which ensures that every detail is as perfectly arranged as possible. In addition to the standard navigation menu features (About, Menus, Reservations, etc.), Nopa adds their “Civic Table Project”, demonstrating their involvement within the local community and why they believe sharing a meal can be a real catalyst for change. (Not to mention, the gallery of images includes some stunning shots of their plates, making your mouth literally start watering and your finger more than tempted to click “Make a Reservation”.

  3. Chestnut

    For restaurants, part of their goal online is to show customers exactly what their experience will be when they walk through the doors. What better way to do that, then, than with professional videos? Chestnut, a popular foodie spot in Asheville, North Carolina has created a website that uses the power of interactive media to draw customers in. In just a few seconds, the video, which highlights dishes, the dining room, the chefs, and the bar staff, allays all of your concerns, making you feel both comfortable and excited about the experience to come. Additionally, little touches in the website’s design, like custom scroll arrow icons, demonstrate the restaurant’s ability to tend to even the smallest details.

  4. The Purple Pig

    Taking interactive media to a whole other level, the website for Chicago’s The Purple Pig features a full-screen rotation of video clips, ranging from close-ups of sizzling dishes to intense shots of chefs working in the kitchen. Even casual, seemingly unrelated clips of men walking down a Chicago street in black trenches makes the cut. Why is this so effective? Because great food really is an experience that can’t be conveyed simply through words or even a great photo. Details, like steam rising from a dish or a garnish being carefully balanced on top of a finished plate, are so much more effectively communicated through film. Generating intrigue and curiosity, The Purple Pig website demonstrates that restaurants really have a lot of creative freedom when it comes to crafting their online presence. And, when done right, it can make you stand out from the crowd – and ensure your dining room is always packed.

  5. O Ya

    To say O Ya is a popular place for sushi is an understatement. The award-winning restaurant, which operates out of three different locations (Mexico, Boston, and New York City), is regularly featured on best sushi lists from around the world. It also has one of the best restaurant websites, too. Embracing a minimal approach, O Ya’s website allows its stunning, colorful dishes to be the focal point of its online presence, keeping the navigation simple by first having guests choose which of the three locations they will be dining at. Making it easy to find their menus, O Ya’s primary focus is the food, which, for foodies, lets you know you’re in good hands. While there is no shortage of glowing reviews to choose from, the O Ya website doesn’t inundate visitors with too much info. Instead, they’ve curated three of their most powerful reviews and allow you to fill in the gaps. Because of their reputation, this minimal design approach works wonders, making you eager to find out for yourself what it’s like to eat at O Ya, rather than being told exactly what to expect.

  6. Canlis

    A James Beard-awarded restaurant, Seattle’s Canlis is wonderfully formal. As such, their website is dramatic, even cinematic. From the dark and moody slow motion city shot to the out-of-the-way menu, everything about the Canlis website conveys the black-tie experience that will greet you when you arrive. Even its choice of words (like “An Invitation” instead of a generic “About”) lets you know that you’re in for an elevated experience. Aware that its prices are high, this dramatic and formal approach to its website pre-frames customers, making every penny they spend seem very much worthwhile.

  7. Odd Duck

    For anyone who has ever scoured the internet, landing on obscure and outdated pictures of restaurant menus in order to find out where you want to go to eat, you can truly appreciate a restaurant website that unburies its menu, making it so easy to find that you accidentally stumble upon it – and instantly know that “Yes, this is what I was craving!” Austin’s foodie staple, Odd Duck, does just that, putting its full menu (lunch and dinner) directly on its homepage. Not only is the menu easy to read and find, but it also includes prices, something that helps its customers know exactly what to expect when they dine in. Filled with honesty and personality, the Odd Duck website does something else unique by prominently featuring photographs of their team members, including funny, almost outrageous shots of its four partners, one of which is wearing a full-length apron while riding a tiger. Like most current restaurant websites, Odd Duck also features an integrated reservation button, making it easy for customers to find a table — and without burdening their in-house staff.

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