Cooking great food is an art in itself, but whipping up a good-looking menu is, too — we’re talking about the design of the actual, physical menu, whether it comes from the printer or straight from the pen.
Any good menu takes both form and function into consideration. It’s great to have a visually appealing display, but if customers don’t know where to look to find the food they want, the menu becomes an irksome obstacle to the dining experience — designers have to make sure they don’t sacrifice practicality for the sake of artistic expression.
On top of that, a good menu represents both the restaurant and the cuisine it offers. Fancy calligraphy for a greasy spoon diner just doesn’t work, just as Comic Sans font belongs nowhere near the menu of an upscale sushi house. But most of all, a great menu should make you hungry.
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Menu design is practically an art genre of its own, hundreds of years in the making: Menu art has been evolving since the 1800s, when printed menus were still reserved for special occasions. It took centuries for menus to come into the look we’re familiar with nowadays. There’s even a book dedicated to chronicling more than 100 years of vintage menus.
Sometimes, though, the best menus come from abandoning all the rules. In a few of these cases, they look more like works of experimental art than menus — and we’re totally OK with that.
There are tons of unique, creative menu designs out there, but here we’ve gathered nine of the wackiest, artsiest, most interesting menu designs we've come across.