menu translation
Anthony Dexmier

Anthony likes helping people reach their true potential. Being the victim of his own fears and insecurities in his own business, he has decided to help others create more opportunities.

Every waiter has once handed a menu to people who didn’t understand it. Britain has a lot of visitors every year, from people all over the world. And as hard it is to believe, not every one of them speaks English. They do want to try your food though so this article will explore the challenges of menu translation and give you some solutions that should be suitable for you.

The importance of a good translation

Google translate is generally not to be trusted. While it has improved in recent years for some languages, the translations are at best awkward in a lot of cases. Giving your foreign customers paper menus with poor translations will give them the impression you care very little about them.

When foreigners read a menu translation, they expect to feel at home. It’s a powerful way for you to assert your attention to detail. If every dish is a guessing game for them, which is bound to happen with sloppy translations, you might as well give them the menu in English.

A good menu translation should stay true to the original version and be easy to understand in the target language. Easier said than done. Dishes may be just ingredients, but sometimes words have a double meaning. As shown in the video above, it can result in very confusing dish names.

Solutions for menu translation


Depending on the number of languages you want to translate your menu into, it may be worth it to hire a professional translator. Your needs entirely depend on how many foreign customers you get. Obviously, the number of nationalities is also important. There is no point translating your menu into 25 different languages if most of your visitors come from the same three countries.

Always keep in mind that foreign students come to the UK and look for temporary work. By hiring strategically, you can give these young enthusiasts the task of translating a menu into their own language. Finally, rather than having to print your menu into different languages, you can reference your restaurant in an app that translates menus.

A paper-free solution


Translate My Menu is an app that people download for free. As a restaurant, you subscribe to their service, which costs $75 per month and is available all over the world. They translate your menu into twenty languages and reference your restaurant.

The biggest advantage for you is the referencing. Currently, not that many restaurants are on it. You, therefore, have an opportunity to stand out. Again, it depends on your needs and your location. If your area doesn’t attract that many tourists, it may be better to pass. If your main target market is tourists, however, it may be worth looking into.

A second advantage of the app is that you don’t need to print your menu into different languages. Customers just scan a QR code and obtain your menu in their language on their phone. Unlike the menu that you hand in, the app is responsible so even a poor translation does not tarnish your reputation.

In terms of translation quality, it is far from extraordinary. Most of the time it is hardly better than Google Translate would do but customers are more likely to blame the app for it than your restaurant. The main point of subscribing is to be part of the restaurants they reference.


If you really want quality translations of your menu, it is probably better to hire a professional. If, however, you want to show tourists that you have thought about them, Translate My Menu is a way to kill two birds with one stone. It gives your customers an understandable version of what you serve and it spreads your name in an area almost devoid of competition.