How to Create A Mexican Restaurant Menu

by | May 28, 2024

Ready to craft un menú delicioso for your Mexican cocina? At Schenck Foods, we’re passionate about food — especially Latin cuisine! As a wholesale food distribution company, we’ve got a whole selection of items to get your restaurant stocked up. We can offer professional menu guidance as you start building your menu and, in the meantime, here are five tips to give you a jumpstart!

1. Choosing a menu design 

Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking for a fresh beginning, your menu should mirror your product and your brand. Are you a hip taco joint? Consider a funky theme with bold colors and maybe a flashy slogan. Are you a traditional family-friendly Mexican Restaurant? Make your typography big and easy to read, provide a children’s selection, and include big images throughout the menu. Popular branding and design elements for your menu could include animal imagery, folk art, gritty texture, vibrant colors, cacti, intricate designs, or street art. Culturally significant artists like Frida Kahlo could also influence your menu branding. 

Image by pikisupersta

It’s important to understand the different expectations with pricing, service, and experience that might follow specific food selections, and your menu branding should reflect that. Patrons of a taco bar might expect a more casual dining experience, while a traditional Mexican dining experience with a full-service bar may come with a higher price point and more upscale dining accommodations. 

Choosing a theme or niche will impact every aspect of the dining experience — from decor, to prices, to menu design. Make sure to choose a theme before organizing your menu. A program like Canva provides excellent templates for creating your menu design. 

2. Why dish order matters

Did you know that the order of your menu can impact your bottom line? A psychological theory in menu design, the Golden Triangle, dictates that certain areas of your menu will result in higher sales. Menu real estate matters, and placing profitable or popular dishes where someone’s eyes might naturally gravitate to ( i.e., middle, top right, and top left) may result in increased sales. Studies show that customers are less likely to order both a dessert and an appetizer if both are included on the menu. Consider having a separate menu for desserts and/or alcoholic beverages (to conserve space and prevent clutter). 

Organizing your menu according to food groups and natural food course hierarchy — such as appetizers and entrées — will provide an easy, skimmable experience for your customers. Make it easier for individuals with certain preferences to find their favorite types of dishes by organizing your menu by subgroups. Of the Mexican restaurants that we polled, here are a few common menu subgroups that we came across:

Tacos, Salads, Burritos, Fajitas, Enchiladas, Sides, Carnes y Mariscos, Seafood, Flatbreads, Etc. – It’s really up to you, your chef, and your business! 

3. Disclose Your Ingredients

Always be transparent on your menu about what every dish comes with — whether it’s a side of beans and rice, or toppings like lettuces, pico de gallo, crema, etc. It’s critical that you disclose what every dish includes, both for people with allergies and picky eaters. 

Labels are a great way to indicate if a dish is appropriate for certain individuals. We noted that many restaurants included labels like GF (Gluten-Free), V (Vegetarian), or P (Contains Peanuts) next to dishes, saving space and ensuring that your customer knows what they are eating. Make sure to put a key at the footer of the menu that clearly identifies these labels, and to include a safety disclaimer if you serve rare or undercooked meat. 

Customize, customize, customize! People love to be in charge of what they eat. Give them unlimited control over what they want to swap in and out, or “build your own” options for especially adventurous customers. Table for two? Consider offering dishes that come with the option of a double portion for two individuals! As an upsell, offer a “for two” option at a higher price point (perhaps slightly discounted). This might incentivize your customers to order a higher-price item and save your cook time on the grill. 

Tip: when it comes to expensive meat, make sure to be clear about the upcharge of certain meats for different dishes. 

4. Should your menu include pictures?

Including photos is a great way to incentivize customers to choose specific options (going back to those high-profit or most popular dishes!), but it could also clutter up your menu. If you decide to include photos in your menu, here are a few general tips:

  • Select high-quality images: Grainy images would be doing both your food and your customers a disservice. 
  • You may be tempted to do this, but don’t size images too small on your menu. This makes it extra difficult for them to be viewed, so they end up taking up space without the benefits. 
  • Consider paying a professional photographer to stage your dishes so they look aesthetic and delicious. 

This blog offers more helpful food photography tips for your restaurant. 

5. Special menu options

In our analysis of Mexican restaurant menus, we came across some options that your restaurant might love to try:

  1. One restaurant offered ceviches (marinated seafood salads) to spice up their menu and highlight their seafood specialty. 
  2. Another offered a special “chef-tasting experience” or a “walk through Mexican cuisine,” which might be a great option if you plan to serve authentic cuisine.
  3. Antojitos or “little street dishes” is a cute way to serve small plates with tasty options. A tasting menu with drink flights is another fun way to provide customers with a sample of flavors. 
  4. A salsa bar is another great way to provide a flavor for everyone — and you know fresh-made guacamole will never disappoint!

Other common specials might include discounts on certain days of the week (think “Taco Tuesdays” or “Kids Eat Free”). Don’t forget happy hour menu options for your post-work crowd! 

Start building your Mexican restaurant menu today

Thanks for checking out our Mexican restaurant menu tips! Be sure to take advantage of Schenck Food’s array of Latin food selections and ingredients in our catalog