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The Best POS Systems For Restaurants

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.
Restaurant POS software

When it comes to choosing a point of sale system for your full-service restaurant, there’s a lot more at stake than you might initially think. Besides just taking payments, modern restaurant POS software helps restaurant owners manage tasks from accounting to staff management—the kind of things that can determine whether your restaurant succeeds or becomes one of the 60% of restaurants that fail within the first year of opening.

What follows is a list of the best point of sale systems for full-service restaurants (i.e., sit-down, table-service restaurants), though most of these solutions work well for cafes, bars, and quick-service restaurants as well. These POS systems help restaurateurs do everything from manage ingredient inventories to take reservations online, and everything in between. Plus, these pay-as-you-go systems are relatively inexpensive and won’t put a major strain on your restaurant budget.

Read on to learn about the best point of sale software for full-service restaurants, followed by some advice to help you choose the best restaurant POS system for your business.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanySummaryNext Steps
Lightspeed Restaurant is a robust system that was made with full-service restaurants in mind but is well suited for food-service establishments of all sizes and includes excellent inventory management and tableside ordering.

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Toast is an affordable Android-based system that is ideal for small to mid-sized restaurants but has the functionality to handle full-service restaurants as well and is known for its excellent customer service.

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ShopKeep is a versatile POS that best suits smaller to mid-sized establishments. It features its own payment processor, has a quote-based pricing system, and offers excellent employee management features.

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Square For Restaurants is specifically built with full-service restaurants in mind and features tableside ordering, plus Square's popular processing plan and access to its app store.

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TouchBistro can handle most foodservice establishments and comes with excellent ordering functionality and table management through its iPad based software.

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Other Featured Options:

  • Lavu: Lavu is an affordable restaurant POS option that can handle all sizes of restaurant and has robust employee management and reporting to go along with 24/7 customer support.
  • Revel POS: Revel is a very robust system best suited for mid-sized to larger restaurants. It boasts terrific inventory management, plus online ordering and delivery functionality, and can handle multiple locations.
  • Upserve POS: Upserve is a restaurant-specific POS that can handle small to large establishments. Its interface is fully customizable and features excellent menu and table management plus free customer service.

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

Why Food Service Businesses Need Specialized Restaurant POS Software

There are plenty of POS systems out there that can handle the basic needs of most small to mid-sized businesses. However, if you’re a restaurant owner and don’t have a system with specific functionality for restaurants, you might be shortchanging yourself. That isn’t to say that companies who offer solutions for multiple types of establishments can’t excel when it comes to meeting the needs of a full-service restaurant, but you’ll definitely want to make sure you’re not settling for a less-than-robust set of features.

Many POS companies are created by people with a background working in restaurants, and this can obviously be useful for ascertaining the things that might be helpful for a business owner who’s just starting out. Some software that is built specifically with restaurants in mind may also come with features you may not need when you’re just starting out but that will allow your business to expand seamlessly. If you want to branch out and add mobile ordering or delivery to your offerings, setting up this service might be as simple as pushing a few buttons. The same goes for tableside ordering, a feature that has become extremely popular in the past few years. Most restaurant-specific POS companies can provide you with the hardware and software to add this convenient functionality. And of course, make sure to check out what integrations your POS provider offers that may be able to help you in ways you may not have even considered.

The 8 Best Restaurant POS Systems For Smart Business Owners

1. Lightsped Restaurant

Lightspeed POS



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Lightspeed Restaurant (see our review) is a quality iPad POS for restaurants, and this one works as well for quick-service as it does for full-service restaurants. The Lightspeed POS brand has been around for a while, but Restaurant is a somewhat newer offering for iPad and iPhone, released in 2014. Lightspeed features a free reservation management module and integrates with QuickBooks, Sage One, and Xero; all in all, it is an affordable and quality choice of POS for small to medium full-service restaurants.

Lightspeed has easy menu creation and set-up and is one of the most feature-rich systems for restaurants on the market. The software also features in-depth ingredient tracking and real-time alerts when ingredients are running low. Mobile ordering is also offered, allowing servers to take and send orders directly from the table to the kitchen. For employees, Lightspeed offers unique and intricate timed events to push certain items or reward hard-working servers. Loyalty is also included in the basic software and Lightspeed comes with 24/7 customer support excluding major holidays.

Lightspeed POS also has multi-restaurant functionality, though it is mainly used by small to medium-sized restaurants. You can use any BridgePay-friendly credit card processor with Lightspeed, as well as Cayan or Mercury. Learn more about this restaurant POS in our Lightspeed Restaurant review.

Restaurant-Specific Features:

  • Cloud-based iPad POS 
  • Pricing starts at $69/month (billed annually)
  • Table layouts
  • Online menu management
  • Employee management with ability to set employee roles (i.e., “bartender”)
  • Share menus across locations
  • Tableside ordering
  • Email receipts
  • Real-time raw goods tracking
  • Open tabs and split bills
  • 24/7 support

Get Started with Lightspeed POS

Read our in-depth review

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2. Toast

Toast POS



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Toast (see our review) is one of our favorite POS systems for restaurants that want to use a cloud-based tablet POS but don’t necessarily want an iPad system. In fact, Toast runs exclusively on Samsung Android devices. But despite that distinction, it has a lot in common with the other tablet POS systems on our list—it’s easy to use and set up, and allows servers to take orders and even payments right from their tablets. Plus, it has a lot of cool extras like online ordering, a loyalty program, and delivery management—though some of these features will require you to pay extra.

What really sets Toast apart is its stellar 24/7 customer support, which comes at no additional charge in your package and is offered from a 100% US-based tech support team. Toast places a lot of importance on customer support — a major advantage of using this system.

Another thing to note is that besides using Android tablets, you also have to be okay with using Toast’s in-house payment processor. Its rates are competitive but you’ll be out of luck if you were wanting to make a switch with your POS and still stick with an existing processor.

Toast is one of the more affordable systems that cater specifically to restaurants, and with its extensive feature set and excellent customer support, it’s one of the best POS solutions for full-service restaurants large and small—including multi-location franchises. Larger restaurants that use multiple devices will also save money by using Toast’s cheaper Android tablets vs. the much pricier iPads required of most other cloud-based POS software. You can learn more about the pros and cons of Toast POS by reading our Toast review.

Restaurant-Specific Features:

  • Cloud-based Android POS
  • Pricing starts at $79/month/terminal
  • Accept cash, check, EMV chip cards, gift cards, credit cards, and mobile payments
  • Includes 24/7 customer support
  • Employee and customer management
  • Extras include online ordering, loyalty program, delivery management
  • Robust reporting capabilities

Get Started with Toast POS

Read our in-depth review

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3. ShopKeep

ShopKeep POS



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Shopkeep (see our review) is a leading restaurant POS system for iPad. We like Shopkeep because it has a pretty amazing array of features for its affordable starting price point of $69/month. Many quick-serve eateries, bars, and full-service restaurants love this feature-packed system. Some favorite Shopkeep features include detailed modifiers with the option to add notes to clarify complicated orders, and an unlimited inventory matrix with raw goods management that alerts you when you’re running low. Smart management metrics also help you make important business decisions; Shopkeep shows you your top-selling items so you know what customers are craving most, and shows you your busiest hours so you know when to schedule staff.

Software integrations include MailChimp, QuickBooks, and BigCommerce. ShopKeep recently acquired online order and delivery system ChowBot, adding even more depth and versatility to its offerings. ShopKeep also recently expanded its partnership with First Data so that Shopkeep will eventually be available on the Clover hardware terminal.

Shopkeep is best for small to medium-sized businesses, though it does offer multi-location support. Award-winning 24/7 customer support is included, though you will have to pay extra for premium phone support. Note that Shopkeep doesn’t have table management or reservation management, so it’s generally a better fit for fast-casual restaurants rather than fine-dining.

You can check out our Shopkeep review for more information on this system.

Restaurant-Specific Features:

  • Hybrid iPad POS (runs from locally-installed app and syncs data to cloud when there is an internet connection)
  • Pricing is quote-based depending on what services you’re needing.
  • Raw ingredient management
  • Send orders wirelessly to kitchen printer or bar
  • Split, merge, or transfer open checks
  • Unlimited staff
  • Accept cash, credit, EMV, gift cards, ApplePay with Shopkeep Payments or your choice of merchant account
  • Shopkeep Pocket app lets you manage your business on the go
  • 24/7 customer support

Get Started with ShopKeep POS

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

4. Square For Restaurants

Square For Restaurants POS



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Square for Restaurants (see our review) is a recent offering from the processing and POS giant, and the company hit the bulls-eye once again. Square for Restaurants is extremely easy to use and it doesn’t skimp on restaurant-specific features, all for a very reasonable flat rate. The software is probably best suited for small to mid-sized full-service restaurants and is capable of handling multiple locations. You can create and customize your menus in a matter of minutes. What’s more, functions that can be tedious elsewhere, like setting up discounts or forced modifiers, can be done with a few touches and keystrokes.

Reporting and inventory management functions are solid and, for employees, permissions can be easily assigned. Individuals can log in at the register while hours are managed automatically through Square Payroll. You can manage your entire restaurant remotely if need be with the ability to keep tabs on stock levels and real-time sales monitoring. Loyalty is also included in the package, allowing you to store information on customers and create rewards and incentives for return business.

Square’s customer service isn’t 24/7, offering live support only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. but it has a large database for troubleshooting on its website.

For more about Square for Restaurants, make sure you read our full review.

Restaurant-Specific Features:

  • Cloud-based POS for iPad and most Android devices
  • Pricing starts at $60 a month for your first station and $40 a month per additional station
  • Intuitive, customizable table mapping
  • Tableside ordering
  • Delivery integrations
  • Offline mode allowing for the ability to continue taking credit card payments
  • Access to Square app store
  • Square processing included

Get Started with Square For Restaurants POS

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

5. TouchBistro

TouchBistro



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TouchBistro (see our review), est. 2011, is a secure, on-site iPad POS that works for any type of restaurant, including the full-service variety. With its sleek, attractive interface and a slew of easy-to-use features, TouchBistro is extremely popular among restaurants, such that it has been the top-grossing POS app on iTunes several times over the last year. TouchBistro’s unique model allows you to run your entire restaurant on an iPad, even with no internet connection. If you want to use two or more iPads, you can set up a local Mac server to which all your restaurant’s devices will sync.

TouchBistro lets you accept just about any type of payment and integrates with multiple payment gateways. Keep in mind that while the POS itself doesn’t require Wi-Fi, you will need the internet to take credit card payments. You also have the option to access additional real-time data on your restaurant online via a cloud-based app.

TouchBistro is a little light on raw ingredient management features, but you can pair it with Shogo for more robust inventory tracking. Overall, TouchBistro is a solid, cost-effective choice for smaller restaurants with 10 or fewer iPads/registers.

Find out more about this POS by reading our TouchBistro review.

Restaurant-Specific Features:

  • Locally-installed iPad POS
  • Pricing starts at $69/month for one register
  • Does not need Wi-Fi, except for credit card payment processing
  • Payment options include cash, credit, EMV chip cards, mobile, and gift cards
  • 24/7 phone support included
  • Manage tables, menus, employees, and more through the POS
  • Tableside ordering and payments
  • Reservation management with “Pro” subscription

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

6. POS Lavu

Lavu



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Lavu (see our review) is another affordable and aesthetically pleasing iPad POS for small to medium-sized restaurants, including multi-location restaurants. Lavu has tons of features (over 300), and with its super-affordable price tag, it can potentially save your restaurant a lot of money, especially if you’re switching from a clunky, Windows-based POS. Lavu, est. 2010, is cloud-based but has a local server backup option that offers added stability for restaurants that want to sync multiple devices.

Lavu offers so many features it would be difficult to list them all—some examples include advanced employee management features (timekeeping, job rates, calculation of overtime pay, and more). You also get granular inventory control, viewable at a glance. Furthermore, Lavu is conveniently flexible about which payment gateway you can use (though they are currently incentivizing PayPal for payment processing).

Lavu’s downsides include no purchase order support or mass import functions; some customers also complain that the system is glitchy sometimes. Fortunately, Lavu’s support team is quite responsive, and Lavu releases frequent updates to fix problems and add new features. For best results, have your system professionally installed rather than doing a self-install. Find out more in our POS Lavu review.

Restaurant-Specific Features:

  • Cloud-based iPad POS
  • Pricing starts at $69/month (billed annually)
  • Advanced employee management
  • Table management
  • Raw ingredient tracking
  • Advanced menu management
  • Tableside payments
  • EMV-compliant
  • Granular reports, accessible on your iPad, web browser, or iPhone app
  • Digital kitchen display system
  • 24/7 support

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

7. Revel

Revel POS



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Read our Review

Revel Systems (see our review) was not made specifically for restaurants. Nevertheless, it is very capable of handling the needs of a full-service restaurant and includes key restaurant-specific features. In fact, Revel has one of the most complete feature sets of any restaurant POS, especially since the addition of a table reservation feature.

Revel is more suitable for larger restaurants with multiple locations. Though Revel is one of the pricier options on this list, it is still an affordable and very capable alternative to enterprise-level POS software like Micros or Aloha.

Revel is highly customizable and has a lot of different hardware options, including digital menu boards and a digital kitchen display system. The cloud-based Revel POS also has good offline functionality with its “always-on” mode, allowing you to continue to process payments even if the internet goes down. This POS also has many compatible credit card processors.

Get a more detailed view of this POS by reading our Revel Systems review.

Restaurant-Specific Features:

  • Cloud-based iPad POS
  • Monthly pricing varies depending on your restaurant’s size and needs
  • Multi-location/franchise-friendly
  • Table layouts with table timers and color coding
  • Advanced raw ingredient tracking across multiple locations
  • Delivery management
  • Online and mobile ordering
  • QuickBooks integration
  • Tableside ordering
  • Recently added table reservations feature
  • 24/7 support

Get Started with Revel POS

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

8. Upserve

Upserve POS



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Upserve (see our review) is a cloud-based system for iOS and Android devices that is exclusively mobile. It also features a strong offline mode that allows for card payments to still be taken and stored until an internet connection returns. Built specifically with restaurant managers and employees in mind, the system is intuitive and capable of handling virtually any-sized business. One of the biggest benefits to Upserve is that everything is customizable, so if a manager is experienced and knows what he or she likes in a POS system, it’s easy to set things up to those exact specifications.

Upserve does a nice job with its inventory tracking and will automatically remove a menu item if a store runs out of ingredients. The software also includes online ordering for no additional cost, with orders going directly to the kitchen to increase productivity and profits. Upserve also comes with an intuitive Kitchen Display System that prioritizes orders for the kitchen.

Upserve also does employee management well as permissions are easily and quickly assigned and employees can track their hours directly on the POS device. The company integrates with gift card software and gives you a host of other options as well. Customer service comes at no extra cost and each account is assigned a Customer Success Manager.

If you’re interested in Upserve, make sure you check out our full review.

Restaurant-Specific Features

  • Cloud-based POS for iOS and Android devices
  • Packages start at $59 a month
  • Can handle small to large restaurants across multiple locations
  • All terminal functions are customizable
  • Upserve Live app allows for real-time monitoring remotely
  • Color-coded table management
  • Course and menu management
  • Free customer service included

Get Started with Upserve POS

Read our in-depth review

Jump back to comparison chart

How Do You Spot A Great POS System For Restaurants?

So now you know that there are plenty of companies that offer restaurant specific POS services. And that’s the good news! But now comes the hard part. How do you narrow it down and select the the POS that’s best for your establishment?

We’ve already given you some very strong options and it would be difficult to go wrong with any of the above software platforms. But that doesn’t mean that some are better fits for you specifically than others. So here’s a brief rundown of things you should be looking for in a very strong POS for your restaurant:

  • Cost: It sounds simple and, quite frankly, this is often the factor that we look at first. Most of the companies we mention above are similarly priced, but you’ll want to make sure that you’re not paying for features that you won’t use. Definitely avoid any long-term contracts and, if you’re going with a company’s built-in processor, make sure the rates are competitive. Also, if you plan on expanding into additional hardware like extra registers or mobile ordering devices, make sure those purchases won’t break the bank.
  • Robust Inventory: Any competent POS for restaurants will come with some basic inventory management, but if your inventory needs are somewhat complex, you’ll definitely want to delve into what your POS has to offer. Features like raw ingredient tracking, low inventory alerts, and purchase order management should definitely be included. Also double-check to make sure that a software’s advanced inventory options don’t need to be purchased as an add-on.
  • Employee Management: Unless you’re running a very small establishment with just a few employees, you’ll want a POS that is not only user-friendly for your workers, but also has features that will make all of your lives easier. It should be easy to assign permissions for individual employees, set schedules and clock hours and tip management is a nice bonus feature. You’ll also want to look for security features like the ability to track voids and cash drawer openings.
  • Loyalty: Some form of a loyalty program can be a boon to your restaurant. Many companies offer this feature as an add-on or as an integration but some have built-in programs as well. The ability to store customer information and send out tailored marketing can dramatically help with repeat business and a solid gift card integration can also boost sales.
  • Customer Service: While most of the major POS players try to stay relatively close to each other when it comes to pricing, their level of customer service can vary greatly. If excellent customer service is high on your priority list, pay close attention to what each company offers. You may be charged an add-on for 24/7 support, which is always a bummer, and some companies can only be reached live at certain hours. However, others make a big commitment to having friendly, knowledgeable staff available at all hours via phone or live chat.

What Is The Best Restaurant POS For Me?

Full-service restaurants need quality POS software that provides reliable, industry-specific functionality, as well as intuitive management features that keep your restaurant in the black. Today’s smart, web-enabled POS’s can help make your restaurant more efficient and might even improve your quality of service and customer communications. I recommend test-driving any or all of these POS systems by going to their respective websites and setting up a free trial. The cool thing about tablet-based POS systems is they typically use a lot of the same equipment, making it relatively easy to switch to a different point of sale if you’re not entirely happy with the first one you choose.

Want a quick way to compare restaurant POS systems? Our restaurant POS software comparison table is a great place to start. If you want more details about any of the above systems—or any of their competitors in the foodservice point of sale arena—check out our selection of comprehensive restaurant POS reviews.

A Last Look At Our Top Picks

  1. Lightspeed POS
    Summary - Lightspeed Restaurant is a robust system that was made with full-service restaurants in mind but is well suited for food-service establishments of all sizes and includes excellent inventory management and tableside ordering.
  2. Toast POS
    Summary - Toast is an affordable Android-based system that is ideal for small to mid-sized restaurants but has the functionality to handle full-service restaurants as well and is known for its excellent customer service.
  3. ShopKeep POS
    Summary - ShopKeep is a versatile POS that best suits smaller to mid-sized establishments. It features its own payment processor, has a quote-based pricing system, and offers excellent employee management features.
  4. Square For Restaurants POS
    Summary - Square For Restaurants is specifically built with full-service restaurants in mind and features tableside ordering, plus Square's popular processing plan and access to its app store.
  5. TouchBistro
    Summary - TouchBistro can handle most foodservice establishments and comes with excellent ordering functionality and table management through its iPad based software.
  6. Lavu
    Summary - Lavu is an affordable restaurant POS option that can handle all sizes of restaurant and has robust employee management and reporting to go along with 24/7 customer support.
  7. Revel POS
    Summary - Revel is a very robust system best suited for mid-sized to larger restaurants. It boasts terrific inventory management, plus online ordering and delivery functionality, and can handle multiple locations.
  8. Upserve POS
    Summary - Upserve is a restaurant-specific POS that can handle small to large establishments. Its interface is fully customizable and features excellent menu and table management plus free customer service.
Matt Sherman

Matt Sherman

Point of sale writer at Merchant Maverick
Matt Sherman has been immersed in point of sale systems for over a year now. Previously, he spent 14 years in the newspaper industry, the majority of which was as the sports editor for a pair of weekly newspapers in suburban Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon where he majored in English because he knows where the money is. Matt is the father to a pair of energetic boys and can easily be distracted by Netflix, Amazon and HBO Go.
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