5 Best Restaurant POS Systems

Are you trying to find the best point of sale system for your restaurant?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

When it comes to POS software, restaurants have specific requirements. Some of the best POS software providers understand this and have developed systems specifically for restaurants. Using a point of sale system that is specialized gives you access to powerful tools that can help you grow your business.

This post will give you an overview of the top point of sale systems suited for small and medium-sized restaurants. I will take a deeper look at the features that make them the best so you can see how they fit your business.

This is what you’ll get in this article:

The 5 Top Picks for the Best Restaurant POS
How to Choose the Best POS System for Your Restaurant
What are the Important Features and Benefits of a POS System
A Feature Review of the 5 Best POS Systems
What POS System is Right for Your Type of Restaurant
Conclusion and Final Verdict

5 Best Restaurant POS Systems

The 5 Top picks for the Best Restaurant POS

The restaurant software I recommend in this post is all cloud-based. All data can be accessed wherever you are and stored in the cloud. They all offer mobile apps that give you fast and easy access.  

1. Square for Restaurant POS – Best overall restaurant POS that’s easy-to-use and has a free plan that covers the essential needs of smaller restaurants.

2. TouchBistro – Best for smaller restaurants looking for an affordable and secure cloud/server-based POS system.

3. Lightspeed Restaurant POS – Best for full-service restaurant owners wanting a feature-rich, reasonably priced all-in-one iPad POS system with over 200 third-party integration tools.

4. Toast POS – Best for restaurants that want to get started with a free basic POS plan. Upgrade for advanced digital ordering and inventory management features.

5. Upserve by Lightspeed – Best for small restaurants that want a user-friendly, easy-to-install system with personalized onboarding.

POS system used in a cafe

How to Choose the Best POS System for Your Restaurant

The modern restaurant environment is quite different from what it was even 10 or 20 years ago. One of the most critical pieces of your restaurant business is the point of sale software that you use to keep track of sales, inventory, orders, customer history, and more.

The right software can help you streamline back-of-house operations, efficiently manage front-of-house transactions, and act as a marketing and customer management hub.

All POS systems give restaurants the ability to simplify the checkout process, provide payment processing so you can accept credit and debit cards, and report and analytic information to make better business decisions. That’s where most of the similarities end.

When it comes to choosing a POS system for their business, restaurants and retailers have different needs. That’s why I recommend a point of sale solution designed for your industry if you operate a restaurant, cafe, or bar.

Increasing labor and food costs are some of the trends facing the restaurant industry. You need to take advantage of every opportunity to improve efficiency, customer service, reduce waste, and control costs to survive these changes.

You can make all of those things happen with the right restaurant POS system. This guide will help you identify critical factors and make an informed decision.

What are the Important Features and Benefits of a Point of Sale System

A point of sale system is what its name implies: a way to manage the sales occurring at your restaurant. These systems allow business owners to track inventory, sales, payments, and other information vital to any restaurant’s success.

If you own or operate a restaurant, it’s in your best interest to understand the benefits associated with a restaurant point of sale system before deciding whether or not to invest in one.

It’s crucial to know what features you need most in a POS system and how each piece of software stacks up against the competition.

Point of Sale System Restaurant cafe

12 Significant Features of a POS System and How they Can Benefit Your Restaurant

Reporting and analytics features. These can vary a lot between systems, but some level of reporting is included in all of our reviewed restaurant POS systems. The reports can show metrics like your daily sales, the restaurant’s busiest hours, staff performance, best-selling items, and more.

Online reservations are available in some advanced POS solutions, but most have integrations with apps like OpenTable for online reservations.

Menu management and creation are essential for restaurants with multiple locations, but being able to change the menu quickly is a feature most restaurants can benefit from.

Table management. Most POS software offers basic table management functions, but the more advanced systems can have detailed floor plans and seat management.

Kitchen Display Systems (KDS) can instantly transmit orders to the kitchen, eliminating the problem of misread or lost tickets. The system also assigns orders to specific food preparation sections, so all items are ready simultaneously and duplicates are eliminated.

Employee management. A POS system that tracks hours, sales, and shift performance will make it easy to manage employees while also letting them clock in and out with their ID on a POS terminal. The reporting feature will provide valuable insights into overall employee performance.

Inventory management. Some restaurant POS systems can help minimize waste and generate purchase orders when stock is low by monitoring expired dates. Low-stock alert, purchase order management, and the ability to track vendors are other useful inventory features.

Online ordering & delivery. Many restaurants want to be able to take orders online. If a system doesn’t offer online ordering natively, it should integrate with an online ordering and delivery service.

Integration with third-party tools. Many POS systems support integration with other systems, including accounting software, payroll services, email marketing platforms, and CRM solutions. This allows businesses to use one solution instead of having to manage several separate pieces of technology.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM). You can use your POS to manage your customer database. Create targeted email campaigns with relevant offers and messaging. The CRM can be used to automatically send offers to customers who haven’t visited your business in a while. Data analysis from your CRM will also give insight into which marketing campaigns are most effective.

Gift cards and loyalty rewards are a great way to increase brand awareness and revenue. It makes it easy for customers to earn and redeem their loyalty rewards with your restaurant POS. It is also possible to issue and accept gift cards to create more revenue. 


A Feature Overview of the 5 Best POS Systems for Restaurants

1. Square for Restaurants

Square for Restaurants POS system

Square is the best overall restaurant POS. The system is easy to use and has a free plan that covers the essential needs of smaller restaurants. Square is also a good fit for cafes, bakeries, and food trucks. See my full Square for Restaurant review.

Pros

  • Very easy-to-use interface
  • Free to get started
  • Free online ordering
  • No long-term contracts
  • Easy to create a website for your restaurant

Cons

  • Restricted to Square’s payment processing
  • Limited reporting

2. TouchBistro

TouchBistro Restaurant POS

TouchBistro is a great system for smaller restaurants looking for an affordable and secure cloud/server-based POS system. The software is modern and easy to use with a great-looking interface. 

Pros

  • Well-designed user interface
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable monthly cost
  • Excellent staff and inventory management
  • Hybrid POS that works offline too

Cons

  • Somewhat limited integrations

3. Lightspeed Restaurant POS

Lightspeed for restaurants POS system

Lightspeed is best suited for full-service restaurant owners wanting a feature-rich, reasonably priced all-in-one iPad POS system with over 200 third-party integration tools. There is a free trial, and Lightspeed is available in 100+ countries.

Pros

  • Well-designed user interface
  • Very flexible and customizable
  • Photos, descriptions & prices are included in the menu and floorplan
  • Available 100+ countries around the world
  • 14-day free trial

Cons

  • There is a learning curve
  • Add-ons can make the monthly fee high

4. Toast POS

Toast POS

Toast POS is a good choice for restaurants that want to get started with a free basic POS plan. Upgrade for advanced digital ordering and inventory management features. Only available on Android or with Toast’s hardware, specifically designed for the restaurant business.

Pros

  • Advanced employee management
  • Good for Android users
  • Built for restaurants
  • Excellent reporting metrics
  • Online and contactless ordering

Cons

  • Locked into Toast payment processing
  • Add-ons can get expensive
  • No free trial
  • It doesn’t work on iOS

5. Upserve by Lightspeed

Upserve by Lightspeed - Restaurant point of sale software

Upserve is another very good restaurant management system for small and medium-sized restaurants that want a user-friendly, easy-to-install system with personalized onboarding. The mobile POS app works with both iOS and Android, and in addition, Upserve offers its own well-designed and rugged hardware.

Pros

  • It was designed explicitly for restaurant employees
  • Online ordering
  • Strong reporting & analytics
  • iPad and Android
  • Highly customizable

Cons

  • No trial or free plan
  • Only US Based


What POS System is Right for Your Type of Restaurant

Identifying solutions for your specific type of restaurant is a good start in narrowing your choice.

Quick-Service Restaurants (QSR) need POS systems with enough speed and ease of use to quickly process orders and payments. A POS system designed for QSR should also include integration with digital menu boards so you can update menus and menu displays fast. Support for self-service kiosks is also an excellent way to keep customers moving.

Full-Service restaurants need POS features that allow customers to make reservations online or over the phone. If you want to seat guests quickly and turn tables fast, table management is a must. Wait staff can use tableside ordering with mobile Point of Sale units giving customers the convenience of paying at the table.

Fast-casual restaurants need a POS system with many of the same features as a full-service restaurant, but it’s also vital to make ordering faster. Table kiosks for self-ordering menu items and pay-at-the-table functionality are easy ways to make this happen. A POS system can integrate online order information with your kitchen display system (KDS), so staff knows what to prepare. It can also print receipts and labels, making paperwork easy.

Square POS used in a restaurant

Conclusion (And the winner is Square for Restaurants)

Different restaurant POS systems all have their own strengths in the following three criteria: easy-to-use, low-cost, and high functionality. You can usually find a solution that meets two of the requirements, but rarely all of them.

I find that Square for Restaurants is the POS system that best fulfills these three criteria for small and medium-sized restaurants.

Square offers much more than a POS system. Square for Restaurants is just one of the many products in the Square family. They have a great website builder, the best payment processor, an eCommerce platform, and many marketing tools designed to help restaurants, food trucks, and coffee shops grow.

The best part is that all features work so well together. As a member of the Square family, you get full business support and access to specialized tools that integrate as if they were one product.

Even if Square is all you need, they also have a marketplace with integrations so that you can make it compatible with your existing systems, including accounting solutions like QuickBooks.

The main limitation with Square from a global perspective is the relatively few countries where the entire system is available.  However, Square is building a decentralized bitcoin exchange. This is good news and could open up for greater global accessibility as they hope bitcoin will be the currency of the internet. 

However, Lightspeed is a good alternative if you are looking for a solution available in a wide variety of countries. 

I hope this overview of restaurant POS systems has given you a better understanding of how the different tools work and why I recommend Square to most of you who want a feature-rich, easy-to-use, and free system to support your restaurant business. 

Infographic - 5 simple steps to pick the right restarant POS


All the Point of Sale systems listed above will work well as your restaurant POS

But, if you don’t know what solution is right for you, start a free Square account and try it out. Square is the most cost-effective point of sale system, there is no monthly fee as they only charge for transactions.

Additional reading:
Square for Restaurants Point of Sale (POS) System Review
How to Find Restaurant Staff During the Worker Shortage and Beyond

Photo of author

Jan Erling

UX Designer | Content Writer.