Many of us love to share our favourite food moments. Social media has become a perfect home for restaurant businesses, in particular Instagram and TikTok where visuals are everything.
A recent study by Barclaycard Payments found that the ‘experience’ in a venue was just as important to diners as the food, with consumers eating out less in recent times. The study found that diners were willing to pay more if a venue was more aesthetically pleasing and Instagram-worthy. The report also stated that a third of restaurants now receive most of their bookings through these platforms.
It’s no longer just about how good a burger or salad tastes, it’s how good it looks. Diners are using social media to inform their choices of where to go. Having a robust, highly engaged and more importantly interesting social media presence is now an intrinsic part of the success of a food business.
Here’s a look at 12 restaurants who have expertly harnessed social media to their advantage with amazing visuals and immersive content to build a large following:
Their familiar formula of great pizza at this global chain always delivers so they’ve stuck to what they know they do best when it comes to food.
But not one to get stuck in a rut, this summer they brought us Summer Sessions – a series of al fresco performances celebrating Britain’s musical talent, captured nicely on their social channels, as in this post. A brilliant collaboration with Thursday, the dating app, brought singles together for a date night at one of their London branches, captured on a TikTok post attracting huge engagement and 334k views.
Keeping things fresh alongside a reliable menu with classics we’ve grown to love (the American, Romana et al) works perfectly for social media content.
2Bad Roman, New York
Instagram – 47k
Located in Columbus Circle in Manhattan, this maximalist styled modern Italian restaurant opened in February 2023 and already amassed 47k followers on Instagram – and it isn’t difficult to see why.
The over the top decor featured in this post and beautifully presented food and cocktails featured in Insta Reels like this gives Instagram followers exactly what they want – this restaurant was made for Instagram.
This swanky subterranean hangout in the fashionable Spinningfields district of Manchester is the place to be seen and has long be a fave of Manchester’s footballers and celebrities.
Awash with whites, beiges and not a splash of colour in sight, the restaurant loosely themes itself around ‘Pacific coastline’ natural hues and modern flavours from the continent it is named after.
The uber-lux sophistication of this restaurant and beautifully-presented food translates perfectly across their social media channels, like this inviting post on Instagram.
The iconic American fast food restaurant chain is celebrated for its fresh, never-frozen beef burgers and rich heritage. Its success stems from a consistent emphasis on quality ingredients and innovative menu items.
Notably, Wendy’s has mastered the art of social media engagement, cultivating a cheeky online persona across all its platforms that resonates with audiences, like this post on Instagram or this post on TikTok. The comments sections on posts are equally entertaining too.
Their witty interactions and roasts have won them a massive following, setting them apart in the digital age.
5Sessions Arts Club, London
Instagram – 73k
Located in Clerkenwell, Sessions Art Club is a unique fusion of gastronomy, art, and culture, set inside a Grade II listed building. This sophisticated venue breathes life into the historic setting (a former courthouse) while showcasing contemporary creativity.
On Instagram, they employ a rich tapestry of visuals, from tantalising dishes to their live arts events and performances, enticing their target audience. Their strategic use of Instagram not only promotes their offerings but also captures the essence of the immersive experiences they curate.
Instagram – 1m
Noma, situated in Copenhagen, is frequently hailed as one of the world’s best restaurants, renowned for its innovative approach to Nordic cuisine.
On Instagram, Noma brilliantly conveys its culinary narrative, sharing visually arresting images of avant-garde dishes, foraging adventures such as posts like this, and behind-the-scenes glimpses.
This strategic engagement provides a digital tasting journey, enticing food enthusiasts globally while emphasising Noma’s commitment to local produce and groundbreaking gastronomy.
Pretty in pink Menagerie, is what you might imagine heaven looks like – little fluffy clouds adorning cocktails (actually candy floss), a swathe of white birds floating across the restaurant and feathers, palm leaves and huge balloon arches, all adding to the experience here.
Add to that a busy events calendar with everything from fire eaters to catwalk fashion shows. Baby showers, weddings, gender reveal parties and more flock here to bag their finest Instagram shot for the family album.
The result is their social media content which is a feast for the eyes and highly engaging.
8Dave’s Hot Chicken, USA
Dave’s Hot Chicken all started in 2017, in a parking lot with four friends with a pop-up stall and $900. They now have a successful chain of fast food restaurants across the US.
It is of course all about their now legendary chicken sandwiches as well as ‘Dave’s sauce’ on the side, and we should mention their crinkles fries which people clearly love (a nice change from the straight fries!).
This food may not be everyone’s cup of tea and let’s be honest it looks like its packed with a trillion calories, but this US restaurant chain has garnered massive engagement on social media with its straightforward approach of posting videos and images of their menu and people eating.
Couple that with their cool street art-themed restaurants, Dave’s Chicken reaches out to an audience on social media and their accounts see massive engagement as a result. This post on TikTok saw 330k views and there’s many more in the same vein like this post plugging their milkshakes which saw 460k views.
9Hard Rock Cafe
The Hard Rock Café, a globally recognised chain, combines dining with rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, delivering an unparalleled experience for music aficionados.
With venues in major cities worldwide, the London branch on Old Park Lane was its very first. The brand adeptly taps into historical rock culture whilst leveraging social media to showcase its huge sandwiches, cocktails and more. Their recent collaboration with Leo Messi has brought unprecedented results, like this post on Instagram.
Set in a building dating back to the 1800s, the menu here celebrates the very best of Yorkshire. Spearheaded by Chef Tommy Banks, this Michelin-starred restaurant emphasises a farm-to-table ethos, sourcing ingredients directly from the Banks family’s own farm.
With a rotating menu influenced by the seasons, Roots presents innovative dishes that capture the essence of the region. The unassuming looking venue is all about the food and the story of Roots, translating perfectly on their social media with lots of content featuring beautifully presented meals and chefs-in the-kitchen action shots like this reel on Instagram.
Instagram – 334k
At Sketch, the fun begins with their immersive website and immediately you know you’ve come across something just a little bit special. Could this be London’s prettiest restaurant? Maybe, yes!
The Gallery, the Parlour, The Glade, the East Bar & Pods and the three star Michelin rated Lecture Room & Library are all beautifully presented on Instagram. They post a nice balance of content, although Insta posts are dominated by all interior shots (which are a feast for the eyes) and the equally stunning food (check out their gorgeous Afternoon Tea). Sketch is what Instagram was invented for!
12Oxomoco, New York
This Michelin-rated Mexican eatery in Brooklyn, NY, looks unassuming at first but Oxomoco prides itself on serving fresh tasty food cooked over a wood fire grill, earning great reviews on Tripadvisor.
Their social media takes us behind the scenes as well as bringing a personal feel to content with staff photos and videos like this post as well as showing off the homely, rustic interiors too.
How These Restaurants Succeed in Social Media
- Lean towards video content
- Share user generated content: a photo/video of a customer enjoying a meal can feel much more credible
- Behind-the scenes videos – eg. chefs creating dishes
- Post at the right times, breakfast images are going to perform much better posted early in the morning
- Use influencers
- A variety of content: food, interviews with customers, sharing UGC, reviews, staff features, humour, competitions, special offers, seasonal posts. An Instagram grid full of food dishes with the same plate in the same position, photographed at the same angle will leave users cold but many accounts we looked at did this, with much less engagement, enough said.