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The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Name Ideas

Choosing the perfect name for your restaurant is one of the most crucial steps in establishing your brand and attracting customers. Your restaurant’s name should be unique, memorable, and reflective of your concept and cuisine. In this guide, we will explore a variety of restaurant name ideas, tips, and strategies to help you find the ideal name for your dining establishment.

What Are Good Restaurant Name Ideas?

Good restaurant names need to be equal parts eye-catching and unique, while accurately conveying what your restaurant is all about. They should hint at the type of food you serve, seem cool without trying too hard, and be easy to spell and remember. Importantly, avoid names that are too similar to existing restaurants or businesses in your area to prevent confusion and competition misdirection.

The Washington Post analyzed 40,000 Chinese restaurant names in the United States and found that over one-third included the word “China” or “Chinese.” This indicates that being descriptive can help with brand recognition. With that in mind, here are some tips to get you started on the path to discovering the right restaurant name for your new spot.

What’s in a Name? A Lot of Brainstorming, Sweat, and Tears

If you’re thinking about opening a restaurant, congrats! One of the difficult and important decisions you  as a restaurant owner need to make is choosing your restaurant name. It should be unique, easy pronouns and memorable.Most importantly, the name should have substance, ideally with a neat backstory behind it.

 

A recent piece in Bon Appétit notes that “every third restaurant you pass has practically the same name.” So how do you stand out? Keep reading for an exploration into noteworthy names, why they work, and actionable tips for locking down your decision before someone else scoops it up.

Tips for Creating a Great Restaurant Name

 Invoke Curiosity

Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it’ll drive diners through your doors. A name that builds intrigue and sparks conversation can put (and keep) your restaurant on diners’ radar. More than that, it can give new customers the push they need to see what your restaurant is all about.

Example: Disco Cheetah

Disco Cheetah is a food truck and brick-and-mortar spot whipping up fast-casual Korean cuisine like rice bowls with fried tofu & gochujang tomato sauce, bulgogi beef, and Napa cabbage kimchi. Its name is integrated into everything from its logo (a cheetah rocking shades and big hair) to its tagline (Serving Real Food, Fast!). Its dishes are bold and fresh, and that’s reflected in its branding too.

Disco Cheetah

Make It Memorable

Consider that 45% of people find a new restaurant from word-of-mouth, mostly from friends and family. People often share recommendations verbally, in conversation — which means when someone goes to Google your restaurant later, the name must be unique enough to stick in their mind.

Example: Merry Piglets

Part of the ethos for Merry Piglets is “to create a fun, lively, relaxed environment where you can unwind and feel like part of the family.” Both words (merry and piglets) evoke playful imagery, following through on the restaurant’s commitment to the words “fun” and “lively.” The name is definitely easy to remember and gets bonus points for being entertaining to say!

Merry Piglets
Describe Your Menu  

Your cuisine can be your first stop for name inspiration. Naming your restaurant in a way that showcases your ingredients or menu offerings lets diners know what to expect. This approach might sound more practical than creative, but the examples below show how to do it artfully.

Example: Citrus & Salt

Citrus & Salt, a Boston-based Coastal Mexican joint, uses its name to emphasize the key components of margaritas: lime juice and a salt rim. Citrus also shows up elsewhere on the menu in lime cabbage slaw, lemon crema, and a citrus vinaigrette on its grapefruit, avocado, and butter lettuce salad.

citrus-and-salt
Connect to Your Concept

Can you describe your concept without using the exact words of what you offer? For example, think about the name of a Latin American-inspired restaurant that doesn’t use the words taqueria, cantina, or taco. The result, like The Painted Burro, would be a unique name that differentiates you in the dining scene. This is one of the best but hardest ways to name your restaurant. When it’s done right, the result is a spot-on moniker that just clicks with diners.

Example: Sunday’s Best

Sunday’s Best in Sandy, UT, has taken a beloved weekend tradition and extended it to an all-day brunch menu served seven days a week. The name is a spin on the phrase “Sunday best,” which typically describes the fine clothing people wear to church. It also acknowledges the connotation of brunch as a popular Sunday tradition.

Sunday’s Best
Showcase One Word

Sometimes less is more — and occasionally, one word is all you need to communicate the essence of your restaurant. The trick with a one-word restaurant name is that it needs to be powerful and punchy to really work. Strive for unconventional and uncommon.

Example: Krill

Giorgios Bakatsias is crushing Far East Funk cuisine at Krill in Durham, NC. Named after a tiny crustacean that’s most widely consumed in Southeast Asia, the restaurant incorporates the creature into its logo and menu with krill sambal and krill fried rice. Krill is a quirky choice that stands out among the run-of-the-mill names.

Krill
Use Alliteration

The repetition of a letter at the beginning of back-to-back words is more than a literary device — it’s an easy way to stand out in the sea of restaurant names. This technique creates rhythm and a sort of “bounciness” that’s pleasing to the ear. Alliteration also helps people remember, so it’s another tactic to create memorability.

Example: Burro Bar

Burro is the Spanish word for donkey, and right off the bat, diners know what to expect at Boston’s Burro Bar. The Mexican kitchen and tequila bar is actually an offshoot of its big sister restaurant, The Painted Burro. In this particular usage of alliteration, Burro Bar rolls right off the tongue.

restaurant-name-ideas-burro-bar

Pay Special Tribute

Not sure which direction to go when selecting a name? Consider using the opportunity to spotlight someone special in your life — especially if they connect with your restaurant’s cooking. Whether it’s a dog, daughter, wife, or grandfather, you can show your appreciation with this gesture.

Example: Lily P’s

Chef Chris Parsons is no stranger to naming concepts. For his third time around, he decided to name his fried chicken establishment after his daughter. The food at Lily P’s reminds Parsons of family memories — and what better way to honor that nostalgia than naming the place after one of his kids.

restaurant-name-ideas-lily-ps

Allude to the Owner/Operator

The simplest way to connect a proprietor to their concept is to name the restaurant after them (for example, “Luke’s Diner.”) But there’s a subtle, more artful way to do this: nod to the owner instead of naming them outright. When done correctly, this doesn’t just honor the head honcho; it invokes the curiosity discussed earlier in this list.

Example: The Tailor’s Son

Adriano Paganini’s Northern Italian restaurant, The Tailor’s Son, describes itself as “a love letter to Italy woven from a different cloth.” The restaurant’s name is a discreet description of who Paganini is — quite literally a tailor’s son. He grew up near Milan surrounded by a family who used their hands to alter garments, making way for him to use his own hands to cook instead.

Play With Words

Fun rhymes, odes to pop culture, and puns all have their place in the restaurant name game. However, it’s easy for restaurants to get carried away with this. Your audience may like “punny” jokes, but if they don’t — and many people don’t — make sure any wordplay is clever, not tacky.

Example: Angry Egrette Dinette

Wes Avila came up with the lyrical name Angry Egret Dinette after watching two egrets fight over a piece of fish. What began as an inside joke between him and his wife became the roots for this spot, which opened during the pandemic and was named a 2022 James Beard semifinalist for Best New Restaurant. The name is fresh, fun, and rolls right off the tongue in a sing-songy sort of way.

restaurant-name-ideas-angry-egret-dinette

Write Down Your Restaurant’s Mission, Vision, Purpose, and Core Values

Write Down Your Restaurant’s Mission, Vision, Purpose, and Core Values

Your restaurant’s mission statement is part autobiography, part north-star. It describes who you are, why you’re here, and what you plan to accomplish as a member of the restaurant community, while also acting as your guiding light for any and all business decisions that need to be made — including naming your restaurant.

Your restaurant’s mission statement can and should play a large role in choosing the right name for your restaurant.

Let’s do a little exercise. If you’ve developed a mission statement for your restaurant, have it close by; if not, that’s fine, too. Grab a pen and paper and write down the following:

  • The type of cuisine you’ll be offering
  •  Any business goals you have, like being the first to serve food from a specific culture in your area or to run a zero-waste restaurant
  •  Your restaurant’s core values
  • The intended personality and vibe of your restaurant
  •  Adjectives you’d use to describe your restaurant
  •  Your name (and the name of your business partners, if any)
  •  Any family names that are important to you
  •  The neighborhood or town where it will be located

The purpose of this exercise is to pull out words and phrases that describe your restaurant and may warrant inclusion in your restaurant’s name. This list will also come in handy when building out your restaurant business plan.

When you can’t think of anything else to add, read back over your list of superlatives, adjectives, and descriptors and circle your favorites. These will be the building blocks of your restaurant name.

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Use a Restaurant Name Generator to Spark New Ideas

Can’t get your creative juices flowing? Believe it or not, restaurant name generators can lend a helping hand. If you think you’re above it, consider this fun fact: Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) got his stage name from a Wu-Tang name generator.

Here are five great name generators for you to play around with. Some ask for guidance in the form of keywords (have your mission statement list handy), while others just assemble random combinations of words.

Ask Your Community for Restaurant Name Ideas

If you’re looking for inspiration or perhaps a tie-breaker on two restaurant name ideas, ask the public for their input. If they end up picking the name you run with, they’ll be much more likely to support your business and promote it to their family and friends — after all, they helped you pick your name! Here are a few ways to solicit feedback on your name from your community:

  • Post a public poll on your new restaurant’s Facebook and Instagram pages. (You may need to pay a little to advertise this poll to the masses since you likely won’t have a big following of your own just yet.)
  • If you don’t have a list of people to ask, SurveyMonkey’s Target Audience is a great paid resource. Write the questions you’d like answered — like “Which restaurant name do you like better” — and SurveyMonkey will distribute them to predetermined target groups or include them as a bonus question on another company’s survey.
  •  Send a questionnaire via snail mail to members of the community around your new restaurant’s location asking for their opinion on your restaurant’s future name.

To ensure you get responses, you can sweeten the pot with an incentive or two. Consider raffling off a free meal on opening night, inviting the decisive voter in for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and photo op, or naming a menu item after the respondent who suggests the best name.

When deciding on a name for your new concept, there are several creative avenues to explore. Whether it’s clever wordplay, nods to popular culture, or other inventive categories, we’ve gathered a range of restaurant names to spark your inspiration as you brainstorm and pitch ideas to your team.

Unforgettable and Clever Restaurant Names (2024)

  1. Killer Pizza from Mars — Oceanside, CA

  2. Dubious Clams Brewing Company — Excelsior Springs, MO
  3. The Drunken Taco — Fort Lauderdale & Coral Square, FL
  4. Sammie’s — Austin, TX
  5. un·cooked — Chicago, IL
  6. Water Pig BBQ — Pensacola Beach, FL
  7. Fry the Coop — Chicago, IL
  8. Egg Slut — Los Angeles, CA
  9. Call Your Mother: A Jew-ish Deli — Washington, D.C.
  10. Foulmouthed Brewing — Portland, ME
  11. Old Bag of Nails – 5 Locations in Ohio
  12. Odd Duck — Austin, TX
  13. Ltd Edition Sushi – Seattle, WA
  14. Promiscuous Fork — San Diego, CA
  15. The Catbird Seat — Nashville, TN
  16. Hot Chix – Boston, MA
  17. Obed and Isaac’s — Peoria, IL
  18. Fat Baby — Boston, MA
  19. Plan B Burger — West Hartford, CT
  20. Bun Huggers Old Fashion Hamburgers — Flagstaff, AZ
  21. Spanked Puppy — Colchester, VT
  22. Holy Smokin Butts BBQ — Tucson, AZ
  23. Tandem Coffee + Bakery – Portland, ME
  24. Mr. & Mrs. Bun – Miami, FL
  25. Phlavz — Chicago, IL
 

Rhyming and Alliterative Restaurant Names

26. Curry in a Hurry — New York, NY

27. Peg Leg Porker — Nashville, TN

28. The Angry Avocado — The Dalles, OR

29. Jajaja — New York, NY

30. Pork on a Fork — Phoenix, AZ

31. Mama Mai’s Noodles — Stevens Point, WI

32. Patati Patata — Montreal, Canada

33. No Name Restaurant — Boston, MA

34. Girl and the Goat — Chicago, IL

35. GRILLRILLA — Hanover, PA

36. Leaping Lizard Cafe — Virginia Beach, VA

37. He’s Not Here Bar — Chapel Hill, NC

38. 2 Dudes Brew & Que — Monroe, LA

39. Dough Doughnuts — New York, NY

40. Buck & Bull — Pittsburgh, PA

41. Lyla Lila – Atlanta, GA

 

Restaurant Names That Are Pop Culture References

42. Cookie Monstah — Boston, MA

43. Goldilox Bagels — Medford, MA

44. India Jones — Los Angeles, CA

45. The Slaw Dogs — Pasadena, CA

46. The Lockhart Bar (Harry Potter book/film series) — Toronto, Canada

47. 16 Handles (Sixteen Candles: 1984 film) — New York, NY, and others

48. Tequila Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird: 1960 book) — New Canaan, CT

49. Life of Pie (Life of Pi: 2002 Yann Martel novel) — Ottawa, Canada

50. Lord of the Fries (Lord of the Flies: 1954 novel) — Melbourne, Australia

51. The Glass Onion (“Glass Onion:” 1968 Beatles song) — Falmouth, MA  When the owners’ 2-year-old son suggested that the restaurant be named after one of his favorite Beatles songs, “Glass Onion,” they couldn’t say no.

52. Pita Pan (Peter Pan: 1904 play and later Disney movie) — New York, NY

53. Planet of the Crepes (Planet of the Apes: 1968 novel and later movie & TV show) — Tucson, AZ

54. Thai Tanic (Titanic, 1997 film) — Washington, D.C.

55. Santa Baby Bar (“Santa Baby,” 1953 Eartha Kitt song) — Chicago, IL

56. Jekyll & Hyde Club (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: 1886 novella) — New York, NY

57. BeetleHouse (Beetlejuice: 1988 film) — Los Angeles, California; New York, NY and Washington, D.C.

58. Rock Lobster (“Rock Lobster,” 1979 B-52s song) – Chandler, AZ

59. The Holy Grail Pub (Monty Python and the Holy Grail: 1975 film) — Plano, TX

60. Oliver’s Twist – Seattle, WA

 

Funny and Punny Restaurant Names

61. How Ya Dough’n – Boca Raton, FL

62. Cheesy Does It — Saratoga, NY

63. Bizzy B Cakes — Albuquerque, NM

64. The Dairy Godmother — Alexandria, VA

65. Kale Me Crazy — Atlanta, GA

66. Nacho Problem — Durban, South Africa

67. Nothing Bundt Cakes — Texas-based with locations nationwide

68. Lettuce Eat — Monroeville, PA

69. Juan More Taco — Fredericksburg, VA

70. Wild Thyme Gourmet — Highlands, NC

71. Hip Stirs Coffee House — Brookville, OH

72. What the Pho — Bellevue, WA

73. Divine Pastabilities — San Diego, CA

74. Rolling in Dough Bread Company — Moss Bluff, LA

75. Bite Mi Asian Kitchen — Long Beach, CA

76. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises — Chicago, IL

77. Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus — Lowell, MA

78. Pho With Us — Austin, TX

 

Restaurant Names by Cuisine

Best Italian Restaurant Names

84. Earth, Wind, and Flour — Santa Monica, CA

85. Pane e Vino — Providence, RI

86. L’unico — Portland, OR

87. Semolina – Red Bank, NJ

88. Piano, Piano — Toronto, Canada

Best Mexican and Latin American Restaurant Names

89. El Jardin – San Diego, CA

90. Uno Mas Taquiza — Portland, OR

91. Bueno y Sano — Various locations in Massachusetts

92. Havana Rumba, Louisville, KY

93. Quiero Cafe – Portland, ME

94. Juan in a Million — Austin, TX

95. Zocalo – Sacramento, CA

Best Chinese Restaurant Names

96. Ma’s House — Laguna Hills, CA

97. Mei Mei — Boston, MA Mei Mei means “little sister” in Chinese

98. A Single Pebble — Burlington, VT

Best Spanish Restaurant Names

99. Toro — Boston, MA

100. Casa Mono & Bar Jamón — New York, NY

101. Bar Raval — Toronto, Canada

Best Japanese Restaurant Names

102. Sakura Japanese Restaurant — Christchurch, New Zealand

103. Ichigo Ichie — Montreal, QC  The Japanese idiom “ichigo ichie” describes the concept of treasuring the moment because it’s fleeting

Best Seafood Restaurant Names

104. Codfather — Reno, NV

105. Frying Nemo — Northern Territory, Australia

106. Neptune Oyster — Boston, MA

107. La Mar — Miami

Best Indian Restaurant Names

108. Ghee Indian Kitchen — Miami, FL

109. Badmaash — Los Angeles, CA Badmaash means mischievous in Hindi

110. Tikkaway — New Haven, CT

Best German Restaurant Names

111. Wunderbar — Covington, KY

112. Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café – Sanford, FL

Best Jamaican Restaurant Names

113. Just Jerks (Ena’s Jamaican Grill) — Cincinnati, OH

114. Jamaican Patty — Springfield, MO

115. Rasta Pasta — Toronto, Canada

Best Thai Restaurant Names 

116. Thai Basil  — Manchester Center, VT

117. Jitlada — Los Angeles, CA It’s named after a royal palace in Bangkok

118. DakZen  — Somerville, MA According to the Harvard Crimson, “The restaurant’s name breaks down to “dak,” a term used to describe enjoying food so much that “eating” is not sufficient to describe the experience, and “zen,” meaning noodles

Whether you’re a first-time restaurateur or a seasoned one, opening a new concept requires many important decisions. Picking a fitting restaurant name is one of the biggest choices to make since it informs so much of the concept overall. By considering factors like memorability, curiosity, and alignment with your concept, you can create a name that stands out and resonates with your audience. Use the tips and strategies in this guide, and don’t hesitate to utilize a restaurant’s name generator or solicit community input to find the perfect name for your dining establishment.

What are good names for a restaurant?

Good restaurant names are unique, memorable, and reflective of the restaurant's concept and cuisine. They should be easy to spell and pronounce, and they shouldn't be too similar to other local businesses.

How do I come up with restaurant name ideas?

Start by considering your restaurant’s concept, menu, and core values. Use brainstorming techniques, a restaurant's name generator, and solicit input from your community to gather ideas.

Why is a restaurant's name important?

A restaurant's name is crucial because it's the first impression customers have of your brand. It can attract customers, build intrigue, and establish your restaurant’s identity.

Can a restaurant name affect its success?

Yes, a memorable and unique name can significantly impact a restaurant's success by attracting customers and encouraging word-of-mouth referrals.

Should I use a restaurant name generator?

Yes, a restaurant's name generator can be a helpful tool to spark new ideas and inspire creative names.

How do I know if my restaurant name is good?

A good restaurant name should be unique, memorable, easy to spell and pronounce, and reflective of your restaurant’s concept and cuisine. Additionally, it shouldn’t be too similar to other local businesses.

About the Author

Atish

Atish is a digital marketing expert at boons.io. Helping restaurant to make more revenue and go commission free.

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