This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Restaurant point-of-sale (POS) systems manage orders and process payments for foodservice businesses. The best POS systems for restaurants are all-in-one restaurant management solutions with inventory management, employee management, staff scheduling, reservations, online ordering, and customer loyalty tools.
For independent restaurants, we lean toward cloud-based and hybrid full-service POS systems that operate on tablets, rather than traditional legacy POS systems with locally installed countertop hardware, since they are more economical and flexible.
Costs typically range from $39 to $120 per terminal, per month, although two of the options on our list are available with no monthly software fees.
Based on our evaluations, the best restaurant POS systems are:
- Toast: Best overall restaurant POS for restaurants of all types
- Revel: Best for high-volume and multilocation restaurants
- Upserve by Lightspeed: Best for automated inventory management
- Lavu: Best midlevel iPad POS
- Rezku: Best for small restaurants switching from a cash register
- Lightspeed Restaurant: Best for third-party delivery integrations and reservation management
- TouchBistro: Best user-friendly POS with templatized reporting
- Square for Restaurants: Best for free online ordering
Top Restaurant POS Systems Compared
Minimum Monthly Fee
One-time Installation Fee
$0 (for first terminal)
Remote launch support included*
Industry-grade custom tablets
Starts at 2.49% + 15 cents
$99 per terminal
Custom iOS-based terminals
Built-in or third-party
$59 + $60 per terminal
Remote launch support included*
iPads or industry-grade custom tablets
$59 (for first terminal)
Remote launch support included
Built-in or third-party
$0 (up to two terminals)
Remote launch support included
Starts at 1.99% + 15 cents
$39 (for first terminal)
Remote launch support included
Built-in or third-party
Starts at 2.6% + 10 cents
Monthly or annual memberships available
$69 (for first terminal)
Remote launch support included*
Built-in or third-party
$0 for unlimited terminals
Starts at $600
iPads or Square terminals
Starts at 2.6% + 10 cents
Monthly or annual memberships available
*Additional installation support available for $300 to $1,700. See the provider’s section for specific rates.
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Toast: Best Overall Restaurant POS
Toast is a hybrid POS system—meaning it operates through a local network backed up by the cloud, giving it excellent offline functionality.
It has easy-to-edit menu modifiers, customized reporting, and contactless ordering and payment options. The system also includes add-on modules for employee scheduling and electronic onboarding, plus integrated online ordering and delivery tools. This excellent restaurant POS became virtually unstoppable when it released its $0 per month Starter POS package in 2021.
Toast earned an overall score of 4.31 out of 5 on our restaurant ranking. It earned high scores for ease of use, niche POS functions, and our expert rating. The only things that kept it from scoring higher were the lack of integrated payment processors―users are locked into Toast―and the required proprietary Toast hardware as most other systems on this list operate on iPads.
Toast Standout Features
Toast software is available at three subscription tiers: Starter, Essentials, and Growth. The Starter software package includes order and menu management, built-in payment processing, and 24/7 customer support.
Pricing starts at $0 per month for a single terminal when you opt for a pay-as you-go plan. Pay-as-you-go users pay a higher processing rate of 2.99% plus 15 cents for in-person dipped, swiped, or tapped payments. This slightly higher processing rate covers software and hardware costs for up to two terminals.
If you prefer to pay upfront, you can get the Starter POS software package for $69 per month with a lower processing rate of 2.49% plus 15 cents for in-person transactions.
Toast’s key features include:
Robust, Customizable Baseline Functions
Toast supports any order style from combo meals to counter service and orders arranged by table number, seat number, or order number. The system stores preauthorized credit cards on customer bar tabs and allows you to customize your floor plan, menu screens, and order screen views to reflect your service style. You can accept multiple payments on a single check or easily split checks by item or seat number.
If you want to go contactless, Toast gives you lots of options. Customers can order online through a fully integrated online menu. In-house, you can offer self-ordering kiosks for customers. The system supports tapped payments and mobile wallet payments. If your budget is too tight for all that extra hardware, you can use Toast’s Order & Pay module to generate a quick response (QR) code that customers scan with their smartphones. Once scanned, the QR code uses their phones like a mini kiosk, allowing customers to place orders and pay their checks without ever touching a menu.
Integrated Online Ordering & Delivery
Toast offers built-in online ordering as an add-on to the Starter POS that is included in the Essentials and Growth packages. This module fully integrates with your POS, which means customer data feeds into your loyalty program. The menu also syncs with your inventory, so you never sell a dish you’ve 86’d. If you run a team of drivers, the delivery tools allow you to track your driver locations and manage driver sales as closely as you do servers in your dining room.
Marketing & Loyalty
You can run Toast’s marketing and loyalty tools directly from the POS itself. Create email messages to target specific customer types and send them directly from the POS. There’s no need to export email lists. The system supports traditional points-based rewards to keep customers coming back. Toast also includes built-in customer feedback tools, so you can catch disappointed guests before they complain on Yelp. This module is included in the higher plans.
If you want handheld tablets for tableside ordering, dynamic KDS screens, and self-service kiosks in your POS package, Toast has you covered. Toast’s self-service kiosk and KDS are among our top recommendations for those restaurant tools. They are both incredibly intuitive to navigate and seamlessly sync with the rest of your POS ecosystem.
Toast’s team management tools allow you to build staff schedules and block early clock-ins. More than that, you can onboard new employees entirely digitally, keep their new hire paperwork in a central location, and sync that information immediately with your payroll system. It’s almost like having a spare manager on your team to route all that tedious paperwork.
Read our in-depth Toast review for more information.
Revel: Best for High-volume & Multilocation Restaurants
Revel Systems is a feature-rich, hybrid restaurant POS that combines a cloud POS’s flexibility with a local POS network’s stability. This POS is the most customizable of any on this list, with multiple options for digital menu screens, KDS, and self-service kiosks.
The customization extends to the reporting functions, which allow you to drill down to the most granular details of your restaurant’s performance. If you have more than one restaurant, you can manage them all from a central back-office dashboard.
The platform earned an overall score of 4.08 out of 5 in our restaurant POS ranking. It beat the others for general POS functions and tied with Toast and Upserve for niche POS functions. Revel’s price and long service contract—a three-year agreement is standard for Revel—kept this POS from scoring higher.
Revel Standout Features
There’s nothing a restaurant needs that Revel can’t do. This POS was the first iPad restaurant POS on the market, so it makes sense that the Revel team created the most comprehensive cloud POS available.
This system strives to be robust, with some of the most granular reporting features I’ve seen in any restaurant POS. With driver dispatch tools and combo ordering, Revel is also an excellent choice for traditional pizzerias that want a cloud POS. However, Revel may be more machine than a small coffee shop or diner truly needs.
Revel’s standout features include:
Strong Offline Functionality
Your Revel Systems terminals are networked together via local servers. So, if you lose your internet connection, the system still sends orders to your kitchen and processes payments.
Comprehensive Baseline Features
The baseline Revel Systems POS includes functions for employee scheduling, customer management, and inventory management. As with Toast, you can preauthorize bar tabs, and create custom floorplans and menu screens. When it comes to cashing out customers, your team can accept multiple payments or split checks by item or seat number.
Complex Combo Building
Revel users have several options for creating combo order screens. You can use nested modifier menus to force selections for meat temperatures and sauce selections. You can also create complex combo meals. Restaurants that handle many modifications like pizzerias and delis will love the ability to show all modification options on a single screen.
Built-in Online Ordering & Delivery
Like Toast, Revel Systems has a fully integrated online ordering and delivery module. Revel’s tools are just slightly more robust than Toast’s, featuring much more detailed driver management reports alongside the maps-based driver dispatch tools. Online ordering screens are easy for customers to navigate. The system also logs customer information in your customer database to support detailed reporting and marketing tasks.
Insightful Inventory Tools
Revel’s inventory module allows you to assign permissions to line-level staff like bartenders and cooks, so you can spread physical counting work across your team without giving hourly employees access to managerial functions. You can set the inventory count sheets to show or hide the “expected” count of your inventory items to ensure counts are accurate, not just copied. Your team can count on their own smartphones using the free Revel Stocktake app.
Revel users can oversee several locations from a central dashboard. Compare sales and cost data from location to location to identify opportunities for improvement or transfer inventory from one location to another from a single back-office platform.
For more information, read our full Revel review.
Upserve by Lightspeed: Best for Inventory Management
Upserve POS is a sleek, cloud-based restaurant POS that is incredibly user-friendly. It has all the baseline features that a restaurant needs—customizable menus and floorplans, easy check splitting, customizable employee permissions, sales and labor reporting—alongside one of our favorite restaurant inventory tools.
The software delivers inventory features like color-coded order alerts and extensive automation capabilities to simplify administrative tasks like ordering and receiving supplies. But unlocking the inventory management functionality requires the higher-priced Upserve Pro membership of $199 per month plus $50 per terminal.
On our restaurant POS criteria, Upserve scored 4.03 out of 5. It ties top-ranked Toast and Revel for niche POS features and scores well on general POS functions too. If the system were more affordable and offered options for payment processors and third-party integrations, it would have scored higher.
Upserve by Lightspeed Hardware
Upserve by Lightspeed Standout Features
Upserve, Revel Systems, and Lavu all offer a variety of POS functions in the baseline POS. But unlike the other two platforms, Upserve’s inventory features are only available at the higher-priced tiers. However, it includes customer relationship management (CRM) in its entry-level subscription, just like Revel.
Upserve is on the pricey side compared to our top-ranked Toast, but you get one of the most user-friendly restaurant POS systems available for the price. If you plan to save administrative hours by relying on automated inventory tools, then Upserve is your best bet.
Upserve’s standout features include:
Intuitive Baseline POS
Menu screens use sidebar navigation to generate orders with minimal taps. You can customize menus, modifiers, and floor plans and easily merge, transfer, or split checks. Void, comp, or discount specific items or full checks, set automatic gratuities, track tip pools, and provide printed or emailed receipts.
Automated Vendor Management
Upserve’s built-in inventory management tracks your inventory at the ingredient level. A smartphone counting app turns any smartphone camera into a bar code scanner to check in deliveries and count inventory quickly. Reports calculate recipe costs and track price fluctuations from your vendors. Upserve’s “1-click” reordering function analyzes your low stock and organizes a recommended order by the vendor, allowing you to place orders with multiple vendors directly through the inventory dashboard, so there are no spreadsheets and paper purchase orders to track.
Comprehensive Marketing and CRM
Upserve’s Guest Book builds customer profiles that include guests’ visit history, favorite dishes, average check, and more. New employees can deliver personalized service to your regular guests, even if they have never met. Guest Book data feeds into the marketing features, allowing you to create filtered guest lists for targeted email promotions. Marketing reports track the return on investment (ROI) of specific campaigns, so you can see if a particular promotion is drawing new customers or encouraging repeat business.
Like Toast, Upserve offers a custom-built handheld tablet for tableside ordering and payments. Upserve Tableside devices easily clip to your employees’ apron and feature a user-friendly 5-inch screen.
Robust Templatized & Custom Reporting
Upserve’s reporting module, Upserve HQ, supports a wealth of templatized and customized reports. All the usual sales and cost reports are present, but Upserve also has standout reports like server analysis and reputation management. Server analysis breaks down your staff productivity by sales category, helping you see training opportunities. Reputation management allows you to track your restaurant’s online reviews from a central dashboard and respond quickly to negative feedback. You can also use this tool to view your competitors and see how your restaurant stacks up.
Read our Upserve by Lightspeed review for more information.
Lavu: Best Midlevel iPad POS
Lavu is a popular, midpriced iPad restaurant POS system. This software is so accessible that you can download it from the Apple App Store and get started taking orders in a couple of hours.
While Lavu is cost-effective, competitors like Toast and Square for Restaurants beat it on price— but Lavu’s niche is splitting the difference and offering good POS functions at a reasonable cost. Unlike competing software, Lavu comes with features to track and display nutritional information, as well as a robust pizza builder tool that earned it a spot on our list of the best pizza POS systems.
The system is also highly customizable and features lots of lovely details, such as basic tip pool tracking, alongside standard functions like customizable employee roles and streamlined check management.
When you enter menu items into this POS, Lavu prompts you to add nutritional information. Lavu then logs that information to display on the POS or self-ordering kiosks, so customers and employees don’t have to search for the information.
Overall, Lavu scored a 3.88 out of 5 in our evaluation. It performed well in the categories of ease of use and general POS feature and would have scored better if it had more dramatic standout features. For example, Lavu includes ingredient-level inventory in the baseline POS, which is excellent, but the Lavu module is not as robust as competitors like Upserve and Revel Systems.
Lavu Standout Features
Lavu combines an affordable price with a full-featured POS. The system offers incredible value for restaurants and is an excellent entry-level POS for first-time restaurant owners.
Since the software is downloadable from the Apple App Store, it’s easy to customize the POS, adding KDS screens or self-ordering kiosks as your restaurant grows. You can add nutritional information to your self-ordering kiosk menu to help customers make the best decisions for their dietary needs.
Lavu’s standout features include:
Comprehensive Baseline POS
Lavu’s baseline POS includes all the basic check splitting, payment splitting, and employee permission features that you’d expect in a restaurant POS. Ingredient-level inventory is included in the entry-level POS as are insightful touches like tip pool tracking and built-in employee scheduling tools.
Nutritional Information Display
Lavu prompts you to add nutritional information to your menu items in the POS. This enables the system to display this information seamlessly to customers on the Lavu self-order kiosk, saving time and customer questions. You can also add high-resolution menu images to guide your employees and customers quickly through order screens.
User-friendly Online Ordering Tools
Lavu spent 2020 into 2021 expanding its online ordering tools. It bolstered its POS offerings by adding MenuDrive, an easy-to-use, customizable online ordering and customer retention tool. It includes email marketing and customer loyalty tools to encourage repeat customers. Pricing starts at $149 per month, but you can use a free trial to test the system before committing. You can build your MenuDrive site in a couple of hours using the handy setup wizard and customize the site with colors and logos.
Mobile Reporting App
Lavu Pilot, Lavu’s mobile reporting app, lets you access your sales and performance data from your smartphone. It also syncs with the built-in employee scheduling tools, so you can make scheduling adjustments and approve shift trades from your phone.
If you need a software tool that the Lavu POS lacks, you can likely find an integration for it. Lavu integrates with more than 100 third-party tools, covering everything from accounting to specialized inventory and third-party delivery aggregators.
Read our in-depth Lavu review for more info.
Rezku: Best for Small Restaurants Switching From Cash-only Operations
Rezku is a full-featured cloud-based iPad POS that first hit the scene in 2014, making it a relative newcomer to the iPad restaurant POS space. The most compelling aspect of Rezku is how many features it includes in the baseline POS.
The system currently doesn’t limit most features. It offers everything from online ordering to gift cards and KDS software in the basic POS. However, open application programming interface (API) and multilocation restaurant tools are only available on the Enterprise plan.
The comprehensive software—combined with a unique feature to offset credit card processing fees—makes this system an excellent choice for small restaurants that are expanding to accept credit and debit card payments for the first time.
Rezku scored a 3.88 out of 5 in our evaluation, tying with competitor Lavu. Rezku received good marks for cost and general POS features and a perfect score for ease of use. But the system could have scored higher overall if its delivery management and inventory functions were as robust as Revel and Toast’s. But that said, this affordable system has much to offer for the price.
Rezku Standout Features
Functionally, Rezku is very similar to Lavu—although it includes several additional baseline POS features. Inventory, loyalty, marketing, and online ordering are all included, so even small restaurants can create promotions and sell online quickly.
Plus, Rezku recently updated its pricing structure to carve out three distinct subscription tiers, including a free Starter POS that supports up to two terminals.
Rezku’s standout features include:
All-in-one Baseline POS
Rezku has all the features a small restaurant needs to operate, with counter service, table service, tableside service, bar service, and online ordering. All these tools are included in the basic POS, along with customer tracking, loyalty, and reporting.
The floor plan builder is exceptionally detailed for table service restaurants, and the menu builder supports high-resolution photos to help customers and employees place orders quickly.
Cash Discount Option
Rezku’s Cash Discount feature enables restaurants to charge different prices for customers that pay with cash vs credit cards. This offsets the cost of credit and debit card transaction fees, while handily side-stepping laws in 11 states that prohibit passing processing fees onto customers.
Rather than adding fees to customer checks, your Rezku system applies a discount to purchases paid in cash.
Like all its features, Rezku includes online ordering and delivery management in the baseline POS. The only other system on this list that comes close to offering the same deal is Square for Restaurants, which offers a free online ordering site.
Rezku users get a custom-branded menu website that integrates directly with the POS. Online orders sync with your inventory so that you never sell an item that is out of stock and orders print directly in your kitchen.
Rezku integrates directly with Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Postmates. You can get even more online ordering platforms fed directly into your POS via the integration with Chowly.
Rezku recently expanded its customer support to 24/7. Its customer service representatives also tend to be friendly and knowledgeable and generally respond to emails and chat requests quickly.
Read our Rezku review for more information.
Lightspeed Restaurant: Best for Third-party Delivery Integrations & Hotel Restaurants
Lightspeed Restaurant is a mobile-first, cloud-based iPad restaurant POS with a streamlined user interface. This user-friendly POS integrates with third-party delivery apps to send orders directly to your POS and supports an integrated online ordering website for customers to place pickup orders.
You can also funnel all of your online ordering platforms into your Lightspeed POS through Lightspeed Delivery via Deliverect. This integration funnels all of your orders from third-party platforms directly into your POS, allows you to update your menu across channels from a single dashboard, and analyzes order and delivery data in centralized reports.
Lightspeed Restaurant earned an overall score of 3.60 on our restaurant rubric. It scored incredibly well for ease of use, but some niche restaurant features could be stronger. More robust in-house delivery options would help as would stronger cash management tools like dual drawer tills, and tip-pool tracking. But the system offers some unique tools that other restaurant POS don’t have, namely the ability to process room charges as a payment type and integrate with hotel PMS systems.
Lightspeed is our top-recommended iPad POS for restaurants.
Lightspeed Restaurant Hardware
Lightspeed Restaurant Standout Features
This platform combines many of the features we love in other restaurant computer systems.
Like TouchBistro and Square for Restaurants, Lightspeed Restaurant is incredibly easy to set up and use. It includes ingredient-level inventory management in its baseline POS, such as Rezku and TouchBistro; as Toast does, it offers contactless ordering and payment options via QR code and an integrated online ordering tool.
Lightspeed Restaurant’s standout features include:
Full-featured Baseline POS
Lightspeed has all the basics covered. You can create custom menus with multiple modifiers, add high-resolution menu images, and build custom floor plans. Additionally, it lets you track employee hours for payroll processing, log customer data to build targeted marketing campaigns, and view all your key performance metrics in easy-to-read reports that you can access from any internet-enabled device. Checks are easy to transfer from the bar to a table and from one server to another.
Streamlined Third-party Delivery
Lightspeed Delivery is Lightspeed’s third-party delivery consolidation tool. It is slightly misnamed; users who expect Lightspeed Delivery to have maps-based driver dispatch tools will be disappointed. Currently, Lightspeed does not offer built-in driver management tools. If you need them, check Toast, Revel, and Square for Restaurants. If you work with several third-party delivery platforms, however, Lightspeed Delivery is a great tool. It allows you to update your menu across all platforms from a single dashboard and directs third-party platform orders into your POS order stream.
QSR-ready Kiosks & KDS
Lightspeed Restaurant supports one of our favorite KDS screens. The dynamic color codes and touch-screen interface are easy to read at a glance and navigate with intuitive taps and swipes. Combined with integrated self-ordering kiosks, QSRs can quickly expand their operations without increasing staff. Toggling on Quick-Service mode further streamlines your POS order screens, so your team can ring in more orders faster.
Integrates with Hotel PMS
Lightspeed Restaurant is the only restaurant POS on this list that hosts built-in integration with hotel PMS software. Such an integration allows Lightspeed Restaurant users to accept room charges as payment without extra steps.
If you want to go contactless, Lightspeed has several options. In-house, you can use self-ordering kiosks to accept orders and payments or generate QR codes to use customer smartphones to order and pay. For curbside pickup with digital payments, Lightspeed Restaurant offers the built-in Order Ahead option that creates an online ordering site. Order Ahead syncs with your in-house menu, so you never sell items you don’t have.
Try Before You Buy
Lightspeed Restaurant is one of the two POS systems on this list that offers a free trial―Square for Restaurants is the other one. While software demonstrations are nice, nothing compares to getting into the system yourself and navigating through the menus and reports to see if it works for you.
For more information on Lightspeed Restaurants, read our in-depth review.
TouchBistro: Best for User-friendly POS for Restaurants Wanting Templatized Reporting
TouchBistro is an incredibly user-friendly cloud POS for small restaurants. The system’s easy installation directly networks your iPad POS terminals to one another, so many TouchBistro users don’t need a separate back office computer.
You can perform most managerial functions directly in the POS, where navigation screens follow the familiar iOS nesting format. If you’ve ever used an iPhone, you’ll be incredibly comfortable with the TouchBistro interface.
Unlike Revel Systems’ granular reporting, TouchBistro’s reports are built on easy-to-navigate templates. If you want simple reports that show your restaurant performance at a glance, you’ll love TouchBistro.
TouchBistro earned a score of 3.55 out of 5 in our restaurant POS evaluation. It earned a perfect score for ease of use but some POS functions have limitations or are only available for an additional price. Reports are templatized and very specific, so data like discounts is separate from daily sales, which can make end-of-day reporting tedious.
While ingredient-level inventory tracking is included in the baseline POS, it is not automated like Upserve or Revel. Keeping your supplies updated can take a lot of administrative time. But for small restaurant operations like diners, cafeterias, and counter service restaurants with small menus, TouchBistro is just the right size.
TouchBistro Standout Features
TouchBistro offers tons of peripheral hardware tools like customer-facing displays, self-ordering kiosks, and KDS screens—in addition to the streamlined POS software.
All of these various screens run on iPads, just like the underlying POS, so it’s easy to update your system as your restaurant expands. Like Rezku, TouchBistro has an optional integrated reservations module with short message service (SMS) texting tools to communicate with customers directly from the reservation screen.
TouchBistro’s standout features include:
Streamlined All-in-one POS
Everything a small restaurant needs is included in the baseline POS. You can create custom floor plans, start tabs with a credit card swipe, transfer tabs to tables, and transfer tables to new servers quickly. TouchBistro tracks your employee’s hours and tips for payroll, supports image-based menus, and has tools for everything—from reservations to integrated online ordering.
Incredible Ease of Use
TouchBistro uses the familiar iOS layout to intuitively guide you and your team through all the POS features. Seat numbers and table numbers are color-coded to help ensure that you ring in orders correctly. Many TouchBistro users say that they can train new employees to use the system in a couple of hours.
Speedy Tableside Tools
The table configuration at the bottom of the tableside ordering screen is particularly helpful and allows for quick drag-and-drop check splitting and combining.
Templatized reporting can be a limiting factor for large restaurant operations or restaurants with menus that change often. But if report analysis is not your strong suit, you’ll love TouchBistro’s easy-to-read, visually dynamic reports. Most reports are formatted to include bar graphs and pie charts that show your restaurant’s performance at a glance, so you always know if your numbers tell you to increase your staff levels or drop a costly dish from your menu.
Read our TouchBistro review to learn more.
Square for Restaurants: Best for Free Online Ordering
Square for Restaurants is a flexible cloud POS for all restaurant types, but it is especially useful for small restaurants working with a tight budget.
All the usual restaurant POS features are present—menu management, custom floor plans, check management, and employee permissions—but users also gain access to Square’s incredible small business tools. Among those are the free Square Online store, which allows users to create an integrated, payment-enabled online ordering site for free.
Square might be a relative newcomer to the restaurant industry, but it has been designing small business solutions for years. Square’s all-purpose POS solution is one of the best POS systems on the market.
Square for Restaurants earned an overall score of 3.45 out of 5 in our evaluation. It crushed the competition on price, tying with Lightspeed and TouchBistro for the top score in that category. It also performed very well with our retail and restaurant experts.
What kept it from scoring higher is that some features require third-party integrations. There are also limitations with inventory, and Square for Restaurants does not support credit card preauthorization or dual cash drawer tills. That can be a real issue for bars and high-volume QSRs.
Square for Restaurants Hardware
Square for Restaurants Standout Features
Toast is the only system on this list that comes close to meeting Square’s excellent baseline price. Unlike Toast, Square allows Free users to use the POS software on unlimited devices. The Free POS is a game-changer for small food and beverage businesses that feel a POS is out of their reach.
The Plus-level subscription tier is an excellent upgrade for full-service restaurants that need seat and course management. Pricing at this tier is still competitive at $60 per month, especially considering that it includes team management. If you want to test drive the Plus system before committing, you can try it free for 30 days.
Square for Restaurants’ standout features include:
Free Baseline POS
Square for Restaurants’ baseline POS is free to use with Square Payments. It is best suited to coffee shops, food trucks, and counter service operations that don’t need to ring in orders by table number, course, or seat number. But these restaurants are overlooked frequently by higher-priced restaurant POS systems, so the free Square for Restaurants POS plan can be a lifesaver.
When you are shopping for a restaurant POS, you can get tired of seeing the phrase “custom quote.” Square for Restaurants lists subscription prices, transaction fees, and hardware costs transparently on its website. If you have a large-scale restaurant business and think your costs to use Square for Restaurants will be high, you can still reach out to the Square sales team for a custom quote for software and payment processing.
No Long-term Contract
You can start with the Free Square for Restaurants and upgrade to the Plus plan as your restaurant grows. Seasonal restaurants can use Square for Restaurants when they are open and not pay any fees when their restaurant is dark. You start with Square for Restaurants and cancel without penalties if it isn’t a fit for your business.
Integrated Square Ecosystem
Your Square for Restaurants POS works with the broader Square ecosystem. You can add integrated online ordering via the Square Online store and sync your employee time and tip data directly with Square Payroll. If you have a catering arm or sell foods to businesses that pay monthly, Square Invoices has the tools you need. All of these small business tools working together can save you hours of administrative time; especially if you are an owner-manager, your time is precious.
Read our in-depth Square for Restaurants review to learn more.
How We Evaluated Restaurant POS Systems
We compared 12 of the most popular POS systems for restaurants based on what’s essential to food and beverage businesses, including restaurant functions like inventory management and online ordering, overall business tools like employee management, price, and ease of use. We also considered our retail and restaurant experts’ personal evaluations of each software.
Based on the above criteria, Toast emerged as the best restaurant POS. The software received the highest overall score according to our grading system for restaurant software, which is 4.31 out of 5.
Click through the tabs below for our in-depth evaluation criteria:
10% of Overall Score
Independent restaurants operate with tight budgets. We first considered whether each system offers a free plan, free trial, and entry-level software subscription under $75 per month. To help ensure restaurants can get the lowest possible prices, we gave high marks to POS systems that support multiple payment processing options. Finally, we considered hardware costs and subscription length. Systems that allow restaurants to bring their own hardware or avoid long-term service contracts earned the highest marks.
30% of Overall Score
Every restaurant needs to track employee hours, process contactless payments and gift cards, and quickly access sales and labor reports. Because many restaurants process tips for employees, we looked for systems that have robust tip-tracking functions. We also considered advanced workforce management features like built-in employee scheduling and enforced clock-ins to keep costs in line.
30% of Overall Score
To determine the best overall restaurant POS, we compared the number of restaurant-specific functions that are relevant to various restaurant types. Since many restaurants operate with some type of bar, we looked for functions like cash management and credit card preauthorization. We also rewarded POS systems with customizable reports, ingredient-level inventory tracking with physical counting tools, integrated online ordering, and dynamic loyalty and marketing tools.
15% of Overall Score
Because various restaurants operate in early mornings, in late nights, and on weekends, we prioritized restaurant POS systems that offer 24/7 customer support. We also awarded points to POS systems with hybrid installation or an offline mode, so it is still operational if your internet goes out. We also considered how much installation support each system offers and whether it is cloud-based, enabling mobile access to management and reporting dashboards.
15% of Overall Score
Lastly, we evaluated any standout features that individual systems may have. We also considered whether the system offers good overall value for its price and judged each system’s popularity among restaurant businesses. Then, we awarded points based on our personal experience interacting with the software and the company’s customer support representatives.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How much does a POS system for restaurants cost?
POS systems come in a wide range of price points, and the total cost varies depending on the features and functionality you need.
POS systems costs typically range from $39 to $120 per terminal, per month, and multiple free options are available.
Supporting multiple restaurant locations and/or a large number of terminals can often increase your POS spend significantly, so finding a provider with plans for unlimited terminals, such as Square, can help growing operations.
Are free POS systems any good?
Free POS systems typically offer much of the same functionality as their pricey counterparts. They provide small operations with powerful software on an accessible, pay-as-you-go basis.
While there may be no monthly subscription fee for free POS systems, users pay higher processing rates and still need to invest in hardware. This model allows companies like Toast to offer free plans that deliver the same robust product.
Does my restaurant need a POS system?
A POS system isn’t required to start or run a restaurant. Many microbusinesses manage to run smoothly without one.
But to accept payments and track sales efficiently as your business scales, using a POS system is the best way to save time and money—and increase sales.
What are the different types of POS systems?
The most common types of POS systems differ in the hardware and networking infrastructure they run on. Different types of POS systems include:
- POS apps
- Mobile POS systems
- Touch-screen POS systems
- Cloud POS systems
- Open-source POS systems
- Multichannel POS systems
- Self-service kiosk POS systems
For more information, read our article about the types of POS systems.
For the most customizable, restaurant-friendly software, we recommend our overall best restaurant POS system winner Toast.
It received the highest score across our grading system for general and niche POS features. The pricing is flexible depending on your restaurant’s needs, even including a free Starter subscription.
This POS is uniquely suited to grow with your restaurant as it expands or your needs change. Visit Toast for a demo and a custom quote.