This article is part of a larger series on POS Systems.
Self-service kiosks or self-ordering kiosks are customer-facing devices that allow customers to place orders and make payments without the assistance of a cashier. The best restaurant kiosk software works seamlessly with your point-of-sale (POS) system, kitchen printers or kitchen display system (KDS), and payment processor. Kiosk software should easily handle modifiers, suggest popular upsells and process combo orders. Plus, customers love them; 65% of consumers prefer self-service kiosks.
Based on our evaluations, the best self-service kiosks for restaurants are:
- Lightspeed Restaurant: Best overall restaurant self-service kiosk
- Toast: Best for restaurants that need a free starter POS
- Revel Systems: Best for high-volume restaurants with highly modified menus
- Bite Kiosk: Best for food halls and Upserve by Lightspeed, Micros, and NCR POS users
- KioskBuddy: Best for Square POS users and restaurants on a budget
Top Restaurant Self-service Kiosks Compared
Minimum Monthly Fee
Available POS Integration
Custom-quoted; can also bring your own compatible hardware
None; system is self-installed
Via a central cashier
Via a central cashier
Via a central cashier
Agilysys, Infor, Micros, NCR, OLO, Par, Quikserve solutions, Revel, Salido, Square, Toast, Upserve by Lightspeed
Can bring your own iPad; additional hardware available from Square starting at $169
None; system is self-installed
Via a central cashier
Square for Restaurants
How We Evaluated Self-service Kiosks
Most restaurants that want to add self-service kiosks will be locked into using the kiosk software that is built into their POS system. If you don’t yet have a POS for your restaurant, you’ll see some great options on this list, and you can get a fuller picture of the non-kiosk functions they offer by checking out our guide to the best restaurant POS systems.
We compared a dozen popular self-service kiosk systems based on what’s important to independent restaurant owners, including overall cost, menu functions, POS and payment integrations, and ease of use for customers and staff. We also considered our retail and restaurant experts’ personal evaluations of each software.
Based on the above criteria, Lightspeed Restaurant offers the best self-service kiosk for restaurants. The software received the highest overall score according to our grading system for self-service software (4.61 out of 5). The kiosk is part of the cloud-based, customizable Lightspeed Restaurant POS system and features Lightspeed’s user-friendly interface, customer tracking, and reporting tools. Lightspeed Restaurant kiosks also operate on iPads, with settings to support both counter service and table service.
Click through the tabs below for our full evaluation criteria:
20% of Overall Score
First, we looked at whether or not each software offers a free plan, free trial, and a software option under $75 per month. We also considered hardware costs and looked for kiosk systems that operate on readily available hardware like iPads. We awarded points to systems that integrate with more than one payment processor so restaurant owners can shop around for the best processing rates. And we also considered how each kiosk handles cash payments.
30% of Overall Score
Kiosks need to support complex orders with modifications and meal combos. We also looked for systems that upsell onscreen to increase check averages. Since customer preferences vary, we looked for systems that accept a wide range of payment types, from credit cards to mobile wallets and cash. We also looked for kiosks that collect customer information to support your marketing and loyalty solutions to encourage return business. To keep your business running smoothly, we looked for kiosks that integrate directly with restaurant POS systems.
25% of Overall Score
Kiosks need to be easy for customers to navigate without guidance. They also should be easy for owners and managers to update when prices or menu items change. We looked for systems that are easy to self-install or include professional installation at no additional charge. Since restaurants operate outside typical business hours, we awarded points to systems that offer 24/7 customer support. Finally, we considered how the system notifies customers that their order is ready, giving high marks to kiosks that support integrated SMS text messaging.
25% of Overall Score
Lightspeed Restaurant: Best Overall Restaurant Self-service Kiosk
Lightspeed Restaurant is a cloud-based POS system that operates on iPads. Lightspeed’s comprehensive front- and back-end management features include a kiosk solution with both table service and counter service features. You can tie your Lightspeed kiosk to a specific table in your dining room, or create a bank of self-service kiosks in a quick service restaurant. This system operates on hardware that you may already own, and includes insightful tools like SMS-text order alerts to keep your restaurant running smoothly.
This system supports a fundamental integration that competitors lack: Lightspeed integrates with hotel property management software, which enables customers to close out tabs as a room charge. This makes Lightspeed a great fit for food and beverage operations in hotels and member-based venues like co-working spaces and private clubs. These varied options make this kiosk an excellent fit for virtually any restaurant type.
Lightspeed’s kiosk earned a rating of 4.61 out of 5, putting this system at the top of our list. Lightspeed earned points for operating on accessible hardware, supporting multiple payment processors, and for some unique features like integrations with property management software. Lightspeed could have scored higher if it had a cash processing pipeline like Toast and Revel and if the monthly price with the self-ordering kiosk was a bit lower. But these minor limitations won’t be deal breakers for small restaurants looking for an accessible kiosk solution.
Lightspeed Restaurant Standout Features
Like Toast and Revel Systems, Lightspeed’s kiosk only operates on its own POS. Lightspeed’s kiosk software is offered as an add-on module it calls the Self-Order Menu. You can add the Self-Order Menu module to any Lightspeed POS tablet by downloading the app from the Apple App store, though the price for the add-on is $39 per month.
Lightspeed Restaurant’s standout features include:
- Kiosk mode: Lightspeed’s Self-Order software supports two order modes: kiosk mode and table mode. In kiosk mode, customers order and pay for their meal in a single transaction before the food is prepared.
- Table mode: In table mode, the Lightspeed Self-Ordering tablet is assigned to a specific table. Your service staff assists the guests with placing multiple orders and processes their payment at the end of their meal. Customers can hail a server through the kiosk and request their bill through the app as well. Lightspeed is the only kiosk option on this list that features table-service kiosk tools.
- SMS text alerts: You can set up your Lightspeed kiosk to request customer cellphone numbers. Your team can then send a text alert through the POS when the customer’s order is ready. No calling out names or remembering order numbers.
- Room fees: Lightspeed is also the only option on our list that integrates with hotel property management software to enable customers to pay with room charges.
- Running tabs: Lightspeed supports long-running customer tabs—a feature that many POS systems lack. This function makes Lightspeed a good fit for social clubs or co-working spaces that mainly serve members accustomed to paying fees monthly. Members don’t need to have their wallets handy if they want to grab a snack. You can simply bill them for their purchases on the same cycle as you do their membership fees.
Learn more about this system by reading our full Lightspeed Restaurant POS review.
Toast: Best for Restaurants Needing a Free Starter POS
Toast is a cloud-based POS built specifically for restaurants. This system combines a good amount of customization with incredibly user-friendly software. Toast consistently lands at the top of our restaurant software rankings for everything from POS to kitchen display systems (KDSes). Toast’s self-ordering kiosk includes SMS text alerts and QR-coded receipts that enable cash-paying customers to quickly settle their checks with a cashier. Best of all, users can get started with Toast for no upfront cost. The entry-level Pay-as-You-Go subscription has no monthly software fees; users just pay a slightly higher processing fee on non-cash payments.
Toast’s self-ordering kiosk earned an overall score of 4.36 out of 5 on our ranking criteria. The system earned points for its accessible price, free Pay-as-You-Go hardware option, and robust kiosk features. The Toast kiosk could have scored higher if it spooled credit card payments in offline mode (like competitor Revel) or operated on iPads (like Revel Systems, Lightspeed Restaurant, and KioskBuddy). Overall, Toast’s self-ordering kiosks offer small restaurants that want a user-friendly system an incredible value for the money.
Toast Standout Features
Since the Toast self-service kiosk software is only available on the Toast POS platform, you must start with the baseline POS price. The underlying Toast POS software starts at $0 per month for a single terminal for the Pay-as-You-Go POS. Customers who choose to pay-as-they-go for their system can also get a free POS terminal with a cash drawer and receipt printer by agreeing to slightly higher credit card processing fees.
You can also mitigate the lack of offline payment processing by installing a 4G backup on your kiosks. If they lose internet connection, they can keep functioning on a cellular signal.
Toast’s self-ordering kiosk standout features include:
- Competitive pricing: Toast’s software pricing puts this system in the low end of the competitors on this list; it is overall less expensive than Revel Systems and Bite Kiosk. Only Lightspeed Restaurant and KioskBuddy—both of which operate on iPads—beat Toast for price.
- SMS text alerts: The Toast kiosk requests customer phone numbers for kiosk orders and sends automated alerts to customers when their orders are ready.
- QR-coded receipts: The Toast kiosk cannot process cash payments directly at the kiosk; most affordable restaurant kiosks lack this feature. But Toast offers a low-cost workaround: QR-codes printed at the bottom of receipts. Cash-paying customers present their QR-coded receipt to a central cashier, where it can be scanned and immediately pulled up on the POS terminal. No need for your staff to search through multiple screens of open checks to find the correct one.
- Order limits: You can choose to require credit or debit card payments for all kiosk orders. If you choose to accept cash payments or have customers pay after their food is prepared, you can place maximum order limits for kiosk orders.
- Flexible hardware: Your Toast kiosks integrate with barcode scanners and scales. So if you sell build-your-own salads by weight, or packaged ready to eat (RTE) and ready to drink (RTD) items, your customers can still check themselves out. Since you are not locked into iPads, you can also choose 10”, 15”, or 22” touch screens for your kiosks.
- Ease of use: The entire Toast ecosystem is designed by former restaurant workers to support restaurants exclusively. You’ll never have to jury-rig a solution to make the system suit your needs. Toast is one of the most intuitive restaurant tools you, your staff, and your customers will ever use.
For a deeper look at this system, read our full Toast POS review.
Revel Systems: Best for High-volume Restaurants With Highly Modified Menus
Revel Systems is a super-customizable hybrid POS that offers a robust suite of restaurant management tools. Both the Revel POS and the Revel Kiosk XT operate on iPads. In addition to self-ordering kiosks, the underlying Revel Systems POS supports multiple payment processors, online ordering, delivery tracking, inventory, and basic employee scheduling.
The self-ordering kiosks’ baseline functions are similar to Toast and Lightspeed. But Revel’s menu modifiers are much more robust, making this system a better fit for high-volume restaurants that sell combos and highly modified menu items like pizza. Revel kiosks can also spool credit card payments in the kiosk in an internet outage.
Revel earned an overall score of 4.35 out of 5 on our restaurant self-service ordering kiosk ranking criteria. It picked up points for supporting multiple payment processors so restaurants can shop for the lowest processing rates. The system’s robust modifier functions also earned high marks. But unlike Toast, Lightspeed, and Bite Kiosk, Revel’s kiosk does not currently support customer SMS text alerts, and the system is the most expensive POS-hosted kiosk on this list. If price is your main concern, you’ll likely prefer Toast or KioskBuddy.
Revel Standout Features
The monthly software fee for Revel starts at $99 per terminal and requires a one-time installation fee of $674, making Revel more expensive than Toast, Lightspeed, and KioskBuddy. Revel’s Kiosk XT software and hardware come at an additional quoted fee, though the system operates on iPads, so you may be able to use some existing equipment if it is compatible.
Revel Systems’ standout features include:
- Split modifiers: Revel systems allows users to apply item modifiers to half or full dishes, like adding pepperoni to only half a pizza. You can also add charges for modifiers and nest modifiers to walk customers through complex orders like building their own burgers, salads, or grain bowls.
- Combo-building: Revel’s kiosk functions support streamlined combo-building in the order screen. You can also set your Revel kiosk to prompt customers to “make it a combo” if their order is close to a combo you offer. Toast and Lightspeed also support combo-building, but Revel Systems is slightly more streamlined and built for volume.
- Offline payments: Unlike Toast, Lightspeed, and KioskBuddy, Revel Systems kiosks can spool credit card payments in offline mode and save them to be run when the system regains internet access.
- Supports multiple payment processors: The Revel Systems POS integrates with a handful of payment processors, including the integrated Revel Advantage. The kiosk, however, supports Vantiv/TriPOS and FreedomPay (TSYS, First Data, Heartland, Chase Paymentech, Elavon). So restaurant owners have a few options to find lower processing rates.
Take a deeper look at the software in our full Revel Systems POS review.
Bite Kiosk: Best for Food Halls & Upserve, Micros & NCR POS Users
Bite Kiosk is one tool in the Bite Digital toolbox. This software platform specializes in creating digital and contactless tools for restaurants from drive-thru kiosks, line busting handheld devices, and web-optimized online ordering sites. As a freestanding platform, Bite Kiosk integrates with several restaurant POS systems, including Upserve by Lightspeed, Micros, and NCR Aloha among others. This system works for independent restaurants, but also includes tools for routing orders from a single kiosk to multiple vendors. This is an excellent feature for food halls that want contactless options.
Bite Kiosk earned a 4.25 out of 5 on our kiosk scoring system. This kiosk earned a perfect score for kiosk functions; it offers everything from rewards program integration to customer management and SMS text order alerts. It also supports multiple payment processors so users can shop for the best transaction rates.
But Bite Kiosk lost some ground when it came to pricing. The custom-quoted system that operates on industry-grade hardware is definitely not the most cost-effective kiosk available. While Bite Kiosk has some indie restaurants as clients, its major clients are chains like Fazoli’s and Chick-fil-a. So this system could easily be more machine than small shops need. If you’re looking for something a bit less expensive, you might prefer Lightspeed Restaurant or Toast.
Bite Kiosk Standout Features
Like Toast, Bite Kiosks operate on Elo touch screens. Bite’s kiosks are equipped with cameras and the system uses these to recognize repeat customers. The built-in machine learning tools log customers’ order histories, preferences, and rewards.
Bit Kiosk’s standout features include:
- Personalization: Bite Kiosk’s level of customer personalization is unmatched by any other kiosk on this list. The system recognizes repeat customers and recommends dishes or upsells based on their previous orders. If a customer is vegetarian or gluten-free, the system will present those options to them ahead of other menu items. This not only delivers the personalization customers crave, but it speeds orders and helps keep lines short.
- Nutritional information display: Customers can view nutrition information on your Bite Kiosk menu by hovering over menu buttons. This saves time for customers that need more information before ordering.
- Multiple POS partners: Bite Kiosk integrates with popular POS systems from Upserve by Lightspeed, Micros, and NCR Aloha. Toast, Revel, and Square users can also connect Bite tools to their POS. The system also works with Par, Quikserve Solutions, Olo, Agilysys, Infor, and Salido POS systems.
- Flexible hardware: Your Bite Kiosk can be built around iPads or more robust Elo tablets. Your configuration will depend on your restaurant’s needs, as well what hardware your POS system supports. Pricing is available with a custom quote from Bite or your POs provider, though some third-party resellers list their pricing publicly.
- Expandable software tools: The Bite software and hardware suite includes handheld line busting tablets, outdoor kiosks for drive-thrus, white-labeled online ordering sites, and QR-code-based contactless ordering tools. These tools all work seamlessly together or separately and all utilize Bite’s machine learning software to learn customer preferences and present customized experiences, no matter how your guests place orders.
KioskBuddy: Best for Square POS Users & Restaurants on a Budget
KioskBuddy is a self-ordering kiosk designed to communicate directly with the Square for Restaurants POS system. KioskBuddy is just a kiosk and not a full POS. This software is laser focused on supporting on-site, contactless ordering and payments. Like Lightspeed and Revel Systems, KioskBuddy operates on iPads. You can download the app directly from the Apple App Store and test drive the system with a 30-day free trial.
With a single KioskBuddy account, you can operate the software on as many kiosks as you need. The only limiting factor is the number of transactions your subscription includes. A Tier 1 membership includes 500 transactions, and charges you 25 cents for any additional transactions. But if you go over your transaction limit you can upgrade to a higher subscription tier before paying your monthly fee if it will help you avoid costly overages. KioskBuddy’s flexible subscriptions, combined with Square for Restaurants (which offers a free baseline POS), make KioskBuddy an excellent choice for restaurants that want to save money.
KioskBuddy earned a score of 4.11 out of 5 on our self-ordering kiosk ranking system. The system earned high marks for ease of use and from our experts. The limited transaction numbers and less robust modifiers cost KioskBuddy a few points. KioskBuddy supports simple modifiers, of course, but if you need build-your-own pizza functions, you’ll be better off with Revel.
KioskBuddy Standout Features
KioskBuddy has an overall rating of 4.9 stars out of a possible 5 on the Square App Marketplace and a 4.2-star user rating on the Apple App Store. Users from small, independent restaurants to pop-up shops and farm stands love KioskBuddy’s straightforward interface and reasonable cost.
Users should note, however, that KioskBuddy has some reporting limitations. Since Square does not support third-party apps sending itemized information to the Square system, all of your KioskBuddy sales will appear as “uncategorized” sales in your Square POS reports. To get combined reports from your Square POS and KioskBuddy, you’ll need to export reports into .csv files and manually combine them in a spreadsheet.
KioskBuddy’s standout features include:
- Unlimited kiosks: With a single subscription, you can use KioskBuddy on unlimited iPads. The only limiting factor is the included number of transactions. This makes KioskBuddy an excellent choice for pop-up events and microbusinesses like farm stands and market vendors that want to offer contactless order and payment options only for a limited amount of time.
- Service fees: KioskBuddy’s Service Fee function allows you to charge a set dollar amount or a percentage of the total bill on customer checks. If you go over your monthly limit, you can use this function to offset your KioskBuddy transaction fees or use it to recoup credit card processing fees. But check local laws first; several states prohibit businesses from passing on credit card fees to customers.
- Integrated Square Loyalty: You can give your restaurant a polished look by offering automated rewards. KioskBuddy will alert returning customers to any accumulated rewards—and opportunities to redeem them—upon check out. Every system on this list will track customer rewards, however some of them—like Revel Systems—lack the ability to redeem rewards at the kiosk. So rewards redemption at the kiosk is a really great feature offered by this low-cost kiosk.
- KDS integration: In addition to printing checks to kitchen printers, KioskBuddy also integrates with Fresh KDS if you prefer to use screens in your kitchen.
Learn more about KioskBuddy’s POS integration by reading our full Square for Restaurants review.
Affordable Self-service Kiosk Alternatives
If self-service kiosks seem out of your price range, you can mimic a lot of the functionality by using QR codes or tablets you already own. Both of these solutions require a fully functioning online ordering website. If you don’t already have one, there is an easy way to get a free one. You can sign up for a Square account and get a free Square Online Ordering site. This site will integrate seamlessly with the Square for Restaurants POS system, which also offers a free subscription tier. If you are not a Square POS user. you can alternatively operate it as a standalone site without POS integration (lots of small cafes and coffee shops do this).
Lightspeed Restaurant received the highest score across our restaurant kiosk grading system for its multiple kiosk configurations, its accessible iPad-based hardware, and general ease of use. Lightspeed’s kiosk can be configured to fit the needs of any restaurant setup and can grow with your business as it expands or your needs change. Visit Lightspeed Restaurant for a demo.