Translations of Restaurant Menus: The Next Frontier

Translations of Restaurant Menus: The Next Frontier

It Means What?? Weird translations of restaurant menus

Have you ever skimmed through a multilingual restaurant menu that was translated into you native tongue? Quite a few thinks can happen: it makes you laugh, it makes you shake your head in disbelieve or it leaves you utterly puzzled. Everyone needs to eat. Also or maybe above all in countries in which you do not understand the native languages. That is why translations of restaurant menus are so important. Google is not your best friend in many cases either. It once wanted to make me believe, that one Turkish dish means “infertile”.

Why It Is so Important

So, depending on the country and language, food around the globe will have different names and translations. The translation of restaurant menus can be one of the most important marketing strategies for a restaurant. If the exotic names of dishes are not translated, customers will not dare to try them, and thus, they will stick with the same old traditional food. There is no room for innovation at a restaurant where customers always order the same dishes.

On the other hand, some restaurants translate their menus using automatic translation tools. As a result, you will find hilariously inaccurate translations. These translation engines often provide literal translations that make customers laugh and, above all, make restaurants look foolish. For example, take bonito a la plancha, a Spanish grilled tuna dish, translated as “beauty to the iron”.  Not quite capturing the meaning there!

Funny Examples of Translations of Restaurant Menus

We thought it might be funny (and educational) to find some more examples to illustrate the sometimes forgotten need for accurate translation of restaurant menus. You can even play a guessing game to see what the translation into English is referring to. The following are some translations from Spanish menus:

  • You inhabit fine with ham – Habitas finas con jamón (Beans with ham)
  • Cocaine tail – Coca cola (the soft drink Coke)
  • Nice sauce – Bonito en salsa (Tuna with sauce)
  • See food – seafood

In addition, here are some from French menus:

  • Croisa – croissant
  • Another one said, “Minimum Fare. Translation (??????????????)”, which was supposed to be the translation for the French Course Minimum (suppléments inclus).

So, were you able to guess the dish? We are sure you will be playing this little game from now on when you are at a restaurant abroad.

Be Careful

To sum up, be careful what you order! Thanks to inaccurate translations of menus, you might end up ordering a very peculiar delicacy…

Here at LingoStar, we provide a range of language services including all kinds of translations, voiceovers, interpreting services and more! Should you be in the need of website translation or website localization, please contact us. For more information, call 604-629-8420 or email to discuss your next language-related project. You can also submit a free quote via our website We are here to help!