Our restaurant POS system picks for 2022

By: DAN KENITZ | Fact Checked By: JAMIE OSTROE | Updated: September 21, 2022

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Moreso than the kitchen or when the trays hit the tables, it’s where everything in the restaurant happens: the point-of-sale (POS). As the funnel for all of your restaurant’s sales, it’s not just a matter of ringing up customers. Your POS system has to be efficient, customizable, and capable of handling all of the absolutely bonkers orders that your customers come up with—and all while making it easy to use for your staff. Let’s explore which restaurant POS systems offer the best of all the above.


Our Top Picks

  1. CakePOS – Best POS System for Small Restaurants
  2. Toast POS – Best Fast Food Restaurant POS System
  3. Clover – Best Restaurant and Bar POS System
  4. Square – Best Cloud-Based Restaurant POS System
  5. Revel – Best Full-Service Restaurant POS System

Restaurant POS Systems Reviews

This list didn’t spring out of the ground. We compiled data from 85 different restaurant POS vendors and started adding everything up. This brought us back to a list of finalists—which we reviewed for customer service, ease-of-use, features, and pricing. What came out on the other end of our methodology? Our top five favorite restaurant POS system picks.

cakepos logo

CakePOS – Best POS System for Small Restaurants

Piece of cake. (Sorry. We couldn’t resist). Yet that sentence does encapsulate our love for this company’s POS system. CakePOS is a subdivision of Mad Mobile, a brand focused on bringing people into easy-to-use, highly mobile applications. So it may not be surprising that CakePOS comes out of that same vein—offering a high-quality, simple system that is capable of scaling up for larger restaurants, but ultimately, ideal for small businesses and small eateries that are just starting out.

Pros
  • Easily divide delivery and in-house menus
  • Log in from anywhere to change your options
  • Fully customizable reporting options
Cons
  • A little more expensive than other options
  • Could offer more customizations

CakePOS features

  • Divide menus: You can easily divide menu options between delivery and in-house menus, which is one reason we included it on the list for small businesses. If you run a “ghost” restaurant (deliveries only), for example, it’s easy to divvy your dishes up properly within the software.
  • Employee management: What if you do have a lot of employees to handle? CakePOS offers plenty of features here, from clocking in, clocking out, and generating the time reports at a quick glance within the CakePOS dashboards.
  • Order pad: Take orders remotely and feed them directly into your electronic ordering system, making it possible to handle al fresco and other ordering options within the same POS.
  • Online ordering: Easy to use, integrates with the rest of the POS, and works out wonderfully so you have everything you need to handle take-out orders.

What markets does CakePOS serve?

CakePOS isn’t exclusively marketed to small restaurants and take-out specialties, but it certainly helps for those, which is why we included it on our list of best POS systems for small restaurants. The price is a little high compared to other options on our list, but at $69/month at its lowest offering, you likely won’t find that to be an impediment.

Read full Cake POS review
toast pos logo

Toast POS – Best Fast Food Restaurant POS System

Toast POS has garnered some attention as an all-around solution. So why include it on the list for best fast food restaurant POS system? Simple: fast food is a hyperdrive version of running a restaurant, and you need simplicity and efficiency above all else. Toast POS includes a starter kit that comes with its POS system, which is sort of like the fast-food version of a POS: you can get started right away. Here’s what we liked about it.

Pros
  • Handheld POS can fit in your pocket
  • Print individual labels for fast organizing
  • “Out of the box” efficiency
Cons
  • Limited features for scaling a restaurant
  • Gets pricier as you scale

Toast POS features

  • Handheld POS: This was one of our favorite features when reviewing the Toast POS software. Although Toast POS isn’t as robust as other offerings when it comes to feature breadth, the handheld POS got good reviews for convenience and mobility, perfect for fast food.
  • Online ordering: Toast POS features plenty of contactless solutions for people who need to order from your fast food joint—but don’t want all of the contact that comes with ordering from a fast food joint.
  • Divide menus: Like Cake POS, it’s easy to divide between takeout and in-house menus, which is essential for any restaurant with a reputation for taking online orders and delivering food quickly.
  • “Kit-like” hardware: The out-of-the-box nature of the hardware makes this one of the easier ways to onboard a new restaurant, which also makes it a top recommendation for small businesses—though we give Cake POS the edge for overall functionality.

What markets does Toast POS serve?

Though Toast POS is for both small and large restaurants, we put it under our ranking for best fast food restaurant POS systems thanks to its fit with a specific type of fast-serve restaurant. Its organizational features seemed designed for taking orders in a hurry, and that’s what Toast POS serves up.

Read full Toast review
clover logo

Clover – Best Restaurant and Bar POS System

Versatility is the name of the game for Clover, an all-in-one POS system that works for small businesses, retail, and, of course, restaurants and bars. We included it on the list of both restaurant and bar POS systems because of that versatility—it gets out of the way while allowing you all of the options to keep customers moving in and out. For restaurants and bars, foot traffic can be a major concern.

Pros
  • Accept mobile payments for curbside pickup
  • Affordable even if processing needs are low
  • Versatility no matter what your business
Cons
  • Struggles integrating with Shopify/Magento
  • Lower ratings on customer service

Clover features

  • Appointment management: We tracked appointment management specifically, and only a few of the options on our list had the robust features necessary to run a restaurant that included complex appointment scheduling. Clover was that software.
  • Manage loyalty programs: Handling loyalty programs at the POS is a pretty common feature by our reckoning, but Clover does it well and offers plenty of customization options so you can incorporate this feature no matter what type of business you’re running.
  • Mobile payment acceptance: Like some of the other features here, mobile readiness is to be expected at this point. But this is especially important for restaurants and bars who still may be offering contactless pickup for some aspects of their business.
  • Tracking: The versatile tracking mechanics made it easy to review your business’s success on a quick-view dashboard, helping you gauge which nights have had the most success.

What markets does Clover serve?

Clover isn’t exclusively for bars and restaurants. In fact, it works with small businesses who have a retail presence, which means that you don’t have to have a bar or restaurant at all. But it fits neatly into this category thanks to its simplicity, its versatility, and certainly for its ability to handle and promote customer loyalty at the point of sale. It’s a must-have for people starting out in the food service industry who want to make a name for their eateries.

Read full Clover review
square logo

Square – Best Cloud-Based Restaurant POS System

It’s not often that you’ve heard of a restaurant POS system—not unless you’re in the industry already—but there’s a decent chance you’ve already heard of Square. Why is that? Square is fast earning prominence for its convenience, its cloud-based payment acceptance system, and the fact that it works in just about any business that needs to accept payments. In other words, it’s not just an essential offering to put on this list. It may just be the the most elite of the best cloud-based restaurant POS systems on our list.

Pros
  • Free plan available, variable pricing
  • Adaptable to a wide range of needs
  • User-friendly application, easy to train
Cons
  • Customer support issues in some reviews
  • Experience may depend on your integrations

Square features

  • Manage loyalty programs: Square is built for all businesses, not just restaurants, but it easily integrates business-friendly features into its restaurant POS software, which makes it easier to manage your loyalty programs.
  • Mobile payment acceptance: Square’s chief advantage is how easy it is to use on the run. You need a small device and a mobile connection and—really, that’s it. This is especially useful for restaurants with strange locations, outdoor offerings, or who offer a wide variety of seating options.
  • Tracking: Square’s cloud-based offerings are pretty robust, since they’re built for a wide variety of businesses—including businesses with multiple locations. This has made tracking your daily incoming business easy to review, giving you a complete view of what’s going on with your restaurant.
  • Unlimited pages for online ordering: Square is especially adept with ghost kitchens, offering features like setting up unlimited pages for your online ordering needs—which makes it more convenient for customers, too.

What markets does Square serve?

In honesty, what markets doesn’t Square serve? It’s one of the most popular solutions for handling mobile payments, handles a wide variety of integrations, and its restaurant POS services are just one aspect of what you can do with Square. However, we linked it specifically to its cloud-based restaurant POS system because this system is largely what Square is known for.

revel logo

Revel – Best Full-Service Restaurant POS System

Revel Systems isn’t necessarily the most flashy option on this list, but it does get the job done for restaurants. This iPad-based POS system featured some of the most robust features on our list among those POS systems that were aimed more exclusively for restaurants, which results in its top billing here.

Pros
  • Simple closing and opening features
  • Easy to learn and train new employees
  • Handles issues like splitting checks easily
Cons
  • Slightly more expensive
  • Among the lower scorers in customer service

Revel features

  • Check-splitting: You’d be surprised how few POS software solutions advertised check splitting in their list of features. But it’s here in full force, giving you the option to handle complicated orders as a matter of routine.
  • Manage loyalty programs: One of the things we liked about Revel for restaurants is that it seems aimed at restaurants, which isn’t something you always find when researching generalized POS systems. Its robust loyalty program management feature was a testament to that fact.
  • Discount management: Revel made it easy to offer customers discounts, whether you’re refunding or simply offering a deal-of-the-day.
  • Online ordering: Again, Revel’s feature here isn’t exclusive to Revel, but it’s one of the many features that add up to a comprehensive restaurant POS experience.

What markets does Revel serve?

Restaurants of all sizes. This isn’t a POS designed for retail with restaurants thrown in as a consolation prize; it’s a full-service restaurant POS and designed that way. You’ll probably find that it offers everything you need for getting your restaurant up and running like it’s been in business for years.

Compare the best restaurant POS systems side-by-side

Software Name Why we picked It Starting price for cheapest plan Highlights
CakePOS Best POS System for Small Restaurants $69/month Split menus easily
Toast POS Best Fast Food Restaurant POS System $165/month Out of the box effiicency
Clover Best Restaurant and Bar POS System Customized Excellent versatility
Square Best Cloud-Based Restaurant POS System $29/month Cloud-based retail king
Revel Best Full-Service Restaurant POS System $99/month Robust for restaurants

What is a POS system in a restaurant?

A POS system in a restaurant is the order-taking system through which the money moves. It’s the cash register for your business and the main terminal for everything going on—from order placement to accepting payments and running credit cards.

Users should look for common features like loyalty program management, splitting checks, and increasingly, accepting online orders to determine which software is the best for them.

How does a POS system work in a restaurant?

A POS system works through creating the menu, accepting orders, and running credit cards. It comes with a terminal for accepting payments, configuring orders, sending orders to the kitchen, and managing your customers—usually through a hardware touchscreen interface.

If you’re running a restaurant, don’t just accept any POS. Look specifically for features like:

  • Splitting checks
  • Loyalty program management
  • Accepting online orders
  • Discount management

POS systems track incoming payments and assemble them into (often cloud-based) reports so you can review the success of any given day or night in your restaurant. Offerings like Square use cloud-based systems on the backend, which make it easy to access your restaurant’s POS system from anywhere—as long as you have an internet connection.

What does a restaurant POS system do?

A restaurant POS system serves as the central console for order-taking, tracking, and payments. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Accepting payments, such as running a customer’s credit card from a variety of credit card companies
  • Assembling reports based on the payment activity of the day
  • Managing employee clocking in/out so employees can report to the same terminal
  • Handling discounts, either on behalf of loyalty programs or for “comping” customers who had a bad experience
  • Accepting online orders, especially important after the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing for contactless takeout

Benefits of using restaurant POS systems

The first benefit of a restaurant POS system is that it will organize everything you do. Tracking everything on an individual piece of paper and then adding it up at the end of the night would be a horribly inefficient way to go about taking orders.

With a POS system, you can run credit cards and simultaneously track all purchases, create orders for the kitchen, and ultimately run a report at the end of the night to see what sold, what didn’t sell, and how the restaurant performed. It’s essentially the “cockpit” of any restaurant business, giving you one central seat from which you can manage everything.

How much do restaurant POS systems cost?

Though many POS systems feature free options, we typically found restaurant POS systems would charge within the $29-$69 per month price range, with a few options going over. Let’s take a look at some of the examples to explain how this might look:

Vendor Price
CakePOS $69/month
Square $29/month
Revel $99/month

Although there are free options, keep in mind that considering how much a restaurant POS offers to your business, you’ll probably end up opting for more features with the more expensive options.

Restaurant POS Systems FAQ

What is the most popular POS system for restaurants?
Square is one of the most popular POS systems for restaurants, but we also found that popular restaurant-specific POS systems included CakePOS and Shopify, especially if you’re going by Shopify’s popularity outside the world of restaurants.

What POS system is used in restaurants?
Restaurants vary in the POS systems they use, but some of the most popular options include CakePOS, Clover, Toast, MICROS POS by Oracle, Square, and more. You may find that different systems work better for different categories, which impacted our review of these systems above.

What makes a good POS system?
Our favorite POS systems were reviewed based on a bevy of restaurant-friendly features: how the POS handled check-splitting, customer discounts, customer loyalty programs, and the convenience of online orders. These features are integral to running a modern restaurant—and integral to using POS when you’re taking orders.

How we chose the best restaurant POS systems

From a long list of over 80 POS systems, we whittled our finalists down to 15 options. From there, we put the microscope on these software vendors. Poring through customer reviews, online software reviews, and direct vendor features and company websites, we tabulated their scores based on the following variables:

  • Features: Restaurant POS software features tended to have a lot of overlap, so we also looked for unique features that made each offering distinct.
  • Pricing and transparency: Not only did we evaluate pricing, but looked at the pricing transparency offered by some POS systems—or lack thereof.
  • Support: In addition to features, we looked at customer support features in conjunction with customer reviews of their support experiences.
  • Brand reputation: How did the reviews stack up? Was a brand’s reputation well-earned, or did it seem to be misplaced? This was one of the guides we used, but not the sole guide, in determining some of the best options on our list.