What is a prix fixe menu? An A to Z guide for restaurateurs


While traditionally associated with fine dining, the prix fixe (pronounced “pre-feks”) menu has transcended its high-end roots, becoming a popular culinary trend. When curated with care and promoted effectively, this menu is a powerful tool for any restaurant, capable of making a memorable impression and drawing eager guests through the door.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dig into the ins and outs of a prix fixe menu—what defines one, how to create one that works, the benefits for restaurants and guests alike, and more—and offer tips for generating buzz that attracts more valuable guests.

Quick Links
What is a prix fixe menu?
Prix fixe vs. à la carte
When to offer a prix fixe menu
How to create a successful prix fixe menu
The benefits of a prix fixe menu
Tips for marketing your prix fixe menu

What is a prix fixe menu?

Prix fixe, a French term for “fixed price,” is a menu offering a complete meal at a set rate. Sometimes referred to as “set menus” or “tasting menus,” these menus usually include three courses—but there can be as few as two and as many as 10 courses. Think of them as culinary adventures handpicked by the chef.

Prix fixe vs. à la carte

The main difference between prix fixe and à la carte is the level of choice. With prix fixe, guests get a pre-set meal from appetizer to dessert without making individual menu selections. The chef takes full control of the menu, presenting predetermined courses. À la carte, on the other hand, is the typical choose-as-you-go ordering found in most restaurants.

While à la carte lets guests customize each aspect of their meal, prix fixe pairs courses together, enabling chefs to showcase their skills and ensure balance. Some restaurants provide a middle ground, allowing limited customization within a set price. For example, guests might have three prix fixe options and swap sides or soups between selections while remaining within the prix fixe offerings.

When to offer a prix fixe menu

With a bit of research, a prix fixe menu can be relatively easy to roll out and a great way to signal value to your guests. Here are some of the best times of year to offer a set menu at your restaurant.

Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day are familiar occasions where a prix fixe menu can set the tone for a special day for guests—and help restaurants run smooth shifts on the busiest days.

Special events
Small group dinners, company outings, and weddings are evergreen occasions that can make sense for your restaurant to offer a prix fixe menu.

Restaurant Week
Prix fixe menus are a great way to attract customers who may not have tried your restaurant before and allow them to taste a variety of your offerings. Restaurants participating in a city’s Restaurant Week can offer a fixed-price menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three.

Just because
You don’t need a special event to offer a prix fixe menu. Some restaurants provide year-round tasting menus with three to a dozen or more courses of smaller plates. While the featured items might change, this menu type is a great way to display your chef’s talents.

How to create a successful prix fixe menu

Designing a prix fixe menu is an art. From choosing a theme to selecting ingredients and beyond, a lot goes into getting it right. Whether you’re creating your first prix fixe menu or looking for ways to improve your current offering, here are four of the most important details to consider.

Give guests what they want
Review your sales and inventory reports to see what’s most popular with your guests, and incorporate one or two of those dishes (or something similar!) into your menu.

Showcase seasonal ingredients
There are many advantages to using seasonal flavors and ingredients for your prix fixe menu. It keeps your menu fresh, can reduce restaurant costs, and gets guests excited to come back for more as the seasons change.

Pick a theme
Create a cohesive dining experience by choosing a theme that ties all your dishes together. Whether inspired by the season, a specific region, or a unique blend of flavors, a thematic approach enhances the overall dining journey for guests.

Keep it simple
Make your chefs’ lives easier by mixing simple dishes with only one or two courses that demand extra time. Focus on having dishes that complement each other.

The benefits of a prix fixe menu

Whether you exclusively feature prix fixe menus, reserve them for special occasions, or offer them alongside your regular selections, fixed-price menus benefit restaurants and guests alike.

Benefits for the restaurant

Revenue you can count on
A significant advantage of offering a prix fixe menu is the predictability that comes with it. Because you know the price per guest at each table, you can forecast revenue more accurately.

A boost to your bottom line
Maximize guest selections while increasing profitability by strategically selecting high-margin items for your prix fixe menu.

Operational efficiency
Knowing which items will be featured in the prix fixe menu allows for better planning and preparation. Plus, service can be quicker since the menu is set, resulting in faster table turnover during peak hours.

Benefits for the guest

Elevated dining experience
Prix fixe menus aren’t just about convenience for guests. These multi-course meals offer guests a more curated and enjoyable dining experience and a cohesive progression of flavors.

No decisions, just pure indulgence
Instead of grappling with an extensive à la carte menu, a prix fixe menu treats guests to a selection of dishes without the headache of decision fatigue.

Opportunity to try more
The beauty lies in variety. Fixed-price menus let your chef showcase their skills while your guest gets to try a bit of everything.

Tips for marketing your prix fixe menu

Creating an enticing prix fixe menu is only half the equation—you also need to spread the word about it. Use the tactics below to generate buzz about your unique offering and fill seats.

Social, social, social
Share your offering on popular social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Use alluring images of your best dishes and relevant hashtags to get your posts in front of more guests. To reach an even wider audience, consider running targeted ads.

Shout about it on your website
Feature your prix fixe menu prominently on your restaurant’s website. Create a dedicated page with mouthwatering descriptions and captivating images, and make it easily accessible from your homepage.

Make it an Experience
Take it a step further by offering your special menu as an Experience on OpenTable. Experiences are a great way for guests to discover what sets your restaurant apart.

Whether for a special occasion or as a permanent part of your restaurant menu, offering a prix fixe menu can bring tremendous value to your restaurant. While there are many ways to craft one that works for your restaurant, the benefits are all the same: happier guests, streamlined service, and a boost to your bottom line.