Disclosure: Our editorial staff write reviews independently. We may be compensated if you sign up for a service through our affiliate links.

Our rating(4/5)
TouchBistro is a user-friendly iPad POS app with many optional features.
TouchBistro POS is designed for the food-and-drink industry. Used in Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back, it is an affordable, efficient choice for restaurants of all sizes.
  • Highs: User-friendly. Good restaurant features. Offline capabilities. 24/7 helpline. Integrated support from app.
  • Lows: Annual commitment. No Android compatibility. Costly to set up several iPads. No multi-location features.
  • Best for: Small, single-location restaurants that want easy-to-use iPad POS software.

This is a US review. Looking for the UK review of TouchBistro?

What is TouchBistro?

Founded in Canada, TouchBistro is a North American, cloud-based restaurant POS system developed exclusively for iPad. It works through your local computer network, but stores data in the cloud daily.

TouchBistro is adapted for restaurants, food trucks, breweries, bars, clubs and quick-service establishments. The company takes pride in having used food industry experts to build POS software that knows what you need before you need it.

If you’re not sure where you’re headed as a business, perhaps TouchBistro isn’t for you because you sign up to a minimum of 12 months. Other food and drink POS like Lightspeed do not have a minimum contract, so they may be better for unpredictable startups.

Pricing depends on number of iPads – but there’s more

TouchBistro is subscription-based and you commit to a contract of 12 months. The monthly cost depends on the number of iPads using the TouchBistro app.

Charges used to be more transparent on the website, but TouchBistro now requires you to fill in a form to get a quote based on your requirements. The company will then get in touch shortly afterwards to discuss fees.

The TouchBistro costs we have seen – which should still apply – are the following.

One iPad license (called Solo) is $69 per month. A Dual plan of two iPad licenses costs $129 per month. A Team plan for up to five iPad licenses is $249 per month. Those who need at least six iPad checkouts can get custom pricing from TouchBistro. These prices apply if you pay for a year upfront. Biannual, quarterly or monthly payments are also possible, but the more frequently you pay, the higher is the monthly cost.

These POS licenses for TouchBistro include software updates and round-the-clock customer support every day of the year. If you want a Self-Ordering Kiosk that customers can order food from themselves, this counts as one iPad license per self-serve kiosk on your premises.

TouchBistro POS plans TouchBistro fees (annual billing)*
Solo (1 iPad license) $828 upfront ($69/mo.)
Dual (2 iPad licenses) $1,548 upfront ($129/mo.)
Team (3-5 iPad licenses) $2,988 upfront ($249/mo.)
Unlimited (6+ iPad licenses) Custom quote

*Monthly, quarterly and biannual installments are available at a higher cost.

POS plans
TouchBistro fees
(annual billing)*
Solo (1 iPad license) $828 upfront ($69/mo.)
Dual (2 iPad licenses) $1,548 upfront ($129/mo.)
Team (3-5 iPad licenses) $2,988 upfront ($249/mo.)
Unlimited (6+ iPad licenses) Custom quote

*Monthly, quarterly and biannual instalments are available at a higher cost.

Then you have optional add-on features that cost extra.

Starting at $25 per month, you can sell and accept physical and digital gift cards. TouchBistro’s own Online Ordering software costs $50 per month, and TouchBistro Reservations – for managing guests, bookings and tables – costs $229 a month per location. TouchBistro Loyalty – for customer management, loyalty and marketing features – starts at $99 for the basic package or $179 for very advanced features.

A digital menu board is also available for $20 monthly per menu board on your premises.

Add-on TouchBistro fees
TouchBistro Gift Cards From $25/mo.
TouchBistro Online Ordering From $50/mo.
TouchBistro Reservations From $229/mo.
TouchBistro Loyalty Standard: From $99/mo.
Premium: From $179/mo.
TouchBistro Digital Menu Board $20/mo. per location
Add-on TouchBistro
TouchBistro Gift Cards From $25/mo.
TouchBistro Online Ordering From $50/mo.
TouchBistro Reservations From $229/mo.
TouchBistro Loyalty Standard: From $99/mo.
Premium: From $179/mo.
TouchBistro Digital Menu Board $20/mo. per location

The hardware cost totally depends on your setup. TouchBistro allows you to fully customize your point of sale as long as the hardware is compatible.

Card payment fees are charged for separately by your payment processor or card machine provider. If you choose TouchBistro Payments (powered by Chase), there is no long-term card processing contract, but you do have to contact TouchBistro for a quote on pricing.

TouchBistro offers a free 7-day trial for testing the software. Registering a username gets you a further 21 days for free, during which you’re free to decide not to commit for a full year’s paid use.

Instead of signing up for a trial, you can choose to test a demo store with food items already added – very easy. If you haven’t got an iPad to test on, you can instead book a demo by a TouchBistro team member.

Although you commit to a year, you can cancel the plan without an early termination fee – but any prepaid amounts will not be refunded. You have to give at least 60 days’ written notice before the end of the contract to avoid auto-renewal for another year.

Generally easy to use, but not perfect

When we tested the TouchBistro app, it was easy enough to set up menu items and settings without looking at the website guides. Within the app, directly where each setting is, it explains what’s required and what each thing means, even with imagery and diagrams in some places. This makes everything so much easier than in similar POS apps where you sometimes need a guide to know what you’re doing.

Image: Mobile Transaction

TouchBistro app explainer

Example of a helpful in-app prompt that tells how to add ingredients.

Some things could be better, though. For example, not all the screens are perfectly responsive. The floor plan and menu screens have to be scrolled on an iPad Pro 10.5″, and sometimes, it doesn’t upload images for menu items correctly and lacks an option to edit them.

Sometimes, the tablet keyboard gets in the way of seeing what you’re entering a text for (e.g. product description), so you have to turn it to portrait view to check that everything is typed correctly.

Of course, it’s great that you CAN use it in both landscape and portrait mode, but iPads fixed to a stand in landscape mode could cause some annoyance while changing some settings.

Many features, few shortcomings

TouchBistro lets you create a visual table plan of all floors and rooms at your establishment, assign orders to each table, specify tips, manage cash floats and shifts, create menus and multiple staff accounts.

Apart from these common – but important – features, we’ll now point out the limitations and unique extras that make TouchBistro different.

Menu options: Many food items can be added to a register screen where you can easily tap to add each purchased item.

You can create food categories (soft drinks, wines, appetizers etc.), identify each by type (e.g. food, alcohol), combine menus and add modifiers allowing you to customize a meal according to a customer’s preferences (e.g. with or without cheese).

Tables and reservations: Table management functions are comprehensive and helpful. You can, for example, attach details to each seat such as gender and the name of who is sitting there. The in-app floor view shows current tab order totals and how long the customers have sat there. Courses can be timed and the waitering service monitored.

Image: Mobile Transaction

TouchBistro till screen showing the tab of one table.

You can split a person from the table, delete seats or combine with another seat, and split the bill by seat – evenly or letting one person pay the total. It’s also possible to add table reservations from the app, but taking a deposit from the reservation screen is not an option

With the TouchBistro Reservations module added, you get more in-depth functions and unlimited bookings for $229 monthly. It’s quite a price to pay on top of the core POS app, but here’s what it can do:

  • Accept reservations on your website, Google or TouchBistro Dine app (guests can modify bookings)
  • Google Waitlist integration for managing lines efficiently
  • Manage floor plans and track guest statuses more efficiently
  • Centralized guest records complying with contact-tracing guidelines
  • SMS and email communications with guests

If you have a busy restaurant that needs to adapt to Covid-19 guidelines, TouchBistro Reservations could easily be worth the cost.

Orders and kitchen management: The system has the flexibility to change orders, take customer details for takeaways and deliveries, and attach menu items to specific courses so the food comes out of the kitchen at the right times.

Image: Mobile Transaction

TouchBistro POS screen showing the tab of one table.

You can use the Kitchen Display System (free), a specialized TouchBistro app enabling you track cooking times, orders, ingredients and everything else a busy kitchen would need for a smooth process.

Generally, TouchBistro manages to avoid too much complexity on order screens so it’s possible to figure out what to do even during the first time of using it.

Image: Mobile Transaction

TouchBistro payment screen

TouchBistro checkout payment screen.

Gift cards and customer loyalty: The TouchBistro app lets you store customer details and preferences as well as track purchase history.

For more advanced features, you need a TouchBistro Loyalty add-on (from $99/month). This will give you a comprehensive customer management system (CMS), a Customer Web App, loyalty programs, marketing tools and more.

With the TouchBistro Gift Cards module ($25/month), you can create and manage custom gift cards, sold and accepted at your restaurant or online.

Employee management: Apart from creating unlimited staff accounts with varying roles and permissions, you can assign each staff member to a group of tables in the app. Users can clock in and out of the app, and staff performance can be analysed in the backend.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Staff permissions can be adjusted in the iPad app.

You can also integrate with 7shifts for more detailed staff management, rotas and additional analytics.

Stock management: You can list all ingredients of menu items right down to measurements, unit price, stock levels and tracking of profits compared to costs. Purchase-ordering tools and vendor management tools are missing, though, so you’ll need to use another system for this.

There are no multi-location management features either, so TouchBistro is unsuitable for restaurant chains.

Online ordering and self-serve menu

As more restaurants have been pushed to offer takeaway and pickup options in response to the pandemic, it is good to see that TouchBistro has followed suit with the TouchBistro Online Ordering add-on module.

The module enables you to accept orders on your website, which connect to your TouchBistro POS system so you can prepare and manage these efficiently. Customers can either choose to order for in-store pickup or delivery by your own delivery workers.

If you don’t have your own delivery fleet, you can integrate Ordermark or Deliverect with your POS system to connect with Uber Eats, DoorDash and many other takeaway platforms.

Image: TouchBistro

TouchBistro Self-Service Kiosk

The Self-Service Kiosk is a socially distanced way for customers to order at your restaurant.

TouchBistro also offers a Self Service Kiosk app allowing customers to order food themselves and a Customer Facing Display app so they can see details of their order while you process it. These are both great tools for social distancing when you can serve in person.

As with the standard TouchBistro plans, you pay a full license per iPad used for the Self Service Kiosk. The Customer Facing Display app is free to use in conjunction with the EPOS app. Both apps are highly customizable – real gems if right for your business.

Card payments and hardware

TouchBistro has its own payment system called TouchBistro Payments, powered by Chase and available only in the US. Despite its claims of “transparent rates” and “no hidden fees”, no fees are public for this payment system. You have to contact TouchBistro for more information on using it.

TouchBistro Payments has no long-term contract. You can monitor payments through the TouchBistro Payments portal, and it integrates perfectly with the POS software. If you prefer to get your POS software and credit card processing from one provider, this is not a bad solution (provided fees and the card machine are suitable).

Alternatively, card payments can also be processed through one of four US card processors: Chase, Square, TSYS or Worldpay. Once you’ve signed up for one of these and received a card machine, you can connect that account to TouchBistro.

Photo: TouchBistro

TouchBistro point of sale hardware.

Apart from card machines, you can integrate a range of compatible POS equipment to create a complete point of sale. This includes receipt printers, cash drawers, barcode scanner, kitchen printers, computer monitors, routers, Apple servers and various accessories associated with each.

TouchBistro has a list of compatible devices – if you choose something else, the company strictly won’t provide customer support for it (even if it works).

Only iPads and an Apple server setup are supported. You cannot use the POS app on Android tablets or computers.

Hybrid POS that works offline too

TouchBistro is a hybrid EPOS system that runs on your local network (multiple iPads) or just the iPad if you only have one till.

Although all data is stored on each iPad and/or the local server, reporting is cloud-based so your data is saved in the cloud on a daily basis. Because it runs on a local network, the system is ideal for working offline too.

If using more than one iPad, you’ll need a Mac Mini and/or an iMac with mouse and keyboard to have them synced up and connected to a central server. Mac Mini requires a monitor, since it is basically just a server without a computer screen.

The cost of Apple hardware can be high, but offline capabilities based on a local network are not a given for EPOS software today. Lightspeed, for example, requires an expensive Liteserver for offline mode, as it is otherwise fully dependent on an internet connection.

Photo: TouchBistro

TouchBistro hardware setup

Local network with an Apple Mac Mini, AmpliFi HD Mesh Router and iMac.

For card payments, you always rely on an internet connection through WiFi, broadband or a mobile network. TouchBistro recommends AmpliFi HD Mesh Router for stable WiFi, namely if you’re running a food truck.

Reports and analytics

Sales and other analytical reports can be accessed in any internet browser or through the TouchBistro Reports To Go app on any mobile device from Apple or Android.

You get the standard daily, product- and payment-specific reports, and you can analyse things like staff performance, hourly ‘heat map’ of sales, audits, employee shifts, menu item profit margins and up to 50 other types of reports that can be customized.

All reports can be exported to CSV files or integrated with the accounting software MarginEdge, QuickBooks, Sage, Shogo and Xero. In addition, you can automatically email daily reports to key team members to keep them in the loop.

Customer support is made easy

TouchBistro has a lot to offer on the customer service side. Not only do you get friendly 24/7 support via email or telephone, you can also send screenshots to a support team directly from the app. This helps them identify issues quicker, giving you an overall smoother experience.

The support team consists of former and current restaurant workers, making them particularly empathetic to your questions or issues raised.

The online support section has videos and plenty of screenshots, and the website is generally informative compared to some other POS providers who prefer you contact them for answers.

Photo: TouchBistro

TouchBistro tablet screen behind a bar counter

TouchBistro in use behind a bar counter.

When we signed up for the free trial, we got contacted by phone within a day, then by email, then by text, to check in on whether we needed assistance or wanted a demo of the software. It felt friendly, and the customer service representative answered our questions promptly.

Our verdict

TouchBistro is a friendly-looking and affordable POS solution for food-and-drink businesses of any size at a single location.

In this Covid day and age, it helps with the online ordering add-on and optional integrations with well-known takeaway platforms. The self-serve kiosk is another option that few POS systems offer for socially distanced ordering at a physical location.

The Reservations module significantly elevates your restaurant management system, as does the customer loyalty module. What we don’t like is the price for individual add-ons, which – on top of the cost of iPads, licenses and an Apple server setup – can make TouchBistro expensive.

TouchBistro is great for merchants with unreliable internet, who prefer a locally-stored system to a 100% cloud-dependent system. But if you’re not an Apple fan, or want to use cheaper equipment, you may not like the fact that Android and PC computers cannot be used for your point of sale network.

It’s easier to use than several other restaurant POS systems, and customer support is in the top end of the industry. If you’re not sure where your business is headed in the next year’s time, it could, however, be too much to commit to a year’s contract.

Do we think it’s the best POS software for restaurants? From our own tests, it’s definitely high up on the list – but it really depends on how you feel about the costs versus value. It might not work for multiple locations, but it’s certainly competitive for a busy restaurant trying to keep up with the world today.