10 Restaurants That Are Killing It on Instagram

Our team works with a lot of restaurant brands, so we love finding fabulous restaurant Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration. (We also just really, REALLY love food – as evidenced by this recent quote from a Belle team member: “I feel like all of our team trips center around eating, and I’m not mad about it.”)

Beautiful food pics have been a staple of Instagram since its inception, but the best restaurant Instagram marketing goes beyond pretty pictures to really engage the audience with creative content and compelling brand storytelling. So without further adieu, here are ten of our favorites:

Restaurant Instagram Marketing: 10 Accounts You Should Be Following

1. Sweet Green

Here’s a brand that has really figured out how to use Instagram to highlight its brand story and values. Right in their bio, Sweet Green proclaims that they “make food with purpose, from scratch.” The visual content carries the brand’s farm-to-table message further, showcasing fresh ingredients, local growers and seasonal menu items.

2. California Donuts

This brand appears on several “Best Restaurants on Instagram” lists for a reason! These gorgeous pics of bright, happy donut creations will bring you tons of inspiration. Try not to drool on your phone.

The Dutch created the donut, @californiadonuts reinvented it. 👊

A photo posted by ***California Donuts #21*** (@californiadonuts) on


3. Taco Bell

Taco Bell has one of the largest followings on Instagram, but according to Iconosquare’s Brand Index, it also has an impressively high engagement rate – which speaks to the brand’s ability to really connect with that audience. So, what can you learn by following this fast food giant? When in doubt, have fun with your Instagram account and your fans! Taco Bell excels at churning out bright, fun, eye-catching images. Another lesson: don’t overthink your content. Something as simple as a little cup of cheese sauce against a bright green background, when paired with a funny caption, can be enough to get your fans engaged.

Annoy a friend by tagging them in this photo of Nacho Cheese Sauce.

A photo posted by Taco Bell (@tacobell) on

We’re starting to see a pattern here.

A photo posted by Taco Bell (@tacobell) on


4. Piada Italian Street Food

Here’s an example of a restaurant that isn’t a huge national chain (it has locations in 6 states so far), and yet is killing its Instagram marketing game. This account has everything – stunning pics and a consistent brand image, plus they regularly incorporate video into their content. Piada does an excellent job using IG to feature (and preview) their seasonal offerings. They were also one of the first brands we saw doing creative things with their Instagram Story – like teasing a contest in their posts but only sharing the details in their Story.

It’s time for date night with BAE.

A photo posted by PIADA Italian Street Food (@piadaitalianstreetfood) on

5. The Shed BBQ

The Shed is a famous Mississippi BBQ joint and an example of how a single-location restaurant can get great traction and engagement on Instagram. Their bio says it all: “We got BBQ, Beer and The Blues.” Aside from pics of juicy smoked meat and other menu items, the Shed uses its feed to showcase behind the scenes peeks at its team’s travels to barbecue competitions around the country and shares plenty of user regrams to encourage follower engagement.

Photoshoot for @foodydirect. You will soon be able to order our Que online! #GetFed #TheShedBBQ #OrderOnline

A photo posted by The Shed BBQ (@theshedbbq) on

St Louis loves our Que! This is our 3rd smoker load in 1.5 days! Come see us at @qintheloustl ! #TheShedBBQ #GetFed

A photo posted by The Shed BBQ (@theshedbbq) on

6. Fox in the Snow Cafe

We couldn’t do an Instagram roundup without including a restaurant from here in our own backyard! Fox in the Snow Cafe is a local coffee shop and bakery in a beautiful historic building here in Columbus, Ohio. Their social team really makes the most of the space and photogenic menu items to curate an absolutely beautiful feed – and there’s plenty of variety, so you’re not just always seeing artsy latte pics. Fox in the Snow also has their logo (a leaping fox) painted on the outside of the building, which makes for a great photo spot for customers.

This brings us to a great tip for any restaurant: a unique element in your space is a great, organic way to prompt more patrons to take and share pics when they come in. This could be anything from an animal statue to a graffiti wall to a funny sign hanging, but anything share-worthy can lead to more fan photos, which means more awareness for your restaurant.

Rainy Mondays call for coffee. Cheers! 🍻 #🐺❄️ Thanks for the lovely photo @kaylaroid

A photo posted by Fox In The Snow (@foxinthesnowcafe) on

The perfect way to start a day! Thanks for the great photo @columbus_family_adventures #🐺❄️

A photo posted by Fox In The Snow (@foxinthesnowcafe) on

7. Shake Shack
Along with drool-worthy close-ups of juicy burgers and crinkle-cut fries, Shake Shack keeps things fun with short, punchy captions. Their feed consists almost entirely of user-generated pics, which encourages fans to post photos since they know they have a shot at being featured.

Let’s ketchup. Photo creds: @mayukotruescents. #shakeshack #shackburger #crinklecuts

A photo posted by SHAKE SHACK (@shakeshack) on

8. The Meatball Shop (@meatballers)

If you like meat with a side of sarcasm, put this feed on your must-follow list. NYC-based The Meatball Shop (tagline: WE MAKE BALLS) specializes in both traditional and unexpected meatball dishes. This 6-location restaurant has amassed nearly 48,000 Instagram followers thanks to their appetizing food pics and no-nonsense brand voice. They also use their feed to announce restaurant events and special promotions.

Balls Benedict > Eggs Benedict (📸: @hungryinnewyork)

A photo posted by The Meatball Shop (@meatballers) on

9. Dominos

Dominos is proof that you don’t have to have beautifully styled, professional photos of your food to be successful on Instagram. While the brand doesn’t have the most beautiful feed, they do a great job engaging fans through giveaways, special offers and, yes, pictures of pets with pizza. Dominos often includes a call to action asking fans to tag them in their pizza pics, and many of the photos they share are in fact user content.

“Can I have yo’ pizza? Can I have it? Can I have it?” -Hungry Dog 😍🐶🍕 #pizzaandapet #pizzastaredown

A photo posted by Domino’s Pizza (@dominos) on


10. Rime Time Pops

We’ve featured a lot of well-established restaurants (and some huge national chains) in this list, but wanted to give a shout-out to a local, emerging brand that we think does a great job with its Instagram marketing. Rime Time, an artisan popsicle vendor and another great local Columbus brand, shows that even a small operation just starting out can shine on social media. They use Instagram to highlight their fresh ingredients, pretty popsicles against colorful backgrounds and happy customer enjoying their pops. Rime Time also shares info about where fans can find the food cart around town. Tip: Along a similar line, “daily special” types of posts works great for small, local restaurants looking to use Instagram to drive traffic in-store.


All right, your turn! What restaurants (or other types of brands) do you love to follow on Insta? Come connect with us @thinkbellecom and let us know!

 

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Heather Allen

Director of Marketing and Development at Belle Communications
Heather oversees the development and implementation of Belle’s overall marketing strategy to clearly communicate the mission, culture and expertise of the company and team. She ensures that the vision and Core Belle-iefs are upheld within business development, marketing, processes and culture to support the agency’s continued growth and success. In her free time, Heather loves reading, trying new restaurants and hanging out at home with her husband and toddler.

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