I've been looking around but it seems there is no single word or phrase which translates "Mittagsmenü" - at least not literally.

"Mittagsmenü" - as I understand it - is some kind of "special offer". It's not a la card thus it's cheaper. Usually those "Mittagsmenüs" are for working people who just go out for lunch.

If I had to guess I'd go for "lunch menu" but it does not seem very common. The reason I ask is because I am trying to optimize my website for search engines and it can be advantageously to have describing URLs. That's how I arrive here.

  • 4
    Lunch menu is fine and idiomatic if you mean for the mid day meal. It may not be very common because at least here in the US, lunch is an informal and typically light to medium meal, and often because it’s during the working day we do not have time to sit down and order at a restaurant like for dinner. That is, we don’t often think of a “menu” at mealtime. We have a sandwich from a paper bag, some leftovers, maybe go to the deli for a sandwich or a salad, or a slice of pizza... quick, unstructured meals.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 20, 2018 at 19:49
  • Base value lookup: Google translate gives 'lunch menu'. Strangely, dict.leo has nothing for it.
    – Mitch
    Dec 20, 2018 at 19:55
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    For a translation, it is best to give a longer description what you think is the meaning of the original word in the target language. Is 'Mittagsmenü' a menu (listing of options) at lunchtime? Or is it like in France, a prix fixe meal at lunchtime? A potential answer is 'lunch menu' (it is what you call the special list of usually cheaper meal options a restaurant has at lunchtime).
    – Mitch
    Dec 20, 2018 at 19:58
  • @Mitch Good point. I added a little side note. And yeah, I also saw that dict.leo didn't have something on "Mittagsmenü". Dec 20, 2018 at 20:01
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    @jxh I guess I'll go with that then. Thank you for your input guys :) Dec 20, 2018 at 20:13

2 Answers 2


Lunch special

sounds like the closest corresponding term in English.

In the US, restaurants primarily serve everything 'a la carte'. There may be specials of the day, but they are in a sense simply just like other a la carte entries that change from day to day rather than always available. In other words, the conception corresponding to the continental meaning of 'menu' has no real word for it because it just doesn't happen. If it does, the word 'menu' is not used but the French 'prix fixe' or 'table d'hôte' is instead.

And it is common for more informal restaurants to have one or two changing items every day, called 'specials' or 'lunch specials'. In American diners in the 50's, these were often called:

blue plate special

after the blue rim on the plate that they were traditionally served in. This is the closest term for the German concept but is not identical.

  • I think this makes sense. I probably thought "too literal". I guess I'll go with that translation - thank you :) Dec 20, 2018 at 20:12
  • @StefanFalk I'd wait for other answers, because someone may know better than I do (I think I know but am unsure. I know some German, but maybe I'm not sure culturally what's going on). It may also be worthwhile asking over at german.SE because they might have people who are fluent on both sides.
    – Mitch
    Dec 20, 2018 at 20:15
  • Let's keep it open. If there is somebody with another answer and better arguments I can still change the accepted state :) Dec 20, 2018 at 20:18
  • (Daily) lunch special is the best translation. It is a 2-3 course meal changed daily, usually with no choices, or perhaps a choice of salad or soup with a single choice of main course.
    – KarlG
    Dec 21, 2018 at 0:48
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    @GAD3R Sure. À la mode de Caen, n'est-ce pas?
    – Mitch
    Dec 21, 2018 at 13:20

I don’t think there is a straightforward answer to this question.

My first experience of such a thing is Paris, where most restaurants would serve ‘un menu’ at thus-and-such a price: so ‘menu à cinq francs’ (which shows how old I am). Typically, this would involve two or three courses with a carafe of wine: it was an all-in meal, as distinct from à la carte, and associated with a working day lunch. It was (and is) cheaper than the equivalent à la carte. Often it is called a ’menu prix fixe’ (fixed price menu.

In Britain and in America competition and diversification have left no standard expression. For one thing, it is not in either country the custom to eat a full meal at lunch on a working day. Many go to a restaurant for one course, which may be just a starter, like soup. Fast food restaurants and stands offer hamburger, hot dog, falafel wrap, pizza. That is not to mention pasties, pies and the great British sandwich and its gargantuan American cousin.

Many midday menus in the U.K. offer a fixed price option, with two or three courses, which may be a fixed price for two and three courses (often restricted to the less expensive items or with a surplus price for the chateaubriand steak or turbot). The one thing you will almost never find on a fixed price menu in the U.K. or the USA is wine included in the price, although many in the US and a few (usually American) in the U.K. offer free pop.

Moreover, the fixed-price menu is not confined to lunchtime. So mittagsmenü can have no equivalent in English. The solution in such cases is to import the German word into English as a loan word, like the Swedish smorgasbord The trouble with this is that there is unlikely to be any way such a German word could enter into the language. For all it’s diversity, the British landscape is almost barren of German restaurants.

So we are left with lunch menu and fixed price menu.

  • Two or three courses with a carafe of wine - for 5 francs??!! Ah, those were the days :-)
    – Mawg
    Dec 21, 2018 at 10:29
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    @Mawg Unless I am gilding the past.
    – Tuffy
    Dec 21, 2018 at 10:35

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