No longer reserved for fancy phones and airport kiosks, touch screens are now streamlining the restaurant experience.
The old point-at-the-menu trick has long been used by travelers unsure about how to pronounce the name of a dish. But at these four new high-tech restaurants, pointing is the preferred form of communication—along with tapping, scrolling, and dragging items across a screen. (Don't worry: Your meal will still be cooked and, usually, served by humans.)
At the 32-seat Clo Wine Bar, opened last year in New York City, customers can scroll through a list of 100 vintages projected onto a countertop and searchable by price, grape, region, or quirky tasting notes (a 2007 Argentine Lorca is "pinot grigio on steroids")—all while snacking on cheese or pâté with truffles. Vending-machine-style dispensers in the walls play the part of bartender. clowines.com, wine from $7.
London's 1-year-old Inamo gives patrons sneak previews of its Asian fusion dishes (like butternut squash curry or wild-boar-and-mushroom rolls) by beaming images of the meals onto plate-size disks on the tables. Diners use finger pads near the silverware to place orders, call taxis, or switch to a (potentially scary) real-time video feed of chefs working in the restaurant's kitchen. inamo-restaurant.com, entrées from $12.25.
Leave it to Atari founder Nolan Bushnell to outfit the newest location of his uWink chain, in Hollywood, Calif., with tabletop monitors containing more than 70 games that guests can play while waiting for their gourmet macaroni and cheese and build-your-own burgers. uwink.com, macaroni $7.
The touch screens at 'S Baggers, opened in 2007 in Nürnberg, Germany, put all kinds of information at patrons' fingertips: which beers are organic, what nearby farm the restaurant's Angus beef comes from, and how the signature baggers (potato fritters) are fried (in light vegetable oil), for example. The trays of "German tapas" are delivered not by waiters, but via curving slides connected to the tables. sbaggers.de, tapas from $4.25.