How Do You Differentiate Between A Restaurant & A Cafe

1,265 Views Updated: 18 Jul 2017
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How Do You Differentiate Between A Restaurant & A Cafe

How many times have you been to a McDonald’s or Burger King? Countless, right? So, are these venues restaurants or cafés? Have you ever wondered this question?

Eating out has become a regular part of our lives. McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King are among the most prominent venues for birthday parties and other celebrations. Adding to their popularity are our busy lives often keep us to cook food at home.

The two most common venues for eating out are restaurants and cafes, but how do you distinguish one from the other? The Oxford Dictionary defines the term ‘restaurant’ as ‘a place where people pay to sit and eat meals that are cooked and served on the premises,' whereas its description of a ‘cafe’ explains it as ‘a small restaurant selling light snacks and drinks.' What are some other differences between the two? Find out below:


The fundamental difference between the two venues lies in the types of services served by the two. Restaurants are those places that serve meals along with alcohol if licensed. Restaurants usually offer a wide variety of dishes, including appetizers, entrees, salads, soups as well as desserts. Cafes are typically coffeehouses that offer different varieties of teas and coffees. More times than not, they also serve light snacks with beverages like pastries, cookies and more. A significant number of cafes these days are improving their services to offer a detailed menu which has several items like soups and sandwiches.

(Image Courtesy: Restaurant Hospitality)


Though restaurants can at times be take-out or deliver to your address, the food is often consumed on the premises, since the focus is on the service, which adds to the experience of customers. The meals in a restaurant are usually prepared on order from a long menu, which can expand over several cuisines. A cafeteria usually offers four to five dishes, and their primary focus is to provide people a casual venue to enjoy light snacks.

(Image Courtesy: Lycée Notre Dame de Nazareth)


Primarily, restaurants offer seating space located indoors, although some restaurants feature a small patio where customers can gorge on their meals while enjoying the pleasant weather. Cafes tend to have much larger outdoor seating areas where customers, at leisure, can enjoy their cup of tea or coffee with light snacks.

(Image Courtesy: GHM Hotels)


Since a café typically only offers beverages and snacks, the experience costs quite less. However, a restaurant, at times, even providing a plethora of cuisines, boasts an entirely different experience that its patrons can enjoy, which also has a wide range. Restaurants can be fast-food serving or fine dining, which determines the experience of the patrons. While eating at a café will cost you from a few bucks to tens of dollars, dining at a restaurant can cost you up to hundreds of dollars, depending on the ambiance.

(Image Courtesy: Serious Eats: New York)

Let us know what criteria you use to distinguish a restaurant from a café though your comments in the section below.

(Feature Image Courtesy: East Coast Mental Wellness)

Posted by: Kathy Posts: (2) Opinions: (14) Points: 470 Rank: 342
Opinions (2)

A cafe generally offers a light, casual environment, sometimes outside, to sip on beverages and eat lunch or snacks; whereas, a restaurant is a dining establishment that usually offers much more varied service, a formal environment, and is designed around the idea of the 'meal', usually dinner.


Well, to me a restaurant or  a cafe is a place where you go to eat. Yes, I have witnessed a difference in the interior and the menu but except that I never paid much attention to finding out the differences. A cafe has a more casual setup meant for casual dates or a friendly brunch whereas restaurants serve proper meals; be it a lunch or a dinner.

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