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Restaurant or Cafe: What’s The Difference?

Maybe you think about it in the bathroom or the question that keeps you up at night: what’s the difference between a cafe and a restaurant?

While it can be said that the cafe serves coffee, some restaurants also have it on their menu. If both places serve food and drink, aren’t they basically the same thing? In general, a restaurant refers to any establishment that serves food and drinks. Cafes, on the other hand, are places that serve different types of coffee and drinks.

By this logic, all cafes are restaurants, but not all restaurants are cafes.

Before you run into an existential crisis, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Let’s look at the basics and understand the factors that classify cafes and restaurants into different categories.

Restaurant opposite coffee: Origin

French Soup, Café, and Restaurant

Just like ordinary superheroes, cafes and restaurants have their own origin stories.

Although people around the world have been selling food for a long time, the first use of the term restaurant dates back to 18th century France. In 1765, French chef A. Boulanger opened a shop in Paris that sold soups and other “visitors” from his menu. Nearly two decades later, Antoine Bouvlier founded La Grande Taverne de Londres, the first restaurant in history to combine fine interiors and cuisine with outstanding waiter service.

While they may not be the first restaurant, they have given the same name to the many different types of restaurants that have sprung up around the world. Currently restaurants can be distinguished based on specialization (cuisine), speed (fast food), formality (fine dining) and other tricks.

Coffee board game, cafe and restaurant

Meanwhile, the cafe’s history extends further east to the cities of Mecca and the Arabian Peninsula. When coffee was a big thing for the Ottoman Empire, there were plenty of cafes in the area where people – usually intellectuals – met, talked and played board games over coffee. Doesn’t sound too far from your favorite corner coffee shop, right?

Coffee has always been associated with waking people up and releasing their creative juices. It makes sense that cafes in the UK also serve as popular meeting places for artists and writers. Café Procope in France specifically caters to the Enlightenment’s greatest minds, with regulars such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Denis Diderot.

Since then, the cafe has also developed with its own tricks, with new cafe thematics or concepts spreading around the world.

Cafe opposite Restaurant: Menu

If someone asks you to list all your Starbucks drinks, you can opt out even before you get to Frappucinos. I won’t blame you at all because cafes like Starbucks have dozens of drinks prepared twice as many different ways.

Apart from history, cafes and restaurants offer a wide variety of menus. Cafes usually offer light meals and snacks, while restaurants have a variety of dishes with fewer drinks in their arsenal.

If you have some jam and want to treat yourself to a cupcake, you may want to head straight to the nearest bakery cafe for this sweet treat. While you can find desserts in regular restaurants, they are usually not as varied or exciting as those in coffee shops.

Steakhouse, Café, and Restaurant

If you’re going out for a busy lunch and need a heavy meal to get through the day, you might not have any luck with the cafe. Most of the time, it’s better to take home food from a nearby restaurant that serves whatever you want. However, it is not uncommon for some cafes to offer appetizers, burgers or pasta with their drinks.

On the other hand, it’s safe to say that most restaurants at least brew the coffee on their menu regularly. Compared to cafes, most restaurants keep caffeine to a minimum and let their dishes shine.

In general, the differences between the menus boil down to one thing: you’ll know you don’t have to look for a round-eyed steak in a coffee shop, just as you wouldn’t expect a 10 pump venti latte. vanilla and extra whip from one local restaurant

Restaurant opposite cafe: Ambiance

Apart from hunger and diet, the difference in atmosphere between a cafe and a restaurant can be a factor that makes you decide between one another.

In the traditional sense, cafes usually have a more serene and intimate atmosphere. Warm lighting, WiFi ports and charging ports usually make cafes a haven for students, workaholics, and introverts. In almost every coffee shop there is a customer hiding his nose in a book. There will also be a group of coworkers (not too many) who are quietly discussing a project or work. Along with the atmospheric guitar music playing in the background, the strong aroma of coffee brings the whole experience together.

Restaurants, cafes and restaurants

On the other hand, the atmosphere of the restaurant encourages exchange in a larger circle. You don’t go to a buffet in a restaurant to “cool off.” And if you take a book to a fast food restaurant, people will look at you strangely. Because of that, restaurants usually organize rather large celebrations such as gathering, gathering, and dispatch. After all, who doesn’t want to create great dining memories?

Simply put, cafes offer more personal experiences, while other restaurants offer more social activities. If you want to spend some of my much-needed time, they’ll probably retire to the coffee shop for you. However, reuniting with friends you haven’t seen in a long time will be more exciting and eventful in a bigger venue. On a first date, try foods you’ve never tried before to keep the conversation going. This will leave less room for awkward silences than just hanging out in a coffee shop.

The focus of the cafe is usually coffee
Coffee served in the cafe

The word coffee comes from the French cafe, which is borrowed from the Italian caff, which comes from the Turkish kahve and the Arabic qahwa.

The list of languages ​​is long, but what’s the point? All these words actually mean coffee.

When cafes opened in France in the late 17th century, they took over the city of Paris and quickly became an integral part of Parisian life.

Although French cafes are more like restaurants today, they originally served coffee and other similar drinks such as beer, hot chocolate and lemonade.

The origin of the coffee in this coffee is still visible today because many cafes have many choices for coffee, tea and other beverages.

The word “restaurant” has no such meaning and is used to denote any type of restaurant. Yes, that means a cafe is a technical type of restaurant.

The cafe has a smaller menu

A real consequence of the cafe’s focus on drinks is that many of them don’t have an extensive menu. Usually the menu in a coffee shop is there to complement the main attraction: coffee.

This means that cafes are more likely to offer sandwiches, salads and other snacks than full menus. Pastries, cakes and desserts are also popular choices for cafes.

Restaurants, on the other hand, often serve different types of food. Even restaurants that specialize in certain types of cuisine usually have more ordering options than coffee shops.

It should be noted that this difference does not always exist. Some cafes, particularly those in Paris, serve a lot of food and may be famous for their menus as well as coffee and desserts.

Restaurants can be any size, but cafes are usually small

As already mentioned, the word “restaurant” is a bit vague. This applies to all types of restaurants, from food trucks to multi-storey restaurants that can accommodate thousands of customers at once.

Cafes, on the other hand, are usually not very big. It is unusual to see cafes that can accommodate more than a few dozen people at a time, and most are smaller in size.

While there are always exceptions to every “rule of speech,” it’s actually pretty consistent, especially if you think a big coffee chain like Starbucks isn’t exactly the right coffee shop.

On the other hand, according to the Guinness Book of Records, Al Masaa Café in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia can accommodate 150 people. This is a great cafe!

Restaurants serve you, but in cafes you serve yourself

When you go to a restaurant, you expect to be shown to your table, your order taken by a server, and then delivered freshly prepared from the kitchen.

This experience is very different from going to a coffee shop where you usually order at the coffee bar and then pick it up yourself before finding a table yourself.

Some cafes have waiters and waitresses, but definitely not.

Likewise, in most restaurants, it would be very unusual to expect guests to pick up their food from the kitchen and bring it to their table.

Restaurants are often more expensive

Given that restaurants can accommodate more people than cafes and also serve a wider variety of food, it makes sense that they cost more than cafes.

Not only do you have to pay for the maintenance of the larger building, you also have to buy more ingredients and pay for kitchen staff and waiters, which cafes usually don’t have to do. All of these costs add up, making items on the menu more expensive.

Of course, that doesn’t mean cafes are cheap. If you look at the individual items, surely some cafes cost the same as restaurants.

Another part of lower coffee shop prices is that you don’t go to the coffee shop to order a full meal. If you only buy coffee and snacks, your bill will be much smaller than if you and your family ordered main courses, drinks, side dishes and desserts.

Both words are of French origin, but the origins of the cafes are Arabic

arabic coffee set

Both the word cafe and restaurant are of French origin. In fact, the first use of both words occurs in Paris.

The Oxford English Dictionary describes the first use of “restaurant” in 1765 when a man named Boulanger advertised “restorative” food. The French word “restoration” is restaurer, from which we came to “restaurant”.

As you may recall, although the word “cafe” comes from French, it actually comes from the Arabic word for coffee.

In fact, the first recorded cafe dates back to 1475 in Istanbul, Turkey (see our article on using commas before country names) when a cafe called Kiva Han served strong Turkish coffee.

From there, the phenomenon slowly spread throughout the European continent and beyond.

Coffee as an example of lexical deviation

Now that we’ve gone through some of the real differences in restaurants and cafes, it’s important to note that sometimes there really aren’t any differences.

When no one understands the difference between pants, pants and pants, the meanings of cafe and restaurant start to collide a bit.

Especially in the United States, many restaurants that call themselves cafes are actually just restaurants.

In this case, you can think of the word “cafe” as a form of branding. When you walk into this type of cafe, the owners may think the word sounds better, or maybe they want to present their business which is from Western Europe.

Literally meant

The word café comes from French, is used almost all over the world and is spelled the same way in many languages. The term was adopted by English-speaking countries in the 19th century, but has a longer history. In English, the words coffee and coffee come from the Italian variant caffe, first spelled Cavee and used in Venice in the late 16th century. The term is derived from the Arabic word qahuwa, the term originally used for wine. However, after alcohol was banned by Muhammad, the name coffee was given because of its similar effect. The use of this term probably spread to Europe after the establishment of trade with Turkey.[I]

The restaurant has a long history, but the modern concept of the restaurant really started in 18th century France, and the word itself also comes from French. To ensure a better quality of food than in the local tavern, a restaurant called Bouillon was opened, serving a soup called Restoran, which means “Restaurant”. The term was eventually adopted to describe the facility itself.


Restaurants have a very rich history and were first used in ancient Greece and Rome where they were called Thermopolis and served food and drink. They are very popular because many households do not have a kitchen and because communication is a very important aspect of one’s life in this culture. A typical thermopoly will have an L-shaped table with plates containing hot or cold plates. Restaurants, in the form of catering establishments, became increasingly popular in 11th century China, and the industry became very popular, eventually offering many different styles of cuisine, price ranges, and even religious requirements. However, modern restaurants really originated in Paris in the 18th century and from there spread to Europe and the United States. Restaurants can now be found in almost every region of the world.

The history of the cafe or cafe begins much later and comes from the Middle East. The first cafe opened in Mecca in the 15th century and was a political meeting place for Muslim imams. They were banned in the early 16th century and a few years later the first ones opened in Damascus and were soon discovered in Cairo and Istanbul. Coffee and cafes spread throughout Europe in the 17th century and quickly became very popular. The first was in Venice, but England and France soon followed. At that time, women were barred from entering many establishments, which is no longer the case. In the 19th and 20th centuries, cafes were generally considered a meeting place for many artists from all over Europe. The first in the United States opened in New York in the 20th century and is also usually a venue for a wide variety of artists. Today, cafes or cafes are located in most of the settlements around the world. They are so popular that there are many specialty espresso bars.[iv]


The first and perhaps the most obvious difference between a restaurant and a coffee shop is their range of services. A restaurant is a comprehensive place serving food and beverages, including alcohol, subject to proper license and appropriate alcohol server training. Restaurants usually serve coffee, but usually only serve plain or decaf coffee. However, customers usually find a wide variety of options for all dishes, including entrees, entrees, soups, salads and desserts. The food is served by the waiter or waitress when the customer is seated and each meal is prepared according to the customer’s order. The main restaurant area is indoors, although there is sometimes a small terrace for patrons to enjoy on sunny days. At the end of the meal, it is customary to tip the waiter or waitress for their service.

Café usually refers to a cafe, and you can usually find a variety of coffees and teas in a cafe, including specialty coffees such as mochas and lattes. They also usually have snacks like pastries. Customers usually go to the counter and order their drinks, and if they want a snack, there’s usually a ready-made snack set to choose from. There is a growing trend that cafes are also becoming informal restaurants with abbreviated menus, usually sandwiches and soups. Cafes usually have a much larger outdoor seating area to allow customers to enjoy coffee and drinks at their leisure – this is especially true if they are in an area with fine weather.


Since the cafe is a place that usually only offers coffee drinks and maybe snacks, the prices for this experience are quite low, usually between $2 and $10.

Dining experiences are diverse and there is a wide range of cuisine and quality from fast food to gourmet, which also means prices can vary widely. At one end of the range, it’s possible to get a sandwich or even a meal for less than $5, but if you go to a restaurant with a very high rating, it can usually cost a few hundred dollars or more. In a restaurant where your staff serves food, you are expected to hand over the total, which in most cases is not expected in a cafe.


While it’s true that cafes are a type of restaurant, they definitely have a world of their own compared to other restaurants. While it can be said that fast food chains and buffets have something in common, the same cannot be said about cafes. Although recent trends may combine the two, there is still a clear line that places them in different niches. With cafes attracting artistic diners, the social butterfly is sure to head to the steakhouse or dive bar.

In addition to the food on the plate, the experience at the restaurant is also a meal of the soul. Whenever you’re fighting between the two, just look inside to find what you really need.

Cary Grant
Cary Grant
Cary Grant, the enigmatic wordsmith hailing from the UK, is a literary maestro known for unraveling the intricacies of life's myriad questions. With a flair for delving into countless niches, Grant captivates readers with his insightful perspectives on issues that resonate with millions. His prose, a symphony of wit and wisdom, transcends boundaries, offering a unique lens into the diverse tapestry of human curiosity. Whether exploring the complexities of culture, unraveling philosophical conundrums, or addressing the everyday mysteries that perplex us all, Cary Grant's literary prowess transforms the ordinary into extraordinary, making him a beacon of intellectual exploration.


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