What Is the Difference between Café and Restaurant?

Eating out has made our hectic lifestyle more convenient. Many people have tight schedules that inhibit them be at home for lunch and dinner. But some may opt to eat out for a change or on a special occasion.

Restaurants and cafes are the two popular eating joints. They serve different foods from Korean, North Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Mughlai, and South Indian. Many people find it challenging to distinguish these eating places.

So, what is the difference between a café and a restaurant? A café is a small joint that serves beverages with a limited food menu. A restaurant is an eating place that serves the main dishes.

As simple as the differences might sound, it is worth knowing a thing or two about these eating joints. Below is a detailed comparison table showing the differences between cafés and restaurants.

Difference between Café and Restaurant with Table

Parameters Cafe Restaurant
Definition It is a small drinking and eating place. It is a large eating joint that serves proper foods.
Year of Origin 1550 1765
Building Size Small and more confined Big and more spacious
Seating Capacity 20-30 More than 100
Environment Quiet for chit-chats Noisy since everyone seems to be talking.
Cost per Person Affordable Too expensive
Food Menu Limited Unlimited
Service Speed Quite Fast Relatively slow
Formality More casual More formal
Tipping Waiter Rare Common

What Is a Café?

A café is a small eating joint that serves beverages and fast foods. The building size depends on the surface area and business popularity.

These cafes were formerly known as coffee houses in 1550 since coffee was a popular beverage. The word café was derived from the Turkish word Kahve (coffee).

The café menu consists of beverages and fast food. Most of these joints specialize in either coffee or tea since it makes them stand out from other eating joints.

These coffee houses were the places for gossiping, discussion, gang meeting, and the latest news in the 17-18th C in London. Young people love hanging out in these places.

But modern cafes have become home for freelancers, businesspersons, and first dates. The ambient creates a romantic scene for the first date.

Cafes do not offer main meals since they have a limited menu. Many people prefer these joints when looking for something casual to eat or drink.

What Is a Restaurant?

A restaurant is a medium-large eating joint that serves beverages and proper meals. Beverages are a complementary addition to the restaurant menu.

The word restaurant comes from the French word restaurer, which means to restore. The first restaurant came into existence in 1745 in Paris.

The restaurant menus are large and inclusive of all types of foods. The menus also have deserted since many people prefer eating something sweet after having a meal.

Coffee, green tea, and lemonades are common beverages on a restaurant menu. Each restaurant specializes in its dishes for advertisement like Thai Restaurants.

Restaurants accommodate tons of people from all walks of life. The eating joint can be noisy due to a large number of people.

A restaurant is the best place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But getting access to a menu can be a nightmare.

Main Difference between Café and Restaurant

  1. The English word Café is derived from the Turkish word kahve, whereas the word restaurant comes from the French word restaurer.
  2. A café is where the menu is limited to beverages and fast foods. On the other hand, a restaurant is a joint where proper meals are served.
  3. A café has a quiet ambiance due to the small seating capacity, whereas a restaurant is noisier because of the large seating capacity.
  4. A café is an ideal joint for dates or meetings, while a restaurant is a place to catch up with a friend.
  5. A restaurant is a place for a proper meal, while a café is for a quick bite.
  6. A cafe is more casual, while a restaurant is more formal.
  7. Tipping waiters in a café is quite a rare option. On the other hand, waiters in a restaurant receive tips from customers.
  8. A café has a faster service speed than a restaurant.
  9. A café has a limited menu, while a restaurant has a limited menu.
  10. Food prices in a café are more affordable than in a restaurant.

Similarities between Café and Restaurant

  1. Both eating joints are ideal for catching up with friends or dates.
  2. Both offer menus to their customers.
  3. Both places have waiters or waitresses.
  4. Both serve beverages to their customers.
  5. Both create conveniences for busy people.


So, what is the difference between café and restaurant? A café is a small place where customers are served beverages like coffee or tea. On the other hand, a restaurant is an eating joint where people are offered proper meals.

Some cafes have outdoor sections where their customers enjoy coffee or tea and snacks in the open. Sandwiches, French fries, and burgers are the most common quick snacks in the café.

Restaurants offer meals that the customer ordered from the patron. The food is cooked by professional chefs and served by either a waiter or waitress. It is an exciting place to take your family or friend to eat out.


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