Cafe Vs Restaurant | What’s The Difference

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Dining outside has become a major part of everyone’s life nowadays. Be it grabbing a coffee or a salad, we all have a favorite place to get it from! You can get a cup of coffee from both Starbucks and McDonald’s, can’t you? But one is a cafe, and the other is a restaurant, so what is the difference between a cafe and a restaurant? This question is simple but can be complicated, so let me take the reins and explain it to you in an easy way!

Cafe vs Restaurant

In terms of a restaurant or cafe- a cafe is a food-serving establishment that usually has various kinds of coffee drinks and beverages as a part of its menu, along with a few light meals to pair these drinks up with. Meanwhile, a restaurant is also a food-serving establishment with menu categories like starters, main course, sides, desserts, etc., as part of its menu. 

Getting food from outside has become a habit for most people in today’s time. This is because people nowadays have busy lives and a lot to take care of, and in the midst of this, cooking food has been deposed further on the priority list. That is why most fast food restaurant chains, along with various cafes and coffeehouses, are doing better than most businesses.

But if you’re trying to decide whether to go to a restaurant or a cafe for a quick bite or a meal, you need to know the difference between the two. This is important because depending on your food choice and what you want to eat, you need to pick the most suitable option for it.

In this article, you’ll get to learn about the difference between a cafe and a restaurant. You’ll also get a better idea about the difference between the two in terms of various factors like the menu items they serve, the capacity of customers they can take, etc. So, are you ready to know all about it? COme on then! 

What Is A Cafe?


A cafe is a predominantly coffee or drinks serving setting or place. Cafes usually have a short menu of menu items to go with the drinks they serve, including baked items, salads, sandwiches, sides, etc. Cafes can have both an indoor and an outdoor setting for their customers to come and enjoy their orders.

Cafes are mostly known for serving coffee and other drinks. This is because the word “cafe” is the French translation for “coffeehouse.” That is why these places feature a dominant coffee menu. You can also find different light foods to accompany your cup of coffee or other beverages at these places. These mostly include bread, cookies, cupcakes, sandwiches, etc. 

Cafes are the preferred place to get a bite for students, freelancers working on projects, office workers, etc. This is due to the easy and accessible services provided at these places. 

What Is A Restaurant?


Restaurants are food-serving places or settings for people to go and dine at. These places usually serve a wide variety of menu items, including appetizers, main course dishes, sides, desserts, drinks, etc. The word “restaurant” also has a French origin, just like the word “cafe.” It is French for a place serving food and drinks. 

Restaurants are predominantly food-serving places. These places are perfect for you to grab your breakfast, lunch, and dinner fixes. You might notice a restaurant serving certain menu specials on a given day. Cafes usually don’t do this. The food served at restaurants is cooked by professional chefs and the rest of the team members of the chef. 

Restaurants are usually used by office workers to hold their meetings. These places are perfect for taking your family for dinner, dining with friends, etc. 

Difference Between Various Factors of Cafes And Restaurants

There are various factors based upon which cafes and restaurants can be differentiated. While these differences are quite noticeable, not every cafe or restaurant will follow the same set of rules. Hence, you need to be quite observant about the same while choosing whether to dine at a place or not.

Cafes and restaurants vary on the basis of five main factors:-

  1. Menu
  2. Ambiance
  3. Cost
  4. Infrastructure
  5. Serving Style

Difference Between Cafe And Restaurants | A Quick Peek

MenuServes a variety of coffee drinks and other beverages. The food menu is usually short.Serves a variety of food options, including menu items for appetizers, main course dishes, sides, desserts, etc. Beverages are also available.
AmbianceCozy, comfortable, well-lit, airyStylish, beautiful, dining privacy, can be extravagant or lavish
CostUsually lower in cost when compared to restaurantsUsually more expensive than cafes
InfrastructureSmaller and more confined than restaurantsLarger and more spacious than cafes
Serving StyleMostly self-servingTable served food

1. Menu In A Restaurant Vs A Café


One of the biggest differences you’ll observe between cafes and restaurants is the menu they offer to their customers. Cafe menus focus mainly on the drinks they serve. These drinks include both hot and cold drinks, with the main offering being coffee drinks. Meanwhile, restaurants have a wider range of menu items to offer to their customers. These include menu options for a whole three-course meal. 

While the specialty of most cafes is the drinks they serve, these cafes also feature a food menu. This menu includes foods you can pair up with the drink you’re having. In the same but not so similar way, restaurants have food as their main menu offering, but they also feature a drinks menu to go with the food you order.

Cafes are usually people’s go-to spot to grab a quick bite, whereas restaurants are preferred by people to go for long meals and dining experiences due to the menu offered by these places.

2. Ambiance of a Restaurant Vs A Café

In terms of ambiance, you might find cafes to be cozier and more comfortable than restaurants. Cafes are usually closely-knit spaces where you can enjoy a cup of coffee while reading your favorite book. Cafes can be themed or simple, depending on the owner. Restaurants are more stylish, or theme accorded, you can say. Most restaurants usually offer their customers some much-needed dining privacy.

3. Cost of Food In A Restaurant Vs A Café

Cafes are much cheaper in cost when compared to restaurants. This is because cafes offer a limited amount of menu items to their customers, which usually require the usage of fewer ingredients. Meanwhile, at restaurants, several menu items are there for customers to order, the chef to cook, and ingredients to be used for.

The cost also depends on the specialty offered by the place. If you order a coffee at a cafe, you’ll probably have to pay more bucks than you’ll have to at a restaurant for the same. This is because that particular coffee drink is probably a specialty of the cafe and is more delicious than the one served at a restaurant. Depending on these conditions, the cost of both cafes and restaurants can be determined. 

4. Infrastructure Of A Restaurant Vs A Café


In terms of infrastructure, cafes are smaller in size and feature soft-on-the-eyes furniture. They usually have homely and comfortable furniture. Whereas restaurants are more spacious and larger in size than cafes. These places feature an interior and furniture which is more stylish and follow a certain theme. Restaurants also pay a great amount of attention to the details when deciding upon the furniture.

5. Serving Style Of A Restaurant Vs A Café

Cafes usually offer their services in a style in which the customers have to place their order at the counter and then pick it up for themselves. These places require the customers to serve themselves, or you can say, offer self-service. On the other hand, at restaurants, your order is taken at the table you’re dining at. The food is served to you by one of the attendants, and even your bill is handed to you at the table.

Is Café Considered A Restaurant?

A café is not a restaurant but can definitely be considered as one. This is because you can get food at a café just the same as at a restaurant. You can also get similar services at a café as that at a restaurant. The major differences like modes of service, menu items and ambiance are what creates a clear distinction between a café and a restaurant.

While restaurants focus majorly on serving delicious food to its customers, cafes focus on serving delicious drinks and beverages to its customers. Since cafes also serve snacks and other sides to customers along with the drinks they order, a café can be considered as a restaurant.

Final Word

Cafes and restaurants have major differences. Although the main purpose of both of these places is to cater to the customers’ food and drinks needs, cafes and restaurants vary in a lot of ways. Cafes focus more on serving their customers various kinds of drinks along with a few snacks, whereas restaurants offer customers decadent food to indulge in along with a few drinks to go with it.

So, depending on what suits your needs best, pick whether you want to go to a restaurant or a cafe and have a delicious time!

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