Difference Between Bistro and Restaurant

Main Difference – Bistro vs Restaurant 

Both bistro and restaurant are places where food and drink are prepared and served to people in exchange for money. The main difference between bistro and restaurant is that bistro is small and offers moderate prices when compared to restaurants. This article explores the differences between bistros and restaurants.

What is a Bistro

A bistro is a small, inexpensive restaurant. It is a small, French restaurant which serves food at moderate prices in a casual or modest setting. The atmosphere inside the premises is relaxed and informal. It is said that bistros originate from basement kitchens of Parisian apartments where landlords increased their income by selling food to the public.

Bistros can be defined by the food they serve. They often serve French home-style cooking or slow cooked foods. The food served in a bistro is usually very simple and not elaborate. Simple and creative versions of French dishes such as sandwiches, salads, crepes, vegetable soups, and omelets are usually included in the menu.

Main Difference - Bistro vs Restaurant

What is a Restaurant

Restaurant can be defined as a place where people pay to sit and eat meals that are prepared and served on the premises. Although meals are usually served and eaten inside the restaurant, nowadays many restaurants offer delivery services or take away. The word restaurant can be used for inexpensive, fast food centers as well as expensive luxury establishments. They vary widely in size and type, but the main distinguishing feature is the type of food they offer. For example, the food can be vegetarian, seafood, etc. It can also belong to different kinds of cuisines such as Indian, Italian, Mexican, Thai and French. A restaurant can also be classified into different categories based on menu style, preparation methods, and price.

Some restaurants offer all three main meals whereas some restaurants only offer a single meal or two meals. A restaurant can also be established inside another business place like a hotel or a shopping mall. Restaurants can also be found on ships, trains and trams to cater to the needs of the travelers.

Difference Between Bistro and Restaurant

Difference Between Bistro and Restaurant 


Bistro is a small, inexpensive restaurant.

Restaurant is a place where food and drink are prepared and served to the customers in exchange for money.


Bistro serves simple food.

Restaurants can serve a broad range of food ranging from simple to haute cuisine.

Type of Cuisine

Bistro typically serves French cuisine.

Restaurants serve different types of cuisines such as Indian, Mexican, Thai, French, etc.


Bistro offers food at moderate prices.

Restaurants can sometimes offer food at very high prices.


Bistros have an informal setting.

Restaurants can have a formal setting.


Bistros have a relaxed and casual atmosphere.

Restaurants do not always have a casual atmosphere.Difference Between Bistro and Restaurant - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Resturant” by Toine Hermsen – Toine Hermsen,  via  

“Restaurant Bistro de Buik van Parijs” by Target5252 – Own work,  via  

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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