What's the Difference? Brasserie and Bistro and Restaurant and Cafe

Brasserie and Bistro and Restaurant and Cafe

Difference between Brasserie and Bistro and Restaurant and Café

Brasserie is usually larger and more spacious than bistros and cafes, which are often smaller and cozier. The pricing of brasseries, bistros, and cafes can vary depending on various factors such as location, ambiance, menu offerings, and overall dining experience. However, in general, brasseries and bistros are often perceived as slightly more upscale and formal than cafes, which can influence their pricing. Brasserie serve traditional French dishes such as snails, mussels, grilled meats, while bistros serve classic French dishes such as quiche, croque-monsieur. The cafe serves coffee, tea and other drinks, as well as light meals and snacks, sandwiches, salads and pastries.

Brasseries and bistros are known for their traditional French cuisine, and places known in France as "restaurants" are incredibly varied in type of cuisine, French restaurants usually have lunch and dinner in between. The biggest difference between a bistro and a restaurant is the food menu.

With over 40,000 restaurants in Paris, you can find something that offers exactly what you need, there are also quite a few Italian restaurants, especially around the Eiffel Tower in 7th arrondissement.

→ Useful Article: Hotels with Eiffel Tower Views


Brasserie comes from the French word "brasser", which means to brew and was originally called a brewery, brasserie turned into canteens serving food, beer and other drinks. Beer bars usually have a light atmosphere and are open throughout the day, which is why these places are popular for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are often spacious and have plenty of seating. The brasserie menu usually includes classic French dishes.


Bistro is a small, cozy restaurant known for serving traditional French cuisine. "Bistro" comes from the word "fast", which means "quickly", and was originally called a fast food restaurant. Bistros are usually open for lunch and dinner and serve classic French dishes such as quiche, croque-monsieur. They are known for their simple yet tasty food and casual atmosphere, making them a popular spot for a quick bite. Lunch often runs from 12:00 to 14:30, and dinner from 19:00 until 22:30. This is a common difference between bistro vs brasserie, check the hours before you go.

Here are some well-known bistros in Paris: Le Comptoir du Relais, located in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres neighborhood, this bistro is known for its traditional French cuisine and cozy atmosphere. Ambassade d’Auvergne, situated in the Le Marais district, this bistro specializes in Auvergne cuisine, known for its robust and flavorful dishes.

Brasserie and Bistro and Restaurant and Café


Cafe is a type of restaurant that originated in Europe and is known for serving coffee, tea and other drinks, as well as light meals and snacks. The café has a more relaxed atmosphere. They are often open during the day and evening and are a popular place for people to stop by, drink coffee, enjoy fresh croissants. Cafes are generally more laid-back and informal. They often offer a selection of coffee, tea, pastries, and light meals. Cafes are known for their cozy and comfortable atmosphere, making them popular spots for casual meetings, reading, or enjoying a leisurely afternoon. While some cafes do serve meals, they may not have the extensive menus or formal settings associated with brasseries and bistros. Cafes can range from casual neighborhood establishments to elegant, upscale establishments near famous landmarks or located in luxury hotels, often on terraces overlooking Paris, there is such a phenomenon, the cafe is part of the city’s culture, I advise you to read the article Parisian cafe culture.

Difference between Brasserie and Bistro and Cafe


Yes, in many upscale restaurants, particularly those located in 5-star hotels, it is common and sometimes necessary to make a reservation. These establishments often have limited seating due to high demand and aim to provide a more exclusive and personalized dining experience. Making a reservation allows the restaurant to manage their seating arrangements efficiently, ensuring that they can accommodate all guests while maintaining a high level of service. Making a reservation also allows the restaurant to plan for the number of staff needed, prepare for special requests or dietary restrictions, and generally provide a smoother dining experience for their guests. It's advisable to check the reservation policy of the specific restaurant you are interested in, as policies may vary, this is especially true in large crowded business and tourist cities like Paris, London, New York, Madrid, Zurich, Dubai e.t.c.


Here's a brief summary of each: a brasserie is a French restaurant with a diverse menu, a bistro is a small and casual French eatery, a restaurant is a general term for an establishment serving meals, and a café is a casual place often focused on coffee and light refreshments. Each type of establishment has its own unique characteristics and caters to different preferences and dining experiences.

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