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Different Restaurants Types Explained

Whether you are looking to start your own restaurant or you are simply looking for a new dining experience, there are lots of different types of restaurants to choose from.

Some of them, you probably won’t even be aware of, which is why we have created this list of all of the restaurants by type for you to read about.

We are going to provide you with more information about all of the different types of restaurants, so you can look for new places to enjoy, or new adventures to begin if you want to create your very own restaurant.

These are the Different Types of Restaurants

We will also talk about the types of food that these places typically have to offer and the experiences that they can provide to prepare you for what you can expect from different establishments.

Fast Casual

friends enjoying a fast casual dining experience

The first type of restaurant that we are going to talk about is the fast-casual restaurant, which offers the perfect blend between fast food and casual dining.

So, in these restaurants, you are getting the ease and convenience of fast food, but with higher quality ingredients. 

In these restaurants, you can expect menus that feature customized selections and more complex flavors, and this does lead to a slightly higher price than fast food. Though, you are getting what you pay for in terms of quality.

Fast-casual dining will have a friendly sit-down atmosphere, but it will not feature full table service. These restaurants are becoming increasingly popular around the world.


Fast Food

a worker serving fast food to a customer

Fast food is one of the most convenient types of dining that there is, and it is one of the most popular food choices.

These restaurants are typically big chains like McDonald’s, and the industry aims to provide food quickly at its restaurants.

They are especially focused on speed and convenience, which makes them a popular choice. You can typically expect to pay low prices at fast food restaurants.


Casual Dining

friends enjoying a casual dining restaurant

Casual dining restaurants will offer full table service, and they typically offer an enjoyable and laid-back atmosphere. These types of restaurants will offer extensive yet affordable menus, and they generally also serve alcohol, appetizers, and entrées. 

The amount that you can expect to pay in these restaurants will be higher than fast food, but still affordable, and there are likely to be more options available to you on the menu. You can also expect to be greeted and sat by a host and waited on by a server during your visit.


Fine Dining

fine dining white tablecloth expereience

Fine dining restaurants will offer a more upscale experience that is considered to be higher end. This type of restaurant will feature higher prices but with a greater attention to detail, so you can expect higher quality food.

You will also be provided with exceptional customer service, but you can expect to pay much more in these establishments. However, these higher costs pay not only for the best food, but for the entire experience that is provided.

Restaurants that are classed as fine dining establishments will usually offer top-shelf wine, spirits, and food, and they often require a formal dress code and the use of fine dining etiquette.

There are many different varieties when it comes to fine dining, the experience that they have to offer, and the food that is available on the menu.


Bars & Pubs

people eating and drinking beer in a pub

Bars and pubs are typically more focused on serving a wide variety of alcohol, and you can expect a more lively atmosphere in these places. They are often associated with watching sports, playing games, and playing live music. 

The main difference between bars and pubs is that pubs will typically offer table service, while bars do not. However, many bars will have a relaxed dining area during the daytime, whereas pubs generally continue to serve food in the evening.

You can expect a casual experience with general pub-style food on the menu. 


Pop-up Restaurants

pop-up restaurant outdoors

Pop-up restaurants will usually appear in unexpected places, and they won’t be there for long. So, if you see a pop-up restaurant that looks amazing, it is best that you visit while you can.

They will only be there for a limited amount of time, and they provide the perfect opportunity for chefs to showcase their skills or try something new before committing to a full-time restaurant.

They typically feature a specific concept or theme, and the menu will vary depending on the style of food that is on offer. The location of the pop-up restaurant is also important when considering the food that will be on offer.


Food Trucks

food truck serving burgers on the street

A food truck will provide just as many amazing opportunities as a normal restaurant, but the prices are typically lower as the costs are less.

Food trucks are essentially restaurants on wheels, and they are commonly found at parks, events, and festivals.

Food trucks offer amazing food at a lower price, and the type of food that is available will depend on the style of food. There could be anything from Chinese to Thai, to Indian, and much more. They can be found in many different locations, even on a street in town.


Contemporary Casual

hipsters casually dining at a trendy restaurant

Contemporary casual is a newer type of dining experience that offers a branch that is similar to fine dining, but more relaxed.

Contemporary casual restaurants will be more popular in urban and metropolitan areas, and the thing that makes it different from casual dining is that there is a big focus on branding.

They typically have concepts like organic and vegan, and these are often the foundations for a contemporary casual restaurant. These restaurants typically highlight a shared connection within a community, and they often stem from eating traditions around the world.


Family-Style

family style dining in a restaurant with large shared plates

Family-style dining is more focused on sharing and creating connections, and this type of restaurant will follow many traditions around the world. Family-style dining is, of course, family-oriented, and they make for a great day or evening out with the family. 


Café

cafe restaurant with bistro tale seating outside

Cafés are renowned for their relaxed style of dining, and you are more likely to go to a cafe for a quick bite and a coffee rather than an extravagant meal.

They are often a great meeting point for friends, and they are quite versatile, making them great for a variety of different situations.

Most cafés will serve things like coffee, tea, pastries, and small breakfast and lunch items on the menu, and they work to provide a casual and relaxed atmosphere.

They are great for socializing, and they typically don’t cost too much money. However, there are some more high-end cafés that will come at a higher cost.


Buffet

all you can eat buffet in a restaurant

A buffet allows diners to customize their own dining experience by providing customers with a variety of different food options to choose from.

They are often referred to as ‘all you can eat’ restaurants, meaning that you can fill up your plate as many times as you want, choosing from the wide variety of food options.

Many of them will have a theme, like Chinese or Indian food, but there are some that will feature dishes from all over the world.

They typically offer a big selection of food for a fixed price, and the food is laid out on buffet bars, where guests are able to help themselves. Some of the food that you can expect may be soups, salads, appetizers, hot entrées, desserts, fruit, and much more.

They could feature one or multiple types of cuisine, and they are typically casual yet elegant in design. 


Bistro

bistro in paris

A bistro restaurant will typically have a more relaxed atmosphere, and they are often enjoyed for work or socializing purposes. Bistros are quite similar to cafés, but they offer a wider variety of food options. 


Diner

retro american diner

Diners are extremely popular in America, and this type of restaurant is typically characterized by fried foods, burgers, and breakfast items.

You can expect to pay a lower cost at a diner than at a restaurant, and many of them will be open all day, every day. They generally feature booths and table service, and even bar stools at the front and center of the restaurant. 


Destination Restaurant

A destination restaurant is a type of restaurant that will draw customers from the immediate location that it is in.

The concept of this kind of restaurant is that the food is appealing and the history of the establishment strong and famous enough to motivate customers to visit from out of town.

The idea is that these are places that are related to the local area, that attract people from all over. Typically, destination restaurants will have been around for a long time for the word to spread about them.


Ghost Restaurant

empty kitchen used as a ghost kitchen for delivery food

A ghost kitchen is a restaurant that you cannot visit, but you can order takeout from it. The idea is that chefs can focus solely on efficiency when creating their food, and this idea also helps to minimize costs. 

These restaurants have the flexibility to alter their menus, and they don’t need to change physical copies. All they need to do is update their website, and they are good to go. They also offer a range of food types.

Final Thoughts

I bet you didn’t realize there were so many different styles of restaurants and dining options out there. You probably have experienced a number of them without knowing each one had their own unique characteristics.

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Written by Erin B.

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.