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The term cafe and restaurant are two different entities, not synonymous with each other as some people perceive. 

The word cafe is derived from the Italian Caffe, which is sometimes spelt as Cavee, and as a popular term during 16th century Venice. The term Cavee was derived from the Arabic word qahwa that means wine. So, during the old golden days, a cafe was a place where people hang out to drink wine. The term restaurant is derived from the 16th-century French word restaurer, which means restore. 

The term restaurant was initially given to the street vendors selling thick & cheap soup and was advertised for restoring your health. 

Read on as we learn about cafe vs restaurant, and which one is the right based on key factors.

What is a Restaurant?

A restaurant is a food business establishment where you can dine alone or with your family, and pay for it. A variety of cuisines or dishes are served by the waiter/waitress at your table. 

A restaurant is a public place, open for people of all age groups and communities. You can dine at the restaurant or take away the food and have it in the comfort of your home. 

Although the area of a restaurant can afford to be smaller compared to a cafe because the former generates high revenue thanks to various online ordering systems which have become predominant during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

What is a Cafe?

The cafe is an eating & drinking establishment, also known as a coffeehouse or coffee shop. It is a type of traditional restaurant where you can enjoy your cup of rejuvenating tea or coffee with a variety of delicious and crispy snacks. Unlike restaurants, cafes don’t offer table service, here you have to adhere to the norms of self-service. So, a cafe is a place to relax your mind after a tough day at the office, sipping your favourite brewer, or even holding important business meetings. In a cafe, you can chat with your friends even if everyone has their coffee.


Cafe vs Restaurant – The Major Differences

In the segment, we are going to differentiate between a cafe and restaurant, based on the range of dishes, dining space, and cost per visit. So, read on as we understand each aspect in detail.

1) Range of Dishes

Both restaurants and cafes are not similar to one another in terms of dishes. At a cafe, the menu read a limited number of light meals & snacks to have a bite while having your drink. Coming to restaurants, they offer a variety of dishes of multiple cuisines to pamper your taste buds, but their menu is limited when it comes to drinks.

So, if you want to grab a cupcake bite with your favourite cappuccino, then you should head to the nearest cafe. But, if you crave to have a heavy lunch that keeps you going throughout the day, then you are better off dining at a restaurant or ordering food online. 

Restaurant or cafe, the difference between the two boils down to that you don’t ask for a baked streak at a cafe or Frappuccino with extra whip cream at a restaurant. 

2) Dining Space

The difference in ambience is a crucial factor that may encourage you to choose one over the other. In a traditional setting, the ambience of a cafe is quiet and intimate. 

The Free Wi-Fi, charging ports, and warm lighting make the cafe a perfect setting for introverts, students, and workaholics. Here you will find people working on their laptops, and groups discussing their next big project. The light sound of music in the background with the scent of coffee in the air creates a soothing ambience. 

Coming to restaurants, here you get the opportunity to interact with a bigger friend circle around the table. For this reason, restaurants are more preferred for holding birth, anniversary, and corporate celebrations. 

To oil down, a cafe is a place for personal experience, where dining at a restaurant is a social affair. 

3) Cost per Visit

There is a difference in terms of the final bill when it comes to hanging out at a restaurant or a cafe. Since, at a cafe, you will be only ordering snacks and a cup of coffee, the spending will be less per visit and you barely tip more than $1.

For dining at a restaurant, the menu is power-packed with a myriad of dishes from diverse cuisines, hence you will be tempted to order more than one. 

Plus, don’t forget the tipping cost, which could be approx 10% of the bill. 

History of Restaurant and Cafe

Like our DC and Marvel superheroes, the restaurant and cafe too have their own story. The history of restaurants takes us back to 1765 when the first restaurant was established in French A. Boulanger who sold soup in Paris. 

And, two decades later Antoine Beauvilliers founded La Grande Taverne de Londres, which is where people can dine and enjoy excellent waiter service. 

The originating tale of cafes takes us back to the east to the city of Mecca and the Arabian peninsula where the Ottoman Empire had coffee houses where people would interact with one another and play board games. 

In England, a cafe had become a preferred spot for writers and artists to get their thoughts. 


Is a coffee shop considered a restaurant? Yes, but, it primarily serves a variety of coffee, and snacks such as pastries, and sandwiches. At a cafe, you don’t get table service, where the place is best to have long meetings. So, if you want to host a large gathering, then a restaurant provides the perfect setting to make the evening memorable. On the flip side, if you are going to meet an old friend after a long time, then a cafe is the best place to have a conversation.

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