Exploring the Different Types of French Restaurants

Explore different types of French restaurants from cozy bistros & bustling brasseries to humble broths & elegant haute cuisine establishments.

Exploring the Different Types of French Restaurants

Are you curious about the difference between a bistro and a bouchon? We'll break it down for you. In North America, the terms for French restaurants are often used interchangeably, but in France, there is a clear distinction between a brasserie, a bistro and a bouchon. Here's a quick overview of the different types of French restaurants. Bistros are intimate eateries, usually family-run, that offer traditional fare and French wines.

You'll find informal dishes on the menu that also appear in brasseries, as well as pies, stews and stews. Specific to Lyon, bouchons are independent, casual restaurants that typically serve delicious high-fat dishes, such as meats, offal and roasts. Specialized bakeries don't usually venture into pastries or pies. In France, a café is the place where you go to have a coffee, and perhaps to have a light snack or lunch in the form of a croque monsieur or a salad the size of a meal.

All those French people walking around with baguettes under their arms? They were bought fresh out of the oven at a bakery, the French word for bakery. Here you will find crispy breads and viennoiserie, that is, buttery pastries such as croissants and pain au chocolat. Most bakeries sell espresso to drink while you sit down for breakfast, some sell pre-made sandwiches (jambon et beurre, that is). The cafés, which date back to the 17th century, are a community meeting place, literally, at any time of the day.

Cafes, which serve both coffee (espresso) and alcoholic beverages, are mainly for drinking, although many offer meals throughout the day (look for a suitable restaurant). Iconic for their outdoor terraces with chairs facing the outside, French cafés, especially in Paris, are a place to see and be seen. A bistrot (bistro) is a small and often family-owned restaurant (historically, a husband cooked and a wife ran the dining room), that is, it is not managed by a chef or group of high-end restaurants. It's that place in your neighborhood that you can rely on for solid, comforting food at the end of the day.

Here you will find classic and no-frills French dishes, such as coq au vin, boeuf bourguignonne, pot-au-feu, cassoulet and many other French dishes that are less renowned outside of France. Although often confused with the humble bistro, the brasserie is its total opposite - extroverted and boisterous sister. Derived from an archaic word meaning “brewery”, a French brasserie provides an enjoyable atmosphere for drinking, dining and enjoying the night away. Brasserie menus can be similar to those in bistrots, and they also tend to serve dishes to share, such as oysters, cold cuts and dishes of the day that are changed every day.

Another provider of typical French food is broths - they tend to be historic (that is today no one opens broths but they have been in operation for decades) and unpopular among brasseries and bistrots due to their humble origins. In order to serve good food at good prices broths were in a way the first places for fast and informal food - however since we are in France they do not offer takeaway food but rather satisfying and low-priced dishes such as leek vinaigrette soups and stews. In Paris you can enjoy a full meal for 10 euros at Bouillon Chartier. Literally a butcher shop you don't eat here but you pick up meat to eat at home - most cuts are raw but several butcher shops offer ready-to-eat sausages and sausages as well as sometimes slow-cooked meats such as roasted chickens. Like its root word cheese - fromagerie is in fact a cheese factory - just a cheese factory - here you'll find all the legendary creamy wheels of French Brie Époisses Chèvre and hundreds of other types of cheese - don't be shy and ask fromagerie to help you find your new favorite dishes. A restaurant (“resto” or “restau” for short) is the place where French people like to go out for special occasions not just to eat - expect to be served elegant dishes not family-style dishes - food is served with care in calm peaceful environment - whether you lose your attention to details such as tablecloth dishes atmosphere. There is no absolute answer to what makes a French restaurant French - however some key elements that often distinguish French restaurants from their American counterparts are use of fresh local ingredients focus on good food focus on wine and wine pairing. The wine bars are recent French-style restaurant that serves more than usual three or four glasses of wine - in general emphasis is on natural wines served with small plates or traditional sausages and selection of fine cheeses. For those who need multi-course French meal haute cuisine restaurant might be place for you - most French haute cuisine restaurants offer variety of dishes on fixed-price menu (multi-course French food served at fixed price) along with à la carte menu - wine selections first-class service characteristics of French haute cuisine establishment. French haute cuisine restaurants known for their haute cuisine - like bistros haute cuisine restaurants open during lunch hours - some French haute cuisine establishments may be closed on Sundays or Mondays. Born raised in Paris I have been teaching current French to adults more than 23 years in United States France - we have American-style fast food but equivalent in French would be “un restaurant ouvrier” nothing in common really but food served quickly very relaxed atmosphere very good price.


French restaurants come in all shapes and sizes from cozy bistros to bustling brasseries from humble broths to elegant haute cuisine establishments from bustling cafes to specialized bakeries from bustling butcher shops to cheese factories. No matter what type of restaurant you choose you can always expect fresh local ingredients focus on good food focus on wine and wine pairing all served with care in calm peaceful environment.

Amanda Huerto
Amanda Huerto

Wannabe beeraholic. Hardcore beer trailblazer. Award-winning travel lover. Unapologetic internet fan. Lifelong pop culture lover. General twitteraholic.