Do you go to the same few restaurants over and over? There are multiple types of excellent restaurants available, so don’t stick to a few familiar restaurants. Spread your wings and try some new restaurants that are different than you are used to. What you need to get started is a guide to every type of restaurant available. Then, try the ones that sound interesting and start a culinary adventure.

restaurant guide

What is a Restaurant?

The basic definition of a restaurant is an establishment that prepares and serves food to clients for money. There is usually a menu that lists food choices and the costs for each of them. In addition to this broad definition, restaurants can be classified on many factors including location, services, atmosphere, specific cuisine, level of formality, and style. There are many restaurant types everywhere, so the culinary adventure can start at home and continue when you travel to different countries.

The Many Types of Restaurants

The following is a list of many types of restaurants with short descriptions. It may give you a guide to where to find the best Thai food or where the best formal or informal restaurants can be located. Once you know the type of restaurant you want to try, you can look under that heading in local restaurant guides.

Ethnic restaurants

These kinds of restaurants specialize in foods from a certain country or ethnic background. The most common ethnic restaurants include Chinese, Italian, Greek, and Mexican. But, there are many more choices including high-quality Thai food from the northern, central, or southern Thai regions. Foods from Japan, Spain, France, Brazil, African countries, and other countries around the world are also available and worth trying.

The Bistro

Bistros originated in Paris as small neighbourhood eating venues specializing in French food served simply at reasonable prices. The setting is usually cosy and casual.

A Fine dining restaurant

This is the highest-rated and most expensive type of restaurant. They will have elaborate menus, full-service, fancy atmospheres, and high prices. They cater to a wealthy clientele and may have formal dress codes.

The Pizzeria or Trattoria

This restaurant type originated in Italy and serves pizza. The facility can be a sit-down restaurant or a takeout type of place. Pizza, wine, salads, and pasta dishes may be served.

Fast food or Fast Casual restaurants

These can be chain restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and others where fast food delivery is the goal. Or they can be restaurants such as Chipolte, Panera Bread, and others that are a little more upmarket than fast food but not as formal as casual dining places.

types of restaurant

Casual Dining restaurants

This type of restaurant includes the cafe, diner, or a steak house specializing in grilled steaks and other meats with accompaniments. These restaurants feature a sit-down American venue for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They often have a long counter and individual booths or tables. There are locally-owned restaurants and chain restaurants such as Denny’s.

Buffet-style or all-you-can-eat restaurants

These are self-serve restaurants where a large variety of foods are displayed on tables or counters and customers serve themselves and are charged one flat rate. Restaurants of this type include seafood restaurants, Italian food, Chinese dim sum, a Swedish smorgasbord, or other types of foods. There will be multiple food stations including salads, hot items, and a choice of dessert foods.

Teppanyaki-ya, Ramen-ya, and other Asian food restaurants

There are many Asian style restaurants that feature regional specialities including foods prepared on hot iron grills at the table or as you watch. One interesting variation is the ramen shop where a noodle soup dish is served.

Food truck

This is a licensed, movable vehicle equipped as a kitchen to prepare and serve a limited menu to the public. Gourmet food trucks are a growing trend.

Tapas bar

Small plates of food called tapas served with drinks. Food can be Spanish or other ethnicities and is served in an informal atmosphere.

Cafeterias and luncheonettes

These types of food places can be independent or located within an institution. There are few employees, and customers often serve themselves at a counter where cooked food is displayed. They may only be open at lunchtime, and the menu is limited.

Pop-up restaurants

These are temporary restaurants that operate in unusual locations. They offer an opportunity for young, talented cooks or chefs to showcase their cooking talent. They often offer original, innovative food choices.

Inns or taverns

These restaurants serve wine or other liquor along with food. They often serve local food choices at moderate prices.

Sandwich bar

This is an informal restaurant with sandwiches as the main menu item. They may also serve salads, drinks, and meat entrees. Examples would be Arby’s and Subway. There are also locally owned sandwich shops.


This is a small Greek restaurant with rustic decor and a limited, reasonably priced menu. Local dishes including grilled meats, dips and spread, fish, and seafood are served.

Drive-in or drive-thru restaurants

Customers drive to an order kiosk and place their food order over a microphone. Then the food is delivered to the car or they drive to a delivery window to receive their food. The food is delivered to the car to be eaten there or taken home. The customer never leaves their car.


This is a typical French eating venue serving traditional French food, drinks, and coffee. They are open all day and offer extensive menus.

À la carte

At these restaurants, patrons order individual dishes from a menu making up their meal. There are a lot of choices in every category from appetizers to salads, entrees, and desserts. 

This is just a sampling of the many types of restaurants in this country and around the world. Get adventurous and try different places to eat every once in a while. Different types of restaurants often serve different needs. Some are catering to people who have short lunch breaks at work, and others are set up for evening enjoyment and relaxation with friends or family.

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