Restaurants often specialize in certain types of food or
present a certain unifying, and often entertaining, theme. For
example, there are seafood restaurants, vegetarian restaurants or
ethnic restaurants. Generally speaking, restaurants selling "local"
food are simply called restaurants, while restaurants selling food of
foreign origin are called accordingly, for example, a Chinese
restaurant and a French restaurant.
A cafeteria is a restaurant serving mostly cooked ready to food arranged behind a food-serving counter. There is little or no table service. Depending on the establishment, serving may be ordered from attendants, selected as ready-made portions already on plates, or self-serve of food of their own choice. In some establishments, a few items such as steaks may be ordered specially prepared rare, medium and well done from the attendants. The patron waits for those items to be prepared or is given a number and they are brought to the table. Beverages may be filled from self service dispensers or ordered from the attendants. At the end of the line a cashier rings up the purchases. At some self-service cafeterias, purchases are priced by weight, rather than by individual item. The trays filled with selected items of food are taken to a table to eat. Institutional cafeterias may have common tables, but upscale cafeterias provide individual tables as in sit-down restaurants. Upscale cafeterias have traditional cutlery and crockery, and some have servers to carry the trays from the line to the patrons' tables, and/ or bus the empty trays and used dishes.
Cafeterias have a wider variety of prepared foods. For example, it may have a variety of roasts (beef, ham, turkey) ready for carving by a server, as well as other cooked entrées, rather than simply an offering of hamburgers or fried chicken.
2. Fast-Food Restaurants
Fast-food restaurants emphasize speed of service and low cost over all other considerations. A common feature of newer fast food restaurants that distinguishes them from traditional cafeteria is
a lack of cutlery or crockery; the customer is expected to eat the food directly from the disposable container it was served in using their fingers.
There are various types of fast-food restaurant:
- one collects food from a counter and pays, then sits down and starts eating (as in a self-service restaurant or cafeteria); sub-varieties:
- one collects ready portions
- one serves oneself from containers
- one is served at the counter
- a special procedure is that one first pays at the cash desk, collects a coupon and then goes to the food
- counter, where one gets the food in exchange for the coupon.
- one orders at the counter; after preparation the food is brought to one's table; paying may be on ordering or after eating.
- a drive-through is a type of fast-food restaurant without seating; diners receive their food in their cars and drive away to eat most fast-food restaurants offer take-out: ready-to-eat hot food in disposable packaging for the customer to eat off-site.
3. Casual Restaurants
A casual dining restaurant is a restaurant that serves moderately-priced food in a casual atmosphere. Except for buffet style restaurants, casual dining restaurants typically provide table service. Casual dining comprises of a market segment between fast food establishments and fine dining restaurants.
4. Fast Casual-Dining Restaurants
A fast casual restaurant is similar to a fast-food restaurant in that it does not offer full table service, but promises a somewhat higher quality of food and atmosphere. Average prices charged are higher than fast-food prices and non-disposable plates and cutlery are usually offered. This category is a growing concept that fills the space between fast food and casual dining. Counter service accompanied by handmade food (often visible via an open kitchen) is typical. Alcohol may be served. Dishes like steak, which require experience on the part of the cook to get it right, may be offered. The menu is usually limited to an extended over-counter display, and options in the way the food is prepared are emphasized.
5. Other Restaurants
Most of these establishments can be considered sub-types of
fast casual-dining restaurants or casual-dining restaurants.
Cafés and coffee shops are informal restaurants offering a range of hot meals and made-to-order sandwiches. Cafés offer table service. Many cafés are open for breakfast and serve full hot breakfasts. In some areas, cafés offer outdoor seating.
Coffeehouses are casual restaurants without table service that emphasize coffee and other beverages; typically a limited selection of cold foods such as pastries and perhaps sandwiches are offered as well. Their distinguishing feature is that they allow patrons to relax and socialize on their
premises for long periods of time without pressure to leave promptly after eating.
A pub (short for public house) is a bar that serves simple food fare. Traditionally, pubs were primarily drinking establishments with food in a decidedly secondary position, whereas the modern pub business relies on food as well, to the point where gastropubs are known for their high-quality
pub food. A typical pub has a large selection of beers and ales on tap.
iv) Bistros and Brasserie
A brasserie is a café doubling as a restaurant and serving single dishes and other meals in a relaxed setting. A bistro is a familiar name for a café serving moderately priced simple meals in an unpretentious setting. Especially in Paris, bistros have become increasingly popular with tourists. When used in English, the term bistro usually indicates either a fast casual-dining restaurant with a European-influenced menu or a café with a larger menu of food.
v) Family Style
"Family style restaurants" are restaurants that have a fixed menu and fixed price, usually with diners seated at acommunal table such as on bench seats. More common in the 19th and early 20th century, they can still be found in rural communities, or as theme restaurants, or in vacation lodges. There is no menu to choose from; rather food is brought out in courses, usually with communal serving
dishes, like at a family meal. Typical examples can include crabhouses, German-style beer halls, BBQ restaurants, hunting lodges, e tc. Some normal restaurants will mix elements of family style, such as a table salad or bread bowl that is included as part of the meal.
vi) BYO Restaurant
BYO Restaurant are restaurants and bistros which do not have a liquor license.
vii) Delicatessens Restaurant
Restaurants offering foods intended for immediate consumption. The main product line is normally luncheon meats and cheeses. They may offer sandwiches, soups, and salads as well. Most foods are precooked prior to delivery. Preparation of food products is generally simple and only
involves one or two steps.
viii) Ethnic Restaurants
They range from quick-service to upscale. Their menus usually include ethnic dishes and / or authentic ethnic foods. Specialize in a particular multicultural cuisine not specifically
accommodated by any other listed categories. Example: Asian Cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Indian Cuisine, American Cuisine etc.
ix) Destination Restaurants
A destination restaurant is one that has a strong enough appeal to draw customers from beyond its community. Example: Michelin Guide 3-star restaurant in Europe, which according to the restaurant guides is "worthy of a journey”.