Difference between restaurant and bistro

Joined Aug 15, 2003
I often see the word "bistro" used in a lot of cookbooks, magazine articles, TV shows, etc and was wondering what the difference was between that and a restaurant.

I know that a bistro is supposed to be a type of restaurant, usually small and unassuming with good quality food.

But it seems more of a buzzword than anything. Like, I've seen some bistros that were lots of money, but some that were pretty inexpensive and unpretentious.

Any thoughts?

Joined Jan 5, 2001
Bistro is actually the Russian word for "fast", dating back when France and Russia had close cultural ties. Bistros are the original fast foods and had standard daily fare such as entrecôte. The food was usually predictable and the names of dishes were recognised everywhere.

Now, restauranteurs have taken a bit of a creative license with the term and use it for just about everything. In all cases though, the intention is to portray the place as having decent food in a semi-casual setting, with prices lower than "fine-dining". Yeah, lots of subjective words in there... Reach your own conclusions. ;)

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