French Restaurant Types

Bistro: The broadest category, a bistro can be a simple, relaxed restaurant serving traditional fare, one of the new "bistronomic" eateries, or a chic hot spot where dinner costs more than €50 per person. The bistro menu is fairly limited and usually changes with the season.

Brasserie: More informal than a bistro, the brasserie is large, lively, and always has a bar. Ideal for relatively quick meals, it often specializes in Alsatian fare, like choucroute garnie (a mixed meat dish with sauerkraut and potatoes) or seafood platters. With flexible hours (usually open all day and well into the night) and diverse menus, brasseries are an excellent choice if you're traveling with kids.

Café: Often an informal neighborhood hangout, the café may also be a showplace attracting a well-heeled crowd or one of the newer barista cafés serving up a virtuosic brew to a much more exacting standard. A limited menu of sandwiches, simple dishes, and classic desserts is usually available throughout the day. Beware of the prices: a half bottle of mineral water can cost €5 or more.

French Fusion: The French fusion restaurant has discernible influences of French cuisine and the cuisine of another region or country.

Haute French: Ambitious and expensive, the haute French restaurant is helmed by a pedigreed chef who prepares multicourse meals to be remembered.

Modern French: Although not necessarily super expensive or pretentious, the modern French restaurant boasts a creative menu showcasing a variety of culinary influences.

Wine Bar: A more recent phenomenon, the wine bar serves more than the usual three or four wines by the glass—and often with an emphasis on natural wines—along with traditional charcuterie or cheese, small dishes, or, more often nowadays, a full gourmet meal.

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