13 Popular Types of Restaurants

restaurant types

Business owners and chefs are becoming increasingly creative with restaurant styles and dish preparations. The only downside here is that sometimes choosing what we want for dinner can take a while since there are so many restaurant types –  who knew that having an abundance of options could ever be a problem? 

With all these choices, creating strict categories can become challenging because most business owners are experimenting with innovation by taking elements from different categories and creating hybrid versions. These tactics have forced us to create all new types of restaurant categories. 


1. Fast Food/Quick Service

There’s a good chance you’ll find a fast-food restaurant around almost every street corner. This abundance and popularity stems from the fact that fast-food restaurants provide a service that is aligned with the north-American lifestyle. They offer a fast, convenient and inexpensive option for people who are in a rush and don’t have a lot of time to wait for their food. They also work great for people who are on a budget, or for those who have a late-night craving – since a lot of these restaurants offer late-night service. Basically, if you’re feeling hungry, and don’t want to spend a lot of money, quick-service restaurants will fit the bill. 

If you’re going to eat at a fast food establishment, you can expect to pay around $5 – $12 for a single meal. 

The menu is listed above the cashier’s countertop on a screen or board. You will order your food from a cashier and pick your food up from a countertop or drive-through window. And since the food always comes packaged, you can easily take it with you to eat inside the car, train, or just about anywhere else. 

These quick-service restaurants are usually well-known franchises or chains with a national or even global presence. Menu options normally consist of burgers, chicken, fries, pizza, and other foods that can be prepared within minutes. 

An advantage of owning a fast food franchise location is that you don’t need to worry about starting from scratch and making costly mistakes. You will have access to an established brand with a pre-set menu and a team of professionals who will guide you through the entire process. 

Examples of fast food restaurants include Mary Brown’s, Mc Donalds, Wendy’s and A&W


2. Fast Casual Restaurants

These types of restaurants are a hybrid between fast food and casual dining. Fast-casual restaurants cater to people who are looking for a quick and affordable option, but who also want a bigger variety of healthy foods to choose from. Menu options typically feature salads, soups, specialty bowls, artisan sandwiches and super-food smoothies. 

Similarly to fast food places, fast casual restaurants also have countertop service where guests place their order with a cashier and then bring their food back to their own table or take it to-go. These spots are great for people who want a mid-day snack or for those who are limited on time and need their meals prepared quickly. Although meals are prepared quickly, food may not be prepared as quickly as it would be in a fast food establishment. 

Although prices at fast-casual restaurants are very affordable, they are not as inexpensive as fast-food restaurants. You can expect to spend around $10 – $20 for a single meal. 

Examples of fast-casual restaurants include Aroma, Panera Bread and Freshii


3. Casual Dining Restaurants

This style can sometimes be referred to as a family restaurant. A casual dining restaurant will have tableside service, meaning you will be seated at a table with a menu, and wait for a server to take your order. The atmosphere in these types of restaurants is a little more elevated than the two previous styles we mentioned above (fast casual and fast food) but still maintains a casual tone, so you won’t feel the need to get too dressed up. Think of a place where you go in jeans and a sweater to enjoy an inexpensive meal and some drinks. 

These are the types of places where you go to enjoy a laid-back evening, without breaking the bank. And given the tableside service, this is not the kind of place you would go to when you’re in a rush.  

The price for one person to eat at a casual dining restaurant is around $15 – $30. 

Examples of casual dining restaurants are places like Montana’s BBQ, Kelsey’s, Wimpy’s Diner, Wild Wings, Boston Pizza or breakfast places like Cora


4. Contemporary Casual 

Contemporary casual restaurants offer a sit-down dining experience that combines a relaxed environment with popular culinary trends. They are a little more upscale than regular casual dining so the prices are naturally higher – you can expect to spend around $20 – $40 per person. 

This style offers a chic theme with picture-worthy decor. The menu will probably feature global or fusion cuisine, and they will most likely offer gluten-free or vegan/vegetarian options. These places are the go-to spots for girl nights out, dates nates, or birthday parties where you want to take lots of elegant pictures without spending too much money. 

Examples of contemporary casual restaurants include Scaddabush, Earls Kitchen + Bar, and Cheesecake Factory


5. Semi-Fine Dining

We noticed that other ‘types of restaurants’ lists don’t mention semi-fine dining. Although this is not a popular phrase, semi-fine dining definitely holds a strong place in the market; as they sit in between contemporary casual and fine dining. 

Semi-fine dining is where you go to get dressed up to enjoy elevated menu options, but not spend as much money as you would at a fine dining establishment. You will see classy and elegant decor, a professional staff, and food that will always be picture worthy. 

Coming to a spot like this, you will probably be spending around $30-$65 per person. 

Examples of semi-fine dining restaurants include The Keg, Copa Cabana, and Cibo Wine Bar


6. Fine Dining

Fine dining establishments hold the top spot when it comes to price and formality. 

The serving style at fine dining restaurants place a lot of emphasis on quality of service. This means that empty plates and cups are cleared off the table right away, servers are expected to be highly knowledgeable on all the menu items, and each dish is carefully crafted by an experienced chef. Both staff and guests are expected to adhere with the strict dress code –  meaning that baggy sweaters and running shoes are frowned upon. 

At these types of restaurants, it is common to see pre-set menus that include an appetizer, meal, and dessert for a fixed price. Prices typically range from $40 – $100 per person. 

Examples of fine dining restaurants include places like The 360 CN Tower Restaurant, Sophia Yorkville, and Canoe


7. Tapas

A tapas style restaurant serves appetizers or small plates of food so you can try a little bit of everything instead of needing to choose one main meal. Traditionally tapa means a small portion of food in Spanish cuisine. And although the most common types of tapas restaurants serve Spanish food, you can also find many tapas restaurants serving globally inspired cuisine from all over the world.

These kinds of restaurants are great if you’re in the mood to try a variety of foods, and are also good for sharing dishes with groups of people. 

The style here usually falls within the contemporary casual or semi-fine dining category, and prices will vary wildely as it depends on how many small plates you plan on ordering. One small plate will normally be around $11. 

Examples of tapas restaurants include Salt Wine Bar for Iberian/Canadian tapas, and Patria for traditional Spanish tapas.  


8. Cafes and Coffee Shops

Cafes and coffee shops hold a special place in our hearts (or should we say stomachs?). They have engrained themselves as rituals in our society, such as purchasing a morning cup of coffee on the way to work, spending the afternoon catching up with friends, or waiting for the return of a popular seasonal drink menu. Many remote employees also use coffee shops to work from their laptops, since these places almost always offer free wifi.

Although these shops sell baked goods, breakfast and lunch-style foods, the main focus is the drink menu. This is where you will see specialty coffees and teas with flavours like matcha, passion fruit, strawberry, etc.  

The average price for one specialty drink is typically around $4 – $5. 

Examples of coffee shops include Starbucks and Tim Hortons.  


9. Bars and Pubs

Bars and Pubs are spots people go to when they want to enjoy a beer or other alcoholic drinks after work or on the weekend. Although the main focus of coming to a bar is the alcoholic beverages (such as liquor, beers, and cocktails) you can also choose from a selection of food options. This typically includes burgers, fries, nachos, and pizza. However, food options do vary widely depending on the specific location. 

In addition to the food and drinks, some bars also provide activities such as: 

  • Karaoke 
  • Pool tables 
  • Darts 
  • Dance floors
  • DJ’s 
  • T.V for sports 

There are many different styles when it comes to bars and pubs, most fall between the casual and contemporary casual range, and prices will vary depending on said style. We would say the average price spent on one person at a bar is around $30. 

Examples of bars and pubs in Toronto are Bar Hop Brewco and Imperial Pub


10. Pop-Ups 

A pop-up location is when a restaurant only exists temporarily. Basically, this means they are only open for a limited time frame and close up shop after their time frame has been completed. The length of time they are open for is up to the discretion of the owner. Some may be open during an entire season (such as summer or winter) and some may only be open for a few weeks or even a few days.  

Pop-ups can appear in tents, old warehouses, or they may use an established restaurant location for their pop-up event. 

Pop-up locations allow business owners and chefs to experiment with different styles of food and ideas to see what works best in a specific area.  

One example of a pop is Dinner With A View


11. Food Trucks

Food trucks are essentially mini restaurants on wheels. This is where a truck has been specially designed with a kitchen in the back to prepare food and there is usually only enough room for 1-4 employees. One or two people to take the orders and serve the food and one or two employees to cook the food. 

Food trucks will select a lucrative location to park, like in a downtown center where there are a lot of people walking by, in mall parking lots, or even be hired for special events. Given the limited space they have a small variety of food options but they specialize in what they prepare and normally stick with a specific theme. 

The average price for one person to eat at a food truck is around $9 – $15. 

Some examples of Toronto food trucks include Mustache Burger and born2eat


12. Buffets

Buffets are all-you-can-eat style restaurants. Instead of ordering food from a server, you will fill your plate at self-serve stations located in the main area of the restaurant. Rather than cooks preparing food to order (like they do at typical restaurants), they prepare large quantities of dishes and then place that food in the self-serve stations. 

Guests can choose from a variety of different foods and are able to fill their plates as many times as they would like for a flat rate. Typical buffet styles include Asian fusion, and Italian. 

The only time a server will approach your table at a buffet is to take drink orders or to bring extra napkins and the bill.

The typical flat rate for a buffet is around $30 – $40. 

One example of a buffet style restaurant is the Mandarin


13. Ghost Restaurants

A ghost restaurant is a food business that only serves customers via online, app, and/or phone orders. Basically, they are take-out-only locations and don’t have anywhere for guests to sit. These businesses do not have a regular storefront with a sign and dining room area; instead, this model only has a kitchen and delivery drivers to run the operation. 

The process is simple, customers will order their food from an app, website, or phone number, and drivers deliver the food to your location (as long as you are within distance).  

Ghost restaurant examples include Coast, Tacos Maria Bonita and Mel’s Pizza

If you’re thinking of opening your own restaurant, consider franchising with Mary Brown’s. A team of professionals will help you through every step up of the process to ensure the success of your new location.