[Talk-us] Bar vs Pub vs Restaurant in the US?

Andrew Wiseman awiseman at gmail.com
Thu Sep 29 16:41:33 UTC 2016

Hi all,

I was just thinking about this from an American context and went to the
Wiki, where someone else had the same question -- I think because we call
many places a bar. [1]

I think part of the confusion is because many municipalities in the US
require that places sell food if they sell alcohol, but to me, the food is
secondary. So thus they should be tagged as pubs.

The wiki uses a European context, so here's my attempt at classifying what
is what in the US. Let me know what you think.

To me, a "pub" in the US would be bars that have food, but the food isn't
the main attraction - you mainly go there to hang out or talk with friends
or watch the game or just drink, but they may have food too. For example, a
sports bar or your neighborhood bar if they have wings or nachos or
burgers, but that's not the main draw. Wonderland in DC, for a specific

A "bar" would be a place that doesn't serve food at all, like a cocktail
bar or just some bar without food, where they might not have seats, which
is something the wiki suggests. The Adams Morgan area in Washington, DC has
a lot of these places, for example, where people stand around and drink
mostly, maybe dance too. McSorley's in New York would be another example of
a bar, with seats.

And a "restaurant" would be a place where there is alcohol but you mainly
go for food -- for example, bar and grill chains TGI Fridays, Applebee's,
Buffalo Wild Wings, etc. would fall into this category. So would non-chains
that are similar. I would posit that most people don't go to TGI Friday's
just to drink.

There's also "cafe" as a separate tag which can include food and alcohol,
but to me a cafe is a coffee shop that might also have beer or food, but
coffee is the main attraction -- like a Starbucks in the US.

What do you think? Am I way off? Browsing Taginfo and Overpass mostly seem
to agree with the above.

Here's the wiki discussion, my response is below. 1 -

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