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

Greg Troxel gdt at lexort.com
Thu Sep 29 17:16:38 UTC 2016

Andrew Wiseman <awiseman at gmail.com> writes:

> 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.

I mostly agree; comments on details.

> 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
> example.

pub/restaurant is hard, as both have food.  But agreed that if (some
combination of) the primary draw is a great beer selection, the ambience
is "in a bar" vs "restaurant that has a bar someplace", and if the menu
tends to burgers and pizza, then pub is the right call.

> 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.

Or even places that have some food, but are not really intending to have
meals.   Or where the food is really really secondary as you say.

> 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.

Yes, but restaurant in OSM also requires that you are seated at tables
with table service.  if you get it yourself, then:

> 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.

That's not what the OSM tag means; it's more european.  In OSM, "cafe"
means (usually) that there is real food, but (always) that you order at
a counter and then either take it yourself or have the staff bring it to
you.  However, a coffee shop is very probably a cafe under this
definition.  But so is a place that has real food cooked by a chef,
except that you don't get waited on.

One area of disagreement you'll find is the boundary between fastfood
and cafe.  A McDonald's, to pick the poster child, is clearly "fast
food".  The OSM definition talks about how the food is prepared in
advance vs to order for a specific customer.  I have been tagging dunkin
donuts as fast food rather than cafe; you can get a sausage egg and
cheese - but it's factory food in the microwave.  Starbucks I see as on
the line, and boutique coffee shops tend to get cafe.  This is
troublesome because it more or less comes down to "real food" vs
"factory food".
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