The Difference between a Bistro and a Café

If you’re looking for a new fine dining experience, you may be scouring the Internet to see what Albuquerque has to offer. Some of the best restaurants in Albuquerque may use terms like “bistro” and “café” after their names. Traditionally the terms mean two different things, but they can also be used interchangeably. Let’s take a look at exactly how each is traditionally distinct and how they have become similar over time.


The term “bistro” is generally used to describe a small, modest European-style restaurant. Bistros are usually smaller restaurants that serve modestly priced meals that are slow cooked to perfection. Bistros provide some of the best fine dining in Albuquerque because they offer various types of cuisine in a nice, yet relaxed atmosphere. As a bit of a history lesson, bistros originated in Paris, France and developed as Parisian cafés that served traditional French meals with that special touch of home cooking.


A traditional café, or coffee shop, is a small, informal restaurant that serves a variety of hot meals, sandwiches, and various desserts. While traditionally a café focused on coffee and a place for social interaction, it has become used to describe bistros, as well. The social interactions at a café are far less formal than those at a bistro and are used as quieter places for people to meet, interact, and spend time together. As the term is used here in Albuquerque, many cafés offer some of the best fine dining, including meals, desserts, and wines.

Bistros and Cafés

Here in Albuquerque, both terms are used interchangeably. Albuquerque French restaurants are called cafés, but have that bistro feel. When looking for a fine dining restaurant you may shy away from the term “café” but in actuality many local cafés are bistros—and bistros serve unique cuisine from around the world. From the best French food to Asian cuisine, bistros and cafés are used interchangeably to provide you with the best fine dining through unique and flavorful cuisine.

When it comes to finding a fine dining restaurant in Albuquerque, cafés and bistros are the perfect place to start for an excellent meal in a nice, yet relaxed atmosphere.