In America, foods generally considered to be of foreign origin are referred to by the country or region which they are originally from.

For example, "That Italian restaurant just opened, let's try it.", there are many Italian restaurants in America which serve food generally considered to be Italian.

For countries other than the United States, is this still the case? This example demonstrates the question, Would this ever be used in a country other than America? "Let's go to that American restaurant for dinner tonight".

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    Just as an aside, in the UK we don't really have 'English' restaurants either, we only ever refer to a cuisine by it's perceived nationality if it is 'foreign'. An 'American diner' might conceivably be considered as such. – Tetsujin Dec 30 '15 at 19:21
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    Note: this is protected in order to among other things discourage answers which simply report the existence of an American restaurant somewhere. More detailed answers are strongly preferred. – Cascabel Dec 31 '15 at 0:56
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    There are 3 meanings to the phrase "Italian Restaurant"; one implies Italian origin/ownership, the second implies specialization in Italian cuisine, and the third merely 'style'. These are distinct; an Indian couple can run an Italian restaurant. Many answers that talk about chains focus on ownership & style aspects, because the fact is that developing a distinct cuisine takes a lot of time. Newly populated places like N. America & Australia just don't have enough independent depth and breadth in cuisine to justify an entire menu devoted to the cuisine, which is largely derivative or fusion. – Pranab Dec 31 '15 at 5:34
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    In germany you can find also the diners as american style restaurants. most of the times these are like 50s diners mixed with sport bars, where the serve burgers, fries, chicken, salads... like: chelsea-wuerzburg.de Sometimes, if you are lucky, you can find southern USA style bars like creole/Cajoun style food: kidcreole.de in germany. Besides that, there are often mexican style restaurants which is also american style. :) – Julian Dec 31 '15 at 9:41
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    Personally, I think it's a sad state of how we handle cuisines in America -- we have mostly 'American Chinese' restaurants these days, when I remember growing up going to a specifically Hunan restaurant. And most 'Italian' places are 'American Italian' unless you find yourself an decades old restaurant in your area's Little Italy. I remember when my neighbors had my family's lasagna for the first time -- fresh spinach noodles, bechamel & ragu ... very little tomato, no ricotta -- Kristie's reaction after trying it was 'that's not lasagna'. – Joe Dec 31 '15 at 13:07

The "big chain" type certainly exists basically everywhere by now. There is a reason why the Big Mac Index is suitable as an economic indicator: you can calculate it for almost all countries in the world, because you can buy a Big Mac in almost all countries in the world.

A second type of "American restaurant" is much harder to find. It is the kind of small diner which serves grilled cheese sandwiches, thick pancakes and other American style food, without being a chain. I have seen this in places with large expat populations, but most Europeans will probably spend their lives without ever having been in one. I can't talk about other continents.

A third category of "American food" would be American homemade food. Chicken pot pie, eggplant parmesan, Southern biscuits, that kind of stuff. I have not seen it served in any restaurant in Europe. I have never seen an "American home food restaurant", nor an "American fine dining restaurant". They could exist, but as I've visited many large European cities and lived in places with a large number of American expats, they are likely to be quite rare, or maybe clustered somewhere I haven't been.

What I have seen more in later years seem to be fancy burger places - they are sometimes chains, sometimes not, but I would distinguish them from fast food chains because they tend to have things like mushroom-and-arugula burgers on sourdough bread. Also, you nowadays see more burgers in restaurants which are some sort of middle tier without special relation to a specific cuisine - more of a nonfrench equivalent of a bistro. Also, Starbucks style chains (including Starbucks itself) are pretty established - while Europe had an extensive coffee culture before them, the type of drinks served there is pretty distinctive.

American packaged food such as marshmallows or pumpkin pie filling can be also found in specialized grocery stores selling American products, and as a seasonal article in large European supermarket chains like Lidl, who tend to have "American week", "Greek week" etc. in rotation. A few selected American products are also found as staples in most stores, such as Snickers bars or Coca-Cola, or are less available but still within easy reach, such as Jelly Belly candy.

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    @Catija I doubt that a restaurant will make the distinction. French cuisine is also extremely varied, but I have rarely seen a restaurant which specializes in "Provencal cuisine". Ethnic cuisine restaurants tend to offer a few signature dishes from all the regions of their country, not to concentrate on one region. – rumtscho Dec 30 '15 at 18:14
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    Why am I reminded of the 'Blues Brothers'?… "We have burgers and fries... – Tetsujin Dec 30 '15 at 19:17
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    I'm pretty sure the American style eggplant parmesan is not the same dish which is still being prepared in Italy. It's like pizza: a food which clearly originated in America, even though within America, it's recognized for having Italian roots and connected to Americans with Italian roots. The orignial Italian parmigianas are of course the ancestor, but I see them as sufficiently different by now to consider them distinct. – rumtscho Dec 30 '15 at 19:25
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    Same can be said of pizzas. The American-style pizza bears little resemblance to the classical Italian food. – Catija Dec 30 '15 at 19:55
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    I went to an "American Food" restaurant in Berlin (chosen by our hosts) and their interpretations of fried chicken, burgers etc were certainly interesting. Beer was very good :-) – Kate Gregory Dec 30 '15 at 23:30

I have to mention "Hard Rock Cafe", "Planet Hollywood", and other movie/music themed restaurants that pay homage to this particular aspect of America. There seem to be at least one of these in each major city. There were smaller, less chain operations that did this at one point but the ones that I visited years ago have all apparently closed.

An interesting note is Hooters. Not only is it heavily American themed, but I visited one a number of years ago in Europe where the waitresses were brought over from the United States.

  • It's doubtful that Hooters would import waitresses, unless they're specifically there to train other staff, such as when the restaurant is first opening. If it's been open for a while (and they're not under a performance review), it's more likely that they favor Americans when hiring, and they have some source nearby (eg, international students). Then they'd also be more likely to speak the local language. – Joe Dec 31 '15 at 13:16
  • @Joe I think it was some sort of incentive program for US waitresses who wanted to go abroad but your suggestions make some sense . This was early 2000s so the program probably wouldnt be in place anymore. I don't know if all of the waitresses were American (doubt it in retrospect but know at least 2 were). Sorry for not remembering the details but the fact it was surprising is why I remembered it at all was why I mentioned it here. – KMB Dec 31 '15 at 14:43
  • I've never been to a Hooters, but when we used to go to TGI Fridays regularly before we were asked to never come back we made friends w/ one of the trainers (he grew up nearby, so worked there when he wasn't traveling), and I know he didn't train solo. It's possible that if it were 2 to 4 at a new restaurant, that they were trainers. I've also heard of trainers being sent out if there are complaints about a franchise in the chain. (note -- I saw a TGIFridays in Kiev, Ukraine in ~2008). – Joe Dec 31 '15 at 16:37

I actually know a couple in continental Europe - cowboy/Texas themed, serving large steaks.

There are also some American-inspired burger restaurants - proper ones, not McDonalds.


But of course. Why would there not be?

There are McDonald's in almost every country around the world... along with many other American chain restaurants including Chili's, KFC, Subway, and many others... In fact, all of the 12 top world food chains are American based.

Cool image from this foodbeast article:

Map of McDonald's Sphere of influence

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    The 50s style American Diner is quite common in the UK – user23614 Dec 30 '15 at 18:13
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    That graphic is super depressing. The culinary legacy is of the US is...fast food chains. – Mike G Dec 30 '15 at 18:57
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    But you'd never say "Let's go to that American restaurant", meaning any of those places. – David Richerby Dec 30 '15 at 21:33
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    @Davor "American" food does not mean food that originated in America... It's food that is quintessentially American, regardless of where else it's consumed. By your strict definition, the only possible "American" foods would involve ingredients like potatoes, tomatoes, corn etc... that originated in the new world. That's simply absurd. – Catija Dec 30 '15 at 22:48
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    @mikeTheLiar It's true that the big popular chains are big and popular. But that doesn't mean that they're the entire culinary legacy, just that they're the big obvious one. And big chains are inevitably going to be bigger than, well, smaller chains or individual restaurants. – Cascabel Dec 31 '15 at 0:57

As others have mentioned, American owned restaurants are prevalent around the world, though the exact menu they serve in different countries varies based on local cuisine and preferences.

While traveling abroad, I have encountered "American Inspired" sections on a menu. While not a full fledged restaurant, it was a unique look at how the rest of our world views what "American" food is.

The Salisbury steak sushi and cheeseburger sushi I had in the Philippines was definitely an experience.

  • Many of those American "owned" restaurants are actually locally owned franchises. But that pedantry doesn't really affect your point. – David Richerby Jan 1 '16 at 19:12

We go to an amazing deep Southern place in Brisbane (Australia), but not sure if we'd refer to it as American food, maybe Southern food though.

  • I would think that 'southern food' would be a confusing term, as 'southern' in Italy or Ireland might mean something much different. 'Soul food' (south-eastern US slow-cooked foods) might be a less confusing term for it. – Joe Dec 31 '15 at 13:11
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    As someone from Brisbane, I doubt that calling it only "Southern" is very common at all! – curiousdannii Jan 1 '16 at 5:33
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    @Joe I can't speak for Italy or Ireland but although we obviously refer to southern England as "the south", it doesn't have its own distinctive cuisine so "southern cooking" wouldn't be understood as meaning southern-English cooking in England. Having said that, I doubt people here would interpret it as southern-American cooking, either. – David Richerby Jan 1 '16 at 19:26
  • I think in the UK creole/soul food/Cajun would all be understood as Southern US styles. – user23614 Jan 3 '16 at 11:47

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