Nosta Restaurant

Nosta Restaurant

Nosta is a Mediterranean restaurant that serves fresh local ingredients and authentic recipes.

We are located in Cork City centre, and we have been serving delicious food for more than two decades. Our menus change regularly to keep up with the season, so there is always something new to try! We are open for dinner every night of the week, and we also offer a lunch menu on weekends. We have private rooms available for hire if you want to host your own event or party. Our award winning chefs are happy to make any meal special by adding one of their amazing dishes on top – just let us know what you're looking for! If you're looking for a cosy atmosphere where you can enjoy your food without worrying about calories or carbs, our Halal menu should be perfect for you. Or if you'd rather stick to the classics and have a classic Italian dish made fresh on site with locally sourced ingredients, then our authentic recipes will melt in your mouth!

Nosta restaurant is a place where you can enjoy the best Mediterranean cuisine in Cork City. Located in the heart of Cork City, it offers an intimate dining experience with award-winning chefs and locally sourced ingredients. We are passionate about our food, which is why we use fresh local ingredients and prepare everything on site. Our menu is inspired by authentic recipes from around the world, and we have something for everyone—from delicious vegetarian dishes to mouth-watering steaks. Our restaurant also has a kids' menu and an amazing dessert selection, so you don't have to worry about calories or leaving your little ones behind when you come out for dinner! You'll love our cosy atmosphere, fast service, and award-winning chefs who are always willing to help you find just what you're looking for.

At Nosta, we're all about fresh, local ingredients. We don't use any processed foods, and our dishes are made on the spot with love. And why shouldn't they be? We have award-winning chefs who take pride in their craft and are dedicated to providing you with authentic Mediterranean dishes that will leave you feeling satisfied—without having to worry about calories! Our menu includes everything from healthy salads to indulgent desserts. You can even get a side of wine with your meal if you want! With Nosta's cozy atmosphere and fast service, it's easy to see why we're popular with adults as well as children. Stop by today, and let us show you what Mediterranean food is really supposed to taste like!

Nosta Restaurant

Welcome to Nosta! We're a restaurant in Cork City centre, and we're here to serve you the best Mediterranean food in town. We've got all your favourites—and then some. Our menu is packed full of delicious dishes made with locally sourced ingredients and award-winning chefs who are passionate about what they do. Our wine list is also something to be reckoned with. We've got everything from crisp whites and rich reds to beer and bubbly, so there's something for everyone—even if you're not a wine drinker! If you're looking for a cozy atmosphere, fast service and amazing flavour, our restaurant is the place for you. If you've got kids with you who are ready to chow down on some delicious Mediterranean food, we'll make sure they're taken care of too. And if you want some time out from cooking at home or just want something different than what's normally on offer in restaurants around Cork City centre, come see us at Nosta!

Nosta is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal with friends or family. Here at Nosta, we believe that food should be fresh, healthy and delicious. We work with local farmers and suppliers to source our ingredients, so you can be sure of their quality. We also offer a range of vegan options, so everyone can enjoy our food. Our award-winning chefs are passionate about creating authentic recipes using only the best locally sourced ingredients. Our menu changes often so there's always something new to try! We don't just want you to enjoy your meal—we want you to feel relaxed while eating it too. That's why we've created an intimate atmosphere where adults and children alike can relax. And if you're in a rush? Don't worry—we're known for fast service!

Welcome to Nosta, Come and enjoy the best Mediterranean food in Cork City. We pride ourselves on using fresh local ingredients to make all of our delicious dishes. The menu is constantly changing and we always have a variety of new tastes for you to try. Our award winning chefs prepare all of the food on site each day so you can be sure that your meal is coming straight from our kitchen to your plate! We are Halal friendly so you won't have to worry about whether or not your food has been prepared according to Islamic law. With our authentic recipes, you'll be able to enjoy this cuisine in an atmosphere that's cosy yet casual. And don't worry about calories—we've got those covered too! Nostra is located in the heart of Cork City Centre so it's easy for everyone in Cork to get to us quickly and easily. As well as adults, we also welcome children with open arms so that families can come together and enjoy great food without having to compromise on quality ingredients or flavour combinations.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Cork (city)

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From top, left to right: City Hall, the English Market, Quadrangle in UCC, the River Lee, Shandon Steeple
From top, left to right: City Hall, the English Market, Quadrangle in UCC, the River LeeShandon Steeple
Coat of arms of Cork
Coat of arms
The Rebel CityLeesideThe Real Capital
Statio Bene Fida Carinis(Latin)
"A safe harbour for ships"[1][2]
Location of Cork
Cork is located in Ireland
Location within Ireland
Coordinates: 51°53′50″N 8°28′12″WCoordinates51°53′50″N 8°28′12″W
State Ireland
Province Munster
Region Southern
County Cork
Founded 6th century AD
City rights 1185 AD
 • Type Cork City Council
 • Lord Mayor Deirdre Forde (FG)
 • Local electoral areas
  • Cork City North West
  • Cork City North East
  • Cork City South Central
  • Cork City South East
  • Cork City South West
 • Dáil constituency
 • European Parliament South
 • City 187 km2 (72 sq mi)
 • Urban 174 km2 (67 sq mi)
 • Metro 820 km2 (320 sq mi)
 • City 222,333[3]
 • Density 1,188/km2 (3,080/sq mi)
 • Metro
 • Demonym Corkonian or Leesider
Time zone UTC0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+1 (IST)
T12 and T23
Area code 021
Vehicle index
mark code

Cork (IrishCorcaigh [ˈkɔɾˠkɪɟ], from corcach, meaning 'marsh')[6] is the second largest city in Ireland and third largest city by population on the island of Ireland. It is located in the south-west of Ireland, in the province of Munster. Following an extension to the city's boundary in 2019, its population is over 222,000.[3]

The city centre is an island positioned between two channels of the River Lee which meet downstream at the eastern end of the city centre, where the quays and docks along the river lead outwards towards Lough Mahon and Cork Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world.[7][8]

Originally a monastic settlement, Cork was expanded by Viking invaders around 915. Its charter was granted by Prince John in 1185. Cork city was once fully walled, and the remnants of the old medieval town centre can be found around South and North Main streets. The city's cognomen of "the rebel city" originates in its support for the Yorkist cause in the Wars of the Roses.[9] Corkonians sometimes refer to the city as "the real capital",[10] a reference to its opposition to the Anglo-Irish Treaty in the Irish Civil War.[11]


Main article: History of Cork

Cork was originally a monastic settlement, reputedly founded by Saint Finbarr in the 6th century.[12] Cork became (more) urbanised some point between 915 and 922 when Norseman (Viking) settlers founded a trading port.[13] It has been proposed that, like Dublin, Cork was an important trading centre in the global Scandinavian trade network.[14] The ecclesiastical settlement continued alongside the Viking longphort, with the two developing a type of symbiotic relationship; the Norsemen providing otherwise unobtainable trade goods for the monastery, and perhaps also military aid.[15]

Map of 16th-century Cork
Patrick Street c. 1890–1900

The city's charter was granted by Prince John, as Lord of Ireland, in 1185.[16] The city was once fully walled, and some wall sections and gates remain today.[17] For much of the Middle Ages, Cork city was an outpost of Old English culture in the midst of a predominantly hostile Gaelic countryside and cut off from the English government in the Pale around Dublin. Neighbouring Gaelic and Hiberno-Norman lords extorted "Black Rent" from the citizens to keep them from attacking the city. The present extent of the city has exceeded the medieval boundaries of the Barony of Cork City; it now takes in much of the neighbouring Barony of Cork. Together, these baronies are located between the Barony of Barrymore to the east, Muskerry East to the west and Kerrycurrihy to the south.

Workers clearing rubble on St Patrick's street following the Burning of Cork.

The city's municipal government was dominated by about 12–15 merchant families, whose wealth came from overseas trade with continental Europe – in particular the export of wool and hides and the import of salt, iron and wine.

The medieval population of Cork was about 2,100 people. It suffered a severe blow in 1349 when almost half the townspeople died of plague when the Black Death arrived in the town. In 1491, Cork played a part in the English Wars of the Roses when Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the English throne, landed in the city and tried to recruit support for a plot to overthrow Henry VII of England. The then mayor of Cork and several important citizens went with Warbeck to England but when the rebellion collapsed they were all captured and executed.

The title of Mayor of Cork was established by royal charter in 1318, and the title was changed to Lord Mayor in 1900 following the knighthood of the incumbent mayor by Queen Victoria on her visit to the city.[18]

Since the nineteenth century, Cork had been a strongly Irish nationalist city, with widespread support for Irish Home Rule and the Irish Parliamentary Party, but from 1910 stood firmly behind William O'Brien's dissident All-for-Ireland Party. O'Brien published a third local newspaper, the Cork Free Press. Cork was overtaken by Belfast as Ireland's second largest city in the nineteenth century.

In the War of Independence, the centre of Cork was burnt down by the British Black and Tans,[19] in an event known as the "Burning of Cork"[19] and saw fierce fighting between Irish guerrillas and UK forces. During the Irish Civil War, Cork was for a time held by anti-Treaty forces, until it was retaken by the pro-Treaty National Army in an attack from the sea.

City boundary[edit]

Further information: 2019 Cork boundary change

The boundary was expanded in 1840, in 1955 and in 1965.[20][21] [22]

In 2018, cabinet approval was given for a further extension of the Cork City boundary, to include Cork AirportDouglasBallincollig and other surrounding areas.[23][24] Legislation to expand the boundary of the city, which would increase its area to 187 km2 (72 sq mi) and the population within its bounds from 125,000 to 210,000,[25] was debated and approved in Dáil Éireann in June 2018.[26] Corresponding legislation was drafted during July 2018,[24] and enacted as part of the Local Government Act 2019.[27][28] The boundary change occurred on 31 May 2019, following the 2019 local elections.[4][29]


The climate of Cork, like the majority of Ireland, is mild oceanic (Cfb in the Köppen climate classification) and changeable with abundant rainfall and a lack of temperature extremes. Cork lies in plant Hardiness zone 9b. Met Éireann maintains a climatological weather station at Cork Airport,[30] a few kilometres south of the city centre. The airport is at an altitude of 151 metres (495 ft) and temperatures can often differ by a few degrees between the airport and the rest of the city. There are also smaller synoptic weather stations at UCC and Clover Hill.[30] Due to its position on the coast, Cork city is subject to occasional flooding.[31]

Temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F) or above 25 °C (77 °F) are rare. Cork Airport records an average of 1,227.9 millimetres (48.34 in) of precipitation annually, most of which is rain.[32] The airport records an average of 7 days of hail and 11 days of snow or sleet a year; though it only records lying snow for 2 days of the year. The low altitude of the city, and moderating influences of the harbour, mean that lying snow very rarely occurs in the city itself. There are on average 204 "rainy" days a year (over 0.2 millimetres (0.008 in) of rainfall), of which there are 73 days with "heavy rain" (over 5 millimetres (0.2 in)).[32] Cork is also a generally foggy city, with an average of 97 days of fog a year, most common during mornings and during winter. Despite this, however, Cork is also one of Ireland's sunniest cities, with an average of 3.9 hours of sunshine every day and only having 67 days where there is no "recordable sunshine", mostly during and around winter.[32]

hideClimate data for Cork Airport (ORKweather station (ICAO code: EICKWMO identifier: 03955), 153m amsl, 1981−2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.1
Average high °C (°F) 8.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 5.6
Average low °C (°F) 3.0
Record low °C (°F) −8.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 131.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 16 13 14 11 12 10 10 11 11 15 14 15 152
Average snowy days 3.1 3.1 2.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 2.2 11.3
Average relative humidity (%) (at 15:00 UTC) 83.7 78.9 75.5 71.3 70.9 71.5 72.9 72.8 75.4 80.4 83.4 85.4 76.8
Average dew point °C (°F) 4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 55.8 67.8 102.3 159.0 192.2 174.0 167.4 161.2 129.0 93.0 69.0 57.2 1,427.9
Mean daily sunshine hours 1.8 2.4 3.3 5.3 6.2 5.8 5.4 5.2 4.3 3.0 2.3 1.7 3.9
Source 1: Met Éireann[33][34][35]
Source 2: Time and Date (dewpoints, between 1985−2015)[36][37]


The Cork School of Music and the Crawford College of Art and Design provide a throughput of new blood, as do the active theatre components of several courses at University College Cork (UCC). Important elements in the cultural life of the city are: Corcadorca Theatre Company, of which Cillian Murphy was a troupe member[38] prior to Hollywood fame; the Institute for Choreography and Dance, a national contemporary dance resource;[39] the Triskel Arts Centre (capacity c.90), which includes the Triskel Christchurch independent cinema; dance venue the Firkin Crane (capacity c.240); the Cork Academy of Dramatic Art (CADA) and Graffiti Theatre Company;[40] and the Cork Jazz FestivalCork Film Festival[41] and Live at the Marquee events. The Everyman Palace Theatre (capacity c.650) and the Granary Theatre (capacity c.150) both host plays throughout the year.

Cork is home to the RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet, and popular rock musicians and bands including John SpillaneRory GallagherFive Go Down to the Sea?MicrodisneyThe Frank and WaltersSultans of PingSimple KidFred and Mick Flannery. The opera singers Cara O'Sullivan, Mary Hegarty, Brendan Collins, and Sam McElroy are also Cork born.

Street Art in the city celebrating the facetious "People's Republic of Cork".

Ranging in capacity from 50 to 1,000, the main music venues in the city are the Cork Opera House (capacity c.1000), The Everyman, Cork Arts Theatre, Cyprus Avenue, Dali, Triskel Christchurch, The Roundy, and Coughlan's.[42]

The city's literary community centres on the Munster Literature Centre and the Triskel Arts Centre.[43] The short story writers Frank O'Connor and Seán Ó Faoláin hailed from Cork, and contemporary writers include Thomas McCarthyGerry Murphy, and novelist and poet William Wall.

Additions to the arts infrastructure include modern additions to the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery and renovations to the Cork Opera House in the early 21st century.[44] The Lewis Glucksman Gallery opened in the Autumn of 2004 at UCC, was nominated for the Stirling Prize in the United Kingdom, and the building of a new €60 million School of Music was completed in September 2007.

Cork was the European Capital of Culture for 2005, and in 2009 was included in the Lonely Planet's top 10 "Best in Travel 2010". The guide described Cork as being "at the top of its game: sophisticated, vibrant and diverse".[45]

There is a "friendly rivalry" between Cork and Dublin,[46][47] similar to the rivalry between Manchester and London or Melbourne and Sydney.[48][49] Some Corkonians view themselves as different from the rest of Ireland, and refer to themselves as "The Rebels"; the county is known as the "Rebel County". This view sometimes manifests itself in humorous references to the Real Capital[48] and the propagation of t-shirts and street art celebrating the fictional The People's Republic of Cork[50][51]


The city has many local traditions in food, including crubeenstripe and drisheen, which were historically served in eating houses like that run by Katty Barry in the mid-20th century.[52] The English Market sells locally produced foods, including fresh fish, meats, fruit and vegetables, eggs and artisan cheeses and breads. During certain city festivals, food stalls are also sometimes erected on city streets such as St. Patrick's Street or Grand Parade.[53]


The Cork accent, part of the Southwest dialect of Hiberno-English, displays various features which set it apart from other accents in Ireland. Patterns of tone and intonation often rise and fall, with the overall tone tending to be more high-pitched than other Irish accents. English spoken in Cork has a number of dialect words that are peculiar to the city and environs. Like standard Hiberno-English, some of these words originate from the Irish language, but others through other languages Cork's inhabitants encountered at home and abroad.[54] The Cork accent displays varying degrees of rhoticity, usually indicative of the speaker's local community.



RTÉ's Cork studios

Broadcasting companies based in Cork include RTÉ Cork, which has a radio, television and production unit on Father Matthew Street in the city centre. Communicorp Media opened a radio studio in 2019 in the city covering content on both Today FM and Newstalk.[55] Virgin Media Television also has an office in the city which covers local news stories developing within the city and county.[citation needed]

The city's FM radio band features RTÉ Radio 1RTÉ 2fmRTÉ lyric fmRTÉ Raidió na GaeltachtaToday FMClassic HitsNewstalk and the religious station Spirit Radio. There are also local stations such as Cork's 96FMCork's Red FMC103, CUH 102.0FM, UCC 98.3FM (formerly Cork Campus Radio 97.4fm)[56] and Christian radio station Life 93.1FM.[57] Cork also has a temporary licensed citywide community station 'Cork FM Community Radio' on 100.5FM, which is on-air on Saturdays and Sundays only. Cork has also been home to pirate radio stations, including South Coast Radio and ERI in the 1980s. Today some small pirates stations remain.[citation needed]


Cork is home to one of Ireland's main national newspapers, the Irish Examiner (formerly the Cork Examiner). Its 'sister paper', The Echo (formerly the Evening Echo), was for decades connected to the "Echo boys", who were poor and often homeless children who sold the newspaper. Today, the shouts of the vendors selling The Echo can still be heard in parts of the city centre. One of the biggest free newspapers in the city is the Cork Independent.[58] The city's university publishes the UCC Express and Motley magazine.[59][60]

Places of interest[edit]

Further information: List of public art in Cork city
St. Anne's Shandon

Cork features architecturally notable buildings originating from the Medieval to Modern periods.[61] The only notable remnant of the Medieval era is the Red Abbey. There are two cathedrals in the city; St. Mary's Cathedral and Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral. St Mary's Cathedral, often referred to as the North Cathedral, is the Catholic cathedral of the city and was begun in 1808. Its distinctive tower was added in the 1860s. St Fin Barre's Cathedral serves the Church of Ireland (Anglican) and is possibly the more famous of the two. It is built on the foundations of an earlier cathedral. Work began in 1862 and ended in 1879 under the direction of architect William Burges.

St. Patrick's Street, the main street of the city which was remodelled in the mid-2000s, is known for the architecture of the buildings along its pedestrian-friendly route and is the main shopping thoroughfare. At its northern end is a landmark statue of Father Mathew. The reason for its curved shape is that it was originally a channel of the River Lee which was built over on arches.[62] The General Post Office, with its limestone façade, is on Oliver Plunkett Street, on the site of the Theatre Royal which was built in 1760 and burned down in 1840. The English circus proprietor Pablo Fanque rebuilt an amphitheatre on the spot in 1850, which was subsequently transformed into a theatre and then into the present General Post Office in 1877.[63][64] The Grand Parade is a tree-lined avenue, home to offices, shops and financial institutions. The old financial centre is the South Mall, with several banks whose interior derive from the 19th century, such as the Allied Irish Bank's which was once an exchange.

Many of the city's buildings are in the Georgian style, although there are a number of examples of modern landmark structures, such as County Hall tower, which was, at one time the tallest building in Ireland[65] until being superseded by another Cork building: The Elysian. Outside the County Hall is the landmark sculpture of two men, known locally as 'Cha and Miah'. Across the river from County Hall is Ireland's longest building;[66] built in Victorian times, Our Lady's Psychiatric Hospital has now been partially renovated and converted into a residential housing complex called Atkins Hall, after its architect William Atkins.[67]

Cork's most famous building is the church tower of Shandon, which dominates the Northside of the city. It is widely regarded as the symbol of the city. The North and East sides are faced in red sandstone, and the West and South sides are clad in the predominant stone of the region, white limestone. At the top sits a weather vane in the form of an eleven-foot salmon.[68] Another site in Shandon is Skiddy's Almshouse, which was built in the 18th century to provide a home to the poorest of the city.

Cork City Hall, another notable building of limestone, replaced the previous one which was destroyed by the Black and Tans during the War of Independence in an event known as the "Burning of Cork".[19] The cost of this new building was provided by the UK Government in the 1930s as a gesture of reconciliation.[69]

Other notable places include Elizabeth Fort, the Cork Opera House, Christ Church on South Main Street (now the Triskel Arts Centre and the original site of early Hiberno-Norse church), and St Mary's Dominican Church on Popes Quay. Other popular tourist attractions include the grounds of University College Cork, through which the River Lee flows, the Women's Gaol at Sunday's Well (now a heritage centre) and the English Market. This covered market traces its origins back to 1610, and the present building dates from 1786.[70]

Parks and amenity spaces include Fitzgerald's Park to the west of the city (which contains the Cork Public Museum), the angling lake known as The LoughBishop Lucey Park (which is centrally located and contains a portion of the old city wall) and the Marina and Atlantic Pond (an avenue and amenity near Blackrock used by joggers, runners and rowing clubs).[71][72][73][74]

Up until April 2009, there were also two large commercial breweries in the city. The Beamish and Crawford on South Main Street closed in April 2009 and transferred production to the Murphy's brewery in Lady's Well. This brewery also produces Heineken for the Irish market. There is also the Franciscan Well brewery, which started as an independent brewery in 1998 but has since been acquired by Coors.

Local government and politics[edit]

Cork City Hall

With a population of over 222,000[3] Cork is the second-most populous city in the State and the 16th-most populous local government area.[75]

Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, it was made a county borough, governed by a county borough corporation. This was altered by the Local Government Act 2001, under each of the five county boroughs became designated as cities, governed by city councils. Cork City Council is a tier-1 entity of local government with the same status in law as a county council.

While local government in Ireland has limited powers in comparison with other countries, the council has responsibility for planning, roads, sanitation, libraries, street lighting, parks, and a number of other important functions. Cork City Council has 31 elected members representing six electoral areas. As of the 2019 Cork City Council election, the political representation is: Fianna Fáil (8 members), Fine Gael (7 members), Green Party (4 members), Sinn Féin (4 members), Labour (1 member), Solidarity–People Before Profit (1 member), Workers' Party (1 member), Independents (5 members).[76] Certain councillors are co-opted to represent the city at the South-West Regional Authority. A new Lord Mayor of Cork is chosen in a vote by the elected members of the council under a D'Hondt system count.[77][78] Since June 2022, the mayor has been Deirdre Forde of Fine Gael.[79]

Cork City Hall is located along Albert Quay on the south side of the city. It officially opened on 8 September 1936, following the previous building being destroyed in the "Burning of Cork" in 1920. The administrative offices for Cork County Council are also located within the city limits, on the Carrigrohane Road on the west side of the city.[80]

National politics[edit]

For elections to Dáil Éireann, the city is part of two constituenciesCork North-Central and Cork South-Central which each returns four TDs. Since the 2020 general election, these constituencies are represented by three Fianna Fáil TDs, two TDs Fine Gael TDs, two Sinn Féin TDs and one People Before Profit/Solidarity TD.

Historically, the city was represented in the Dáil by Cork City from 1977 to 1981, by the two constituencies of Cork City North-West and Cork City South-East from 1969 to 1977, and by Cork Borough from 1921 to 1969. In the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, it was represented by Cork City from 1801 to 1922, and the Irish House of Commons, it was represented by Cork City from 1264 to 1800.


Main article: Economy of Cork


The retail trade in Cork city includes a mix of modern shopping centres and family-owned local shops. Shopping centres can be found in several of Cork's suburbs, including BlackpoolBallincolligDouglasBallyvolaneWilton and at Mahon Point Shopping Centre.

Patrick's Street, Cork's main shopping street

Other shopping arcades are in the city centre, including the "Cornmarket Centre" on Cornmarket Street, "Merchant's Quay Shopping Centre" on Merchant's Quay, home to DebenhamsDunnes Stores and Marks & Spencer, and a retail street called Opera Lane off St. Patrick's Street/Academy Street. A mixed retail and office development, on the site of the former Capitol Cineplex, with approximately 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) of retail space, was opened in June 2017.[81][82] Retail tenants in this development include Facebook, AlienVault and Huawei.[83][84]

Cork's main shopping street is St. Patrick's Street and is the most expensive street in the country per sq. metre after Dublin's Grafton Street. The area was impacted by the post-2008 downturn, though retail growth has increased since, with Penneys announcing expansion plans in 2015,[85] redesigning of some facades on the street,[86] and opening of newer outlets, including Superdry in 2015.[87] Other shopping areas in the city centre include Oliver Plunkett St. and Grand Parade. Cork is home to some of the country's leading department stores with the foundations of shops such as Dunnes Stores and the former Roches Stores being laid in the city.


Murphys Stout, 1919 advert for the Cork brewery

Cork City is a hub of industry in the region.[88] Several pharmaceutical companies have invested heavily in the area, including Pfizer Inc.Johnson & Johnson and Swiss company Novartis.[89] Perhaps the most famous product of the Cork pharmaceutical industry is Viagra. Cork is also the European headquarters of Apple Inc. where over 3,000 staff are involved in manufacturing, R&D and customer support.[90] Logitech and EMC Corporation are also important IT employers in the area.[91][92] Three hospitals are also among the top ten employers in the city.[93]

The city is also home to the Heineken Brewery that brews Murphy's Irish Stout and the nearby Beamish and Crawford brewery (taken over by Heineken in 2008) which have been in the city for generations. 45% of the world's Tic Tac sweets are manufactured at the city's Ferrero factory.[94] For many years, Cork was the home to Ford Motor Company, which manufactured cars in the docklands area before the plant was closed in 1984. Henry Ford's grandfather was from West Cork, which was one of the main reasons for opening up the manufacturing facility in Cork.[95] Technology has since replaced the older manufacturing businesses of the 1970s and 1980s, with people now working at a number of IT companies across the city area – such as, the online retailer, which has offices at Cork Airport Business Park.[96]

Cork's deep harbour allows large ships to enter, bringing trade and easy import/export of products. Cork Airport also allows easy access to continental Europe and Cork Kent railway station in the city centre provides good rail links for domestic trade.


According to the 2011 Cork City Employment & Land Use Survey, the single largest employers in the city (all with over 1,000 employees) include Cork University HospitalApple IncUniversity College CorkBoston ScientificCork City CouncilCork Institute of TechnologyBon Secours Hospital, Cork, retailers Supervalu and Centra, the Irish Defence Forces at Collins Barracks, and the Mercy University Hospital.[93]



Main article: Cork Airport

Cork Airport is the second busiest airport in the Republic of Ireland, and is situated on the south side of Cork city close to Ballygarvan. Nine airlines fly to more than 45 destinations in Europe.[97] Scheduled airlines using Cork airport include Aer LingusAer Lingus RegionalAir FranceFlybeIberia ExpressRyanairSwiss International Air Lines and Volotea.[98]


The main bus terminal at Parnell Place

Public bus services within the city are provided by the national bus operator Bus Éireann. City routes are numbered from 201 through to 226 and connect the city centre to the principal suburbs, colleges, shopping centres and places of interest.[99] Two of these bus routes provide orbital services across the Northern and Southern districts of the city respectively. Buses to the outer suburbs and towns, such as BallincolligGlanmireMidleton and Carrigaline are provided from the city's bus terminal at Parnell Place in the city centre. Suburban services also include shuttles to Cork Airport, and a park and ride facility in the south suburbs only.

The first 24-hour bus in Ireland, route 220, was initiated in Cork in January 2019.[100][101] The 220 links the two major satellite towns of Ballincollig and Carrigaline with the city centre and operates once an hour between the hours of 01:30 - 05:30.[102] One year after 24-hour service commenced, Bus Éireann announced they had witnessed a 70% growth in passenger numbers on the route, resulting in 1.3 million customer journeys.[100] Local politicians have called for the introduction of further 24 hour bus routes in the city owing to the success of the 220.[101][103][104]

Long-distance buses depart from the bus terminal in Parnell Place to destinations throughout Ireland. Hourly services run to Killarney/TraleeWaterfordAthlone and Shannon Airport/Ennis/Limerick/Galway and there are six services daily to Dublin. There is also a daily Eurolines bus service that connects Cork to Victoria Coach Station in London via South Wales and Bristol.

Private operators include Irish Citylink, Aircoach and Dublin Coach. Irish Citylink serves Limerick and Galway. Aircoach operates an Express non-stop service which serves Dublin City Centre and Dublin Airport 18 times daily in each direction. Dublin Coach serves Dublin via FermoyMitchelstownCashel and Cahir.

Harbour and waterways[edit]

See also: Port of Cork

The Cross River Ferry, from Rushbrooke to Passage West, links the R624 to R610. This service is used by some commuters to avoid traffic in the Jack Lynch Tunnel and Dunkettle area.[105] The Port of Cork is situated at Ringaskiddy, 16 kilometres (10 miles) SE via the N28Brittany Ferries operates direct car ferry services from Cork to Roscoff in France.[106]


St. Patrick's Bridge

The city's road infrastructure improved in the late 20th and early 21st century, including the early 1980s construction of the Cork South Link dual carriageway which links the Kinsale Road roundabout with the city centre. Shortly after, the first sections of the South Ring dual carriageway were opened. Work continued on extending the N25 South Ring Road through the 1990s, culminating in the opening of the Jack Lynch Tunnel under the River Lee. The Kinsale Road flyover opened in August 2006 to remove a bottleneck for traffic heading to Cork Airport or Killarney. Other projects completed at this time include the N20 Blackpool bypass and the N20 Cork to Mallow road projects. The N22 Ballincollig dual carriageway bypass, which links to the Western end of the Cork Southern Ring road was opened in September 2004. City centre road improvements include the Patrick Street project – which reconstructed the street with a pedestrian focus. The M8 motorway links Cork with Dublin.

From 2012, cycle paths and bike stands were added in a number of areas.[107] Subsequently, in 2014, a public bicycle rental scheme was launched. The scheme is operated by An Rothar Nua on behalf of the National Transport Authority, with funding supplemented by an advertising sponsor.[108] The scheme supports 330 bikes with 31 stations placed around the city for paid public use.[109]


Cork city in the evening

Railway and tramway heritage[edit]

Cork was one of the most rail-oriented cities in Ireland, featuring eight stations at various times. The main route, still much the same today, is from Dublin Heuston. Originally terminating on the city's outskirts at Blackpool, the route now reaches the city centre terminus of Kent Station via the Glanmire tunnel and Kilnap Viaduct.[110] Now a through station, the line through Kent connects the towns of Cobh and Midleton east of the city. This also connected to the seaside town of Youghal, until the 1980s.[111]

Glanmire Road Station (now called Kent Station) c. the 1890s

Other rail routes terminating or traversing Cork city were the Cork, Blackrock and Passage Railway, a line to Macroom, the Cork and Muskerry Light Railway to BlarneyCoachford and Donoughmore, as well as the Cork, Bandon and South Coast Railway connecting BantrySkibbereenClonakilty and many other West Cork towns. West Cork trains terminated at Albert Quay, across the river from Kent Station (though an on-street rail system connected the two for rolling stock and cargo movement). There have been two tram networks in operation Within the city. A proposal to develop a horse-drawn tram (linking the city's railway termini) was made by American George Francis Train in the 1860s, and implemented in 1872 by the Cork Tramway Company. However, the company ceased trading in 1875 after Cork Corporation refused permission to extend the line.[112]

In December 1898, the Cork Electric Tramways and Lighting Company began operating on the Blackpool–Douglas, Summerhill–Sunday's Well and Tivoli–Blackrock routes. Increased usage of cars and buses in the 1920s led to a reduction in the use of trams, which discontinued operations permanently on 30 September 1931.

The wider city area, including the city's suburbs, is served by three railway stations. These are Cork Kent railway stationLittle Island railway station and Glounthaune railway station.

Current routes[edit]

Cork's Kent Station is the main railway station in the city. From here, Irish Rail services run to destinations all over Ireland. The mainline from Cork to Dublin has hourly departures on the half-hour from Cork, and is linked from Limerick Junction with connections to Clonmel and Waterford. InterCity services are also available to Killarney and Tralee, and to LimerickEnnisAthenry and Galway (via Limerick Junction and the Limerick to Galway railway line).[113]

The Cork Suburban Rail system also departs from Kent Station and provides connections to parts of Metropolitan Cork. Stations include Little IslandMallowMidletonFota and Cobh. In July 2009 the Glounthaune to Midleton line was reopened, with new stations at Carrigtwohill and Midleton (and additional stations proposed for Blarney and elsewhere).[114] Little Island railway station serves Cork's Eastern Suburbs.


The Quad at University College Cork

Cork is an important educational centre in Ireland – There are over 35,000 third level students in the city, meaning the city has a higher ratio of students in the population than the national average.[115] Over 10% of the population of the Metropolitan area are students in University College Cork (UCC) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), including nearly 3,000 international students from over 100 countries.[116] UCC is a constituent university of the National University of Ireland and offers courses in arts, commerce, engineering, law, medicine and science. It has been named "Irish University of the Year" four times since 2003, most recently in 2016.[117] Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) was named Irish "Institute of Technology of the Year" in 2007, 2010 and 2016 and offers third-level courses in Computing and IT, Business, Humanities and Engineering (Mechanical, Electronic, Electrical, and Chemical).

The National Maritime College of Ireland is located in Cork and is the only Irish college in which Nautical Studies and Marine Engineering can be undertaken. CIT incorporates the Cork School of Music and Crawford College of Art and Design as constituent schools. The Cork College of Commerce is the largest 'College of Further Education' in Ireland.[118] Other 3rd level institutions include Griffith College Cork, a private institution, and various other colleges.

Research institutes linked to the third level colleges in the city support the research and innovation capacity of the city and region. Examples include the Tyndall National Institute (ICT hardware research), IMERC (Marine Energy), Environmental Research Institute, NIMBUS (Network Embedded Systems); and CREATE (Advanced Therapeutic Engineering).[116] UCC and CIT also have start-up company incubation centres. In UCC, the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Centre aims to foster and support entrepreneurship.[119] In CIT, The Rubicon Centre is a business innovation hub that is home to 57 knowledge based start-up companies.[120]


RugbyGaelic footballhurling and association football are popular sporting pastimes for Corkonians.

Gaelic games[edit]

Spectators watch Cork take on Kerry at the Páirc Uí Chaoimh in the city (since redeveloped)
Main article: Cork GAA

Hurling and football are the most popular spectator sports in the city. Hurling has a strong identity with city and county – with Cork winning 30 All-Ireland ChampionshipsGaelic football is also popular, and Cork has won 7 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship titles. Cork is the only county that has won both championships at least 7 times and the only one that has won both in the 21st century. There are many Gaelic Athletic Association clubs in Cork City, including Blackrock National Hurling ClubSt. Finbarr'sGlen RoversNa PiarsaighNemo Rangers and Douglas GAA. The main public venues are Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Páirc Uí Rinn (named after the noted Glen Rovers player Christy Ring). Camogie (hurling for ladies) and women's Gaelic football are increasing in popularity.

Association football[edit]

Cork City F.C. are the largest and most successful association football team in Cork, winning three League of Ireland titles, four FAI Cup titles, and one "All Ireland" Setanta Sports Cup title. They play their home games on the south side of the city in Turners Cross. Several, now defunct, Cork clubs played in the League of Ireland before 1984. In total, teams from the city have won the league 12 times. Association football is also played by amateur and school clubs across the city, as well as in "five-a-side" style leagues.


Rugby union is played at various levels, from school to senior league level. There are two first division clubs in Cork city. Cork Constitution (five-time All Ireland League Champions) play their home games in Ballintemple and Dolphin R.F.C. play at home in Musgrave Park. Other notable rugby clubs in the city include Highfield, Sunday's Well and UCC. At the schools level, Christian Brothers College and Presentation Brothers College are two of the country's better-known rugby nurseries.

Munster Rugby plays a number of its home matches in the Pro14 at Musgrave Park in Ballyphehane. In the past Heineken Cup matches have also been played at Musgrave Park, but most of these are now played at Thomond Park in Limerick. In May 2006 and again in May 2008 Munster became the Heineken Cup champions, with many players hailing from Cork city and county.

Water sports[edit]

There are a variety of watersports in Cork, including rowing and sailing. There are five rowing clubs training on the river Lee, including Shandon BC, UCC RC, Pres RC, Lee RC, and Cork BC. Naomhóga Chorcaí is a rowing club whose members row traditional naomhóga on the Lee in occasional competitions. The "Ocean to City" race has been held annually since 2005, and attracts teams and boats from local and visiting clubs who row the 24 kilometres (15 mi) from Crosshaven into Cork city centre.[121] The National Rowing Center was moved to Inniscarra – approximately 12 km outside the city centre – in 2007.[122] Cork's maritime sailing heritage is maintained through its sailing clubs. The Royal Cork Yacht Club located in Crosshaven (outside the city) is the world's oldest yacht club, and "Cork Week" is a notable sailing event.[123]


Mardyke, the home of Cork County Cricket Club

The most notable cricket club in Cork is Cork County Cricket Club, which was formed in 1874. Although located within the Munster jurisdiction, the club plays in the Leinster Senior League.[124] The club plays at the Mardyke, a ground which has hosted three first-class matches in 1947, 1961 and 1973. All three involved Ireland playing Scotland.[125] The Cork Cricket Academy operates within the city, with the stated aim of introducing the sport to schools in the city and county.[126] Cork's other main cricket club, Harlequins Cricket Club, play close to Cork Airport.[127] The provincial representative side, the Munster Reds, plays its home matches in the Twenty20 Inter-Provincial Trophy at the Mardyke Cricket Ground.[citation needed]

Other sports[edit]

The city contains clubs active in national competitions in basketball (Neptune and UCC Demons) and American Football (Cork Admirals). There are also golf, pitch and putthockey, tennis, and athletics clubs in the Cork area.

The city is the home of road bowling, which is played in the north-side and south-west suburbs.[citation needed] There are boxing and martial arts clubs (including Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Karate, Muay Thai and Taekwondo) within the city, while the sports-based performance art of professional wrestling maintains a presence via local promotion Phoenix Wrestling. Cork Racing, a motorsport team based in Cork,[128] has raced in the Irish Formula Ford Championship since 2005. Cork also hosts one of Ireland's most successful Australian Rules Football teams,[129] the Leeside Lions, who have won the Australian Rules Football League of Ireland Premiership several times.[129][130]

Twin cities[edit]

Cork is twinned with CologneCoventryRennesSan FranciscoSwansea and Shanghai.[131] As of February 2017, the city council was also in talks to twin with BordeauxSaint Petersburg and Miami.[132]


Historical populationshow

The population of Cork City and its suburbs was recorded as 208,669 by the 2016 census,[140] with in excess of 300,000 in the Metropolitan Cork area.[141] Preliminary reports from the 2022 census of Ireland indicated a population of 222,333 people.[3]

Main immigrant groups, 2011[142]
Nationality Population
 Poland 6,822
 United Kingdom 3,075
 Lithuania 1,126
 France 960
 Germany 866
 India 824
 Nigeria 640
 Hungary 543
 Slovakia 523
 Spain 520

There were 119,230 people present in the Cork City Council administered area at the time of the 2011 census, of these 117,221 indicated that they were usually present in Cork. In common with other Irish urban centres, the female population (50.67%) is higher than the male population (49.33%), although the gap is somewhat smaller than in other cities.

In the 2011 census, of those usually resident, 100,901 (86.08%) were Irish citizens; 10,295 (8.78%) were citizens of other EU countries; 4,316 (3.68%) were citizens of countries elsewhere in the world; 1,709 (1.46%) did not state their citizenship.[143] By the 2016 census, the population of the city and suburbs were 81% white Irish, 10% other white, 1.4% black/black Irish, 2.5% Asian/Asian Irish, 1.7% other, with 2.6% not stating an ethnicity.[144] Also as of the census, the population was 76.4% Catholic, 8.1% other stated religion, with 12.8% having no religion and 2.7% not stated.[144]

While Cork saw some Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe in the 19th century,[145] with second-generation immigrants like Gerald Goldberg holding public office, the community later declined and the synagogue closed.[146][147] Later immigrant communities retain their places of worship.[148][149] In the 2011 and 2016 censuses, Roman Catholicism was the most common religion in the city overall, followed by Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, and Islam.[150] As of the 2016 census, an increasing number of residents (15%) indicated that they had no religion[151] – a higher rate of increase and a higher overall percentage than the national average (10%).[152][153]


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Via Sophia in Washington, D.C., United States

restaurant is a business that prepares and serves food and drinks to customers.[1] Meals are generally served and eaten on the premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services. Restaurants vary greatly in appearance and offerings, including a wide variety of cuisines and service models ranging from inexpensive fast-food restaurants and cafeterias to mid-priced family restaurants, to high-priced luxury establishments.

Kuappi, the smallest restaurant in the world,[2] located in IisalmiFinland


The word derives from early 19th century from French word restaurer 'provide food for', literally 'restore to a former state'[3] and, being the present participle of the verb,[4] The term restaurant may have been used in 1507 as a "restorative beverage", and in correspondence in 1521 to mean 'that which restores the strength, a fortifying food or remedy'.[5]


Remains of a thermopolium in Pompeii
Service counter of a thermopolium in Pompeii

A public eating establishment similar to a restaurant is mentioned in a 512 BC record from Ancient Egypt. It served only one dish, a plate of cereal, wild fowl, and onions.[6]

A forerunner of the modern restaurant is the thermopolium, an establishment in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome that sold and served ready-to-eat food and beverages. These establishments were somewhat comparable to modern fast food restaurants. They were most often frequented by people who lacked private kitchens. In the Roman Empire they were popular among residents of insulae.[7]

In Pompeii, 158 thermopolia with service counters have been identified throughout the town. They were concentrated along the main axis of the town and the public spaces where they were frequented by the locals.[8]

The Romans also had the popina, a wine bar which in addition to a variety of wines offered a limited selection of simple foods such as olives, bread, cheese, stews, sausage, and porridge. The popinae were known as places for the plebeians of the lower classes of Roman society to socialize. While some were confined to one standing room only, others had tables and stools and a few even had couches.[9][10]

Another early forerunner of the restaurant was the inn. Throughout the ancient world, inns were set up alongside roads to cater to people traveling between cities, offering lodging and food. Meals were typically served at a common table to guests. However, there were no menus or options to choose from.[11]

The Arthashastra references establishments where prepared food was sold in ancient India. One regulation states that "those who trade in cooked rice, liquor, and flesh" are to live in the south of the city. Another states that superintendents of storehouses may give surpluses of bran and flour to "those who prepare cooked rice, and rice-cakes", while a regulation involving city superintendents references "sellers of cooked flesh and cooked rice".[12]

Early eating establishments recognizable as restaurants in the modern sense emerged in Song dynasty China during the 11th and 12th centuries. In large cities, such as Kaifeng and Hangzhou, food catering establishments catered to merchants who travelled between cities. Probably growing out of tea houses and taverns which catered to travellers, Kaifeng's restaurants blossomed into an industry that catered to locals as well as people from other regions of China. As travelling merchants were not used to local cuisine of other cities, these establishments were set up to serve dishes familiar to merchants from other parts of China. Such establishments were located in the entertainment districts of major cities, alongside hotels, bars, and brothels. The larger and more opulent of these establishments offered a dining experience that was similar to modern restaurant culture. According to a Chinese manuscript from 1126, patrons of one such establishment were greeted with a selection of pre-plated demonstration dishes which represented food options. Customers had their orders taken by a team of waiters who would then sing their orders to the kitchen and distribute the dishes in the exact order in which they had been ordered.[13][14]

There is a direct correlation between the growth of the restaurant businesses and institutions of theatrical stage dramagambling and prostitution which served the burgeoning merchant middle class during the Song dynasty.[15] Restaurants catered to different styles of cuisine, price brackets, and religious requirements. Even within a single restaurant choices were available, and people ordered the entrée from written menus.[14] An account from 1275 writes of Hangzhou, the capital city for the last half of the dynasty:

The people of Hangzhou are very difficult to please. Hundreds of orders are given on all sides: this person wants something hot, another something cold, a third something tepid, a fourth something chilled. one wants cooked food, another raw, another chooses roast, another grill.[16]

The restaurants in Hangzhou also catered to many northern Chinese who had fled south from Kaifeng during the Jurchen invasion of the 1120s, while it is also known that many restaurants were run by families formerly from Kaifeng.[17]

In Japan, a restaurant culture emerged in the 16th century out of local tea houses. Tea house owner Sen no Rikyū created the kaiseki multi-course meal tradition, and his grandsons expanded the tradition to include speciality dishes and cutlery which matched the aesthetic of the food.[13]

In Europe, inns which offered food and lodgings and taverns where food was served alongside alcoholic beverages were common into the Middle Ages and Renaissance. They typically served common fare of the type normally available to peasants. In Spain, such establishments were called bodegas and served tapas. In England, they typically served foods such as sausage and shepherd's pie.[11] Cookshops were also common in European cities during the Middle Ages. These were establishments which served dishes such as pies, puddings, sauces, fish, and baked meats. Customers could either buy a ready-made meal or bring their own meat to be cooked. As only large private homes had the means for cooking, the inhabitants of European cities were significantly reliant on them.[18]

France in particular has a rich history with the development of various forms of inns and eateries, eventually to form many of the now-ubiquitous elements of the modern restaurant. As far back as the thirteenth century, French inns served a variety of food — bread, cheese, bacon, roasts, soups, and stews - usually eaten at a common table. Parisians could buy what was essentially take-out food from rôtisseurs, who prepared roasted meat dishes, and pastry-cooks, who could prepare meat pies and often more elaborate dishes. Municipal statutes stated that the official prices per item were to be posted at the entrance; this was the first official mention of menus.[19]

Taverns also served food, as did cabarets. A cabaret, however, unlike a tavern, served food at tables with tablecloths, provided drinks with the meal, and charged by the customers' choice of dish, rather than by the pot.[20] Cabarets were reputed to serve better food than taverns and a few, such as the Petit Maure, became well known. A few cabarets had musicians or singing, but most, until the late 19th century, were simply convivial eating places.[19][20] The first café opened in Paris in 1672 at the Saint-Germain fair. By 1723 there were nearly four hundred cafés in Paris, but their menu was limited to simpler dishes or confectionaries, such as coffee, tea, chocolate (the drink; chocolate in solid state was invented only in the 19th century), ice creams, pastries, and liqueurs.[20]

At the end of the 16th century, the guild of cook-caterers (later known as "traiteurs") was given its own legal status. The traiteurs dominated sophisticated food service, delivering or preparing meals for the wealthy at their residences. Taverns and cabarets were limited to serving little more than roast or grilled meats. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, both inns and then traiteurs began to offer "host's tables" (tables d'hôte), where one paid a set price to sit at a large table with other guests and eat a fixed menu meal.[19]

Modern format[edit]

The earliest modern-format "restaurants" to use that word in Paris were the establishments which served bouillon, a broth made of meat and egg which was said to restore health and vigour. The first restaurant of this kind opened in 1765 or 1766 by Mathurin Roze de Chantoiseau on rue des Poulies, now part of the Rue de Louvre.[21] The name of the owner is sometimes given as Boulanger.[22] Unlike earlier eating places, it was elegantly decorated, and besides meat broth offered a menu of several other "restorative" dishes, including macaroni. Chantoiseau and other chefs took the title "traiteurs-restaurateurs".[22] While not the first establishment where one could order food, or even soups, it is thought to be the first to offer a menu of available choices.[23]

In the Western world, the concept of a restaurant as a public venue where waiting staff serve patrons food from a fixed menu is a relatively recent one, dating from the late 18th century.[24] Modern restaurant culture originated in France during the 1780s.

In June 1786, the Provost of Paris issued a decree giving the new kind of eating establishment official status, authorising restaurateurs to receive clients and to offer them meals until eleven in the evening in winter and midnight in summer.[22] Ambitious cooks from noble households began to open more elaborate eating places. The first luxury restaurant in Paris, the La Grande Taverne des Londres, was opened at the Palais-Royal at the beginning of 1786 by Antoine Beauvilliers, the former chef of the Count of Provence. It had mahogany tables, linen tablecloths, chandeliers, well-dressed and trained waiters, a long wine list and an extensive menu of elaborately prepared and presented dishes.[22] Dishes on its menu included partridge with cabbage, veal chops grilled in buttered paper, and duck with turnips.[25] This is considered to have been the "first real restaurant".[26][23] According to Brillat-Savarin, the restaurant was "the first to combine the four essentials of an elegant room, smart waiters, a choice cellar, and superior cooking".[27][28][29]

The aftermath of the French Revolution saw the number of restaurants skyrocket. Due to the mass emigration of nobles from the country, many cooks from aristocratic households who were left unemployed went on to found new restaurants.[30][11] One restaurant was started in 1791 by Méot, the former chef of the Duke of Orleans, which offered a wine list with twenty-two choices of red wine and twenty-seven of white wine. By the end of the century there were a collection of luxury restaurants at the Grand-Palais: Huré, the Couvert espagnol; Février; the Grotte flamande; Véry, Masse and the Café de Chartres (still open, now Le Grand Vefour)[22]

In 1802 the term was applied to an establishment where restorative foods, such as bouillon, a meat broth, were served ("établissement de restaurateur").[31] The disestablishment of culinary guilds and societal changes resulting from the industrial revolution contributed significantly to the increased prevalence of restaurants in Europe.[32]


Restaurants are classified or distinguished in many different ways. The primary factors are usually the food itself (e.g. vegetarianseafoodsteak); the cuisine (e.g. Italian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, French, Mexican, Thai) or the style of offering (e.g. tapas bar, a sushi train, a tastet restaurant, a buffet restaurant or a yum cha restaurant). Beyond this, restaurants may differentiate themselves on factors including speed (see fast food), formality, location, cost, service, or novelty themes (such as automated restaurants). Some of these include fine dining, casual dining, contemporary casual, family style, fast casual, fast food, cafes, buffet, concession stands, food trucks, pop-up restaurants, diners, and ghost restaurants.

Restaurant Basilica at the shoreline of Kellosaarenranta by night in RuoholahtiHelsinki, Finland

Restaurants range from inexpensive and informal lunching or dining places catering to people working nearby, with modest food served in simple settings at low prices, to expensive establishments serving refined food and fine wines in a formal setting. In the former case, customers usually wear casual clothing. In the latter case, depending on culture and local traditions, customers might wear semi-casualsemi-formal or formal wear. Typically, at mid- to high-priced restaurants, customers sit at tables, their orders are taken by a waiter, who brings the food when it is ready. After eating, the customers then pay the bill. In some restaurants, such as workplace cafeterias, there are no waiters; the customers use trays, on which they place cold items that they select from a refrigerated container and hot items which they request from cooks, and then they pay a cashier before they sit down. Another restaurant approach which uses few waiters is the buffet restaurant. Customers serve food onto their own plates and then pay at the end of the meal. Buffet restaurants typically still have waiters to serve drinks and alcoholic beverages. Fast food restaurants are also considered a restaurant. In addition, food trucks are another popular option for people who want quick food service.

Tourists around the world can enjoy dining services on railway cars and cruise ships dining rooms, which are essentially travelling restaurants. Many railways dining services cater to the needs of travellers by providing railway refreshment rooms at railway stations. Many cruise ships provide a variety of dining experiences including a main restaurant, satellites restaurants, room service, speciality restaurants, cafes, bars, and buffets to name a few. Some restaurants on these cruise ships required table reservations and specific dress codes.[33]

Restaurant staff[edit]

A restaurant's proprietor is called a restaurateur, this derives from the French verb restaurer, meaning "to restore". Professional cooks are called chefs, with there being various finer distinctions (e.g. sous-chefchef de partie). Most restaurants (other than fast food restaurants and cafeterias) will have various waiting staff to serve food, beverages and alcoholic drinks, including busboys who remove used dishes and cutlery. In finer restaurants, this may include a host or hostess, a maître d'hôtel to welcome customers and to seat them, and a sommelier or wine waiter to help patrons select wines. A new route to becoming a restaurateur, rather than working one's way up through the stages, is to operate a food truck. Once a sufficient following has been obtained, a permanent restaurant site can be opened. This trend has become common in the UK and the US.

Chef's table[edit]

"Chef's table" redirects here. For the Netflix documentary series, see Chef's Table.
Chef's table at Marcus restaurant in Central London

A chef's table is a table located in the kitchen of a restaurant,[34][35] reserved for VIPs and special guests.[36] Patrons may be served a themed[36] tasting menu prepared and served by the head chef. Restaurants can require a minimum party[37] and charge a higher flat fee.[38] Because of the demand on the kitchen's facilities, chef's tables are generally only available during off-peak times.[39]

By country[edit]



Le Grand Vefour restaurant at the Palais Royal in Paris

France has a long tradition with public eateries and modern restaurant culture emerged there. In the early 19th century traiteurs and restaurateurs became known simply as "restaurateurs". The use of the term "restaurant" for the establishment itself only became common in the nineteenth century. The first restaurant guide, called Almanach des Gourmandes, written by Grimod de La Reyniére, was published in 1804. During the French Restoration period, the most celebrated restaurant was the Rocher de Cancale, frequented by the characters of Balzac. In the middle of the century, Balzac's characters moved to the Cafe Anglais, which in 1867 also hosted the famous Three Emperors Dinner hosted by Napoleon III in honor of Tsar Alexander IIKaiser Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismarck during the Exposition Universelle in 1867[40]

Garden café of the Hôtel Ritz Paris (1904), Pierre-Georges Jeanniot

Other restaurants that occupy a place in French history and literature include Maxim's and Fouquet's. The restaurant of Hotel Ritz Paris, opened in 1898, was made famous by its chef, Auguste Escoffier. The 19th century also saw the appearance of new kinds of more modest restaurants, including the bistrot. The brasserie featured beer and was made popular during the 1867 Paris Exposition.[22]

North America[edit]

United States[edit]

Tom's Restaurant in Manhattan was made internationally famous by Seinfeld

In the United States, it was not until the late 18th century that establishments that provided meals without also providing lodging began to appear in major metropolitan areas in the form of coffee and oyster houses. The actual term "restaurant" did not enter into the common parlance until the following century. Prior to being referred to as "restaurants" these eating establishments assumed regional names such as "eating house" in New York City, "restorator" in Boston, or "victualling house" in other areas. Restaurants were typically located in populous urban areas during the 19th century and grew both in number and sophistication in the mid-century due to a more affluent middle class and to urbanization. The highest concentration of these restaurants were in the West, followed by industrial cities on the Eastern Seaboard.[41]

When Prohibition went into effect in 1920, restaurants offering fine dining had a hard time making ends meet because they had depended on profits from selling wine and alcoholic beverages. Replacing them were establishments offering simpler, more casual experiences such as cafeterias, roadside restaurants, and diners. When Prohibition ended in the 1930s, luxury restaurants slowly started to appear again as the economy recovered from the Great Depression.[42]

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed segregation based on race, color, religion, or national origin in all public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce, including restaurants. Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294 (1964), was a decision of the US Supreme Court which held that Congress acted within its power under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution in forbidding racial discrimination in restaurants as this was a burden to interstate commerce.[43][44]

In the 1970s, there was one restaurant for every 7,500 persons. In 2016, there were 1,000,000 restaurants; one for every 310 people. The average person eats out five to six times weekly. 3.3% of the nation's workforce is composed of restaurant workers.[45] According to a Gallup Poll in 2016, nearly 61% of Americans across the country eat out at a restaurant once a week or more, and this percent is only predicted to increase in future years.[46] Before the COVID-19 pandemic, The National Restaurant Association estimated restaurant sales of $899 billion in 2020. The association now projects that the pandemic will decrease that to $675 billion, a decline of $274 billion over their previous estimate.[47]

South America[edit]


In Brazil, restaurant varieties mirror the multitude of nationalities that arrived in the country: Japanese, Arab, German, Italian, Portuguese and many more.


The word piquete can be used to refer to a common Colombian type of meal that includes meat, yuca and potatoes, which is a type of meal served at a piqueteaderos. The verb form of the word piquete, piquetear, means to participate in binging, liquor drinking, and leisure activities in popular areas or open spaces.[48]


In Peru, many indigenous, Spanish, and Chinese dishes are frequently found. Because of recent immigration from places such as China, and Japan, there are many Chinese and Japanese restaurants around the country, especially in the capital city of Lima.


Main article: Restaurant rating
Noma in CopenhagenDenmark rated 2 stars in the Michelin guide, and named Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant.

Restaurant guides review restaurants, often ranking them or providing information to guide consumers (type of food, handicap accessibility, facilities, etc.). One of the most famous contemporary guides is the Michelin series of guides which accord from 1 to 3 stars to restaurants they perceive to be of high culinary merit. Restaurants with stars in the Michelin guide are formal, expensive establishments; in general the more stars awarded, the higher the prices.

The main competitor to the Michelin guide in Europe is the guidebook series published by Gault Millau. Its ratings are on a scale of 1 to 20, with 20 being the highest.

In the United States, the Forbes Travel Guide (previously the Mobil travel guides) and the AAA rate restaurants on a similar 1 to 5 star (Forbes) or diamond (AAA) scale. Three, four, and five star/diamond ratings are roughly equivalent to the Michelin one, two, and three star ratings while one and two star ratings typically indicate more casual places to eat. In 2005, Michelin released a New York City guide, its first for the United States. The popular Zagat Survey compiles individuals' comments about restaurants but does not pass an "official" critical assessment.

Nearly all major American newspapers employ food critics and publish online dining guides for the cities they serve. Some news sources provide customary reviews of restaurants, while others may provide more of a general listings service.

More recently Internet sites have started up that publish both food critic reviews and popular reviews by the general public.


Restaurant Näsinneula in Tampere, Finland
Gunpowder Cellar of Tartu, a former 18th-century gunpowder cellar and current beer restaurant in Tartu, Estonia


There are 86,915 commercial food service units in Canada, or 26.4 units per 10,000 Canadians. By segment, there are:[49]

  • 38,797 full-service restaurants
  • 34,629 limited-service restaurants
  • 741 contract and social caterers
  • 6,749 drinking places

Fully 63% of restaurants in Canada are independent brands. Chain restaurants account for the remaining 37%, and many of these are locally owned and operated franchises.[50]

European Union[edit]

The EU-27 has an estimated 1.6m businesses involved in 'accommodation & food services', more than 75% of which are small and medium enterprises.[51]


The Indian restaurant industry is highly fragmented with more than 1.5 million outlets of which only around 3000 of them are from the organised segment.[52] The organised segment includes quick service restaurants; casual dining; cafes; fine dining; and pubs, bars, clubs, and lounges.

United States[edit]

The kitchen at Delmonico's Restaurant, New York City, 1902.

As of 2006, there are approximately 215,000 full-service restaurants in the United States, accounting for $298 billion in sales, and approximately 250,000 limited-service (fast food) restaurants, accounting for $260 billion.[53] Starting in 2016, Americans spent more on restaurants than groceries.[54] In October 2017, The New York Times reported there are 620,000 eating and drinking places in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. They also reported that the number of restaurants are growing almost twice as fast as the population.[55]

One study of new restaurants in Cleveland, Ohio found that 1 in 4 changed ownership or went out of business after one year, and 6 out of 10 did so after three years. (Not all changes in ownership are indicative of financial failure.)[56] The three-year failure rate for franchises was nearly the same.[57]

Restaurants employed 912,100 cooks in 2013, earning an average $9.83 per hour.[58] The waiting staff numbered 4,438,100 in 2012, earning an average $8.84 per hour.[59]

Jiaxi Lu of the Washington Post reports in 2014 that, "Americans are spending $683.4 billion a year dining out, and they are also demanding better food quality and greater variety from restaurants to make sure their money is well spent."[60]

Dining in restaurants has become increasingly popular, with the proportion of meals consumed outside the home in restaurants or institutions rising from 25% in 1950 to 46% in 1990. This is caused by factors such as the growing numbers of older people, who are often unable or unwilling to cook their meals at home and the growing number of single-parent households. It is also caused by the convenience that restaurants can afford people; the growth of restaurant popularity is also correlated with the growing length of the work day in the US, as well as the growing number of single parent households.[61] Eating in restaurants has also become more popular with the growth of higher income households. At the same time, less expensive establishments such as fast food establishments can be quite inexpensive, making restaurant eating accessible to many.


The restaurant industry in the United States is large and quickly growing, with 10 million workers. 1 in every 12 U.S. residents work in the business, and during the 2008 recession, the industry was an anomaly in that it continued to grow. Restaurants are known for having low wages, which they claim are due to thin profit margins of 4-5%. For comparison, however, Walmart has a 1% profit margin.[62] As a result of these low wages, restaurant employees suffer from three times the poverty rate as other U.S. workers, and use food stamps twice as much.[62] Restaurants are the largest employer of people of color, and rank as the second largest employer of immigrants. These workers statistically are concentrated in the lowest paying positions in the restaurant industry. In the restaurant industry, 39% of workers earn minimum wage or lower.[62]


In many countries, restaurants are subject to inspections by health inspectors to maintain standards for public health, such as maintaining proper hygiene and cleanliness. The most common kind of violations of inspection reports are those concerning the storage of cold food at appropriate temperatures, proper sanitation of equipment, regular hand washing and proper disposal of harmful chemicals. Simple steps can be taken to improve sanitation in restaurants. As sickness is easily spread through touch, restaurants are encouraged to regularly wipe down tables, door knobs and menus.[63]

Depending on local customs, legislation and the establishment, restaurants may or may not serve alcoholic beverages. Restaurants are often prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages without a meal by alcohol sale laws; such sale is considered to be activity for bars, which are meant to have more severe restrictions. Some restaurants are licensed to serve alcohol ("fully licensed"), or permit customers to "bring your own" alcohol (BYO / BYOB). In some places restaurant licenses may restrict service to beer, or wine and beer.[64]

Occupational hazards[edit]

Food service regulations have historically been built around hygiene and protection of the consumer's health.[65] However, restaurant workers face many health hazards such as long hours, low wages, minimal benefits, discrimination, high stress, and poor working conditions.[65] Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, much attention has been drawn to the prevention of community transmission in restaurants and other public settings.[66] To reduce airborne disease transmission, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends reduced dining capacity, face masks, adequate ventilation, physical barrier instalments, disinfection, signage, and flexible leave policies for workers.[67]

Mediterranean cuisine

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Breadwine, and fruitThe Lunch by Diego Velázquez, c. 1617

Mediterranean cuisine is the food and methods of preparation used by the people of the Mediterranean Basin. The idea of a Mediterranean cuisine originates with the cookery writer Elizabeth David's book, A Book of Mediterranean Food (1950) and was amplified by other writers working in English.

Many writers define the three core elements of the cuisine as the olive, wheat, and the grape, yielding olive oilbread and pasta, and wine; other writers deny that the widely varied foods of the Mediterranean basin constitute a cuisine at all. A common definition of the geographical area covered, proposed by David, follows the distribution of the olive tree.

The region spans a wide variety of cultures with distinct cuisines, in particular (going anticlockwise around the region) the MaghrebiEgyptianLevantineOttoman (Turkish), GreekItalianFrench (Provençal), and Spanish, though some authors include additional cuisines. Portuguese cuisine, in particular, is partly Mediterranean in character.

The historical connections of the region, as well as the impact of the Mediterranean Sea on the region's climate and economy, mean that these cuisines share dishes beyond the core trio of oil, bread, and wine, such as roast lamb or mutton, meat stews with vegetables and tomato (for example, Spanish andrajos), vegetable stews (Provençal ratatouille, Spanish pisto, Italian ciambotta),[1] and the salted cured fish roe, bottarga, found across the region. Spirits based on anise are drunk in many countries around the Mediterranean.

The cooking of the area is not to be confused with the Mediterranean diet, made popular because of the apparent health benefits of a diet rich in olive oil, wheat and other grains, fruitsvegetables, and a certain amount of seafood, but low in meat and dairy products. Mediterranean cuisine encompasses the ways that these and other ingredients, including meat, are dealt with in the kitchen, whether they are health-giving or not.


Elizabeth David defines the Mediterranean region as that of the Olive, Olea europaea.[2][3]

Various authors have defined the scope of Mediterranean cooking either by geography or by its core ingredients.

Elizabeth David, in her A Book of Mediterranean Food (1950), defines her scope as "the cooking of the Mediterranean shores" and sketches out the geographical limits:[2]

from Gibraltar to the Bosphorus, down the Rhone Valley, through the great seaports of MarseillesBarcelona, and Genoa, across to Tunis and Alexandria, embracing all the Mediterranean islands, CorsicaSicilySardiniaCrete, the CycladesCyprus (where the Byzantine influence begins to be felt), to the mainland of Greece and the much disputed territories of Syria, the LebanonConstantinople, and Smyrna.[2]

Despite this definition, David's book focuses largely on Spain, France, Italy, and Greece.[4]

"Those blessed lands of sun and sea and olive trees":[2] a landscape in Rhodes, in the Eastern Mediterranean

She defines this region as coextensive with the range of the olive tree: "those blessed lands of sun and sea and olive trees".[2] The olive's natural distribution is limited by frost and by availability of water. It is therefore constrained to a more or less narrow zone around the Mediterranean Sea, except in the Maghreb and in Spain, where it is distributed more widely, and on the islands of the Mediterranean, where it is widespread.[5][2]

The Tunisian historian Mohamed Yassine Essid similarly defines the region by the olive's presence, along with bread, wheat, and the grape as the "basic products of Mediterranean folk cuisine":[6]

Mediterranean cuisine is defined by the presence of fundamental elements which are said to play a more important role than others, reflecting a community of beliefs and practices which transcend religions, languages and even societies. The olive tree, the emblematic tree on more than one account, traces the bounds of a frontier of landscapes and lives on either side of which the Mediterranean begins or ends. Above Montelimar, nicknamed "Gates of Provence", is the limit of the olive.[6]

Other authors question that there is any such common core:

The belief in a common core, emerging from a claim to authority over that kernel of "Mediterranean-ness," is what underlies writing describing the culinary Mediterranean, yet it seems that only from far away does a unified Mediterranean exist. The closer one gets to that common core, the less it is visible, until the food of Umbria comes to seem entirely different from the food of Tuscany, and to compare either to the food of Greece would be absurd. The very idea of a Mediterranean ensemble—be it onions and olive oil and tomatoes or some other combination entirely—presupposes not only a shared history but a unified history, an imagined moment in which the Mediterranean presented a single culture that over time has, like a language, split and branched and flowered into the wild variety of contemporary cuisine.[4]

Some writers include the cuisines of the eastern Adriatic coast of Dalmatia – AlbanianMontenegrin, and Croatian, while most do not mention them. Some writers also include areas not touching the Mediterranean Sea or supporting olive cultivation, including SerbianMacedonian, and Portuguese cuisine.[7]

Key ingredients[edit]

Essid identifies the "trinity" of basic ingredients of traditional Mediterranean cuisine as the olive, wheat, and the grape, yielding oil, bread, and wine respectively.[6] The archaeologist Colin Renfrew calls this the "Mediterranean triad".[8]


Olive (Olea europaea)
Main article: Olive

The olive appears to come from the region of Persia and Mesopotamia, at least 6,000 years ago.[9] It spread from there to nearby areas, and has been cultivated since the early Bronze Age (up to 3,150 BC) in southern Turkey, the Levant, and Crete.[10][11] The ten countries with the largest harvests (in 2011) are all near the Mediterranean (Portugal being the tenth largest): together, they produce 95% of the world's olives.[12]

The olive yields bitter fruits, made edible by curing and fermentation, and olive oil. Some 90% of the fruit production (1996) goes into olive oil.[13] The Mediterranean region accounts for the world's highest consumption of olive oil: in 2014, the highest-consuming country, Greece, used 17 kg[a] per head; Italy, 12 kg, Spain, 13 kg; the United States for comparison used only 1 kg per head.[14]


Wheat (Triticum)
Main article: Wheat

Wheat was domesticated in the Fertile Crescent, in and near the Levant some 10,000 years ago. Its ancestors include wild emmer wheat; this was hybridised, harvested and sown to create domestic strains with larger grains, in ears that shatter less readily than wild forms.[15] It was spread across the Mediterranean region as far as Spain by 5,000 BC.[16]

Wheat is a staple food in the Mediterranean region. Wheat bread was already critically important in the empire of Ancient Rome, which included the entire region; at that time, around 2,000 years ago, North Africa was the "breadbasket" of the empire.[17][18] Other staple wheat-based Mediterranean foods include pasta and semolina (wheat middlings) products such as couscous and bulgur.[19] In turn, these are made into dishes such as the Greek dessert galaktoboureko (milk börek), consisting of filo pastry parcels around a custard made with semolina.[20] A widespread wheat dish from Turkey and the Levant to Iran and India is halva, a dessert of sweetened semolina with butter, milk, and pine kernels.[21]


Grape (Vitis vinifera)
Main article: Grape

The grape was domesticated between 7,000 and 4,000 BC between the Black Sea and Persia; archaeological evidence shows that wine was being made there by 6,000 BC, reaching Greece and Crete in the fifth millennium BC and Spain by the last millennium BC. Winemaking started in Italy in the ninth century BC, and in France around 600 BC.[22]

Grapes are mostly grown for making wine and vinegar as basic components of the Mediterranean diet, as well for drying as raisins or for eating as table grapes. Raisins and table grape varieties are chosen for their flavour.[23] Grape production remains important in the Mediterranean area, with Southern Europe accounting for 21% of the world's harvest. In 2014, Italy produced 6.9 million tonnes (mt) of grapes, Spain 6.2 mt, France 6.2 mt, Turkey 4.2 mt, and Germany 1.2 mt.[24] Wine production for Southern Europe was 37% of the world total in 2014, with Italy producing 4.8 mt, Spain 4.6 mt, France 4.3 mt, and Germany 0.9 mt.[24]



A dish of roast aubergines and peppers (often called by its Provençal name, ratatouille, in English), as interpreted on the Aeolian Islands.

The concept of a Mediterranean cuisine is very recent, probably dating from the publication of David's A Book of Mediterranean Food (1950).[25] David herself did not use the term, speaking instead of Mediterranean "food", "cookery", or "cooking".[26] The usefulness of the concept is disputed. Carol Helstosky, author of the book Food Culture in the Mediterranean (2009), is among the authors who use "Mediterranean cuisine" interchangeably with "Mediterranean food". In the preface to her book she writes: [27]

Mediterranean food is incredibly popular: pasta, pizzasausagewinegyros,[b] kebab, and falafel can be found just about everywhere. Food experts and cookbook authors adore Mediterranean cuisine ...[27]

Essid acknowledges that "geographical differences and the vicissitudes of history" have affected the food of different Mediterranean lands, but nonetheless asserts that:[28]

Rules for the preparation and consumption of food are common to the lands that border the Mediterranean. They offer both stability, continuity and reproduction of a specific pattern of eating which resists conquest, invasion, colonisation, social change, industrialisation and urbanisation. Consequently, wherever you go, in southern Europe or the lands bordering the southern Mediterranean, you will find a cuisine and gastronomic ritual which is always familiar.[28]

One of several Mediterranean cuisines: Spanish kitchen still life (Bodegón de cocina) by Cristoforo Munari, c. 1710

On the other hand, Sami Zubaida argues in his book Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (1994) that:[29]

The idea of the "standard Mediterranean" ... is a modern construction of food writers and publicists in Europe and North America earnestly preaching what is now thought to be a healthy diet to their audiences by invoking a stereotype of the healthy other on the shores of the Mediterranean. Their colleagues in Mediterranean countries are only too willing to perpetuate this myth. The fact of the matter is that the Mediterranean contains varied cultures.[29]

The cookery author Clifford A. Wright wrote in 1999: "There really is no such thing as 'Mediterranean cuisine'. At the same time, we seem to know what we mean when we use the expression ..."[30] Wright argued that David's book itself was largely about specifically French Mediterranean food, pointing out that "only 4 percent of her recipes come from North Africa or the Levant".[31]

Since David's time, a variety of books on Mediterranean cuisine have been written, including Abu Shihab's 2012 book of that name;[32] Helstosky's 2009 book; books by other cookery writers include S. Rowe's Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean (2011);[33] and Mari-Pierre Moine's Mediterranean Cookbook (2014).[34] There are many more cookbooks covering specific cuisines in the Mediterranean area, such as B. Santich's The Original Mediterranean Cuisine: Medieval Recipes for Today (1995), on Catalan and Italian recipes;[35] and H. F. Ullman's (2006) on the cooking of Tunisia,[36] Spain[37] and Italy,[38] each one subtitled "Mediterranean Cuisine".


The haricot beans used in a Southern French cassoulet were brought to Europe from the Americas.

The ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine are to an extent different from those of the cuisine of Northern Europe, with olive oil instead of butter, wine instead of beer. The list of available ingredients has changed over the centuries. One major change was the introduction of many foods by the Arabs to Portugal, Spain and Sicily in the Middle Ages.[39] Those foods included aubergines, spinachsugar canericeapricots and citrus fruits,[40] creating the distinctive culinary tradition of Al-Andalus.[41]

Another major change was the arrival of foods from the Americas in Early Modern times (around the sixteenth century), notably the incorporation of the potato into Northern European cuisine,[c] and the eager adoption of the tomato into Mediterranean cuisine. The tomato, so central now to that cuisine, was first described in print by Pietro Andrea Mattioli in 1544. Similarly, many of the species of Phaseolus beans now used around the Mediterranean, including P. vulgaris (the French or haricot bean), were brought back from the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese explorers.[39][43][44][45]


Syrian apricot paste "dissolved in water to make a cooling drink"[2]

David's introduction to her 1950 book characterises the cooking of the Mediterranean countries as "conditioned naturally by variations in climate and soil and the relative industry or indolence of the inhabitants."[2]

Certain foods are pan-Mediterranean, such as bottarga, the salted, cured roe of fish such as the grey mullet.[46]

David identifies "the ever recurring elements" in the food of this extensive region as olive oil, saffrongarlic, "pungent" local wines, as well as the "aromatic perfume" of herbs, especially rosemary, wild marjoram, and basil, and the bright colours of fresh foods in the markets, "pimentosauberginestomatoesolivesmelonsfigs" and "shiny fish, silver, vermilion, or tiger-striped". She includes cheeses of "sheep's or goat's milk", "figs from Smyrna on long strings" and "sheets of apricot paste which is dissolved in water to make a cooling drink."[2]

The major culinary regions of the Mediterranean

With common ingredients including the olive, wheat, and grape; a shared climate; and a long period for cultural exchange, it might be expected that a single, pan-Mediterranean cuisine would have developed. Certain items, such as olive oil,[6] bread,[6] wine,[6] roast lamb or mutton[47] (for example, Maghrebi méchoui, Greek kleftiko and souvlaki, Turkish shish kebab), bottarga,[46][48] and stews of meat with vegetables and tomato (such as Spanish andrajos, French estouffade à la provençale [fr],[49] Italian ciambotta, Turkish buğu kebabı), are indeed found all around the Mediterranean.[50] Seafood including sea bream and squid is eaten, often in stews, stuffed, or fried, in Spanish, French, and Italian dishes.[51] Despite this, however, the lands bordering the Mediterranean sea have distinct regional cuisines, from the Maghrebi, Levant and Ottoman to the Italian, French, and Spanish. Each of those, in turn, has national and provincial variations.[50]


Main article: Maghreb cuisine
Tagines slow-cooking on a Moroccan street

Mediterranean Maghrebi cuisine includes the cuisines of AlgeriaLibyaMorocco, and Tunisia. One of the most characteristic dishes of the region is couscous, a steamed, small-grained wheat semolina, served with a stew. The dish is ancient, mentioned by the Medieval traveller Ibn Battuta,[52] and found for example also in the Western Sicilian cuisine, especially in the province of Trapani, where it was re-introduced after 1600.[53]

One stew that may be served with couscous is the Moroccan tagine, a hearty, somewhat dry dish of meat and vegetables, cooked slowly in a pot (called a tagine) with a tall conical lid. Dishes from the Maghreb region of North Africa are often coloured and flavoured with the hot spice mixtures harissa and ras el hanout (containing such spices as cumin, coriander, saffron, cinnamon, cloves, chillies, and paprika). Other characteristic flavourings of the region are preserved lemons and dried apricots and raisins.[47]


Main article: Egyptian cuisine
Ful medames on an Egyptian street with bread and pickled vegetables

Egyptian cuisine has ancient roots, with evidence that, for example, cheese has been made in Egypt since at least 3,000 BC.[54] Falafel are small fried croquettes of bean or chickpea[d] flour, currently also eaten across the Levant and the West, but originating in Egypt's Roman era; they are claimed as theirs by Coptic Christians.[55] Duqqa is a dip made of pounded herbs, hazelnuts and spices, eaten with bread.[56][57] Kushari is a vegan dish[58] of rice, lentils and pasta, variously garnished; it began as food for the poor, but has become a national dish.[59]


Main article: Levantine cuisine

Levantine cuisine is the cooking of the Levant (including the Middle Eastern Mediterranean coast, east of Egypt). Among the most distinctive foods of this cuisine are traditional small meze dishes such as tabboulehhummus, and baba ghanoush.[60][61] Tabbouleh is a dish of bulgur cracked wheat with tomatoes, parsley, mint and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.[62][63] Baba ghanoush, sometimes called "poor man's caviar", is a puree of aubergine with olive oil, often mixed with chopped onion, tomato, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley. The dish is popular across the whole of the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa.[64]

Ful medames, originally from Egypt and still a national dish there, consists of fava beans with oil and cumin; it is popular throughout the Levant.[65] The dish may be ancient: dried beans of Neolithic age have been found near Nazareth.[66]


Ottoman cuisine and Turkish cuisine combine similar elements
Main articles: Ottoman cuisine and Turkish cuisine

Ottoman cuisine has given rise to the cuisines of modern Turkey, parts of the BalkansCyprus, and Greece. A distinctive element is the family of small flaky pastries called börek. These are popular and widespread across the Eastern Mediterranean region, and date as far back as ancient Roman times. Börek are made of thin sheets of filo pastry, filled with mixtures such as meat, caramelised onion and sweet peppers.[67][68]

Another widespread[e] and popular dish is moussaka, a baked dish of aubergine or potato with various other ingredients: often minced meat and tomatoes, sometimes a layer of egg custard or béchamel sauce on top. In its Greek variant, well known outside the region, it includes layers of aubergine and minced meat with custard or béchamel sauce on top, but that version is a relatively recent innovation, introduced by the chef Nikolaos Tselementes in the 1920s.[70]


Main article: Greek cuisine

Greek cookery makes wide use of vegetables, olive oil, grains, fish, wine and meat (white and red, including lambpoultryrabbit and pork). Other important ingredients include olives, cheese, aubergine, courgette, lemon juice, vegetables, herbs, bread and yoghurt. Some more dishes that can be traced back to Ancient Greece are: lentil soupfasoladaretsina (white or rosé wine flavoured with pine resin) and pasteli (sesame seeds baked with honey); some to the Hellenistic and Roman periods include: loukaniko (dried pork sausage); and Byzantiumfeta cheese, avgotaraho (bottarga) and paximadhia (rusk). Lakerda (pickled fish), mizithra cheese and desserts like dipleskoulourakiamoustokouloura and melomakarono also date back to the Byzantine period, while the variety of different pitas probably dates back to ancient times. Much of Greek cuisine is part of the larger tradition of Ottoman cuisine, the names of the dishes revealing Arabic, Persian or Turkish roots: moussakatzatzikiyuvarlakiakeftes and so on. Many dishes' names probably entered the Greek vocabulary during Ottoman times, or earlier in contact with the Persians and the Arabs. However, some dishes may be pre-Ottoman, only taking Turkish names later; the historians of food John Ash and Andrew Dalby, for example, speculate that grape-leaf dolmadhes were made by the early Byzantine period, while Alan Davidson traces trahana to the ancient Greek tragos and skordalia to the ancient Athenian skorothalmi.[71][72][73]


David barely mentioned the non-Greek Balkans, stating only that yoghurt and moussaka are widespread in the region.[4] Some later cooks like Paula Wolfert give a few recipes from Dalmatia, some being Ottoman.[4][7]

Albena Shkodrova notes that the cuisines of the coastal provinces of Istria and Dalmatia were influenced by Venice. She adds that cuisines labelled as "Italian" and "Mediterranean" are becoming popular in the Balkans, which she calls "a historical crossroads of Oriental, Mediterranean and Central-European influences".[74]


Spaghetti alle vongole, a typical Italian dish of pasta with clams
Main article: Italian cuisine

Mediterranean Italian cuisine includes much of Italy outside the north and the mountainous inland regions. It is a diverse cuisine, but among its best-known and most characteristic foods are risottopizza in Neapolitan and Sicilian styles, and pasta dishes such as spaghetti.[75][76][77]

Risotto is a dish made using Italian short-grain rice, which is both highly absorbent and resistant to turning into a pudding when cooked with stock and flavoured with onions and garlic, cooked in butter.[75] Anna Gosetti della Salda's book of Italian regional cookery lists 37 risotto recipes, 18 of them from the Veneto. Variations among Veneto risottos include additions of fish and white wine; chicken; eel; mushrooms and grated Parmesan cheese; quails; small pieces of beef; courgettes (zucchini); clamsragù; beans; musselsprawnscuttlefish; and asparagus.[78]

Pizza with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese

Pizza, or as David notes "pissaladina or pissaladière" in Provence (the cuisines of Mediterranean France and Italy having something in common), is a piece of bread dough rolled out thin, with a topping which varies from place to place, but is generally much simpler than those in the English-speaking world.[79][80] In Naples this is tomato, anchovies and buffalo mozzarella. In San Remo it is onions cooked in olive oil, with salted sardines. The Provençal variety uses onions, black olives, and anchovies.[76]

Spaghetti dishes also vary. It may be eaten as David says "simply with olive oil and garlic", without cheese, or with a sauce of "very red and ripe peeled tomatoes", cooked briefly and flavoured with garlic and either basil or parsley. One Sicilian variant includes pieces of bacon, onions fried in fat, garlic, stoned olives, and anchovies, served with olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.[77]


Marseille bouillabaisse, with the fish served separately after the soup
Main articles: Provencal cuisine and Occitan cuisine

Mediterranean French cuisine includes the cooking styles of ProvenceOccitania, and the island of Corsica. Distinctive dishes that make use of local ingredients include bouillabaisse and salade niçoise.[81][82]

Bouillabaisse is a substantial dish from the French port of Marseille, capital of Provence. It is a stew for at least eight people, because it should contain many kinds of fish such as crayfishgurnardweeverJohn Dorymonkfishconger eelwhitingsea bass, and crab. These are cooked with Mediterranean vegetables and herbs, namely onions, garlic, tomatoes, thymefennelparsley, bay, and orange peel.[81][f]

Salade niçoise is a colourful salad of tomatoes, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, and anchovies, dressed with a vinaigrette.[82]


Spanish paella with red peppers and mussels
Main article: Spanish cuisine

Spain's varied Mediterranean cuisines includes the cooking of AndalusiaMurciaCataloniaValencia, and the Balearic islands.[83] Paella is a characteristic Spanish dish, originally from Valencia, radiating early on to Catalonia and Murcia along Spain's Mediterranean coast. It comes in many versions, and may contain a mixture of chicken, pork, rabbit, or shellfish, sautéed in olive oil in a large shallow pan, with vegetables, and typically round-grain rice[84] (often of the local albuferaarròs bombasénia varieties or similar) cooked to absorb the water and coloured with saffron. The dish may be varied with artichoke heartspeas, sweet peppers, lima beansstring beans, or sausages.[85]

Portuguese: partly Mediterranean[edit]

Main article: Portuguese cuisine

Portugal lies on the Atlantic, not the Mediterranean, but it is in the Mediterranean basin, characterised by olive groves and a Mediterranean climate, except on the wetter Atlantic coast.[86][87] Its cuisine too is partly Mediterranean, with the usual trio of bread, wine, and olive oil, but also partly Atlantic, with a tradition of fishing and many seafood dishes such as seafood rice (arroz de Marisco), clams, squid (lulas grelhadas), and bacalhau, imported salted cod. There are, equally, many meat dishes, using chicken, pork, and rabbit. Other major ingredients are onions, garlic, bay leaves, sweet peppers (pimentão), cloves, and chouriço sausage. Portuguese vegetables include the tomatoes common in Mediterranean cuisine, but also kale, carrots, and broad beans. Sweet dishes include pastéis de nata, custard tarts with cinnamon. The country produces red wines such as Alentejo.[88][89][90]

Anise spirits[edit]

Anise spirits of the Mediterranean region
Further information: Anisette

Anise is used around the Mediterranean to flavour various traditional spirits, including:

Mediterranean diet and cuisine[edit]

Further information: Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet, popularised in the 1970s, is inspired by the cuisine of parts of Greece and Italy in the early 1960s.[93] The American Diabetes Association writes about "Mediterranean-Style Eating", mentioning "the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle ... of ... eating healthfully ... together among family and friends", and asserting that "Mediterranean cuisine is plant-based", citing the ingredients "whole grains, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, beans, nuts, seeds, and olive oil", and stating that most foods "in a Mediterranean diet come from plants".[94]

Fast food, Turkish style: with increasing wealth, people around the Mediterranean are changing their diet towards more meat (here, fried chicken) and less vegetables.

The 1984 Guida all'Italia gastronomica states that "around 1975, under the impulse of one of those new nutritional directives by which good cooking is too often influenced, the Americans discovered the so-called Mediterranean diet. The name even pleased Italian government officials, who made one modification: changing from diet—a word which has always seemed punitive and therefore unpleasant—to Mediterranean cuisine."[95]

A changing cuisine[edit]

Since David wrote about Mediterranean food in 1950, and indeed since dietary researchers showed in the 1950s that people around the Mediterranean had less coronary heart disease than the peoples of northern Europe, the traditional Mediterranean ways of life and of eating have changed. Increased wealth and busy lives have led people to eat more meat and less vegetables: their diet is becoming more northern European, with more convenience foods and with less of a preventive effect on cardiovascular disease.[96]