A bistro (/ˈbiːstrəʊ/), sometimes spelled bistrot, is, in its original Parisian incarnation, a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting. Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve. French home-style cooking with robust earthy dishes, and slow-cooked foods like cassoulet, a bean stew, are typical. 
Bistros likely developed out of the basement kitchens of Parisian apartments where tenants paid for both room and board. Landlords could supplement their income by opening their kitchen to the paying public. Menus were built around foods that were simple, could be prepared in quantity and would keep over time. Wine and coffee were also served.
Etymology of "bistro" 
The origins of the word bistro are uncertain. Some say that it may derive from the Russian bystro (быстро), "quickly". According to an urban legend, it entered the French language during the Russian occupation of Paris in 1815. Russian officers or cossacks who wanted to be served quickly would shout "bystro."  However, this etymology is not accepted by several French linguists as there is, notably, no occurrence of this word until the end of the 19th century. Others say the name comes from a type of aperitif, called a bistrouille  (or liqueur coffee), served in some reasonably priced restaurants.
See also 
- Brasserie, a slightly more formal French restaurant that may brew its own beer
- Parisian café, centers of French social and culinary life
- Sidewalk cafe
- Porcelli, Joey; Fong, Clay (2006), The Gyros Journey: Affordable Ethnic Eateries Along the Front Range, Fulcrum Publishing, p. 98, ISBN 978-1-55591-579-7
- Reported, for example, in Ian Kelly, Cooking for Kings: the life of Antonin Carême: the first celebrity chef 2003:99.
- Le Grand Robert de la langue française, 8 vol., 2001, p.1445; Alain Rey, Dictionnaire historique de la langue française, 2 vol., 1995, p. 226; Petit Larousse dictionary
- Le Grand Robert de la langue française, 8 vol., 2001, p.1445
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