Last updated: August 5, 2021

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It is hard to imagine street cafés and small restaurants without bistro tables. With their compact size and directness, they embody charm and the typical French laissez-faire. But bistro tables are by no means only to be found in catering establishments. As real space-saving miracles, they are now also finding their way into people's own homes.

In our bistro table guide, we help you to choose from the large pool of bistro tables and show you which criteria you should pay attention to when buying. We also address frequently asked questions so that you are well advised in the end and find the right bistro table for you.




Summary

  • Bistro tables are small, plain tables that are very popular in cafés, bistros and restaurants with a small menu because of their space-saving size. They are therefore particularly suitable for coffee parties, snacks and drinks and can seat up to four people.
  • There are basically 2 different types of bistro tables: the classic bistro table at seat height and the high table. Among these, a distinction is made between round and square shapes, which have their respective advantages.
  • The choice of material and functions depends on the place of installation. Bistro tables for outdoor use should be made of weather-resistant material. For narrow balconies, it is also advisable if they can be folded up and stowed away again.

The Best Bistro Table: Our Selection

Bistro tables: buying and evaluation criteria

Before you buy a bistro table, you should know what criteria to look for. Not every material is suitable for every location and individual needs also play a role in the decision. Therefore, pay attention to the following purchase criteria:

In the following, we explain in detail what is important with regard to the criteria mentioned.

Place of use

First of all, the question arises for which purpose you would like to buy one or more bistro tables. Are you looking for a bistro table for your private use or are you looking for a model for your hospitality business? In the hospitality industry, tables are moved around a lot, so you should look for high-quality products. The choice also depends on whether you are looking for a table for indoor use or for outdoor use such as a balcony or garden.

Indoor use

Bistro tables can be set up very well in your own home. This is usually the case when the rooms are small and there is no space for bulky furniture. Even in a small kitchen, a cosy seating area can be created with a bistro table. If tables and chairs have a folding function, they can be easily stowed away again. In the living area, you can also use bistro tables as small dining tables, office tables or as storage or side tables.

Outdoors

Bistro tables are also particularly popular on small balconies. Despite the limited space, the view from the balcony can be enjoyed with visitors. Much more frequently, bistro tables are seen in the garden or in the hospitality industry on the terrace or in the guest garden.

Material

For bistro tables that are placed outdoors, it is important to pay attention to the right material. They should be able to withstand all kinds of weather and not be costly to maintain and care for.

Table top

These materials are mainly used for bistro tables:

  • Stainless steel
    Stainless steel plates are very popular because of their robustness and weather resistance. In addition, stainless steel slabs in combination with aluminium frames are often quite inexpensive.
  • Natural stone: marble and granite
    The classic bistro table is made of a marble top, which is also very robust and easy to clean. However, stone tops are very heavy, which is why these tables are difficult to move and are not suitable for later storage.
  • Plastic
    High-quality polypropylene is usually used for garden furniture. The advantage of plastic is the low price and the choice of colours. However, plastic is sensitive and can quickly become worn and discoloured by scratches, cigarette burns, stains and sunlight.
  • treated and untreated wood
    Garden tables are made of hard woods because they are winterproof and very durable. Woods such as acacia from Africa, robinia from North America, teak from Southeast Asia and eucalyptus from Australia are particularly popular because of their positive properties. Hardwoods get the typical greyish-silvery patina look from moisture and sunlight. This effect is often desired, but those who do not want this should oil their table 2 times a year.

Table frame/table foot

The following materials are often used for table frames:

  • Steel
  • Aluminium
  • Cast iron
  • Iron
  • Wood

Steel and aluminium, which protect against rust with an additional powder coating, are particularly suitable for outdoor use. Cast iron or iron frames are also suitable for outdoors, but these can rust more quickly.

In addition to the material, there are also different types of frames, which we would like to describe briefly:

Type Description
Single-leg frame A table with a single-leg frame has 3 or 4 outgoing legs or a heavy foot plate that give it good stability. This form ensures sufficient legroom.
Boulevard frame A boulevard frame has inwardly curved table legs that diverge again at floor level. The frame is fixed in the middle with rings or brackets. This type of frame is also very stable and allows a lot of legroom.
Scissor-type frame Scissor-type frames are similar in function to an ironing board. They can be folded very flat, making them extremely practical. However, they do not allow the same legroom as single-leg or boulevard frames.

Height

Another question is whether you are looking for a classic bistro table or a high table.

The classic bistro table has a height of approx. 72 to 75 cm and is therefore intended for sitting and lingering over drinks and small meals. If you buy additional chairs to go with the bistro table, remember that the optimum seat height is approx. 30 cm below the tabletop.

Type height
classic bistro table 72 - 75 cm
bar table/bar table 110 - 115 cm
height-adjustable bar tables 72 - 112 cm
normal table height 70 - 80 cm

The high table or bar table, on the other hand, has a height of 110 - 115 cm and is particularly suitable for various occasions such as receptions, aperitifs and festivities. However, there are also models where the height can be individually adjusted. In this way, one table can be used for different purposes - which saves money and also space.

Shape and diameter

Bistro tables are mainly available in round and square shapes. However, they are also available as rectangular bar tables. The following dimensions are common for conventional bistro tables:

shape size
round 60 cm - 80 cm diameter
square 60 cm x 60 cm, 70 cm x 70 cm

Function

If you only have limited space available or you want to store your bistro table later, it is advisable to look for additional functions:

Folding function

With some models, you can fold down the tabletop, which makes it easy to put the table in a corner without it taking up too much space. Tables and chairs that have a scissor-type frame can be folded up as a whole and stored flat. This feature is the most ideal form when space is at a premium.

Height adjustability

Bar tables that can be individually adjusted in height are very practical. This gives you a classic bistro table and a bar table in one product. However, also pay attention to whether the table has a telescopic function and can thus be easily adjusted at the standpipe or whether you have to completely disassemble the table.

Adjustment screws

Another practical feature is the adjustment screws on the legs of the table. If the floor is uneven, this can be compensated for by slightly turning the screws.

Bistro tables: frequently asked questions and answers

In the following, we have selected the most frequently asked and most important questions about bistro tables and answered them in detail.

What is a bistro table?

A bistro table is a small, simple table that is available in a round or square shape. The table is approx. 60 cm wide and approx. 70 cm high. At this seat height, it is ideal for coffee get-togethers, small snacks, drinks and offers space for four people. Especially in the classic round version, the bistro table has a communicative quality, as the other person sits much closer to the conversation partner than would be the case with an ordinary dining table.

Thanks to its compact shape, it takes up little space in confined rooms, which is why it is often called a space miracle.

If the table and chairs are foldable, they can be stored or moved particularly easily.

However, bar tables, which are sometimes also called bar tables, snack tables or party tables and have a height of approx. 110 cm, are also considered bistro tables. They are often used at weddings, receptions, business events and parties. What both variants have in common is the small storage area.

Who is a bistro table suitable for?

Bistro tables are mainly used in the catering industry. Especially in cafés, the image of the small, round tables is familiar both indoors and outdoors. For restaurateurs who run a café or offer a small menu, the small space-saving wonders are ideal for saving space and still creating a cosy atmosphere.

Bistrotisch-01

Bistro or salon tables are particularly suitable for coffee and cake and an extended conversation with your best friend.
(Image source: pixabay / freestocks-photos)

But bistro tables are also popular at home. If the kitchen or balcony is quite small, a bistro table set can still be used to create a small coffee and chatting corner. If the table is not exactly made of heavy iron or a marble top, it can also be repositioned quite easily. This allows you to enjoy your garden from different places.

What types of bistro tables are there?

There is a large selection of bistro tables. They come in a wide variety of materials, styles, colours and designs. Basically, bistro tables can be divided into two types: the classic bistro table at seat height and the high table.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Bistro table (sitting height) suitable for coffee and cake, chatting, staying for a long time for 4 people
Standing table suitable for weddings, parties, receptions, for groups and several people only for short periods

With the different heights of both variants, the intended use is also completely different. Ordinary bistro tables are perfect for a cosy chat over coffee and cake or other drinks. In contrast, the bar table is popular for champagne receptions, weddings and various parties where dynamism and movement between the bar tables is desired.

Bar tables have a connecting function between several people and groups.

However, the time spent at a bistro table is much longer and more intensive than at a bar table. Models that can be converted from a bistro table to a high table are very practical.

Furthermore, bistro tables are subdivided according to their shape. The classic round version is the most common, but angular shapes, especially the square shape, are also common.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Round bistro table harmonious, comfortable, seats several people, opposite person in view, very communicative limited storage space, cannot be put together
Square bistro table can be placed next to each other, can be placed against a wall, more storage space only seats four people

Round tables have the advantage that they look very harmonious and, if in doubt, also offer space for several people. At a round table, everyone has their opposite in view, which gives it a very communicative quality.

With square tables, every other person would sit at a corner. However, a square table has the advantage that it can easily be placed next to another square table and thus extended. It can also be placed against the wall and offers more storage space for drinks and food. A round table stands more on its own, lining up is possible but not ideal.

What does a bistro table cost?

The price of bistro tables depends mainly on the choice of material.

Type Price
Bistro table aluminium/steel 35 - 90 euros
Bistro table wood 34 - 100 euros
Bistro table with marble top 90 - 400 euros
Bistro table iron 50 - 300 euros

The cheapest variants are certainly bistro tables made of aluminium-steel and wood. Bistro tables with a marble top and cast iron base as well as those made of iron are real gems, but they also have their price.

Which bistro tables are suitable for the balcony and garden?

If you want to set up your bistro table on the balcony or in the garden, it is advisable to look for weather-resistant materials. These include, above all, aluminium-stainless steel and powder-coated steel. Iron tables are also suitable for outdoor use, but the table should be checked regularly for damage to prevent rust.

Garden tables are made of hardwoods, which are winterproof and weather-resistant.

Wooden garden tables are often offered in acacia and teak. Both types of wood are very hard and less sensitive to moisture. If you only have limited space on the balcony, we recommend a table with a fold-down tabletop. If you want to buy a set of table and chairs, it is very practical if you can also fold the chairs.

Which bistro tables are suitable for the catering trade?

Bistro tables in the catering trade are used particularly intensively. They are moved, wiped down, repositioned, loaded and pushed off several times a day. When choosing the equipment, you should therefore look for high-quality materials and a good finish that protects against scratches and acid as much as possible.

Bistrotisch-02

Bistro tables take up little space and can still be put together in their angular form when several guests arrive - they are therefore true space wonders.
(Image source: pixabay / skitterphoto)

In the outdoor area, aspects such as resistance to cigarette burns, sunlight and frost should be considered, which you will find above all in models made of metal and stone.

In the hospitality industry, bistro tables should be as resistant as possible.

They convey a cooler atmosphere than wooden tables, for example, but are easier to clean and more resistant.

For outdoor use, make sure that your tables can be folded down and that the chairs are at least stackable.

When choosing the shape, remember that round tables look more harmonious. Square tables, however, can be arranged well if the number of guests increases and can also be placed against the wall without any problems.

What alternatives are there to a bistro table?

Bistro tables are special in their shape and height, so there are few or hardly any comparable alternatives. You can eat and drink at them and have a good conversation with the person sitting opposite you, as they are only an arm's length away. Below we would like to give you a few tips on what you can do if you don't have a bistro table.

Type Description
Lounge table Lounge tables are similar to bistro tables and come in a wide variety of designs. However, at under 60 cm high, they are lower than a bistro table.
Side table Side tables usually have a decorative purpose or serve to store various objects. They are also deeper than bistro tables, but can still be used to store drinks.
Dining table a dining table is comfortable to sit at, but lacks the immediacy and atmosphere that a bistro table combines.
Do-it-yourself You can also make a bar table yourself by stacking beer crates and attaching a wooden plate to them. This fun and creative idea can also be purchased directly on the internet.

What covers are available for bistro tables?

Covers for bistro tables, also called slipcovers, are mainly available for bar tables. They enhance a bistro table enormously and give it a luxurious touch at festivities and receptions.

Stretchable table covers adapt to your bistro table and look very elegant.

The material is mostly made of polyester and elastane, which makes it very stretchy and flexible.

They adapt to the shape of the table and look particularly elegant on bar tables with a scissor frame. However, there are also covers made only of polyester that fall down like an ordinary tablecloth. They are often held together with a satin ribbon and look very romantic.

Both versions are available in widths of 60 to 80 cm and are designed for a table height of 110 to 120 cm. There is a wide range of colours to choose from. The most common and elegant colours are white and beige.

How do I care for a bistro table?

Make sure you don't clean your table with a scratchy sponge. A damp microfibre cloth is more gentle, as it removes even light encrustations and is gentle on scratch-sensitive materials such as aluminium.

Wooden tables require more care than aluminium and steel tables and should be treated with a care oil 1-2 times a year. If you have placed a table outdoors, you should pay attention to wear and tear and rust spots, especially on iron tables.

Conclusion

Bistro tables are available in the classic version at seat height or as a high table. Both versions are available in a wide variety of materials and designs, and not every material is suitable for every location. That's why it's important to know where you want to set up your table: indoors or outdoors.

The classic bistro table consists of a marble top and a cast-iron table base. Inexpensive and weather-resistant models include tables made of stainless steel and aluminium. Other outdoor materials include coated steel, hardwood, iron and natural stone. If the tabletop or table frame can be folded down, the table can be stored again to save space. It is also very practical to choose a height-adjustable table. This way you have two table versions in one product.

Image source: Pin Lim/ 123rf.com

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