Difference Between A la Carte and Table d Hote

The main difference between a la Carte and table d hote is that the à la Carte is a menu type having a wide variety of courses that are individually priced whereas the table d’hôte is a menu type usually with a set number of courses, all for a set price.

Both à la Carte and table d’hôte are types of menus in a restaurant or a hotel, where customers can order their meal according to their wishes. Since à la Carte offers a wide variety of choices, the customer can select any dish of his/her preference and pay accordingly. On the other hand, the customer is limited to the set options in table d’hôte and has to pay the whole amount of the set price for the offered course.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is À la Carte 
     – Definition, Menu, Courses
2. What is Table D’hôte
     – Definition, Menu, Courses
3. What is the Difference Between À la Carte and Table D’hôte
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

À la Carte, Menu, Restaurant, Table d’hôte

Difference Between À la Carte and Table D’hôte - Comparison Summary

What is À la Carte 

This term is a French loanword used in 19th-century meaning ‘according to the menu’. À la Carte is a menu with a variety of dishes, which are individually priced. This helps the customers to select their preferable menu from a wide variety, which may include more main courses along with their side dishes too. In other words, each category will offer a wide selection of dishes. And these courses are priced separately, meaning their prices differ according to the course the customer chose, and eventually, the bill is according to the dishes the customer orders.

Main Difference - À la Carte vs Table d’hôte

Figure 01: À la Carte

Therefore, à la Carte dishes are only prepared after the customer orders his dishes, indicating that the customer should wait to get his order done. As a result, this

  • gives freshly cooked dishes to the customer
  • takes more time
  • needs a lot of preparation
  • needs a vast kitchen area
  • needs more kitchen equipment to serve various courses
  • needs a trained service staff
  • will result in more food wastage.

What is Table d’hôte?

Similar to the term à la Carte, table d’ hôte is also a French loanword which means ‘table of the host’. However, unlike à la Carte, table d’hôte has only a set number of courses, usually 2-4 courses. Therefore, it has a limited number of choices for the customer. Furthermore, there is a set price for this menu. So the customer, even if he consumes a certain dish or not, has to pay the full amount, set for this.

Main Difference - À la Carte vs Table d’hôte

Figure 02: Table d’hôte Menu Courses

This menu includes courses prepared beforehand and are thus available at a set time. So, the customer can obtain his desired dishes without waiting unlike from the à la Carte menu. Therefore, the set courses are prepared in bulk quantities. Moreover, this menu type is economical from the restaurant’s perspective since it has lesser wastage in comparison to the à la carte menu. Furthermore, it does not require a trained staff as for the a la carte menu type.

Generally, this practice is common in restaurants during holidays where entire families dine together such as Easter and Thanksgiving, or on couple-centric holidays like Valentine’s Day and Sweetest Day.

Difference Between A la Carte and Table d hote 


À la Carte is a menu type which includes a wider variety of courses that are individually priced whereas table d’hôte is the menu type consisting only of a set number of courses offered for a set price.


À la Carte menu has a vast number of dishes under different categories and courses while table d’hôte menu only has a limited number of dishes, usually ranging from 2-4 dishes.


All courses are priced separately in à la Carte. Therefore, the customer can pay accordingly, but in table d’hôte menu the set courses have a set price, so the customer has to pay the full amount even if he doesn’t consume all dishes.

Food Wastage

Foods wastage in the a la carte is high since it consists of multiple choices, but it is not that in table d’hote since it has a fixed number of choices. So they can be prepared beforehand and served quickly.

For the Customer

Since the customer can have a wider variety of courses from a la carte menu, he can enjoy a variety of courses according to his wishes and pay the bill accordingly. However, from table d’hote he is limited only to the set courses, and he has to pay the full amount even if he does not consume some of the dishes offered.


Both these two terms à la Carte and table d’hôte are restaurant terminologies. Both describe two menu types available for the customers. The main difference between a la Carte and table d hote is that à la Carte includes a wide variety of courses which are priced separately whereas the table d’hôte include only a set number of courses for a fixed price. Therefore, unlike the numerous choices the customer can have from the à la Carte menu, the choices he can get from table d’hôte menu is very limited.


1. “À la Carte “. Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.
2. “À La Carte.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 June 2018, Available here.
3. “Table D’hôte.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 June 2018, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “What used to be a plate of Filet de Tilapia à la Plancha, now just a dirty plate” by Mohamed Yahya (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr
2. “716803” (CC0) via pxhere

About the Author: Upen

Upen, BA (Honours) in Languages and Linguistics, has academic experiences and knowledge on international relations and politics. Her academic interests are English language, European and Oriental Languages, Internal Affairs and International Politics, and Psychology.

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