How to tag a country/culture(?) specific store?

I don’t think of it as a difference from the English word “cuisine” at all. We probably both agree on what constitutes Mexican cuisine, more or less, but differ on why Mexican cuisine is being mentioned in the context of a supermarket. Can cuisine=mexican only mean “serves food from Mexican cuisine”, or can it more broadly mean “known for facilitating Mexican cuisine”?

In linguistic terms, our key names introduce the comment but only imply the comment’s relationship to the topic (the feature). In other words, we lack true predicates. The few predicate-like keys that have been proposed end up looking out of place, such as is_sidepath:of. This predicate-less design enables iterative refinement but creates a lot of opportunities for misunderstanding.

I’d contend that the distinction between “serves food from a cuisine” and “caters to a cuisine” doesn’t really matter that much. If you search for supermarkets in Chicago and one of the results is labeled “Mexican”, you can safely assume that the supermarket carries fresh tortillas and pan dulce, even if both were made just steps away in the back of the store, well within the United States. I may buy bell peppers there for an Asian stir fry instead of for fajitas, but what difference does it make to the store’s overall character?

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That’s just it. I’d contend that what we’re really describing here is more about the store’s overall character than the cuisine(s) it facilitates. My local supermarket could reasonably be tagged with cuisine=american;mexican;jewish;italian;asian;etc because it has sections catering to these cuisines. Nobody would mistake this standard chain supermarket for a Mexican grocery store though. The character is completely different. One could argue that the presence of a Mexican section in a typical supermarket doesn’t qualify it to be tagged cuisine=mexican because that’s not what the store is known for, but it does facilitate that cuisine (among others) so I’d say it fits.

It seems like what we’re really looking for here is a tag to indicate the culture/character/type of a store. Relying solely on cuisine would make it more difficult to distinguish the Asian markets in my area from the supermarkets with (much more limited) Asian sections.

This is a fair point and I suppose if we only care about the basic selection of ingredients available then cuisine does the job just fine. The Mexican section in my local supermarket is decent, but it’s missing many things you’d find at a Mexican specific grocery store and it certainly doesn’t share the character. So it wouldn’t capture that fine distinction.


To be clear, I’m not advocating for blithely tagging every supermarket in your city with cuisine=mexican just because they all carry ingredients for making a taco. That’s the point at which you’d need to micromap each grocery store aisle. Nor am I suggesting that anyone inventory the store to determine the breakdown of products by cuisine.

At least in the U.S., an ethnic supermarket’s “character” influences the entire product selection, the branding and marketing, the decor, the language on all the price tags, even different amenities like a money transfer station. A mainstream supermarket and an ethnic supermarket can coexist side by side, something that almost never happens with two mainstream supermarkets.

Sure, we could call it the “culture” associated with a store. This would also allow us to express that a clothing store specializes in clothing from a culture, for example quinceañera dresses from culture=latin_american and saris from culture=south_asian. But I hesitate because it’s so prone to dilution. Before long, we’ll see culture=* tagged on ethnic enclaves as a crude proxy for demographic mapping, and then there’s that fraught discussion about tagging minority businesses. Keeping the focus on cuisines and food-oriented stores helps us avoid those much weightier, more subjective issues.


Maybe theme could also be used to tag the overall appearance? It would not be required for the shop owner to be from an ethnic/cultural minority, but focus on the appearance / theming.
e.g. shop:theme=chinese or mexican
Borrowing from playground:theme (I thought it was also proposed to use something similar to distinguish Irish pubs from other pubs, but I did not find much evidence when briefly looking for it).

It wouldn’t have to be restricted to nationalities but could be used for other shop theming as well.

E.g. could be useful to distinguish this kind of underwear shop (just making it up)

from ones like this:

I think this misses the point. This discussion isn’t really about the appearance and definitely isn’t about the owner’s identity, even if they may be correlated. The Japanese grocery store I shop at has no decor to speak of, and I don’t know if the shopkeeper is Japanese-American. :man_shrugging: It’s still a Japanese grocery store and they make sure you know that. They carry the authentic soy bean milk and handmade tofu that you won’t find at a mainstream supermarket fifty times its size, though I have to travel farther to a Vietnamese supermarket if I want the pandan-flavored soy bean milk or extra-firm tofu my family prefers.

If we need a more general term than “cuisine”, then I would prefer “specialty”, which avoids the risk of misuse in “culture” and the superficiality of “theme”. These are sometimes called “specialty stores”, although we would have to clarify that the tag is only for specialties that don’t already have dedicated shop=* tags. As with healthcare:speciality, we’d have to be somewhat vigilant about speciality=* turning into a marketing free-for-all.

I’ve also mapped some halal and kosher markets in my area. I’m unsure if we’d also want to fold these specialties under speciality=*, given the existing diet:*=* scheme.

(Note the extra “i” in speciality=*, because OSM is British-themed. :wink:)


Specialty seems a good term for what we’re talking about. The generic supermarket with an Asian food section does not specialize in it. The Tibetan market nearby does.

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OK, so the 7,739 non-eatery shops with cuisine would instead indicate the cuisine they specialize in using speciality=*. This would cause some data consumers like Organic Maps and OsmAnd to no longer list these shops by cuisine until they also add support for speciality=*.

What about the vegetarian supermarket that the wiki recommends tagging with diet:vegetarian=yes? That’s a specialty too, but apparently diet does not necessarily mean “serves food that adheres to a diet”.

How about this definition of speciality?

This key is for the shop’s specialty, the criteria according to which the shop defines its product selection. Use a more specific key or tag describing the specialty if it exists, for example, shop=health_food for a shop that specializes in healthful food. For a shop that specializes in a cuisine, use speciality=* instead of cuisine=*. For a specialty defined by diet, see diet:*=*. For a specialty defined by geography, see origin=*. For an eatery that specializes in a cuisine, use cuisine=* instead of speciality=*.

We’d also need to update the cuisine=* page, which has awkwardly talked about tagging cuisines on food shops since 2015 in response to a tagging mailing list thread. Avoiding cuisine=* still feels like a contradiction to me as long as we keep the other keys, but if this broadening of the term is causing confusion, then at least falling back to a new speciality=* key would avoid dataloss.

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I’ve been adding theme=irish for Irish Pubs. It’s even an iD preset. I don’t use cuisine=irish because (e.g.) a lot of the food served in Irish Pubs in USA is (I think) “generic American pub/restaurant food”.

I read theme as applying to the atmosphere, or decor, of a place, not directly what you can buy there. While a supermarket might have an ambience, I don’t think it’s quite right to combine that with “what sort of foods are available”


I still find cuisine=* very odd on fast food joints :wink:

Taytos at least: I spent an evening in an Irish pub in Offenburg about 25 years ago and the bar maid from Dundalk was flogging the Taytos like there was no tomorrow.

Ironically, in healthcare settings in the UK, the word is “specialty”!

Wait, what? Next you’ll tell me a round football is actually a soccer ball!

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I had a similar question and posted it here How to tag shops specialising in products from a certain country?

I understand that the consensus is that such shops should be tagged like they would be tagged in their home place (an Italian food store should be tagged like it would be if it was in Italy, for instance) and additionally with cuisine=* if it is mainly selling (processed) food and origin=* if it is mainly non-food. Is this something we could document in the wiki?


  • origin=*, specifying the country of origin of goods (e.g. for ethnic food and product shops)
  • cuisine=*, for specialized food shops
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Thanks, I think that formulation captures a much more reasonable distinction than the one about prepared dishes. A grocer that specializes in ethnic foods not necessarily from a specific country can still be tagged, as they always have been, using cuisine.

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I also added a mention on the Key:cuisine - OpenStreetMap Wiki page

these shops usually or often differ from shops in their owner’s home country, because they tend to offer a wider selection of goods and to be less specialized. Also the more distant they are the less likely they will be able to offer fresh and perishable foods. You won’t find an “Italian food” shop in Italy, you would find groceries, convenience stores, butchers, delis etc. You would also see that “Italian” is much less a category in Italy than “Sicilian”, “Tuscan”, or what ever other Italian region (food often is classified by region, while categories such as “Chinese” or “Italian” etc. make more sense from far away).

+1 for cuisine and origin anyway, but should not be limited to nations.

I had in mind to give some guidance on selecting the value of the shop tag: if the food it sells would be considered luxury in Italy, tag it shop+deli, if the product range is what you would find in an ordinary convenience store in Italy, tag it shop=convenience, if it sells mostly Italian meat products, tag it shop=butcher, etc. All in combination with cuisine=italian

In practice, this is true of some countries, but Italian is a common category in Italy (possibly for pan-Italian eateries):

Note that what can be sold in an ordinary convenience store in one location can be a luxury product elsewhere. For an extreme case: during communist times in Poland some products were considered as luxury goods (oranges, jeans, Coca-cola etc). While being considered as normal products at the same time in Western Europe

Yeah, in Portugal it’s also common to have restaurants specialized in “traditional Portuguese” food, tagged with cuisine=portuguese.

Btw, there’s also cuisine=traditional which probably should use a more specific tag because what it means is location-dependent… :thinking:

Yes, this is probably more relevant to the thread about cuisines for eateries, but cuisine=regional is another one that seems to have a context-dependent meaning, as in something specific to a region of the current country. That tag used to be more popular back when there were fewer cuisine values, so mappers were shyer about introducing more obscure but more descriptive values for specific regional cuisines.

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