The food service sector continues to be the most common setting for reported foodborne disease outbreaks in England and Wales. Using restaurant-associated foodborne outbreaks reported in England and Wales from 1992 to 2009, cuisine-specific risk factors were examined. Of 677 restaurant outbreaks, there were 11 795 people affected, 491 hospitalizations, and seven deaths; and Chinese, Indian, British and Italian cuisines were the most commonly implicated (26%, 16%, 13% and 10%, respectively). Salmonella spp. accounted for most outbreaks of all cuisine types, and particularly Chinese (76%, 133/175) and Italian (55%, 38/69). Poultry meat was the most frequently implicated food vehicle in outbreaks associated with Indian (30%), Chinese (21%), and British (18%) cuisines while for Italian cuisine, desserts and cakes were more frequently implicated (33%). Rice dishes were also a common outbreak food vehicle in those restaurants serving Chinese (22%) and Indian (16%) cuisine. Cross-contamination was the biggest contributory factor associated with Chinese (46%), British (33%) and Indian (30%) cuisines whereas inadequate cooking (38%) and use of raw shell eggs in lightly cooked or uncooked food (35%) were more often associated with Italian cuisine. Over the surveillance period, the proportion of Salmonella Enteritidis PT4 outbreaks in restaurants serving Chinese cuisine significantly decreased (P<0·0001) and this was mirrored by an increase in S. Enteritidis non-PT4 outbreaks (P<0·0001). Despite this change in proportion, contributory factors such as cross-contamination have continued to cause outbreaks throughout the 18 years. The results show that by stratifying the risks associated with restaurants by cuisine type, specific evidence of food control failures can be used to target foodborne illness reduction strategies.