Fodor's Paris - Fodor's (2016)
Where to Eat
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Updated by Jennifer Ladonne
A new wave of culinary confidence has been running through one of the world’s great food cities and spilling over both banks of the Seine. Whether cooking up grand-mère’s roast chicken and riz au lait or placing a whimsical hat of cotton candy atop wild-strawberry-and-rose ice cream, Paris chefs—established and up-and-coming, native and foreign—have been breaking free from the tyranny of tradition and following their passion.
Emblematic of the “bistronomy” movement is the proliferation of “gastrobistros”—often in far-flung or newly chic neighborhoods—helmed by established chefs fleeing the constraints of the star system or passionate young chefs unfettered by overblown expectations. Among the seasoned stars and exciting newcomers to the scene are Yannick Alléno, who left behind two Michelin stars at Le Meurice to open his locavore bistro Terroir Parisien and the new Terroir Parisien at the Palais Brogniart; David Toutain at the exceptional Restaurant David Toutain; sibling chefs Maxime and Romain Teschenko’s Le Galopin; and Katsuaki Okiyama’s Abri.
But self-expression is not the only driving force behind the current trend. A traditional high-end restaurant can be prohibitively expensive to operate. As a result, more casual bistros and cafés, which reflect the growing allure of less formal dining and often have lower operating costs and higher profit margins, have become attractive opportunities for even top chefs.
For tourists, this development can only be good news, because it makes the cooking of geniuses such as Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Eric Frechon, and Pierre Gagnaire a bit more accessible (even if these star chefs rarely cook in their lower-price restaurants) and opens up a vast range of new possibilities for exciting dining.
Like the chefs themselves, Paris diners are breaking away from tradition with renewed enthusiasm. New restaurants, wine bars, and rapidly multiplying épicieries and sandwich shops recognize that not everyone wants a three-course blowout every time they dine out. And because Parisians are more widely traveled than in the past, many ethnic restaurants—notably the best North African, Vietnamese-Laotian, Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese spots—are making fewer concessions to French tastes, resulting in far better food.
For tantalizing wines, good food, and great value, look no farther than one of Paris’s many wine bars. The past 10 years have seen an explosion of a new kind of bar à vins, or, more accurately, cave à manger—essentially amplified wineshops with a few tables, which serve a plate or two of regional cheeses or artisanal charcuterie to complement the wines. The new generation of cavists stood apart as champions of natural wines, which are unfiltered, contain minimal or no added sulphites, and are often bio (organic) or grown biodynamically, that is, according to a specific set of agricultural guidelines. As the natural-wine movement dovetailed with the crusade toward simply prepared foods made from quality seasonal ingredients, the contemporary wine bar was born. Indeed, the food in a handful of wine bars now rivals that in the best Paris bistros—and can be a lot more affordable. Whatever the emphasis, the upward trajectory of the wine bar has had a major hand in reinvigorating Paris’s wine-and-food scene.
Wine bars usually keep restaurant hours (noon to 2 pm and 7:30 to 11 pm); some combine with an épicerie (gourmet grocer), stay open all day, and close earlier in the evening; others offer a late-night scene. Although casual, most wine bars nowadays require reservations, so call in advance, especially if Sunday brunch is available—still a rarity in Paris. Look for the “wine bar” designation in our restaurant listings.
Some restaurants provide booster seats, but don’t count on them: be sure to ask when you confirm your reservation.
Paris restaurants generally serve food from noon to 2 pm and from 7:30 or 8 pm to about 11 pm. Brasseries have longer hours and often serve all day and late into the evening; some are open 24 hours. Surprisingly, many restaurants close on Saturday as well as Sunday, and Monday closings are also not uncommon. July and August are common months for annual closings, but restaurants may also close for a week in February, around Easter, or at Christmas.
All establishments must post menus outside so they’re available to look over before you enter. Most have two basic types of menu: à la carte and fixed price (prix fixe, le menu, or la formule). Although it limits your choices, the prix fixe is usually the best value. If you feel like indulging, the menu dégustation (tasting menu), consisting of numerous small courses, lets you sample the chef’s offerings.
Most sommeliers are knowledgeable about their lists and can make appropriate suggestions after you’ve made your tastes and budget known. Simpler spots serve wine in carafes (en carafe, or en pichet). All restaurants sell wine by the glass, but prices can be steep; be sure to do the math.
Restaurant staff will nearly always greet you with the phrase “Avez-vous réservé?” (Have you reserved?), and a confident “Oui” is the best answer, even in a neighborhood bistro. Although some wine bars do not take reservations—or take them online only—many do, so call and check.
Many Parisians are accustomed to smoking before, during, and after meals, but since 2008, the national smoking ban was extended to restaurants, bars, and cafés. Many establishments have compensated by adding covered terraces for smokers, but you’ll be happy to know that inside, the air is much clearer.
TIPPING AND TAXES
According to French law, prices must include tax and tip (service compris or prix nets), but pocket change left on the table in cafés, or an additional 5% in better restaurants, is always appreciated. Beware of bills stamped “Service Not Included” in English or restaurants slyly using American-style credit-card slips, hoping that you’ll be confused and add the habitual 15% tip.
WHAT IT COSTS
You’ll be lucky to find a good bistro meal for €25 or less, even at lunch, so consider economizing on some meals to have more to spend on the others. Slurping inexpensive Japanese noodles on Rue Ste-Anne, grabbing a sandwich at a casual eatery, or having a picnic in a park will save euros for dinner. And, of course, if you’ve rented an apartment, you can shop at the city’s wonderful markets and cook a few meals at “home.”
WHAT TO WEAR
Casual dress is acceptable at all but the fanciest restaurants—this usually means stylish sportswear, which might be a bit dressier than in the United States. When in doubt, leave the T-shirts and sneakers behind. If an establishment requires jacket and tie, it’s noted in the review.
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The Islands | Around the Eiffel Tower | The Champs-Élysées | Around the Louvre | Opéra/Grands Boulevards | Montmartre | Marais | Eastern Paris | Latin Quarter | St-Germain-des-Prés | Montparnasse | Western Paris
The Ile de la Cité and Ile St-Louis are great for sightseeing, which is why much of the dining scene on these islands revolves around fast food and tourist traps. Luckily, a few long-established brasseries and inspired bistros on the elegant Ile St-Louis—not to mention the legendary Berthillon, the city’s great glacier (ice-cream maker)—more than compensate. Among the shops, épiceries, and ancient bookstores of the Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, the island’s central spine, you’ll find enough quality dining to keep you satisfied at any time of the day.
Brasserie de l’Isle Saint-Louis.
$$ | BRASSERIE | With so much going for it, including a dream location on the tip of Ile St-Louis overlooking the Seine and Notre-Dame, you’d think this charming brasserie, like so many before it, would have succumbed to its own success. Yet it remains exactly what a decent neighborhood brasserie should be, with an authentic decor, efficiently friendly service, and solid brassiere fare—classic leeks vinaigrette, country terrine, and a savory onion tarte à la maison for starters, followed by tender sole meuniere, classic choucroute, or buttered entrecôte. The outdoor terrace simply can’t be beat. | Average main: €19 | 55 quai de Bourbon, 4e, Ile St-Louis | 01-43-54-02-59 | www.labrasserie-isl.fr | Closed Wed. | Reservations not accepted | Station: Pont Marie, Maubert-Mutualité, Sully-Morland.
Fodor’s Choice | Mon Vieil Ami.
$$ | MODERN FRENCH | “Modern Alsatian” might sound like an oxymoron, but once you’ve tasted the food here, you’ll understand. The updated medieval dining room—stone walls and dark-wood tables—provides a stylish milieu for the inventive cooking orchestrated by star Alsatian chef Antoine Westermann, which showcases heirloom vegetables (such as yellow carrots and pink-and-white beets) from star producer Joël Thiébault. Pâtéen croûte (wrapped in pastry) with a knob of foie gras is hard to resist among the starters. Among the mains, red mullet might come in a bouillabaisse sauce with sautéed baby artichokes, and the shoulder of lamb with white beans, preserved lemon, and cilantro has become a classic. This is not necessarily the place for a romantic dinner, since seating is a little tight, but the quality of the food never falters, and the portions are quite generous. | Average main: €24 | 69 rue St-Louis-en-l’Ile, 4e, Ile St-Louis | 01-40-46-01-35 | www.mon-vieil-ami.com | Station: Pont Marie.
AROUND THE EIFFEL TOWER
Lively bistros and daring contemporary restaurants bring unexpected exuberance to the otherwise sedate streets around the Eiffel Tower. Because money is rarely an object in this area, you can find everything from top-notch contemporary restaurants that draw foodies to nostalgic bistros that appeal to aristocratic residents with comfort-food cravings.
$$ | BISTRO | This otherwise unexciting arrondissement has become home to yet another promising young chef: Ludivine Merlin. Basque cooking is known for its bold flavors and generosity, and the choices at Afaria are no exception: crisp-skinned duck breast with balsamic-fig vinegar (for two) is served dramatically, inside a ceramic roof tile, with the accompanying potato gratin perched on a bed of twigs; and big chunks of spoon-tender, slow-cooked pork from Gascony come in an earthenware dish with cubes of roasted celery root. Another signature dish consists of slices of blood sausage layered with apple and topped with grainy mustard. Tapas are served at a high table near the entrance, and there’s a large-screen TV for rugby matches. | Average main: €20 | 15 rue Desnouettes, 15e, Around the Eiffel Tower | 01-48-42-95-90 | www.restaurant-afaria.fr | Closed Sun. and Mon., 3 wks in Aug. | Station: Convention.
Au Bon Accueil.
$$$$ | BISTRO | To see what well-heeled Parisians like to eat these days, book a table at this chic little bistro run by Jacques Lacipière as soon as you get to town. The contemporary dining room is unusually comfortable, and the sidewalk tables have an Eiffel Tower view, but it’s the excellent, well-priced cuisine du marché that has made this spot a hit. Typical of the sophisticated fare from chef Keita Kitamura, who trained at Le Bristol, are Salers beef and green asparagus, roast lobster with mushroom risotto, and game in season. House-made desserts could include citrus terrine with passion-fruit sorbet or caramelized apple mille-feuille with hazelnut ice cream. The €35 prix-fixe menu for lunch or dinner, featuring dishes with a distinct haute-cuisine touch, is one of the city’s great bargains. For a splurge, there’s also a more elaborate menu degustation for €50. | Average main: €35 | 14 rue de Monttessuy, 7e, Around the Eiffel Tower | 01-47-05-46-11 | www.aubonaccueilparis.com | Closed weekends and 3 wks in Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Métro or RER: Pont de l’Alma.
$$ | BISTRO | There’s something very grown-up about the cooking of young chef Guillaume Delage, which isn’t so much of a surprise when you learn that he trained with the likes of Michel Bras, Frédéric Anton (of Le Pré Catelan), and Pierre Gagnaire. It’s worth making your way to what seems like the middle of nowhere to taste his nostalgic bistro cooking with a modern touch: you might find pâté en croûte among the chef’s suggestions, but there are also dishes like the shrimp with saté spices, creamed black rice, and spinach. The best value is the €38 set menu (€31 for lunch), with several choices for each course; the tasting menu is €57. Though simple, the gray-and-burgundy dining room decorated with mirrors and vintage posters has charm. | Average main: €23 | 208 rue de la Croix-Nivert, 15e, Around the Eiffel Tower | 01-45-57-73-20 | www.bistrotjadisparis.com | Closed weekends and 1 wk at Christmas | Reservations essential | Station: Convention or Porte de Versailles.
L’Os à Moelle.
$ | BISTRO | Come for the early sitting at this little bistro specializing in classic French fare and you’ll often discover the dining room filled with more than a few English and Japanese tourists (the waiters speak English automatically). The reasonably priced €23, €32,and €35set menus (there’s also a €60 five-course menu with wine pairings) may account for the restaurant’s popularity—there are two, sometimes three, dinner sittings each night. The service can be brusque, with waiters plunking even the higher-priced bottles of wine on the table without waiting for the customer to swill and slurp. Still, these problems seem to be minor judging by the ever-crowded tables. | Average main: €16 | 3 rue Vasco de Gama, 15e, Around the Eiffel Tower | 01-45-57-27-27 | n/a | Closed Sun. and Mon. | Reservations essential | Station: Balard.
Le Café Constant.
$ | BISTRO | Parisians are a nostalgic bunch, which explains the popularity of this down-to-earth venue from esteemed chef Christian Constant. This is a relatively humble bistro with cream-color walls, red banquettes, and wooden tables, and you’ll often see Constant himself perched at the bar at the end of lunch service. The menu reads like a French cookbook from the 1970s—who cooks veal cordon bleu these days?—but with Constant overseeing the kitchen, the dishes taste even better than before. There’s delicious and creamy lentil soup with morsels of foie gras, and the artichoke salad comes with fresh—not bottled or frozen—hearts. A towering vacherin (meringue layered with ice cream) might bring this delightfully retro meal to a close. On weekdays there is a bargain lunch menu for €16 (two courses) or €23 (three courses). | Average main: €16 | 139 rue St-Dominique, 7e, Around the Eiffel Tower | 01-47-53-73-34 | www.cafeconstant.com | Reservations not accepted | Station: Métro École Militaire; Métro or RER: Pont de l’Alma.
Le Grand Colbert.
$$$ | BRASSERIE | One of the few independently owned brasseries left in Paris, Le Grand Colbert, with its globe lamps and ceiling moldings, feels grand yet not overpolished. It attracts a wonderfully Parisian mix of elderly lone diners, business lunchers, tourists, and couples, all of whom come for the enormous seafood platters, duck foie gras with Sauternes jelly, and steak tartare, as well as a few southern-influenced dishes. Whet your appetite with one of the “unjustly forgotten” aperitifs, such as bitter Salers or sweet Lillet Blanc, then expect neither a great bargain nor a life-changing meal: the kitchen does simple fare best. Finish with profiteroles (choux pastry filled with ice cream and smothered in a hot chocolate sauce). Popular with a posttheater crowd, Le Grand Colbert is also a pleasant destination between 3 and 6 pm for rich hot chocolate and cakes. | Average main: €25 | 2 rue Vivienne, 2e, Around the Louvre | 01-42-86-87-88 | www.legrandcolbert.fr | Station: Bourse.
Le Jules Verne.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Alain Ducasse doesn’t set his sights low, so it was no real surprise when he took over this prestigious dining room on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower and had designer Patrick Jouin give the room a neo-futuristic look in shades of brown. Sauces and pastries are prepared in a kitchen below the Champ de Mars before being whisked up the elevator to the kitchen, which is overseen by young chef Pascal Féraud. Most accessible is the €98 lunch menu (weekdays only), which brings you à la carte dishes in slightly smaller portions. Spend more (about €185 to €230 per person without drinks) and you’ll be entitled to more lavish dishes such as lobster with celery root and black truffle, and fricassee of Bresse chicken with crayfish. For dessert the kitchen reinterprets French classics, as in an unsinkable pink grapefruit soufflé with grapefruit sorbet. Book months ahead or try your luck at the last minute. | Average main: €82 | Tour Eiffel, south pillar, Av. Gustave Eiffel, 7e, Around the Eiffel Tower | 01-45-55-61-44 | www.lejulesverne-paris.com | Reservations essential | Jacket and tie | Station: Bir-Hakeim.
$$ | MODERN FRENCH | A quiet residential street shelters one of the best-value bistros around: prix-fixe menus start at €30 at lunch and rise to €41 for a six-course tasting menu (there are also à la carte selections), but it’s the quality, not quantity, that counts. Chef Marc Mouton sends out a changing roster of dishes from the Basque and Béarn regions of southwestern France, and a typical meal might include vegetable soup with foie gras and cream, panfried scallops in crab sauce or axoa de veau (a Basque veal sauté), and a vanilla soufflé with cherry jam. Béarn red wine fills the glasses and happy regulars fill the dining room. | Average main: €21 | 21 rue François-Bonvin, 15e, Around the Eiffel Tower | 01-45-66-89-00 | Closed Sun., Mon., 3 wks in Aug., 1 wk in May, and 1 wk at Christmas | Station: Ségur.
Le Violon d’Ingres.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Following in the footsteps of Joël Robuchon and Alain Senderens, Christian Constant gave up the Michelin-star chase in favor of relatively accessible prices and a packed dining room (book at least a week ahead). And with Grégory Gbiorczyk in charge of the kitchen here, Constant can dash among his four restaurants on this street, making sure the hordes are happy. Why wouldn’t they be? The food is sophisticated and the atmosphere is lively; you can even find signature dishes like the almond-crusted sea bass with rémoulade (a buttery caper sauce), alongside game and scallops (in season), and comforting desserts like pots de crème and chocolate tart. With wines starting at around €35 (and a €49 lunch menu on weekdays) this is a wonderful place for a classic yet informal French meal. | Average main: €36 | 135 rue St-Dominique, 7e, Around the Eiffel Tower | 01-45-55-15-05 | www.leviolondingres.com | Reservations essential | Station: École Militaire.
Les Cocottes de Christian Constant.
$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Chef Christian Constant has an unfailing sense of how Parisians want to eat these days, as proved by this third addition to his mini restaurant empire near the Eiffel Tower. At Les Cocottes he’s shifted the normally leisurely bistro experience into high gear, which allows him to keep prices moderate. Seated at a long counter on slightly uncomfortable stools that discourage lingering, diners can mix and match from a menu of soups, salads, cocottes (dishes served in cast-iron pots), verrines (starters presented in tapas-style glasses), and comforting desserts, all made from fresh, seasonal ingredients. Bonus: lunch and dinner are served seven days a week. | Average main: €19 | 135 rue St-Dominique, 7e, Around the Eiffel Tower | 01-45-50-10-31 | www.maisonconstant.com | Station: École Militaire; Métro or RER: Pont de l’Alma.
Fodor’s Choice | Restaurant David Toutain.
$$$$ | FRENCH FUSION | Youthful David Toutain is often called a prodigy, a status applied sparingly in Paris and in this case well deserved. Although his approach may be exasperatingly conceptual for some, others find his earthy, surprising, and inspired concoctions utterly thrilling. Each dish is a lesson in contrasts—of temperature, texture, and flavor—as well as a feat of composition: briny oysters, brussels sprouts, and foie gras in a warm potato consommé; creamy raw oysters with tart kiwi and yuzu; crispy pork chips alongside velvety smoked potato puree. Toutain has a particular soft spot for root vegetables and truffles, which he sprinkles liberally throughout dishes like salsify broth with lardo and black truffle. The €42 lunch menu is a great way to sample a unique and challenging cuisine that changes daily. | Average main: €40 | 29 rue Surcouf, 7e, Around the Eiffel Tower | 01-45-50-11-10 | www.davidtoutain.com | Closed weekends | Reservations essential | Station: Invalides, La Tour-Maubourg.
$ | CAFÉ | A lofty space near the Musée Rodin and the Bon Marché makes this the perfect pit stop between museum going and shopping. Look for healthy salads, sandwiches, snacks, desserts, and a delicious cup of any kind of coffee drink that takes your fancy. The sourced artisanal beans are freshly and lovingly roasted on the premises. | Average main: €7 | 47 rue de Babylone, 7e, Invalides | 01-45-51-50-47 | No dinner | Reservations not accepted | Station: Saint-François Xavier, Sèvres-Babylone.
$$$ | BISTRO | The red-checked tablecloths and jovial maître d’hôtel at this authentic southwestern French bistro near the École Militaire might seem like a tourist cliché—until you realize that the boisterous dining room is just as popular with food-loving locals and French politicians as it is with foreigners. The best way to start a meal here is with the “chariot” of starters, everything from lentil salad to ratatouille; just point to the ones you want. Classics among the main courses are duck confit with sautéed garlic potatoes, cassoulet, and game dishes in winter. Everything is hearty and delicious, if not especially refined—don’t miss the gooey help-yourself chocolate mousse. Best value is the weekday lunch tradition gourmande set menu for €34, which brings you the hors d’oeuvres spread, a main course, and three desserts (you can try them all). | Average main: €30 | 2 av. de Lowendal, 7e, Invalides | 01-47-05-52-55 | www.chezeux.com | Closed Aug. | Station: Varenne, École Militaire.
$$$$ | FRENCH FUSION | It might seem audacious to present hungry diners with nothing more than a wine list, but the gamble is paying off for Enrico Bernardo at his wine-centric restaurant with a branch in Courchevel, in the French Alps. This charismatic Italian left the George V to oversee a dining room where food plays second fiddle (in status, not quality). The hip decor—plum-color banquettes, body-hugging white chairs, a few high tables—attracts a mostly young clientele that’s happy to play the game by ordering one of the blind, multicourse tasting menus. The €95 menu, with four dishes and four wines, is a good compromise that might bring you a white Mâcon with saffron risotto, crisp Malvasia with crabmeat and black radish, a full-bodied red from Puglia with Provençal-style lamb, sherry-like vin jaune d’Arbois with aged Comté cheese, and sweet Jurançon with berry crumble. You can also order individual wine-food combinations à la carte or pick a bottle straight from the cellar and ask for a meal to match. | Average main: €40 | 13 bd. de la Tour-Maubourg, 7e, Invalides | 01-44-11-72-00 | www.ilvinobyenricobernardo.com | Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch Sat. | Reservations essential | Station: Invalides.
$$$$ | BASQUE | If you love Yves Camdeborde’s southwestern France-inflected cooking at Le Comptoir but can’t get a table for dinner, head to this tavern-like Basque restaurant run by his longtime second-in-command, Stéphane Jégo. Jégo’s style is remarkably similar to Camdeborde’s because he uses the same suppliers and shares his knack for injecting basic ingredients with sophistication reminiscent of haute cuisine. You can go hearty with Spanish piquillo peppers stuffed with salt-cod paste or poulet basquaise (chicken stewed with peppers), or lighter with seasonal dishes that change weekly. The restaurant is popular with rugby fans (a sport beloved of Basques), who create a festive mood. Reserve at least a week ahead for dinner. | Average main: €39 | 27 rue Malar, 7e, Invalides | 01-47-05-86-89 | www.lamijean.fr | Closed Sun., Mon., and Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Invalides.
French Restaurant Types
Bistro: The broadest category, a bistro can be a simple, relaxed restaurant serving traditional fare, one of the new “bistronomic” eateries, or a chic hot spot where dinner costs more than €50 per person. The bistro menu is fairly limited and usually changes with the season.
Brasserie: More informal than a bistro, the brasserie is large, lively, and always has a bar. Ideal for relatively quick meals, it often specializes in Alsatian fare, like choucroute garnie (a mixed meat dish with sauerkraut and potatoes) or seafood platters. With flexible hours (usually open all day and well into the night) and diverse menus, brasseries are an excellent choice if you’re traveling with kids.
Café: Often an informal neighborhood hangout, the café may also be a showplace attracting a well-heeled crowd or one of the newer barista cafés serving up a virtuosic brew to a much more exacting standard. A limited menu of sandwiches, simple dishes, and classic desserts is usually available throughout the day. Beware of the prices: a half bottle of mineral water can cost €5 or more.
French Fusion: The French fusion restaurant has discernable influences of French cuisine and the cuisine of another region or country.
Haute French: Ambitious and expensive, the haute French restaurant is helmed by a pedigreed chef who prepares multicourse meals to be remembered.
Modern French: Although not necessarily super expensive or pretentious, the modern French restaurant boasts a creative menu showcasing a variety of culinary influences.
Wine Bar: A more recent phenomenon, the wine bar serves more than the usual three or four wines by the glass—and often with an emphasis on natural wines—along with traditional charcuterie or cheese, small dishes, or, more often nowadays, a full gourmet meal.
Fodor’s Choice | L’Arpège.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Breton-born Alain Passard, one of the most respected chefs in Paris, famously shocked the French culinary world by declaring that he was bored with meat. Though his vegetarianism is more theoretical than practical—L’Arpège still caters to fish and poultry eaters—he does cultivate his own vegetables outside Paris, which are then zipped into the city twice a day by high-speed train. His dishes elevate the humblest vegetables to sublime heights: salt-roasted beets with aged balsamic vinegar, leeks with black truffles, black radishes, and cardon, a kind of thistle related to the artichoke, with parmigiano-reggiano. Seafood dishes such as turbot cooked at a low temperature for three hours or lobster braised in vin jaune from the Jura are also extraordinary—as are the prices. A €140 lunch menu, while still pricey, gives access to this revered cuisine. The understated decor places the emphasis firmly on the food, but try to avoid the gloomy cellar room. | Average main: €100 | 84 rue de Varenne, 7e,Invalides | 01-47-05-09-06 | www.alain-passard.com | Closed weekends | Station: Varenne.
Eating Vegetarian in Paris
Vegetarianism was so uncommon in Paris that star chef Alain Passard caused a sensation when he declared a few years ago that he was bored with red meat and would be focusing on vegetables and fish. True to his word, Passard established a small farm outside Paris where he grows heirloom vegetables that are whizzed to his restaurant L’Arpège (84 rue Varenne, 01-45-51-47-33) by high-speed train. Customers pay the price; a simple yet sensational beet dish costs €45. Though Paris is hardly a vegetarian paradise, Passard’s initiative seems to have rubbed off on other chefs in the 7e. Le Violon d’Ingres (135 rue St-Dominique, 01-45-55-15-05) and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (5 rue Montalembert, 01-42-22-56-56) both cater, with imagination, to vegetarians. Next door, in the 8e, Alain Ducasse’s splendid dining room in the newly spiffed up Plaza Athénée (Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée, 25 av. Montaigne, 01-53-67-65-00) gives Arpège its first real Paris competition. The superstar-chef’s stellar new menu puts grains, vegetables—sourced from Versailles’s jardin de la reine—and fish front and center.
Fodor’s Choice | La Table d’Aki.
$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Did the stars align during our meal, or could it be that La Table d’Aki actually is the most perfect restaurant in Paris? Set in a quiet, aristocratic quartier near the Musée Rodin, its pale celadon walls, crisp white linen, and restrained lighting add up to a simple elegance, all the better to highlight chef Akihiro Horikoshi’s thrilling cuisine centered on the sea. Amazingly, Horikoshi works all alone in an open kitchen while 16 lucky diners await the next course: lush, simple dishes like plump langoustine shimmering in a silky shallot-fennel sauce, or delicate medallions of sole in a mellow red-wine-and-leek reduction. In the hands of another chef, the attempt to create these feasts alone would be an act of hubris, but chef Horikoshi is only guilty of making more unrepentant fans: some have even been known to order all four entrées at one sitting or toast the chef repeatedly with their post-dinner cognac, and all practically genuflect their way out the door. | Average main: €32 | 49 rue Vaneau, 7e, Invalides | 01-45-44-43-48 | Closed Sun., Mon., 2 wks in Feb., and Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Saint Francis-Xavier.
$$$$ | BRASSERIE | Former Crillon chef Jean-François Piège and Thierry Costes, of the fashionable brasserie clan that created Café Marly and Le Georges, are behind the revival of this old-world bistro. The space has thankfully preserved much of its vintage character, with globe lights and etched mirrors. Despite its location in the sedate 7e arrondissement, this has quickly become the place to be seen, with food that’s a good notch above brasserie fare. A juicy Angus beef hamburger comes with a superfluous shower of Parmesan and ultraskinny fries, while the more sophisticated slow-cooked salmon is accompanied by vegetables from star market gardener Joël Thiébault. For dessert, try the piping-hot churros with chocolate sauce. The new restaurant gastronomique upstairs is ever so chic and a good bit pricier, yet proffers an experience commensurate with the top bistros in town (there’s a €154 set menu at lunch and dinner and a €99 three-course menu at lunch). Reservations are taken exactly six days ahead. | Average main: €40 | 79 rue St-Dominique, 7e, Invalides | 01-47-05-49-75 | www.thoumieux.fr | Reservations essential | Station: La Tour-Maubourg.
Fodor’s Choice | Hiramatsu.
$$$$ | FRENCH FUSION | In this Art Deco dining room near Trocadéro, Yoshiaki Ito continues his variations on the subtly Japanese-inspired French cuisine of restaurant namesake Hiroyuki Hiramatsu, who still sometimes works the kitchen. Luxury ingredients feature prominently in dishes such as thin slices of lamb with onion jam and thyme-and-truffle-spiked jus, or an unusual pot-au-feu of oysters with foie gras and black truffle. For dessert, a mille-feuille of caramelized apples comes with rosemary sorbet. Helpful sommeliers will guide you through the staggering wine list, with more than 1,000 different bottles to choose from. There’s no way to get away cheaply, so save this for a special occasion, when you might be tempted to order a carte-blanche menu for €115 (lunch menus at €48). | Average main: €50 | 52 rue de Longchamp, 16e, Trocadéro | 01-56-81-08-80 | www.hiramatsu.co.jp/fr | Closed weekends, Aug., and 1 wk at Christmas | Reservations essential | Station: Trocadéro.
A French Cheese Primer
Their cuisine might be getting lighter, but the French aren’t ready to relinquish their cheese. Some restaurants present a single, lovingly selected slice, whereas the more prestigious restaurants wheel in a trolley of specimens aged on the premises. Cheese always comes after the main course and before—or instead of—dessert.
Among the best bistros for cheese are Astier, where a giant basket of oozy wonders is brought to the table, and Le Comptoir, where a dazzling cheese platter is part of the five-course prix-fixe dinner, or Le Bistro Paul Bert, where an overflowing cheese board is left on your table for you to help yourself. A few bars à fromages are springing up, too: devoted to cheese the way bars à vins are dedicated to wine. Fromagerie Cantin (12 rue du Champ de Mars, 01-45-50-43-94 | www.cantin.fr) is a terrific example.
Armed with these phrases, you can wow the waiter and work your way through the most generous platter.
Avez-vous le Beaufort d’été? Do you have summer Beaufort?
Beaufort is similar to Gruyère, and the best Beaufort is made with milk produced in summer, when cows eat fresh grass. Aged Beaufort is even more reminiscent of a mountain hike.
Je voudrais un chèvre bien frais/bien sec. I’d like a goat cheese that’s nice and fresh/nice and dry.
France produces many goat cheeses, some so fresh they can be scooped with a spoon, some tough enough to use as doorstops. It’s a matter of taste, but hard-core cheese eaters favor drier specimens, which stick to the roof of the mouth and have a frankly goaty aroma.
C’est un St-Marcellin de vache ou de chèvre? Is this St-Marcellin made with cow’s or goat’s milk?
St-Marcellin is a more original choice than ubiquitous crottin de chèvre (poetically named after goats’ turds). Originally a goat cheese, today it’s more often made with cow’s milk. The best have an oozy center, though some like it dry as a hockey puck.
C’est un Brie de Meaux ou de Melun? Is this Brie from Meaux or Melun?
There are many kinds of Brie. Brie de Meaux is the best known, with a smooth flavor and runny center; the much rarer Brie de Melun is more pungent and saltier.
Je n’aime pas le Camembert industriel! I don’t like industrial Camembert!
Camembert might be a national treasure, but most of it is industrial. Real Camembert has a white rind with rust-color streaks and a yellow center.
Avez-vous de la confiture pour accompagner ce brebis? Do you have any jam to go with this sheep’s cheese?
In the Basque region berry jam is the traditional accompaniment for sharp sheep’s-milk cheeses like Ossau-Iraty.
C’est la saison du Mont d’Or. It’s Mont d’Or season.
This potent mountain cheese, also known as Vacherin, is produced only from September to March. It’s so runny, it’s eaten with a spoon.
Fodor’s Choice | L’Abeille.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | The name conjures up Napoléon’s imperial emblem, the honeybee (adopted by the emperor’s grandnephew, who once resided in the building). Everything, from the dove-gray decor to the sparkling silver, speaks of quiet elegance—all the better to highlight a masterful cuisine: “harlequin” of yellow, red, and white beets with a ginger-tinged yogurt and aloe vera emulsion; Breton langoustine in a cinnamon-perfumed gelée, with grapefruit pulp and a ginger- and Tahitian vanilla-infused mayonnaise; lightly caramelized scallops in an ethereal cloud of white-chocolate foam; tender fillet of wild duck with a tart-sweet apricot reduction. Desserts are subtle and surprising, like the apple Reinette, paired with fennel and candied lemon zest. For cuisine of this quality, the €225 six-course tasting menu is not outlandish. Service is friendly, discrete, devoid of snobbery, and includes all the flourishes that make a dining experience unforgettable, from the first flute of Champagne to the parting gift of—what else?—a jar of honey. | Average main: €100 | Paris Shangri-La Hotel, 10 av. d’Iéna, 16e, Trocadéro | 01-53-67-19-90 | www.shangri-la.com | Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch | Reservations essential | Station: Iéna.
Fodor’s Choice | L’Astrance.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Pascal Barbot rose to fame thanks to his restaurant’s reasonable prices and casual atmosphere, but after the passage of several years, Astrance has become resolutely haute. There’s no à la carte; you can choose from a lunch menu for €70, a seasonal menu for €150, or the full tasting menu for €230 (this is what most people come for). His dishes often draw on Asian ingredients, as in grilled lamb with miso-lacquered eggplant and a palate-cleansing white sorbet spiked with chili pepper and lemongrass. Each menu also comes at a (considerably) higher price with wines to match each course. Barbot’s cooking has such an ethereal quality that it’s worth the considerable effort of booking a table—you should start trying at least two months in advance. | Average main: €120 | 4 rue Beethoven, 16e, Trocadéro | 01-40-50-84-40 | Closed Sat.-Mon., 1 wk in Nov., and Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Passy.
La Table Lauriston.
$$$ | BISTRO | Serge Barbey has developed a winning formula in his chic bistro near the Trocadéro: top-notch ingredients, simply prepared and generously served. To start, you can’t go wrong with his silky foie gras au torchon—the liver is poached in a flavorful bouillon—or one of the seasonal salads, such as white asparagus in herb vinaigrette; his trademark dish, a gargantuan rib steak, is big enough to silence even the hungriest Texan. Given the neighborhood you might expect a business-like setting, but the dining room feels cheerful, with vividly colored walls and velvet-upholstered chairs, and there is a 16-seat terrace. Don’t miss the giant baba au rhum, which the waiters will douse with a choice of three rums. | Average main: €25 | 129 rue de Lauriston, 16e, Trocadéro | 01-47-27-00-07 | www.restaurantlatablelauriston.com | Closed Sun. and 4 wks in Aug. No lunch Sat. | Reservations essential | Station: Trocadéro.
Le Petit Rétro.
$$$ | BISTRO | Chic clientele (business executives in expensive suits at noon, well-dressed locals in the evening) frequent this little bistro with Art Nouveau tiles and bentwood furniture. You can’t go wrong with the daily specials, which are written on a chalkboard presented by one of the friendly servers: perhaps crisp-skinned blood sausage with apple-and-honey sauce, blanquette de veau, and a crêpe mille-feuille with orange and Grand Marnier. Arrive with an appetite because the food is hearty. There are several prix-fixe menus to choose from, starting at €25 at lunch (two courses). | Average main: €26 | 5 rue Mesnil, 16e,Trocadéro | 01-44-05-06-05 | www.petitretro.fr | Closed Sun. and 2 wks in Aug. | Station: Victor-Hugo.
Fodor’s Choice | LiLi.
$$$$ | CANTONESE | The operatically beautiful LiLi, in the newly unveiled Peninsula Hotel, places sophisticated Cantonese cuisine in its rightful place—the gastronomic center of the world. Sheathed in cascades of red silk, the glamorous dining room, especially romantic in the evening, shimmers with ebony and gold damask under indigo-blue chandeliers. As alluring as the decor, the menu—presided over by Michelin-starred chef Tang Chi Keung—features all the classics, raised to the status of haute cuisine: small plates of dim sum (seafood, vegetable, or pork dumplings) alongside more substantial fare like fried rice studded with market-fresh vegetables, succulent Sichuan shrimp, and barbecued suckling pig. For the pièce de résistance, black-gloved waiters carve tender-crisp slices from a lacquered Peking duck that are folded in warm crepes with a mellow plum sauce. The chef’s signature crème de mangue laced with pomelo pearls is an ethereal ending to an exceptional meal. At €59, the prix-fixe lunch menu is a wonderful introduction to this timeless cuisine. | Average main: €35 | The Peninsula Paris, 19 rue Kléber, 16e, Champs-Élysée | 01-58-12-67-50 | paris.peninsula.com | Reservations essential | Station: Kléber, Charles de Gaulle-Étoile.
Style often wins out over substance around the Champs-Élysées, but a handful of restaurants continue to defy fashion. This part of Paris is home to many of the city’s most ambitious chefs, whose restaurants are surrounded by palatial hotels, bourgeois apartments, embassies, and luxury boutiques. Some, such as Eric Frechon at Le Bristol’s Epicure, offer sophisticated updates of French classics, whereas others, like Pierre Gagnaire, constantly push culinary boundaries in the manner of a mad scientist. A few solid bistros survive here, notably the Art Deco Savy.
Fodor’s Choice | Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | After a 10-month interlude during the Plaza’s top-to-toe renovation, Alain Ducasse’s flagship Paris restaurant reopened with a dazzling new look and a menu that totally redefines French haute cuisine. Arguably the world’s most visible chef, Ducassee surprises here, devoting himself entirely to vegetables, grains, and fish; on second thought, maybe only a chef of this stature could pull it off to a success of this magnitude. From the moment you enter the glittering dining room, alight with thousands of crystals reflected in sinuous mirrored banquettes, you know you’ve entered a parallel universe entirely devoted to pleasure and well-being. Chef Romain Meder executes Ducasse’s recipes,which mix the most luxe with the humblest ingredients, to sublime effect: caviar over tender langoustine in a lemongrass-infused broth; a stack of lacy buckwheat blini accompanied by lentils and caviar in a smoked gelée topped with ethereal truffle cream. Vegetables from the queen’s gardens at Versailles are featured in a masterful dish of brioche-encased cauliflower served with buttery scallops and a generous shaving of white truffles, or earthy black Camargue rice punctuated with razor clams and cockles. Desserts like lemon ice with candied lemon and silky kombu seaweed take the notion of dining for pleasure and health to vertiginous new heights. | Average main: €120 | Hôtel Plaza Athénée, 25 av. Montaigne, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-53-67-65-00 | www.alain-ducasse.com | Closed weekends. No lunch Mon.-Wed. | Reservations essential | Jacket required | Station: Alma-Marceau.
$$$ | BISTRO | Just off the glitzy Avenue Montaigne, Chez Savy occupies its own circa-1930s dimension, oblivious to the area’s fashionization. The Art Deco cream-and-burgundy interior is blissfully intact (avoid the back room unless you’re in a large group), and the waiters show not a trace of attitude. Fill up on rib-sticking specialties from the Aveyron region of central France—lentil salad with bacon, foie gras (prepared on the premises), perfectly charred lamb with featherlight shoestring frites, and pedigreed Charolais beef. Order a celebratory bottle of Mercurey with your meal and feel smug that you’ve found this place. À la carte prices are high, but there is a set menu for €34. | Average main: €28 | 23 rue Bayard, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-47-23-46-98 | www.chezsavy.com | Closed weekends and Aug. | Station:Franklin-D.-Roosevelt.
$$$$ | BISTRO | To taste the cooking of one of the city’s great chefs, head to Dominique Bouchet’s elegant bistro, where contemporary art brightens cream-painted walls. On the menu, refined French technique meets country-style cooking, as in leg of lamb braised in wine with roasted cocoa bean and potato purée, or a chocolate éclair with black cherries and ice cream. Sometimes the dishes can get a touch too complicated, but the warm and very professional service makes up for it. If you’re feeling indecisive, you might treat yourself to the €105 dinner tasting menu: a succession of six small plates followed by a dessert. | Average main: €35 | 11 rue Treilhard, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-45-61-09-46 | www.dominique-bouchet.com | Closed weekends and 3 wks in Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Miromesnil.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | After a rapid ascent at his own new-wave bistro, which led to his renown as one of the more inventive young chefs in Paris, Eric Frechon became head chef at the restaurant for three-star Bristol hotel, the home away from home for billionaires and power brokers. Frechon creates masterworks—say, farmer’s pork cooked “from head to foot” with truffle-enhanced crushed potatoes—that rarely stray far from the comfort-food tastes of bistro cuisine. The lunch menu makes his cooking more accessible not just to the palate but to many pocketbooks. No wonder his tables are so coveted. Though the two dining rooms are impeccable—an oval oak-panel one for fall and winter and a marble-floor pavilion overlooking the courtyard garden for spring and summer—they provide few clues to help the world-weary traveler determine which city this might be. | Average main: €110 | Hôtel Bristol, 112 rue du Faubourg St-Honoré, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-53-43-43-00 | www.lebristolparis.com | Reservations essential | Jacket and tie | Station: Miromesnil.
Fodor’s Choice | Guy Savoy.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | With dark African wood, rich leather, cream-color marble, and the chef’s own art collection, Guy Savoy’s luxury restaurant doesn’t dwell on the past. Come here for a perfectly measured haute-cuisine experience, since Savoy’s several bistros have not lured him away from the kitchen. The artichoke soup with black truffles, sea bass with spices, and veal kidneys in mustard-spiked jus reveal the magnitude of his talent, and his mille-feuille is an instant classic. If the waiters see you’re relishing a dish, they won’t hesitate to offer second helpings. Generous half portions allow you to graze your way through the menu—unless you choose a blowout feast for set menus ranging from €360 to €490 for the 18-course menu—and reasonably priced wines are available (though beware the cost of wines by the glass). The €170 “discovery” menu at noon or after 10:30 pm is a good way to sample some of this fine chef’s inspired cooking. Best of all, the atmosphere is joyful, because Savoy knows that having fun is just as important as eating well. | Average main: €120 | 18 rue Troyon, 17e, Champs-Élysées | 01-43-80-40-61 | www.guysavoy.com | Closed Sun., Mon., and 1 wk at Christmas. No lunch Sat. | Reservations essential | Jacket required | Station: Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile.
$$$$ | JAPANESE | Some Japanese expats say you won’t find anything closer to authentic Japanese cooking in Paris than the kitchen in Kifune. Sit at the bar to admire the sushi chef’s lightning-quick skills or opt for a more intimate table. The crab-and-shrimp salad is a sublime starter, and the miso soup with clams is deeply flavored. To follow, you can’t go wrong with the sashimi. A meal here will leave a dent in your wallet (though there is a €33 set menu at lunch), but for fans of Japanese cuisine, the meals are worth it. With only 20 seats, it often turns away would-be customers, so be sure to book in advance. | Average main: €35 | 44 rue St-Ferdinand, 17e, Champs-Élysées | 01-45-72-11-19 | Closed Sun. and Mon., 3 wks in Aug., 1 wk in Dec., and 2 wks in May | Reservations essential | Station: Argentine.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Eric Martins ran a popular bistro in the far reaches of the 15e arrondissement before opening this contemporary restaurant off the Champs-Élysées, and his background in haute cuisine—he worked at Ledoyen and Hélène Darroze, among others—makes this ambitious restaurant an easy transition. The chef, Thomas Boullaut, turns out seasonal dishes with a touch of finesse from the open kitchen: dishes like foie gras confit with rosemary-poached quince and wild rose jam, or scallops à la plancha (from the grill) with vanilla and spaghetti squash might be featured. There is no à la carte, and if the dinner menus seem steep at €99 (€159 with wine pairing), try the lunch menu for €79. Watch out for the pricey wines by the glass. | Average main: €45 | 3 rue St-Philippe du Roule, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-42-25-55-98 | www.larome.fr | Closed weekends and Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: St-Philippe du Roule.
$$$ | SEAFOOD | If you have a single-minded craving for oysters, this is the place for you. The friendly owner will describe the many different kinds available, and you can follow with any of several daily fish specials—or opt for a full seafood platter for around €50. Mood lighting, blond wood, and cream tones create a tranquil, stylish atmosphere. | Average main: €27 | 16 rue Saussier-Leroy, 17e, Champs-Élysées | 01-40-54-83-44 | www.huitrier.fr | Closed Aug. | Station: Ternes.
La Cristal Room.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | The success of this restaurant in the Baccarat museum-boutique stems not only from the stunning decor by Philippe Starck—mirrors, patches of exposed-brick wall, and a black chandelier—but also from the culinary stylings of chef Adrien Manac’h. The menu provides a taste of his ultrarefined style with dishes such as green asparagus soup with a lemon-poached egg, and sole meunière with grapefruit and an arugula flan. Plan on reserving a week or two ahead for dinner; lunch requires little advance notice and is a reasonable €36. | Average main: €42 | 11 pl. des États-Unis, 16e, Champs-Élysées | 01-40-22-11-10 | www.baccarat.fr | Closed Sun. | Reservations essential | Station: Kléber.
La Fermette Marbeuf.
$$$ | BRASSERIE | Graced with one of the most mesmerizing Belle Époque rooms in town—accidentally rediscovered during renovations in the 1970s—this is a favorite haunt of French celebrities, who adore the sunflowers, peacocks, and dragonflies of the Art Nouveau mosaic. The menu rolls out updated classics: try the snails in puff pastry, beef fillet with pepper sauce, and the Grand Marnier soufflé—but ignore the limited-choice €30 prix fixe unless you’re on a budget: the options are a notch below what you get à la carte. Popular with tourists and business executives at lunch, La Fermette becomes truly animated around 9 pm. | Average main: €28 | 5 rue Marbeuf, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-53-23-08-00 | www.fermettemarbeuf.com | Station: Franklin-D.-Roosevelt.
La Table de Lancaster.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Operated by one of the most enduring families in French gastronomy (the Troisgros clan has run a world-famous restaurant in Roanne for three generations), this stylish boutique-hotel restaurant is the perfect setting for stellar cosmopolitan cuisine; try to sit in the gorgeous Asian-inspired courtyard with its red walls and bamboo. Often drawing on humble ingredients such as eel or pigs’ ears, the food reveals fascinating flavor and texture contrasts, like silky sardines on crunchy melba toast or tangy frogs’ legs in tamarind; the salmon with sorrel sauce is a classic Troisgros dish. There is also a six-course menu for €138. Don’t miss the desserts, such as not one but two slices of sugar tart, with grapefruit slices for contrast. On Sunday there’s a special €65 lunch menu (€48 for kids). | Average main: €50 | Hotel Lancaster, 7 rue de Berri, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-40-76-40-18 | www.hotel-lancaster.fr | No lunch Sat. | Reservations essential | Station: George V.
Fodor’s Choice | Le Cinq.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Christian Le Squer is not the most famous chef in Paris but he is one of the best, as proved by his smooth transition from three-star grande dame Ledoyen into the role of head chef in another of the city’s most deluxe dining rooms. You’ll find all the luxury products you might expect—caviar, truffles, game in season—but treated with a light touch that often draws on Breton ingredients such as oysters or lamb. A perfect example would be his succulent Dublin Bay prawns or his famous Ile de Chausey lobster marinated in citrus and served in a heart of caramelized romaine with a featherlight beurre blanc mousseux. Desserts are ethereal and service is unfailingly thoughtful: really, the only problem with a meal here is that it has to end. Oh, and that it costs a small fortune—thankfully, there is a four-course €145 prix-fixe lunch (€210 for six courses). | Average main: €110 | Hôtel Four Seasons George V, 31 av. George V, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-49-52-70-00 | www.fourseasons.com/paris | Reservations essential | Jacket and tie | Station: George V.
Fodor’s Choice | Ledoyen.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Tucked away in a quiet garden across from the Petit Palais, Ledoyen—open since 1779—is a study in elegance à la Napoléon II. Star chef Yannick Alléno took the helm in late 2014 (after the former chef, Christian Le Squer, departed for Le Cinq) and injected the three-star dining room with a frisson of modernity by putting fresh farmhouse ingredients front and center. At €295, the10-course tasting extravaganza may seem de trop, but in Aléno’s hands dishes like smoked eel soufflé with watercress coulis and candied onion, tender mussels with tart green apple and caviar, or artichoke-and-Parmesan gratin are rendered as light as a feather. The desserts are tiny masterpieces. For a purely Parisian splurge, the five-course €128 lunch menu is worth every cent. | Average main: €120 | 1 av. Dutuit, on Carré des Champs-Élysées, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-53-05-10-01 | www.yannick-alleno.com/restaurant/le-pavillon-ledoyen | Closed weekends and Aug. | Reservations essential | Jacket required | Station:Concorde, Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau.
$$ | BISTRO | Hide Kobayashi, known as “Koba,” is one of several Japanese chefs in Paris who trained with some of the biggest names in French cuisine before opening their own restaurants. With stints at Lenôtre, the Louis XV in Monaco, and Joël Robuchon under his belt, Koba had the brilliant idea of opening a great-value bistro near the Arc de Triomphe (the three-course prix fixe is €34). Not surprisingly, this little dining room with cream-color walls and red banquettes became instantly popular with locals as well as visiting Japanese and Americans who follow the food scene. Generosity is the key to the cooking here, which steers clear of haute-cuisine flourishes: both the monkfish fricassee with anchovy-rich tapenade and a classic veal kidney in mustard sauce, for instance, come with a heap of mashed potatoes. For dessert try the stunning île flottante (floating island), made with oven-baked meringue. Wines by the glass start at €4.50—unheard-of in this area. | Average main: €20 | 10 rue du Général Lanzerac, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-45-74-15-81 | www.lehide.fr | Closed Sun., 1 wk in May, and 1 wk in Aug. No lunch | Reservations essential | Station: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile.
Le Petit Verdot du 17e.
$$ | BISTRO | Sandwich bars might be threatening the traditional two-hour lunch, but that doesn’t stop this old-fashioned neighborhood bistro with its painted facade and wine-theme dining room from flourishing. Business executives loosen their neckties to feast on homemade pâté, plate-engulfing steak for two, or guinea hen with cabbage, along with one of 50 or so small-producer wines. | Average main: €18 | 9 rue Fourcroy, 17e, Champs-Élysées | 01-42-27-47-42 | www.le-petit-verdot.com | Closed Sun. No lunch Sat. | Station: Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile.
Le Relais Plaza.
$$$$ | FRENCH | Parisian to its core, the Hotel Plaza Athénée’s Art Deco dining room—think 1930s Lalique glass, black-lacquer furnishings, and a mural that’s a registered historic landmark—is a cherished neighborhood stalwart. Chef Philippe Marc’s masterful updates of the French classics include dishes like warm salad of delicate greens, thin-sliced artichokes, and Parmesan, flecked with shaved black truffles; house-made foie gras with slices of fresh figs and a rich dried-fruit chutney; and sole meunière served with a light lemon butter to highlight the freshness and delicacy of the perfectly cooked fish. Go on a Wednesday night, when the dining room is transported to the 1940s with live jazz and an audience primed for a rollicking good time. | Average main: €48 | Plaza Athénée, 21 av. Montaigne, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-53-67-64-00 | www.alain-ducasse.com/en/restaurant/le-relais-plaza | Reservations essential | No credit cards | Station: Alma-Marceau, Franklin-D.-Roosevelt.
$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Inside the Grand Palais, Mini Palais has gotten things smashingly right. With silvery ceilings, dark wood, and faux classical marble, it’s among Paris’s most stylish dining rooms, but the menu—designed by superchef Eric Frechon of Le Bristol and executed by protegé Stephane d’Aboville—is the real draw. The burger de magret et foie gras, a flavorful mélange of tender duckling breast and duck foie gras drizzled with truffled jus on a buttery brioche bun underscores what’s best about this place: a thoroughly modern cuisine with an old-fashioned extravagance. For a summer meal or a cocktail, the majestically pillared terrace overlooking Pont d’Alexandre III must be the most beautiful in Paris. What’s more, it’s open nonstop from 10 am till 2 am, an oasis in a neighborhood short on conveniences. | Average main: €25 | 3 av. Winston Churchill, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-42-56-42-42 | www.minipalais.com | Reservations essential | Station: Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau.
Fodor’s Choice | Pierre Gagnaire.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | If you want to venture to the frontier of contemporary cooking—and if money is no object—dinner here is a must. Chef Pierre Gagnaire’s work is at once intellectual and poetic, often blending three or four unexpected tastes and textures in a single dish. Just taking in the menu requires concentration (ask the waiters for help), so complex are the multiline descriptions about each dish’s six or seven ingredients. The Grand Dessert, a seven-dessert marathon, will leave you breathless, though it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds. The businesslike gray-and-wood dining room feels refreshingly informal, especially at lunch, but it also lacks the grandeur expected at this level. The uninspiring prix-fixe lunch (€115) and occasional ill-judged dishes (Gagnaire is a big risk taker, but also one of France’s top chefs) linger as drawbacks, and prices keep shooting skyward, so Pierre Gagnaire is an experience best saved for the financial elite. | Average main: €110 | 6 rue de Balzac, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-58-36-12-50 | www.pierre-gagnaire.com | Closed weekends, Aug., and at Christmas | Reservations essential | Station: Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile.
Fodor’s Choice | Rech.
$$$ | SEAFOOD | Having restored the historic Paris bistros Aux Lyonnais and Benoît to their former glory, star chef Alain Ducasse turned his piercing attention to this seafood brasserie founded in 1925. His wisdom lies in knowing what not to change: the original Art Deco chairs in the main floor dining room; seafood shucker Malec, who has been a fixture on this chic stretch of sidewalk since 1982; and the XL éclair (it’s supersize) that’s drawn in locals for decades. Original owner Auguste Rech believed in serving a limited selection of high-quality products—a principle that suits Ducasse perfectly—and Adrien Trouilloud is now in the kitchen, turning out Med-inspired dishes such as tomato cream with crayfish and fresh almonds or Niçoise-style sea bass with thyme fritters. Save room for the whole farmer’s Camembert, another Rech tradition. A great-value €42 menu is available at lunch; the dinner menu is €54. | Average main: €32 | 62 av. des Ternes, 17e, Champs-Élysées | 01-45-72-29-47 | www.restaurant-rech.fr | Closed Sun., Mon., late July-late Aug., and 1 wk at Christmas | Reservations essential | Station: Ternes.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Perhaps the most traditional—for many diners this is only high praise—of all Paris luxury restaurants, this grande dame basks in renewed freshness under brilliant chef Alain Solivérès, who draws inspiration from the Basque country, Bordeaux, and Languedoc for his daily menu. Traditional dishes such as scallops meunière (with butter and lemon) are matched with contemporary choices like a splendid spelt risotto with truffles and frogs’ legs or panfried duck liver with caramelized fruits and vegetables. One of the 19th-century paneled salons has been turned into a winter garden, and contemporary paintings adorn the walls. The service is flawless, and the exemplary wine list is well priced. All in all, a meal here comes as close to the classic haute-cuisine experience as you can find in Paris. There’s an €88 lunch menu and special wine “degustation” evenings, pairing food with exceptional wines from the legendary cave for €180. | Average main: €110 | 15 rue Lamennais, 8e, Champs-Élysées | 01-44-95-15-01 | www.taillevent.com | Closed weekends and Aug. | Reservations essential | Jacket and tie | Station: Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile.
AROUND THE LOUVRE
Home to the city’s wholesale food market until the 1960s, Les Halles is still the place to go for late-night onion soup or steak frites, washed back with gulps of cheap and tasty red wine. The streets grow more subdued around the Louvre and Palais Royal, where you can slurp oysters at a classic brasserie or indulge in the more experimental haute cuisine at a foodie hangout.
Fodor’s Choice | La Régalade St. Honoré.
$$ | MODERN FRENCH | When Bruno Doucet bought the original La Régalade from bistro-wizard Yves Camdeborde, some feared the end of an era. How wrong they were. While Doucet kept some of what made the old dining room so popular (country terrines, reasonably priced wines, convivial atmosphere), he had a few tricks under his toque, creating a brilliantly successful haute-cuisine-meets-comfort-food destination with dishes like earthy morel mushrooms in a frothy cream for a starter, followed by the chef’s signature succulent caramelized pork belly over tender Puy lentils, and a perfectly cooked fillet of cod, crispy on the outside and buttery within, served in a rich shrimp bouillon. For dessert, don’t skip the updated take on grand-mère’s creamy rice pudding or the house Grand Marnier soufflé. With an excellent price-to-value ratio (€37 for the prix-fixe menu at lunch and dinner), this chic bistro and its elder sister in the 14th have evolved into staples for Paris gastronomes. | Average main: €24 | 123 rue Saint-Honoré, 1er, Faubourg St-Honoré | 01-42-21-92-40 | Closed weekends and Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Louvre-Rivoli.
Museum Dining in Paris
Most Paris museums offer a passable café, but sometimes a top-notch lunch, teatime, or even dinner is just the thing after a few hours of museum going. For a good meal in a superb environment, these spots can’t be beat, even if you don’t buy a ticket.
Les Arts Décoratifs, Le Saut du Loup: The menu here reflects the decor—elegant and contemporary. A sleek upstairs lounge has great views of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, and the outdoor terrace, part of the Tuileries gardens, is one of the nicest in Paris. Best for a snack or afternoon tea. Museum entrance not necessary, but a slight discount is offered on prix-fixe menus with a ticket. 107 Rue de Rivoli, 1er, 01-42-25-49-55, Palais-Royal.
Musée Jacquemart-André Café: Housed in the mansion’s original dining room—with marble-topped tables, painted ceilings, and murals—the excellent salads and daily plat du jour make this lovely café a favorite with Parisian ladies who lunch, whether they’ve seen the exhibit or not. Wonderful for teatime or a copious prix-fixe brunch on weekends. 158 bd. Haussmann, 8e, 01-45-62-11-59 | musee-jacquemart-andre.com, Miromesnil.
Musée du Quai Branly, Les Ombres: The magnificent glass-ceilinged dining room, designed by museum architect Jean Nouvel, is perched atop the museum and boasts a gastronomic restaurant with some of the best views of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Good prix-fixe deals on lunch, dinner, and teatime, and a roomy outdoor terrace. 27 Quai Branly, 7e, 01-47-53-68-00 | lesombres-restaurant.com, Alma-Marceau.
Musee d’Orsay: In a classified historic monument, the soaring ceilings, chandeliers, gilding, and murals are part of the original train station’s dining room. Open for lunch every day, and dinner on Thursday, the classic French fare is punctuated by a special dish inspired by the museum program. 1 rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 7e, 01-45-49-47-03 | musee-orsay.fr, Solférino.
Au Pied de Cochon.
$$ | BRASSERIE | One of the few remnants of Les Halles’s raucous all-night past is this brasserie, which has been open every day since 1946. Now run by the Frères Blanc group, it still draws both a French and a foreign crowd with round-the-clock hours and trademark traditional fare such as seafood platters, breaded pigs’ trotters, beer-braised pork knuckle with sauerkraut, and cheese-crusted onion soup. It’s perfect stick-to-your-rib fare for a winter’s day or to finish off a bar crawl. The dining room, with its white tablecloths and little piggy details, feels resolutely cheerful, and it’s open 24/7. | Average main: €22 | 6 rue Coquillière, 1er, Les Halles | 01-40-13-77-00 | www.pieddecochon.com | Station: Les Halles.
Fodor’s Choice | Frenchie.
$$$ | BISTRO | The prodigiously talented Grégory Marchand worked with Jamie Oliver in London before opening this brick-and-stone-walled bistro on a pedestrian street near Rue Montorgueil. Word of mouth and bloggers quickly made this one of the most packed bistros in town, with tables booked months in advance, despite two seatings each evening. Marchand owes a large part of his success to the good-value €65 five-course menu at dinner (prix fixe only)—boldly flavored dishes such as calamari gazpacho with squash blossoms, and melt-in-the-mouth braised lamb with roasted eggplant and spinach are excellent options. Service can be, shall we say, a tad brusque, but for some that’s a small price to pay for food this good. If you can’t get a reservation, nearby Frenchie Bar à Vins will fix you right up. | Average main: €31 | 5 rue du Nil, 2e, Les Halles | 01-40-39-96-19 | www.frenchie-restaurant.com | Closed weekends, 2 wks in Aug., and 10 days at Christmas. No lunch | Reservations essential | Station: Sentier.
Fodor’s Choice | Frenchie Bar à Vins.
$ | WINE BAR | If this weren’t one of Paris’s outstanding wine bars, the wait, attitude, and metal tractor seats might be a deterrent. Yet wine lovers would be hard-pressed to find a better venue for sampling a great list of French wines and inspired selections from Italy and Spain—all sold by the bottle or glass, with suberb cuisine to match. Feast on masterful small dishes like the “coleslaw” of citrusy calamari, black-olive coulis, and a sprinkling of pine nuts; bresaola with apples, spicy mizuna leaves, and dollops of creamy horseradish; and a wedge of Stilton served atop a paste of Speculoos biscuits with poached pears and smoked walnuts. Because getting a reservation at the restaurant across the street is nearly impossible, this is an excellent alternative. Get here five minutes before opening time for a choice table. | Average main: €17 | 6 rue du Nil, 2e, Les Halles | No phone | www.frenchie-restaurant.com | Closed weekends. No lunch | Reservations not accepted | Station: Sentier.
Frenchie To Go.
$ | MODERN FRENCH | The third outpost in Frenchie’s Rue du Nil empire, Frenchie To Go capitalizes on three of the latest Paris food trends: breakfast, fast food, and takeaway, but with a spin that’s totally Frenchie. The hotdogs and tasty pastrami (almost unheard of in Paris) are meticulously sourced, as is pretty much everything else—Brittany lobster for the lobster rolls and line-caught hake for the scrumptious fish-and-chips. A cheerful, modern space invites lingering if you’re lucky enough to snag a table—more likely for breakfast (which is served all day) or during the off-hours, when a cup of hot chocolate, a homemade ginger beer, or a good cup of coffee and a doughnut are just the thing. The price-to-value quotient is excellent. | Average main: €10 | 9 rue du Nil, 2e, Les Halles | 01-40-39-96-19 | www.frenchietogo.com | Reservations not accepted | Station: Sentier.
La Robe et le Palais.
$$ | WINE BAR | Come here for the more than 120 French wines served au compteur (according to the amount consumed), and a good selection of bistro-style food in a congenial atmosphere for lunch or dinner. Although a tad pricier than other bistrot à vins, the food is reliably good. | Average main: €22 | 13 rue des Lavandières-Ste-Opportune, 1er, Beaubourg/Les Halles | 01-45-08-07-41 | www.larobeetlepalais.com | Closed Sun. | Station: Châtelet Les Halles.
$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | One of those rooftop show-stopping venues so popular in Paris, Le Georges preens atop the Centre Georges Pompidou, accessed by its own entrance to the left of the main doors. The staff is as streamlined and angular as the furniture, and about as responsive. Come snappily dressed or you may be relegated to something resembling a dentist’s waiting room. Part of the Costes brothers’ empire, the establishment trots out fashionable dishes such as sesame-crusted tuna and coriander-spiced beef fillet flambéed with cognac. It’s all considerably less dazzling than the view, except for the suitably decadent desserts (indulge in the Cracker’s cheesecake with yogurt sorbet). | Average main: €31 | Centre Pompidou, 6th fl., 19 rue Beaubourg, 4e, Les Halles | 01-44-78-47-99 | www.beaumarly.com | Closed Tues. | Reservations essential | Station: Rambuteau.
$$$ | CAFÉ | Run by the Costes brothers, this café overlooking the main courtyard of the Louvre and I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid is one of the more stylish places in Paris to meet for a drink or a coffee, whether in the stunning jewel-toned dining rooms with their molded ceilings or on the Louvre’s long, sheltered terrace. Regular café service shuts down during meal hours, when fashion-conscious folks dig into Asian-inspired salads and pseudo-Italian pasta dishes. | Average main: €30 | Cour Napoléon du Louvre, enter from Louvre courtyard, 93 rue de Rivoli, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-49-26-06-60 | www.beaumarly.com | Station: Palais-Royal.
$$$ | BISTRO | If you were to ask Parisian bankers, aristocrats, or antiques dealers to name their favorite bistro for a three-hour weekday lunch, many would choose Georges. The traditional fare, described in authentically indecipherable handwriting, is very good—chicken-liver terrine, curly endive salad with bacon and a poached egg, steak with béarnaise—and the atmosphere is better, compensating for the steep prices. In the dining room, a white-clothed stretch of tables lines the mirrored walls, and attentive waiters sweep efficiently up and down. Order one of the wines indicated in colored ink on the menu and you can drink as much or as little of it as you want (and be charged accordingly); there’s also another wine list with grander bottles. | Average main: €31 | 1 rue du Mail, 2e, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-42-60-07-11 | Closed weekends, Aug., and 1 wk at Christmas | Station: Sentier.
Fodor’s Choice | Juvéniles.
$$ | WINE BAR | An address we’d keep to ourselves if everyone weren’t talking about it, Juvéniles is the ideal kind of neighborhood outpost that mixes seriously good dining with an inspired wine list, all at affordable prices. The €16 lunch menu might start with velvety foie gras maison (paired with a crisp Riesling), followed by slow-braised beef with a tangy tarragon-and-dill sauce ravigote. Finish with verbena-infused pannacotta or rhubarb compote with juicy Plougastel strawberries. This petit bistro’s off-the-tourist-trail location close to the Palais Royal gardens and the Louvre is an extra bonus. | Average main: €20 | 47 rue de Richelieu, 1er, Louvre/Palais-Royal | 01-42-97-46-49 | Closed Sun. | Reservations essential | Station: Bourse, Pyramides.
Fodor’s Choice | L’Ardoise.
$$$ | BISTRO | A minuscule storefront decorated with enlargements of old sepia postcards of Paris, L’Ardoise is a model of the kind of contemporary bistro making waves in Paris. Chef Pierre Jay’s first-rate three-course dinner menu for €38 tempts with such original dishes as mushroom-and-foie-gras ravioli with smoked duck; farmer’s pork with porcini mushrooms; and red mullet with creole sauce (you can also order à la carte, but it’s less of a bargain). Just as enticing are the desserts, such as a superb feuillantine au citron—caramelized pastry leaves filled with lemon cream and lemon slices—and a boozy baba au rhum. With friendly waiters and a small but well-chosen wine list, L’Ardoise would be perfect if it weren’t so popular (meaning noisy and crowded). | Average main: €27 | 28 rue du Mont Thabor, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-42-96-28-18 | www.lardoise-paris.com | No lunch Sun. | Reservations essential | Station: Concorde.
La Bourse ou La Vie.
$$ | BISTRO | If you’ve been dreaming of the perfect steak frites in Paris, head for this eccentric little place run by a former architect in partnership with two loyal clients. The chairs in this cheery yellow-and-red dining room appear to have been salvaged from a theater, but they pair nicely with founder Patrice Tatard’s theatrical streak. There’s no questioning the threesome’s enthusiasm for their new vocation when you taste the beef in its trademark creamy, peppercorn-studded sauce, accompanied by hand-cut french fries cooked to crisp perfection. Aside from a whole veal kidney with mustard sauce, there’s little else on the menu. | Average main: €20 | 12 rue Vivienne, 2e, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-42-60-08-83 | Closed weekends and Aug. | Station: Bourse.
Le Grand Véfour.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Victor Hugo could stride in and still recognize this restaurant, which was in his day, as now, a contender for the title of most beautiful restaurant in Paris. Originally built in 1784, it has welcomed everyone from Napoléon to Colette to Jean Cocteau under its mirrored ceiling, and amid the early-19th-century glass paintings of goddesses and muses that create an air of restrained seduction. The rich and fashionable gather here to enjoy chef Guy Martin’s unique blend of sophistication and rusticity, as seen in dishes such as frogs’ legs with sorrel sauce, and oxtail parmentier (a kind of shepherd’s pie) with truffles. There’s an outstanding cheese trolley, and for dessert try the house specialty, palet aux noisettes (meringue cake with chocolate mousse, hazelnuts, and salted caramel ice cream). Prices are as extravagant as the decor, but there is a €98 lunch menu. | Average main: €120 | 17 rue de Beaujolais, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-42-96-56-27 | www.grand-vefour.com | Closed weekends, Aug., and Christmas holidays | Reservations essential | Station: Palais-Royal.
Les Fines Gueules.
$$ | BISTRO | Invest in good ingredients and most of the work is done: that’s the principle of this wine bar-bistro that’s developed a loyal following. If you’re not on first-name terms with food personalities like butcher Hugo Desnoyer, market gardener Joël Thiébault, and sausage-maker Thierry Daniel, you need only know that these are the crème de la crème of suppliers. Owner Arnaud Bradol wisely treats their products simply, often serving them raw alongside a salad or sautéed potatoes: the steak tartare with mesclun salad dressed in truffle oil is unparalleled. Beyond the tiny café-like area downstairs is a staircase leading to a cozy upstairs dining room, which is invariably lively. In keeping with the theme, wines are organic or natural and many are available by the glass. | Average main: €19 | 43 rue Croix des Petits Champs, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-42-61-35-41 | www.lesfinesgueules.fr | Reservations essential | Station: Palais Royal.
$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | With a reasonably priced set menu, this is an ideal spot for a relaxed meal after the Louvre. Natural light streams through the restaurant, and a broad, curved staircase leads to a spacious upstairs salon. It’s also a hit with vegetarians: chef Ricardo Lourenco whips up a meatless prix-fixe menu with two starter and two main-course options—perhaps summer vegetables with Mimolette cheese, followed by pasta with wild mushrooms, herbs, and artichokes. Meat lovers might sink their teeth into farmer’s lamb with confit vegetables and mousseline potatoes. The wine list spotlights little-known producers alongside the big names—as befits this sister restaurant to Willi’s Wine Bar. | Average main: €29 | 15 rue des Petits-Champs, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-42-97-53-85 | www.maceorestaurant.com | Closed Sun. and 3 wks in Aug. No lunch Sat. | Station: Palais-Royal.
$$ | MODERN FRENCH | The word pinxo (pronounced “peencho”) means “to pinch” in Basque, and this is how the food in this fashionable hotel restaurant is meant to be eaten: often with your fingers, and off your dining companion’s plate (each dish is served in three portions for sharing). Freed from the tyranny of the entrée-plat-dessert cycle, you can nibble your way through such minidishes as marinated herring with Granny Smith apple and horseradish, and squid cooked à la plancha (on a grill) with ginger and chili peppers. Alain Dutournier, who also runs the more formal Le Carré des Feuillants and the chic bistro Au Trou Gascon, drew on his southwestern roots to create this welcoming modern spot; granted, some dishes work better than others, but it’s hard not to love a place that serves fried Camembert croquettes with celery sticks as a cheese course. | Average main: €23 | 9 rue d’Alger, Faubourg St-Honoré | 01-40-20-72-00 | www.pinxo.fr | Closed Sun. and 2 wks in Aug. No lunch Sat. | Station: Tuileries.
Fodor’s Choice | Spring.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | The private-party atmosphere in this intimate, elegantly modern space may be exuberance at having finally snagged a table, but most likely it’s chef Daniel Rose’s inspired cuisine. Though firmly rooted in technique, Rose sets himself the task of improvising two different menus each day, one for lunch and one for dinner, from whatever strikes his fancy that morning. His insistence on fresh, top-quality ingredients sourced from every corner of France is evident in dishes that are both refined and deeply satisfying: you might have an updated parmentier with a velvety layer of deboned pig’s foot topped with lemon-infused whipped potatoes or buttery venison with tart-sweet candied kumquats. For dessert, there’s a sublime combo of whiskey-and-vanilla-infused pineapple, crunchy toasted coconut biscuits, and lime-zest-sprinkled vanilla ice cream. A four-course dinner menu will run you €84. The 17th-century vaulted dining room is an intimate spot yet can accommodate larger groups. | Average main: €45 | 6 rue Bailleul, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-45-96-05-72 | www.springparis.fr | Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch | Reservations essential | Station: Louvre-Rivoli.
Fodor’s Choice | Télescope.
$ | CAFÉ | This warm, elegant space near the Palais Royal gardens is the perfect spot to savor an expertly prepared cup of coffee accompanied by just the right gourmet sweet. Strike up a conversation with the passionate barista and you may end up sampling several of the velvety artisanal brews from carefully sourced beans hand-roasted by the owners. Here, true love and coffee go hand in hand. | Average main: €7 | 5 rue Villedo, 1e, Louvre/Palais-Royal | 01-42-61-33-14 | www.telescopecafe.com | Reservations not accepted | Station: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre; Pyramides.
Verjus Bar à Vins.
$ | WINE BAR | On an atmospheric street behind the Palais Royal gardens, this tiny wine bar is the latest endeavor of the American couple behind the wildly popular (and now defunct) Hidden Kitchen. A dozen customers perch on metal stools at a narrow bar to enjoy a small but choice selection of wines by the glass and some very good nibbles, like crisp buttermilk chicken, succulent Basque pork belly, or the excellent house-smoked salmon. Although not a substitute for dinner—portions are miniscule, with three to five bite-size morsels—for a drink and a nosh on your way to or from somewhere else, including the excellent restaurant upstairs, it’s ideal. The most plentiful dish is an assortment of artisanal cheeses, and the scrumptious butterscotch pudding flecked with toffee and topped with crème Chantilly is a toothsome finale. It’s open weekdays only for evening tapas. | Average main: €10 | 47 rue Montpensier, 1e, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-42-97-54-40 | verjusparis.com | Closed weekends. No lunch | Reservations not accepted | Station: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre.
Willi’s Wine Bar.
$$ | MODERN FRENCH | More a restaurant than a wine bar, this British-owned spot is a stylish haunt for Parisian and visiting gourmands who might stop in for a glass of wine at the oak bar or settle into the wood-beamed dining room. The selection of reinvented classic dishes changes daily and might include roast cod with artichokes and asparagus in spring, venison in wine sauce with roast pears and celery-root chips in fall, and mango candied with orange and served with vanilla cream in winter. Chef François Yon has been in the kitchen for 22 years, ensuring a consistency that isn’t always reflected in the service. The restaurant is prix fixe only, but you can order appetizers at the bar. The list of about 250 wines reflects co-owner Mark Williamson’s passion for the Rhône Valley and Spanish sherries. | Average main: €19 | 13 rue des Petits-Champs, 1er, Louvre/Tuileries | 01-42-61-05-09 | www.williswinebar.com | Closed Sun. and 2 wks in Aug. | Station: Bourse.
$ | JAPANESE | There’s no shortage of Japanese restaurants around the Louvre, but this one is a cut above much of the competition. The white-and-lime-green space feels refreshingly bright and modern, and you can perch at one of the curvy counters for quick bite or settle in at a table. The menu has something for every taste, from warming ramen soups (part of a €12 lunch menu that includes five pork dumplings) to sushi and sashimi prepared with particular care. The donburi—rice topped with meat or fish—and the Japanese curry with breaded pork or shrimp are also very good. | Average main: €17 | 8 rue de l’Echelle, 1er,Louvre/Tuileries | 01-42-61-93-99 | Closed 10 days in mid-Aug. | Station: Pyramides, Palais Royal.
One of Paris’s most atmospheric, and up-and-coming, neighborhoods, it’s also a culinary melting pot, with everything from the miniscule Japanese noodle shops lining Rue St-Anne, authentic 19th-century brasseries that evoke the old working-class bouillons, Art Nouveau-style Belle Époque dining rooms, to a new generation of young, talented chefs cooking up some of the city’s most exciting cuisine.
$$$ | BISTRO | With a passion for the old-fashioned bistro, Alain Ducasse resurrected this 1890s gem by appointing a terrific young chef to oversee the short, frequently changing, and reliably delicious menu of Lyonnais specialties. Dandelion salad with crisp potatoes, bacon, and a poached egg; watercress soup poured over parsleyed frogs’ legs; and fluffy quenelles de brochet (pike-perch dumplings) show he is no bistro dilettante. The decor hews to tradition, too, with a zinc bar, an antique coffee machine, and original turn-of-the-20th-century woodwork. There’s a limited-choice lunch menu for €32, but the cacophonous dining room is jammed with traders from nearby Bourse. Tables turn relatively quickly, so despite the gorgeous setting this is not a spot for a romantic meal. | Average main: €26 | 32 rue St-Marc, 2e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-42-96-65-04 | www.auxlyonnais.com | Closed Sun., Mon., and 3 wks in Aug. No lunch Sat. | Reservations essential | Station: Bourse.
$ | BISTRO | This classic bouillon (a term referring to the Parisian soup restaurants popular among workers in the early 20th century) is a part of the Gérard Joulie group of bistros and brasseries, which discreetly updated the menu without changing the fundamentals. People come here more for the bonhomie and the stunning 1896 interior than the cooking, which could be politely described as unambitious—then again, where else can you find a plate of foie gras for €7? This cavernous restaurant—the only original fin-de-siécle bouillon to remain true to its mission of serving cheap, sustaining food to the masses—enjoys a huge following, including one regular who has come for lunch nearly every day since 1946. You may find yourself sharing a table with strangers as you study the old-fashioned menu of such standards as pot-au-feu and blanquette de veau. | Average main: €12 | 7 rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, 9e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-47-70-86-29 | www.bouillon-chartier.com | Reservations not accepted | Station: Montmartre.
$$ | BISTRO | Thierry Breton’s bright, easygoing bistro is popular with polished Parisian professionals, for whom it serves as a sort of canteen—why cook when you can eat this well so affordably? The €29 dinner menu (€22 for two courses at lunch) covers lentil soup with fresh croutons, braised endive and andouille salad, and roast lamb on a bed of Paimpol beans, and there are 12 cheeses to choose from. Good, if not exceptional, desserts include pain perdu, a dessert version of French toast—here it’s topped with a roasted pear or whole cherries. Drop in at lunchtime on the weekend for the great-value €25 buffet. There is no à la carte. | Average main: €18 | 6 rue de Belzunce, 10e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-48-78-28-80 | No dinner weekends | Station: Gare du Nord.
$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Best known for the literary prizes awarded here since 1914, Drouant has shed its dusty image to become a forward-thinking restaurant. The man behind the transformation is Alsatian chef Antoine Westermann, who runs the hit bistro Mon Vieil Ami on Ile St-Louis. At Drouant the menu is more playful, revisiting the French hors d’oeuvres tradition with starters that come as a series of four plates. Diners can pick from themes such as French classics (like a deconstructed leek salad) or convincing mini-takes on Thai and Moroccan dishes. Main courses similarly encourage grazing, with accompaniments in little cast-iron pots and white porcelain dishes. Even desserts take the form of several tasting plates. Pace yourself, since the portions are generous and the cost of a meal quickly adds up. This is the place to bring adventurous young eaters, thanks to the €15 children’s menu. The revamped dining room is bright and cheery, though the designer has gone slightly overboard with the custard-yellow paint and fabrics. | Average main: €27 | 16-18 pl. Gaillon, 2e, Grands Boulevards | 01-42-65-15-16 | www.drouant.com | Station: Pyramides.
Goupil le Bistro.
$$$ | BISTRO | The best Paris bistros emit an air of quiet confidence, and this is certainly the case with Goupil, a triumph despite its out-of-the-way location not far from the Porte Maillot conference center. The dining room attracts dark suits at lunch and a festive crowd in the evenings, with a few well-informed English-speakers sprinkled into the mix. The tiny open kitchen works miracles with seasonal ingredients, transforming mackerel into luxury food (on buttery puff pastry with mustard sauce) and panfrying monkfish to perfection with artichokes and chanterelles. Friendly waiters are happy to suggest wines by the glass. | Average main: €26 | 4 rue Claude Debussy, 17e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-45-74-83-25 | Closed weekends and 3 wks in Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Porte de Champerret.
$ | JAPANESE | When it comes to steaming bowls of noodles, this no-frills dining room divided into three sections beats its many neighboring competitors. Behind the counter—an entertaining spot for solo diners—cooks toil over giant flames, tossing strips of meat and quick-fried vegetables, then ladling noodles and broth into giant bowls. A choice of formules (fixed-price menu options) allows you to pair various soups and stir-fried noodle dishes with six delicious gyoza (Japanese dumplings), and the stir-fried dishes are excellent, too. Don’t expect much in the way of service, but it’s hard to find a more generous meal in Paris at this price. There is a more subdued annex (without the open kitchen) at 163 rue St-Honoré, near the Louvre. | Average main: €13 | 32 bis, rue Ste-Anne, 1er, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-47-03-38-59 | www.higuma.fr | Station: Pyramides.
$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Famed for its 1879 decor—think Art Nouveau stained glass and La Bohème-style street lamps hung with vintage hats—this Belle Époque dazzler in the up-and-coming neighborhood near Gare de l’Est certainly lives up to its oft-quoted moniker, “the poor man’s Maxim’s.” Look for smoked salmon, stuffed roast lamb, cassoulet, and, to finish, profiteroles or the coupe Julien (ice cream with cherries). The scene here is lots of fun, and the restaurant has a strong following with the fashion crowd, so it’s mobbed during the biannual fashion and fabric shows. Food is served until 11:30 pm, and there are various prix-fixe menus that start at €34.50 for a main course with a dessert and a glass of wine. | Average main: €27 | 16 rue du Faubourg St-Denis, 10e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-47-70-12-06 | www.julienparis.com | Station: Strasbourg St-Denis.
$$ | BRASSERIE | With so many of Paris’s fabled brasseries becoming parts of upscale chains, the news that award-winning chef Eric Frenchon (Epicure at Le Bristol and Mini Palais) was opening his own place at the St-Lazare train station was met with a mix of curiosity and joy. Bright and loftlike, dazzling Lazare riffs on familiar brasserie themes—think marble-top tables, globe lights, chalkboard menus, and mosaic floors. Unsurprisingly, Frenchon’s take on classic brasserie fare is flawless. Meat dishes, like slow-cooked lamb with lemon confit and olives, or crispy grilled pork on a bed of turnip kraut, are tender and comforting (just like grand-mère used to make). Fish dishes, like scallops with truffles, salmon with lentils, and the superb quenelles also exceed expectations. And Frenchon doesn’t forget the classics: steak tartare, escargots, charcuterie make memorable appearances. It’s open all day, as you’d expect in a busy train station, and reservations for lunch or dinner are a must. | Average main: €24 | 108 rue Saint-Lazare, 8e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-45-23-42-06 | www.lazare-paris.fr | No credit cards | Reservations essential | Station: St-Lazare.
$$$ | BRASSERIE | Part of the Flo group of historic brasseries, Le Vaudeville tends to fill with journalists, bankers, and locals d’un certain âge who come for the good-value assortment of prix-fixe menus, starting at €28.50, and highly professional service. Shellfish, house-smoked salmon, foie gras with raisins, slow-braised lamb, and desserts like the floating island topped with pralines are particularly enticing. Enjoy the graceful 1920s decor—almost the entire interior of this intimate dining room is done in real or faux marble—and lively dining until midnight (except Sunday and Monday, when the kitchen closes at 11 pm). | Average main: €26 | 29 rue Vivienne, 2e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-40-20-04-62 | www.vaudevilleparis.com | Station: Bourse.
$$$ | WINE BAR | The secret of the deceptively simple yet hearty food served here is top-quality ingredients and expert preparation. The wines are all natural—sulfite-free, hand-harvested, and unfiltered—so it’s a great place to try out unusual, hard-to-find wines. The old tile floors, wood tables, and location in the atmospheric Passage des Panoramas, Paris’s oldest covered arcade, only add to the ambience. It’s packed at mealtimes, so be sure to reserve. | Average main: €26 | 8 passage des Panoramas, 2e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-40-13-06-41 | www.racinesparis.com | Closed weekends, 3 wks in Aug., and at Christmas | Reservations essential | Station: Grands Boulevards, La Bourse.
Fodor’s Choice | Saturne.
$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | It’s no surprise that chef Sven Chartier, a veteran of famous produce-centric restaurants L’Arpege and Racines, would focus his restaurant around seasonal, locally sourced veggies, along with the freshest seafood and pedigreed meats. The luminous dining room, with a huge central skylight, pale wood, and industrial details, is as contemporary and devoid of ostentation as the food. Dishes tend to be fresh and minimally cooked, featuring unusual pairings of vegetables and greens—tender baby scallops served with slivered radish, tiny watercress leaves, crisp raw mushrooms, and shallot, or fillet of mackerel drizzled with arugula pesto, a tiny dollop of uni, a sprinkling of mustard seed and piquant purslane—that are sophisticated almost to the point of cerebral. Desserts are equally original, and a superb roster of natural wines insures that diners who care to broaden their horizons won’t be disappointed. It’s prix fixe only. | Average main: €30 | 17 rue Notre-Dame des Victoires, 2e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-42-60-31-90 | www.saturne-paris.fr | Closed weekends | Reservations essential | Station: Bourse.
Fodor’s Choice | Terroir Parisien-Palais Brongniart.
$$ | BISTRO | Yannick Alléno’s departure from Le Meurice, where he’d earned three Michelin stars, may have stunned the culinary world, but it’s good news for diners. Besides taking the helm at august Ledoyen, Alléno presides over this warm, modern space under the Paris Bourse, the city’s stock exchange. The star chef’s dishes achieve an ephemeral balance, allowing top-notch ingredients to shine through while combining flavors and textures in unexpected and delightful ways. Tender roasted leeks are sprinkled with eggs, shallots, chives, and sprigs of chervil. A perfectly prepared steak with crispy matchstick fries and tender boudin blanc sausage with truffled celery root purée are comfort food at its best. Desserts like a velvety chocolate tart with a layer of salted caramel or a roasted apple filled with raspberry jam are not to be missed. There’s also a “rillette bar,” where you can take out traditional French charcuterie: rillettes de lapin (rabbit terrine) and paté de campagne (country terrine). A big plus here is the welcoming, helpful service. | Average main: €22 | 28 pl. de la Bourse, 2e, Opéra/Grands Boulevards | 01-83-92-20-30 | www.yannick-alleno.com/restaurant/paris-terroir-parisien-palais-brongniart | Closed Sun. No lunch Sat. | Reservations essential | Station: Bourse.
Perched above central Paris, Montmartre is buzzing with a hip vibe. Idyllic as the portrayal of Montmartre might seem in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film Amélie, it’s surprisingly close to reality. Though decidedly out of the way, Montmartre is still one of the most desirable areas in Paris, seamlessly blending the trendy and the traditional. The less picturesque neighborhood around Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est is making its mark on the culinary scene: besides classic brasseries, tucked-away bistros, and the city’s most authentic Indian restaurants, you’ll find a new generation of cafés and gastrobistros exploding onto the scene.
Fodor’s Choice | Bal Café.
$ | CAFÉ | Set in a bright, modern space on a tiny street at the lower reaches of Montmartre, the popular Bal Café caters to a diverse clientele that comes for the great coffee, excellent food, lively and diverse crowd, and the art gallery-bookstore. Weekend brunch is an event, with artists, hipsters, expats, and young families enthusiastically enjoying all of the above. British-French-inspired cuisine with far-flung influences (like kedgeree, a Scottish-Indian rice-and-smoked-haddock dish), tender pancakes, fried eggs with ham and roasted tomatoes, and buttery scones with jam represent some the best comfort food in town. There are also excellent salads, a warm plat du jour, and an awesome cup of coffee, whatever your pleasure. In warmer weather the outdoor terrace is a boon. | Average main: €12 | 6 impasse de la Défense, 18e, Montmartre | 01-44-70-75-51 | www.le-bal.fr | Closed Mon. and Tues. No dinner Sun. | Reservations essential | Station: Place de Clichy.
Bistrot des Deux Théâtres.
$$ | BISTRO | This theaterlover’s bistro with red-velour banquettes, black-and-white photos of actors, and a giant oil painting depicting celebrities, is always packed, and with good reason. The great-value prix-fixe menu for €39 (there’s no à la carte option) includes three courses, a bottle of unpretentious wine, and coffee. This isn’t a place for modest eaters, so have foie gras or escargots to start, a meaty main such as the crackly crusted rack of lamb, and a potent baba au rhum or rustic lemon meringue tart for dessert. Waiters are jokey, English-speaking, and efficient. | Average main: €22 | 18 rue Blanche, 9e, Montmartre | 01-45-26-41-43 | www.bistrocie.fr | Reservations essential | Station: Trinité.
Fodor’s Choice | Café Lomi.
$ | CAFÉ | A trailblazer on the Paris gastro-coffee scene, Café Lomi first supplied expertly roasted single-origin coffees to the first wave of barista cafés and top restaurants. Now Lomi’s industrial-chic loft is equal parts roaster, café, workshop, and pilgrimage stop for hard-core coffee lovers, serving up a range of splendid brews along with a tidy menu of warm and cold dishes—wild-mushroom risotto with chorizo, leek and eggplant tarts, and a range of healthy salads—and a hearty brunch on weekends. There’s also a great selection of desserts. | Average main: €8 | 3 ter rue Marcadet, 18e, Montmartre | 09-80-39-56-24 | www.cafelomi.com | Reservations not accepted | No credit cards | Station: Marcadet-Poissonière.
$$$ | JAPANESE | Already a star in Kyoto, Eiichi Edakuni created a sensation with his first Parisian restaurant, where 20 diners seated around the black bar can watch him at work each night. The €45 set menu is a bargain given the quality and sophistication of the food. It changes every month, but you might come across dishes such as sea bream and Wagyu beef on shiso leaves with ponzu sauce, or the chef’s signature foie-gras sushi, an idea that could easily fall flat but instead soars. If you can afford it, complement your meal with exceptional sakes by the glass, one of which is sparkling. Beware: the first seating gets very rushed; reserve the 9:30 seating if you want to linger. | Average main: €25 | 8 rue Garreau, 18e, Montmartre | 01-42-54-23-92 | No lunch | Reservations essential | Station: Abbesses.
$$$ | BRASSERIE | Though everyone talks about the “new Montmartre,” exemplified by a wave of chic residents and throbbingly cool cafés and bars, it’s good to know that the old Montmartre is alive and well at the untrendy-and-proud-of-it Mascotte. This old-fashioned café-brasserie—which dates from 1889, the same year that saw the opening of the Tour Eiffel and the Moulin Rouge—is where you can find neighborhood fixtures such as the drag queen Michou (of the nearby club Chez Michou), who always wears blue. Loyalists come for the seafood platters, the excellent steak tartare, the warming potée auvergnate (pork stew) in winter, and the gossip around the comptoir (bar) up front. There is a two-course lunch menu for €29 and nonstop service seven days a week. | Average main: €26 | 52 rue des Abbesses, 18e,Montmartre | 01-46-06-28-15 | www.la-mascotte-montmartre.com | Station: Abbesses.
$$ | BISTRO | Residents of Montmartre are breathing a sigh of relief: they no longer have to leave the neighborhood to find a good-value bistro. Run by a trio who honed their skills at Lavinia, La Tour d’Argent, and Aux Lyonnais, this red-and-gray bistro with a glass roof at the back serves just the kind of sophisticated comfort food everyone hopes to find in Paris. A meal might start with a plate of cochonailles (pâté, cured sausage, and deboned pig’s trotter with onion jam) or perhaps a salad of whelks and white beans, before hearty main courses such as a stunning beef rib for two with sautéed potatoes or duck breast with chanterelle mushrooms and a slice of panfried foie gras. To finish, it’s hard to choose between the aged Beaufort cheese or the vanilla pot de crème, served with shortbread and chocolate financiers (almond cakes). | Average main: €22 | 94 rue des Martyrs, 18e, Montmartre | 01-46-06-50-73 | www.restaurantmiroir.com | Closed 3 wks in Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Abbesses.
$ | BRITISH | On a street lined with French food shops selling produce, fish, bread, and cheeses, this British-run café-restaurant might easily go unnoticed—if it weren’t for the frequent line out the door. Whitewashed walls, naive art, and concrete floors provide the decor, and organic producers supply the ingredients for food so fresh and tasty it draws crowds to feast on fresh juices, salads, soups, and hot dishes, such as delicious risotto, followed by carrot cake, sticky toffee pudding, or lemon tarts. The nostalgic can buy homemade granola, British marmalade, or baked beans to take home. Rose Bakery also has branches at 30 rue Debelleyme in the Marais and a spot in the Bastille, inside the Galerie Maison Rouge, at 10 boulevard de la Bastille. Weekend brunch is popular, so plan to arrive early. | Average main: €15 | 46 rue des Martyrs, 9e, Montmartre | 01-42-82-12-80 | Closed Mon. and 2 wks in Aug. No dinner | Reservations not accepted | Station: Notre-Dame-de-Lorette.
Fodor’s Choice | Soul Kitchen.
$ | CAFÉ | Montmartre finally has a café equal to its charm. Run by three friendly young women, the snug Soul Kitchen unites a pleasantly homey decor and welcoming atmosphere with the kind of Anglo-French all-organic comfort food that soothes body and soul: Gruyère mac and cheese, chevre and leek tarts, house-made foie gras, and a pastry counter laden with treats like homemade scones, cheesecake, tiramisu, and rich mousse au chocolat. The ladies also know their beverages: good, well-priced wines by the glass, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, and some serious coffee. What more could a soul ask for? | Average main: €12 | 33 rue Lamarck, 18e, Montmartre | 01-71-37-99-95 | Reservations not accepted.
The once-run-down Marais is now the epitome of chic, but you can still find reminders of its down-to-earth past along Rue des Rosiers, where falafel shops and Eastern European delis jostle with designer boutiques. Truly ambitious restaurants are few and far between in the Marais, but picturesque old bistros, like Benoît and the wonderful Café des Musées, and smaller veggie-centric eateries are popping up all over. A brand-new generation of barista cafés serving gourmet snacks for breakfast and lunch have created their own niche, answering a need for better coffee and faster sit-down dining. The popular Breizh Café attracts young and old alike with its inexpensive and authentic galettes (buckwheat crêpes) made with quality ingredients and served with a crisp, delicious cidre from Normandy or Brittany.
Au Bourguignon du Marais.
$$ | BISTRO | The handsome, contemporary look of this Marais bistro and wine bar is the perfect backdrop for traditional fare and excellent Burgundies served by the glass and bottle. Unusual for Paris, food is served nonstop from noon to 11 pm, and you can drop by just for a glass of wine in the afternoon. Always on the menu are Burgundian classics such as jambon persillé (ham in parsleyed aspic jelly), escargots, and boeuf bourguignon (beef stewed in red wine). More up-to-date picks include a cèpe-mushroom velouté with poached oysters, though the fancier dishes are generally less successful. The terrace is busy in warmer months. | Average main: €22 | 52 rue François-Miron, 3e, Marais | 01-48-87-15-40 | Closed Sun. and Mon., 3 wks in Aug., and 2 wks in Feb. | Station: St-Paul.
$$$$ | BISTRO | Without changing the vintage 1912 setting, superchef Alain Ducasse and Thierry de la Brosse of L’Ami Louis have subtly improved the menu here, with dishes such as marinated salmon, frogs’ legs in a morel-mushroom cream sauce, and an outstanding cassoulet served in a cast-iron pot. Eric Azoug keeps the kitchen running smoothly, and the waiters are charm incarnate. It’s a splurge to be here, so go all the way and top off your meal with the caramelized tarte tatin or a rum-doused baba. | Average main: €35 | 20 rue St-Martin, 4e, Marais | 01-42-72-25-76 | www.benoit-paris.com | Closed Aug. and 1 wk in Feb. | Station: Châtelet.
Fodor’s Choice | Breizh Café.
$ | FRENCH | Eating a crêpe in Paris might seem a bit clichéd, until you venture into this modern offshoot of a Breton crêperie. The pale-wood, almost Japanese-style decor is refreshing, but what really makes the difference are the ingredients—farmers’ eggs, unpasteurized Gruyère, shiitake mushrooms, Valrhona chocolate, homemade caramel, and extraordinary butter from Breton dairy farmer Jean-Yves Bordier. You’ll find all the classics among the galettes (buckwheat crêpes), but it’s worth choosing something more adventurous like the cancalaise (traditionally smoked herring, potato, crème fraîche, and herring roe). You might also slurp a few Cancale oysters, a rarity in Paris, and try one of the 20 artisanal ciders on offer. The nonstop serving hours from noon to 11 pm can be a lifesaver if you’re shopping in the Marais. Weekends are hectic, so be sure to reserve. | Average main: €12 | 109 rue Vieille du Temple, 3e, Marais | 01-42-72-13-77 | www.breizhcafe.com | Closed Mon., Tues., and Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: St-Sébastien-Froissart.
$ | WINE BAR | In summer look for the hip crowd spilling out the front of this signless wine bar in the Marais. It’s named for Jean-Louis, the bartender (bubar or barbu is French slang for “bearded”). The wine menu—with many selections available by the glass—features French wines and small-batch vintages from South Africa, Chile, and Argentina. Try the small dishes and some lovely tartines (toasted bread with various toppings) or bring in whatever noshes suit your fancy from the neighborhood—the owner encourages it! | Average main: €12 | 3 rue des Tournelles, 4e, Marais | 01-40-29-97-72 | No lunch | Station:Bastille.
Café des Musées.
$ | BISTRO | Warm and authentic, this bustling little bistro near the Musée Picasso offers a convivial slice of Parisian life—and excellent value. Here traditional French bistro fare is adapted to a modern audience, and the best choices are the old tried-and-trues: hand-cut tartare de boeuf; rare entrecôte served with a side of golden-crisp frites and homemade béarnaise; and the classic parmentier with pheasant instead of the usual ground beef. Portions are ample, but save room for dessert: old-style favorites like diplomate aux cherises, a rum-soaked, cherry-laden sponge cake, or the terrine de chocolate with crème Anglaise are not to be missed. The €17 lunch menu is a bargain. | Average main: €17 | 49 rue de Turenne, 3e, Marais | 01-42-72-96-17 | Reservations essential | Station: St-Paul.
$ | MODERN FRENCH | Deep inside the city’s latest concept store, whose proceeds go to charities for women in India and Madagascar, lurks the perfect spot for a quick and healthy lunch between bouts of shopping. The brief menu of soups, salads, risottos, and a daily hot dish is more than slightly reminiscent of another city lunch spot, Rose Bakery—salads such as fava beans with radish and lemon wedges or melon, cherry tomato, and arugula are bright, lively, and crunchy, and you can order a freshly squeezed juice or iced tea with fresh mint to wash it all down. Delicious, homey desserts might include cherry clafouti or raspberry-and-pistachio crumble. | Average main: €17 | 111 bd. Beaumarchais, 3e, Marais | 01-42-77-79-28 | www.merci-merci.com | Closed Sun. No dinner | Station: St-Sébastien-Froissart.
$$$ | BISTRO | This charming vintage bistro next to the Seine was easy to overlook until the Costes brothers—famous for stylish brasseries such as Café Marly and Georges—worked their magic on it. With a terrace that extends across the cobbled pedestrian street and a few modish touches in the turn-of-the-20th-century dining room that was once a boulangerie, Chez Julien is now one of the Marais’s hippest spots. The steep prices for rather ordinary food reflect this transformation, so you might decide to skip the starters, linger over a thick steak with crisp shoestring fries or roast farmer’s chicken with baby potatoes, then head into the Marais for ice cream or gelato. | Average main: €30 | 1 rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, 4e, Marais | 01-42-78-31-64 | Reservations essential | Station: Pont Marie.
$ | MIDDLE EASTERN | You’ll know you’ve found Marianne’s when you see the line of people reading the bits of wisdom and poetry painted across the windows. This restaurant-deli serves Middle Eastern and Jewish specialties like hummus, fried eggplant, and soul-warming chopped liver, which you can match with one of the affordable wines or a steaming glass of sweetened mint tea. The sampler platter lets you try four, five, or six items, and even the smallest plate is a feast, to be enjoyed on the scenic stone terrace overlooking the church and the Seine on warm days. Falafel sandwiches are available at the takeout window. | Average main: €14 | 2 rue des Hospitalières-St-Gervais, 4e, Marais | 01-42-72-18-86 | Station: St-Paul.
$$ | MODERN FRENCH | It’s hard to imagine a raw-food restaurant in a city famous for its slow-simmered dishes, but Cru has been quite a success—the bucolic terrace in a cobbled Marais courtyard has something to do with this, as does the extensive menu’s refusal to take the raw concept to extremes: a few cooked dishes are available, such as meat or fish prepared à la plancha and root-vegetable “fries.” If you decide to stick to the raw dishes, you won’t be disappointed: the “green plate,” variations on cucumber, displays the chef’s well-judged creativity, while silky veal carpaccio with preserved lemon has a lively flavor. Most of the desserts depart from the raw theme, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The restaurant doubles as a wine bar, so there are plenty of interesting bottles to choose from. | Average main: €23 | 7 rue Charlemagne, 4e, Marais | 01-40-27-81-84 | www.restaurantcru.fr | Closed Mon. and 2 wks in Aug. No dinner Sun. | Station: St-Paul.
$$ | BISTRO | A rare authentic Parisian bistro that refuses to change, the Ambassade claims one of the city’s great restaurant characters: the maître d’ Francis Panek, with his handlebar mustache and gravelly voice. Settle into the dining room in this ancient Marais house to try rich dishes from the Auvergne, a sparsely populated region in central France. Lighter dishes such as turbot with fennel are available, but it would be missing the point not to indulge in a heaping serving of the superb lentils in goose fat with bacon or the Salers beef in red wine sauce with aligot (mashed potatoes with cheese). You might want to loosen your belt for the astonishingly dense chocolate mousse, served in a giant bowl that allows you to decide the quantity. The Auvergnat wines come with appetizing descriptions, but don’t expect anything remarkable from this (justifiably) obscure wine region. A three-course, €33 menu covers all the important bases. | Average main: €20 | 22 rue du Grenier St-Lazare, 3e, Marais | 01-42-72-31-22 | www.ambassade-auvergne.com | Station: Rambuteau.
L’As du Fallafel.
$ | MIDDLE EASTERN | Look no further than the fantastic falafel stands on the pedestrian Rue de Rosiers for some of the cheapest and tastiest meals in Paris. L’As (the Ace) is widely considered the best of the bunch, which accounts for the lunchtime line that extends down the street. A falafel sandwich costs €6 to go, €8 in the dining room, and comes heaped with grilled eggplant, cabbage, hummus, tahini, and hot sauce. The shawarma (grilled, skewered meat) sandwich, made with chicken or lamb, is also one of the finest in town. Though takeout is popular, it can be more fun (and not as messy) to eat off a plastic plate in one of the two frenzied dining rooms. Fresh lemonade is the falafel’s best match. | Average main: €10 | 34 rue des Rosiers, 4e, Marais | 01-48-87-63-60 | Closed Sat. No dinner Fri. | Station: St-Paul.
Quality Fast Food in Paris
A development in the land of the long lunch is the new focus on fast food. No, not those pernicious chains found the world over, but one-of-a-kind eateries, often associated with a well-known bistro or wine bar, where you can grab a sandwich at a small table or to go when a full day of sightseeing doesn’t allow for lingering over a many-course lunch. These three standouts are the newest examples of a trend that’s caught on like wildfire. L’Epicerie le Verre Volé (54 rue la Folie Méricourt, 01-48-05-36-55), an offshoot of the beloved cave à manger, offers cheese, olive oil, charcuterie, and lovingly prepared gourmet sandwiches. Verjus Bar à Vins (5 rue Montpensier, 01-42-97-54-40), behind the Palais Royal gardens, offers superb sandwiches and some toothsome salads, including one with shaved Brussels sprouts, fennel, dill, and red onions. Frenchie To Go (9 rue du Nil, 01-40-39-96-19) serves a tempting array of breakfast noshes, such as scones, sticky buns, and smoked bacon on English muffins. Stop in for a pastrami on rye, classic fish-and-chips, or something a little more unusual, like a French take on the lobster roll. And don’t say no to dessert.
$ | CAFÉ | Paris’s first and most famous coffee bar, founded by former Guatemalan ambassador to France Gloria Montenegro, La Caféothèque is where the city’s initial wave of baristas came to worship and train. With three spacious rooms, any coffee preparation under the sun, and a daily special brew chosen from among dozens of varieties of meticulously sourced beans from plantations around the globe, this place is a Paris institution. | Average main: €4 | 52 rue de l’Hotel de Ville, 4e, Marais | 01-53-01-83-84 | www.lacafeotheque.com | Station: Pont-Marie, Saint-Paul.
Head over to the up-and-coming Canal St-Martin to watch Parisian bobos, or bohemian bourgeois, in action. The area is home to fashion designers, artists, and media folk who make the most of the waterside cafés on sunny days. The bistro scene gets interesting east of the Bastille, where lower rents have encouraged young chefs to set up shop. Around Père Lachaise the selection thins, but wander a little farther to multicultural Belleville to find an intriguing mix of Chinese and North African eateries alongside some superb gastrobistros from a handful of gifted young chefs.
Au Trou Gascon.
$$$$ | BISTRO | This elegant establishment off Place Daumesnil—well off the beaten tourist track but worth the trip—is overseen by celebrated chef Alain Dutournier while his wife runs the dining room, which combines contemporary furnishings and beautiful ceiling moldings. Dutournier does a refined take on the cuisine of Gascony—a region renowned for its ham, foie gras, lamb, and duck. Most popular with the regulars are the surprisingly light cassoulet (all the meats are grilled before going into the pot) with big white Tarbais beans and a superb duck or goose confit. There is an ethereal dessert of raspberries, ice cream, and meringue. Prices are steep, but there is a limited-choice lunch menu for €42 and a five-course tasting menu at dinner for €78. With some 1,100 wines and 130 Armagnacs to choose from, this is the place to splurge on vintage. | Average main: €37 | 40 rue Taine, 12e, Bastille/Nation | 01-43-44-34-26 | www.autrougascon.com | Closed weekends, Aug., and 1 wk in Jan. | Station: Daumesnil.
$ | WINE BAR | In the same family since 1938, this wine bar is named after the jolly second-generation owner who harvests grapes from the vine outside and bottles his own wines. Cheese is hacked from a giant hunk of Cantal, and much of the hearty bistro fare hearkens back to the Aveyron, a notable gastronomic region of France whence the Mélac family proudly hails. | Average main: €17 | 42 rue Léon-Frot, 11e,Bastille/Nation | 01-43-70-59-27 | bistrot-melac.fr | Closed Sun., Mon., and 2 wks in Aug. | Station: Charonne.
$$ | BRASSERIE | One of the oldest, loveliest, and most popular brasseries in Paris has improved in recent years, so stake out one of the tables, which are dressed in crisp white linen under a glowing Art Nouveau glass cupola, and enjoy classic brasserie fare. Stick to trademark dishes such as the seafood, choucroute, steak tartare, or smoked haddock with spinach, as the seasonal specials can be hit-or-miss. Take advantage of the prix-fixe menus for €31 (two courses) and €38 (three courses) and all-day service beginning at noon on Sunday. | Average main: €21 | 5-7 rue de la Bastille, 4e, Bastille/Nation | 01-42-72-87-82 | www.bofingerparis.com | Station: Bastille.
$$$ | BRASSERIE | This is one of Paris’s largest bar-restaurant-clubs and a welcome contrast to the Bastille’s somewhat tatty café scene. This luxe designlover’s paradise—created by sought-after designer India Mahdavi and graphic design team M/M—has a vast terrace with panoramic views of Place de la Bastille, an oasis of red- and blue-leather banquettes, expressive black-and-white marble floors, mirrors, and gilded embellishments. With Michelin-starred chef Jean-François Piège at the helm, classics like steak tartare and steak with béarnaise sauce are several steps above your average brasserie fare. All this adds up to one of Paris’s chic places to eat, see, and be seen. | Average main: €27 | 1 pl. de la Bastille, 4e, Bastille | 01-40-29-04-02 | www.cafe-francais.fr | Reservations essential | Station: Bastille.
Fodor’s Choice | Jacques Genin Salon de Thé.
$ | FRENCH | Master chocolatier-pâtissier Jacques Genin deserves the Legion d’honneur for his efforts to restore great traditional French pastries to their classic form, particularly the august mille-feuille. Genin’s stripped-down version disposes with the usual bells and whistles—fresh fruit, custard, chocolate—to achieve a scintillating clarity: layers of lightly caramelized pâte feuilletée, a buttery puff pastry, and an ethereal, barely sweet pastry cream in either vanilla, caramel, or praline. The glorious pastries in this tearoom, chocolate boutique, and pastry shop (probably the most beautiful in Paris, by the way) are no longer available for takeaway, but are assembled to order to be eaten fresh on the premises. Along with a cup of Genin’s bittersweet hot chocolate—well, you get the picture. Oh, yes, and then there are the chocolates, some of Paris’s finest. | Average main: €8 | 133 rue de Turenne, 3e, Bastille/Nation | 01-45-77-29-01 | jacquesgenin.fr | Closed Mon. | Station: Filles du Calvaire.
$$ | BISTRO | This is what makes Paris such an exciting culinary hub right now: a talented young chef serving inventive food at an offbeat location. The haute-Italian fare and market-driven ethos of Luigi Nastri, an up-and-coming young chef from Milan, have earned raves in early reviews. The Art Deco dining room is especially atmospheric at dinnertime when the lights are low; the three-course €19 lunch menu is a steal. | Average main: €23 | 29 rue de Cotte, 12e, Bastille/Nation | 01-43-47-47-05 | www.lagazzetta.fr | Closed Sun., Mon., and Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Ledru Rollin.
Le Baron Rouge.
$ | WINE BAR | This proletarian wine bar near the Place d’Aligre market is a throwback to another era, with a few tables and giant barrels along the walls for filling and refilling your take-home bottles. A fun time to come is Sunday morning (yes, morning) when it’s packed with locals who have just been to the market, or on a winter’s day when oysters are shucked and slurped curbside. | Average main: €11 | 1 rue Théophile Roussel, 12e, Bastille/Nation | 01-43-43-14-32 | Station: Ledru-Rollin.
Fodor’s Choice | Le Bistrot Paul Bert.
$$ | BISTRO | Faded 1930s decor: check. Boisterous crowd: check. Thick steak with real frites: check. Good value: check. The Paul Bert delivers everything you could want from a traditional Paris bistro, so it’s no wonder its two dining rooms fill every night with a cosmopolitan crowd. Some are from the neighborhood, others have done their bistro research, but they’ve all come for the balance of ingredients that makes for a feel-good experience every time. The impressively stocked wine cellar helps, as does the cheese cart, the laid-back yet efficient staff, and hearty dishes such as monkfish with white beans and duck with pears. The reasonable prix fixe is three courses for €38, or you can order à la carte. If you’re looking for an inexpensive wine, choose from the chalkboard rather than the wine list. | Average main: €24 | 18 rue Paul Bert, 11e, Bastille/Nation | 01-43-72-24-01 | Closed Sun., Mon., and Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Rue des Boulets.
Le Repaire de Cartouche.
$$ | BISTRO | In this split-level, dark-wood bistro between Bastille and République, chef Rodolphe Paquin applies a disciplined creativity to earthy French regional dishes. The menu changes regularly, but typical options are a salad of haricots verts topped with tender slices of squid; scallops on a bed of diced pumpkin; juicy lamb with white beans; game dishes in winter; and old-fashioned desserts like baked custard with tiny shell-shaped madeleines. In keeping with cost-conscious times, there is a bargain three-course lunch menu for €19 that doesn’t skimp on ingredients—expect the likes of homemade pâté to start, followed by fried red mullet or hanger steak with french fries, and chocolate tart. The wine list is very good, too, with some bargain selections from small producers. | Average main: €24 | 99 rue Amelot, 11e,Bastille/Nation | 01-47-00-25-86 | Closed Sun., Mon., and Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Filles du Calvaire.
Sardegna a Tavola.
$$$ | ITALIAN | Paris might have more Italian restaurants than you can shake a noodle at, but few smack of authenticity like this out-of-the-way Sardinian spot with peppers, braids of garlic, and cured hams hanging from the ceiling. Dishes are listed in Sardinian with French translation—malloredus is a gnocchi-like pasta; Sardinian ravioli are stuffed with cheese and mint. Perhaps best of all are the clams in a spicy broth with tiny pasta and the orange-scented prawns with tagliatelle, though the choice of dishes changes with the seasons and the chef’s imagination. | Average main: €32 | 1 rue de Cotte, 12e, Bastille/Nation | 01-44-75-03-28 | Closed Sun. and Aug. No lunch Mon. | Station: Ledru-Rollin.
$$ | BISTRO | This is the kind of bistro we’d all love in our neighborhood—good food and a convivial atmosphere where diners crane to admire each other’s plates. Bertrand Grébaut, the affable young chef, can often be found chatting away with guests in the cacophonous dining room. In a neighborhood where excellent bistro fare is ridiculously plentiful—thanks to several talented young chefs who’ve set up shop here in the last few years—this spot stands out. Seasonal ingredients, inventive pairings, excellent natural wines, plus dishes like creamy gnochetti in an orange-rind-flecked Gouda sauce sprinkled with coriander flowers; tender fillet of Landes hen in a mustard-peanut sauce, with braised endive and cabbage perfumed with lemon; and fresh white asparagus with raspberries and blanched almonds are sophisticated and satisfying. The €30 weekday lunch menu is a good place to begin. | Average main: €22 | 80 rue de Charonne, 11e, Bastille/Nation | 01-43-67-38-29 | www.septime-charonne.fr | Closed weekends. No lunch Mon. | Reservations essential | Station: Ledru Rollin, Charonne.
$$$ | MODERN ARGENTINE | An architect and a photographer, both Parisians born in Argentina, teamed up to open one of Bastille’s hottest restaurants—literally hot, too, since the Argentinean meat served here is grilled over charcoal—and good-looking young locals pile into the orange-tiled, vintage 1970s dining room or the covered terrace to soak up the party vibe. Whichever cut of beef you choose (the ultimate being lomo, or fillet), it’s so melt-in-your-mouth that the sauces served on the side seem almost superfluous. Dessert probably won’t be necessary, but banana in dulce de leche could satisfy the strongest sweet craving. If there’s a wait for a table, head across the street to the eponymous cave à vin for an Argentine apèro and appetizer. | Average main: €29 | 15 rue Paul-Bert, 11e, Bastille/Nation | 01-43-67-68-08 | www.resto-unico.com | Closed Sun., 2 wks in Aug., Christmas. No lunch Mon. | Station: Faidherbe-Chaligny.
$ | VIETNAMESE | Dong Huong isn’t a secret, but you wouldn’t find it by accident. These two undecorated dining rooms on a Belleville side street are where the local Chinese and Vietnamese come for a reassuring bowl of pho (noodle soup) or plate of grilled lemongrass-scented meat with rice. Spicy, peanut-y saté soup is a favorite, and at this price (€8) you can also spring for a plate of crunchy imperial rolls, to be wrapped in accompanying lettuce and mint. Try one of the lurid nonalcoholic drinks; they’re surprisingly tasty. | Average main: €11 | 14 rue Louis-Bonnet, 11e, Belleville | 01-43-32-25-74 | Closed Tues. and 3 wks in Aug. | Station: Belleville.
Fodor’s Choice | Le Baratin.
$$ | BISTRO | This place has been around for more than 20 years, but that hasn’t stopped it from recently becoming one of the most fashionable out-of-the-way bistros in Paris. The key to its success is the combination of inventive yet comforting cooking, by Argentina-born chef Raquel Carena, and a lovingly selected list of organic and natural wines from small producers, courtesy of her partner Philippe Pinoteau. He might seem brusque at first, but show an interest and he opens up like a vintage wine. Chef Carena learned the art of making bouillons from none other than star Breton chef Olivier Roellinger, and uses them to bring out the best in any ingredient from fish to foie gras. | Average main: €23 | 3 rue Jouye Rouve, 20e, Ménilmontant | 01-43-49-39-70 | No lunch Sat. Closed Sun., Mon., and Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Pyrénées, Belleville.
Fodor’s Choice | Le Chapeau Melon.
$$ | BISTRO | A real neighborhood find, this quirky little cave and wine bar is run with imagination, flair, and zero pretension. Dishes like salmon cru drizzled with grass-green Provençal olive oil and soy sauce, served alongside slices of tart green apple; a nutty velouté of shiitake mushrooms with a tiny dollop of crème fraiche; or calimari served in its ink with flecks of vanilla are the happy result of whatever inspires owner-chef-wine aficionado Olivier Camus that day. Wine here is a serious affair, and interested diners are met with enthusiastic annotations (and copious samplings) of the wines of the day listed on the blackboard. To get a real feel for this convivial neighborhood come to the 6 pm happy hour, for homemade terrine, artisanal charcuterie, and an excellent glass of wine. | Average main: €20 | 92 rue Rebeval, 19e,Belleville | 01-42-02-68-60 | Closed Mon. and Tues. No lunch | Reservations essential | Station: Pyrénées.
Fodor’s Choice | Abri.
$$ | MODERN FRENCH | This tiny storefront restaurant’s well-deserved popularity has much to do with chef Katsuaki Okiyama’s fresh and imaginative food, the friendly servers, and great prices. A veteran of Taillevent and Robuchon, Okiyama works from a small open kitchen behind a zinc bar, putting forth skillfully prepared dishes, like lemon-marinated mackeral topped with micro-thin slices of beet with honey vinaigrette, succulent duck breast with vegetables au jus, or a scrumptious pumpkin soup with fragrant coffee cream. With food this good, and prices to match (€25 at lunch, €40 for a four-course dinner) be sure to reserve early. | Average main: €22 | 92 rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, 10e, Canal St-Martin | 01-83-97-00-00 | Closed Sun. and Mon. | Reservations essential | Station: Poissonnière, Cadet.
Au Boeuf Couronné.
$$$ | BRASSERIE | Parc de La Villette once housed the city’s meat market, and this brasserie devoted to fine beef (whether French or Irish) soldiers on as if nothing has changed. It’s worth the trek out to this far-flung neighborhood to sample one of the 16 takes on the beef theme (plus a gargantuan marrow bone) or good fish and seafood dishes, such as sole or scallops (in season). You’ll find bon vivants from all over Paris in the buzzy dining room, feasting on the great-value €34, four-course lunch menu that includes an apéro and a half bottle of wine. | Average main: €28 | 188 av. Jean-Jaurès, 19e, Canal St-Martin | 01-42-39-44-44 | www.boeuf-couronne.com | Station: Porte de Pantin.
Fodor’s Choice | Holybelly.
$ | CAFÉ | A welcome addition to the Canal St-Martin area, this spacious, modern coffee bar caters to Paris’s blossoming breakfast scene with a menu of classics: homemade granola, pancakes topped with fruit, and eggs and bacon served up all day long, accompanied by hearty sandwiches, healthy salads (with kale!), and sinful desserts. And, of course, there’s the wonderful coffee—all you’d expect from baristas trained in the ways of the good brew. | Average main: €12 | 19 rue Lucien Sampaix, 10e, Canal St-Martin | 09-73-60-13-64 | Closed Tues. and Wed. No dinner | Reservations not accepted | Station: Jacques Bonsergent.
$ | WINE BAR | This six-table épicerie-bistro-wine bar-traiteur on a pretty cobbled street is just the thing for an uncomplicated lunch, dinner, or afternoon snack. Next door to the popular old-style bistro Astier, and run by the same owner, it’s the kind of place where you can follow your pleasure: whether you desire a great glass of wine and a plate of charcuterie and cheese or a full meal, the classic French fare is always excellent. Tasty rotisserie chicken is served daily, along with another main, like gigot d’agneau (leg of lamb), rabbit, or duck fresh from the kitchen next door, along with a creamy potato gratin, side salad, or soup of the day, with a dense almond financier for dessert. All this comes for under €17 for a two-course lunch and €27 for a three-course dinner. Pas mal! The big table is great for groups of five or more. You can also take anything out for later delectation. | Average main: €14 | 42 rue Jean-Pierre-Timbaud, 11e, Oberkampf | 01-43-55-09-49 | Closed Aug. | Reservations not accepted | Station: Parmentier, Oberkampf.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | A chef who once presented a single, peeled apple pip (really) on a plate (at the museum restaurant Le Transversal outside Paris) has no ordinary approach to food. Self-taught Basque cook Inaki Aizpitarte is undeniably provocative, but he gets away with it because (a) he’s young and extremely cool and (b) he has an uncanny sense of which unexpected ingredients go together, as in a combination of oysters and lime zest in chicken stock. The €65 set-dinner menu is modern and deconstructed, and the vintage dining room buzzes with an artsy, black-dressed crowd. | Average main: €40 | 129 av. Parmentier, 11e, Canal St-Martin | 01-43-57-45-95 | www.lechateaubriand.net | Closed Sun., Mon., and 1 wk at Christmas. No lunch | Reservations essential | Station: Goncourt.
$$ | WINE BAR | Avant-garde chef Inaki Aizpatarte has struck again, transforming (with a little help from Rem Koolhaas) a dowdy little café two doors from his acclaimed Le Chateaubriand into a sleek, if chilly, all-marble watering hole for late-night cuisinistas. Honing his ever-iconoclastic take on tapas, the dishes served here—along with a thoughtful selection of natural wines—are a great way to get an idea of what all the fuss is about. Offerings like sweetly delicate crabmeat punctuated with tart marinated radish and avocado purée, or a well-prepared lemon sole drizzled with hazelnut butter highlight what this chef can do with quality ingredients. Dishes are small, well priced, and meant to be shared to maximize exposure to the food. | Average main: €20 | 131 av. Parmentier, 11e, Canal St-Martin | 01-55-28-78-88 | www.restaurantledauphin.net | Closed Sun., Mon. and 1 wk at Christmas. No lunch Sat. | Reservations essential | Station: Parmentier.
Fodor’s Choice | Le Galopin.
$$ | BISTRO | Across from a pretty square on the border of two up-and-coming neighborhoods, this light-drenched spot, run by brothers Maxime and Romain Tischenko (the former a veteran of Inaki Aizpitarte’s Chateaubriand and the latter a Top Chef winner) is one of Paris’s better bistros. While the brothers adhere to a tried-and-true formula—meticulously sourced produce, natural wines, open kitchen—they’ve managed to make it very much their own. Dishes are small wonders of texture and flavor, like velvety Basque pork with razor-thin slices of cauliflower, briny olives, and crunchy pumpkin seeds; or crisp-moist sea bass with spring-fresh asparagus and mint. This is a great choice for diners eager to experience what this scene’s all about in a hip, off-the-beaten-path locale. | Average main: €20 | 34 rue Sainte-Marthe, 10e, Canal St-Martin | 01-42-06-05-03 | www.le-galopin.com | Closed weekends. No lunch | Reservations essential | Station: Goncourt, Belleville, Colonel Fabien.
Le Verre Volé.
$$ | WINE BAR | Cyril Bordarier blazed a path with this small bar à vins, which quickly became the ticket for hipsters seeking out exceptional, good-value natural wines with food to match. Nowadays you’re as likely to be seated next to a table of American tourists or expats as a bunch of French wine aficionados. This is not so much due to the chic factor as to Bordarier’s insistence on top-quality products. Wines are mostly organic, the charcuterie hails from top artisan producers, and the variety of small dishes alongside a few hearty main courses works just as well for lunch on the fly as for a leisurely dinner. This is a popular spot, so reserve ahead. | Average main: €24 | 67 rue de Lancry, 10e, Canal St-Martin | 01-48-03-17-34 | www.leverrevole.fr | Reservations essential | Station: République.
$$ | BISTRO | On a quiet street between Canal St-Martin and the historic Hôpital Saint-Louis, few places could be more pleasant than a sidewalk table at this most welcome addition to Paris’s thriving bistro scene. On a cool day the red banquettes and Ingo Maurer chandelier cast a cozy glow, all the better to enjoy a hearty, well-priced selection of dishes, like slices of foie gras served atop crème de lentilles and sprinkled with garlicky croutons, ham clafoutis with girolle mushrooms, or a rosy beef entrecôte with roasted baby Yukon gold potatoes and mushrooms de Paris. In springtime, fat white asparagus is nicely paired with salty smoked haddock and spring peas. A wine list replete with well-chosen natural wines plus the reasonable €30, two-course and €38, three-course menus at lunch and dinner make it one of more popular tables in town, so reserve ahead. | Average main: €22 | 12 av. Richerand, 10e, Canal St-Martin | 01-42-38-00-13 | www.restophilou.com | Closed Sun. and Mon. | Reservations essential | Station:Jacques Bonsergent.
$ | CAFÉ | Canal St-Martin’s first seriously good coffee bar, Ten Belles is where pedigreed baristas cater to a hip crowd of connoisseurs of the good brew. Sandwiches, soups, and an irresistable assortment of snacks and sweets all come from the ladies at the Bal Café. | Average main: €6 | 10 rue de la Grange aux Belles, 10e, Canal St-Martin | 01-42-40-90-78 | www.tenbelles.com | No dinner | Reservations not accepted | Station: Jacques Bonsergent, République.
$ | BAKERY | To really know Paris is to know her great boulangeries, a tradition in free fall since the advent of that notorious cricket bat, the industrial baguette. Thankfully there’s an ever-growing group of bakers carrying the flame, literally. Véronique Mauclerc, one of the best, makes her breads, classic viennoiserie (croissants, turnovers, pain au chocolat), and savory tarts on the premises in a traditional wood-fired oven using only organic flour and natural ferments for leavening. As if this weren’t enough, her pastries are a triumph. The fine traditional Paris Brest—a slightly sweet, hazelnut-cream-filled pâte à choux sprinkled with slivered almonds—sells out quickly, as do the excellent mini chocolate cakes and fruit strudels. Although out of the way, being two steps from the lovely Buttes Chaumont makes it picnic-perfect. | Average main: €5 | 83 rue de Crimée, 19e, Canal St-Martin | 01-42-40-64-55 | Station: Botzaris.
$$ | BISTRO | In a former bakery spruced up with a bread-theme mural, this bistro within the shabby-chic neighborhood of Ménilmontant dishes up a great-value two-course lunch menu for €15. Dinner is a still-reasonable €36, and the quality of the ingredients is admirable, even if the cooking can be inconsistent. Expect seasonal dishes like squash soup with spice-bread croutons, pot-roasted veal with root vegetables, and cannelés (eggy, caramelized cakes) with jasmine ice cream made on the premises. If you’re exploring the area around Père Lachaise, you’d have a hard time finding a better French eatery. | Average main: €19 | 15 rue des Panoyaux, 20e, Père Lachaise | 01-43-58-45-45 | www.laboulangerie-bistrot.fr | Closed Sun., 1 wk in July, 2 wks in Aug., and 1 wk at Christmas. No lunch Sat. and Mon. | Reservations essential | Station: Ménilmontant.
$$ | BISTRO | There are three good reasons to go to Astier: the generous cheese platter plunked on your table atop a help-yourself wicker tray, the exceptional wine cellar with bottles dating back to the 1970s, and the French bistro fare (even if portions seem to have diminished over the years). Dishes like marinated herring with warm potato salad, sausage with lentils, and baba au rhum are classics on the frequently changing set menu for €45 (€39 at lunch), which includes a selection of no less than 20 cheeses. The vintage 1950s wood-panel dining room attracts plenty of locals and remains a fairly sure bet in the area, especially because it’s open every day. | Average main: €21 | 44 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 11e, République | 01-43-57-16-35 | www.restaurant-astier.com | Reservations essential | Station: Parmentier.
$ | WINE BAR | This bistrot à vins has the lived-in look of a longtime neighborhood favorite—which it was until two veterans of the raging Paris wine-bar scene reinvented the place, keeping the laid-back atmosphere and adding a serious foodie menu that’s one of the best deals in town. A blackboard lists a selection of small €4 to €8 tapas dishes—including several house-made pâtés, fresh tomato or beet salad, a superb seafood carpaccio, and artisanal charcuterie and cheeses. Four or more diners can hack away at a crispy-succulent roasted lamb haunch. The excellent wine list features plenty of natural wines. It’s a diverse and lively crowd of happy diners who know they’ve found a very good thing. | Average main: €15 | 1 bis, passage Saint-Sébastien, 11e, République | 01-43-55-07-52 | www.restaurant-aupassage.fr | Closed Sun. No lunch | Reservations essential | Station: Saint-Ambroise, Saint-Sebastien-Froissart, Richard Lenoir.
$$ | MOROCCAN | Of the scads of neighborhood couscous joints in Paris, a few have become fashionable thanks to their host’s magnetic personality and their stylish setting—and this converted bistro ranks among the best. It’s crowded, but the clientele of fashion designers, photographers, models, and media folk are as cool as it gets in this up-and-coming quartier. Everyone digs in to a mix of French standbys (such as artichokes with vinaigrette) and more exotic fare like lamb tagine with almonds, prunes, and dried apricots. | Average main: €18 | 3 rue Martel, 10e, République | 01-47-70-67-56 | Closed Sun. and 2 wks in Aug. No lunch Sat. | Station: Château d’Eau.
Thanks to its student population, the Latin Quarter caters to those on a budget with kebab shops, crêpe stands, fast-food joints, and no-nonsense bistros. Look beyond the pedestrian streets such as Rue de la Huchette and Rue Mouffetard for less touristy eateries preferred by locals. As you might expect in an area known for its gauche caviar (wealthy intellectuals who vote Socialist), the Latin Quarter brims with atmospheric places to linger over a tiny cup of black coffee.
$$ | BISTRO | The owners have wisely preserved the bistro’s traditional spirit while brightening the decor and adding chic touches such as valet parking and a heated terrace. The menu still consists mainly of Lyonnais classics, though now you’ll find some of these grouped into color-theme menus such as “red” (beet salad, coq au vin, and Quincy wine) or “yellow” (Swiss chard gratin, pike-perch in beurre blanc sauce with steamed potatoes, and Mâcon wine). Old regulars keep coming back, including the former owners, who live upstairs. | Average main: €24 | 14 bd. St-Germain, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-54-30-23 | Closed Sun., Mon., Aug., and Christmas wk | Station: Maubert-Mutualité.
$$$ | SPANISH | The most ambitious Spanish restaurant in Paris, this spot occupies an airy Seine-side space, avoiding tapas-bar clichés. The seasonal all-tapas menu, at €55 per person, is the most creative choice, but that would mean missing out on the seven different takes on paella that are available daily: perhaps saffron with seafood (which could be a bit more generous), inky squid, vegetable, or Valencia-style with rabbit, chicken, and vegetables. Finish up with custardy crème Catalan and a glass of Muscatel. | Average main: €26 | 45 quai des Grands-Augustins, 6e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-54-31-33 | www.restaurantfogon.com | Closed Mon., 2 wks in Aug.-Sept., and 1 wk in Jan. | Reservations essential | Station: St-Michel.
$$$ | BISTRO | Having paid his dues in the tiny kitchen of Le Temps au Temps near the Bastille, Lyonnais chef Sylvain Sendra is now happily ensconced in the spacious former premises of the noted Chez Toutoune. The once-faded surroundings have been revitalized with taupe walls, a long table d’hôte (shared table), and a bar for solo meals or tapas-style snacks. Sendra’s cooking, meanwhile, is as inspired as ever. Menu highlights include a tart of foie gras, duck confit, and nutmeg; cod poached in a vegetable and sage bouillon; and a deconstructed lemon tart with a touch of celery. There’s a good wine list with some reasonable bottles and a well-conceived selection of wines by the glass to pair with the meal. Prices run the gamut from a €35 two-course lunch to an €89 degustation menu at dinner. | Average main: €27 | 5 rue de Pontoise, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-46-33-60-11 | www.restaurant-itineraires.com | Closed Sun., Mon., and 2 wks in Aug. No lunch Sat. | Reservations essential | Station: Maubert-Mutualité.
$$ | BISTRO | Christophe Beaufront belongs to a generation of gifted bistro chefs who have rejected the pressure-cooker world of haute cuisine in favor of something more personal and democratic. The result: delighted and loyal customers. There’s a lunch menu for €15 (soup, main course, glass of wine, and coffee), and the three-course dinner prix fixe costs €35. Typical of his market-inspired cooking is his signature pot-au-feu de cochon aux épices, in which spiced pork stands in for the usual beef, and the bouillon is served separately. Homemade desserts and a good-value wine list round off a satisfying experience. Children get an especially warm welcome here. | Average main: €20 | 26 rue Bobillot, 13e, La Butte aux Cailles | 01-53-80-24-00 | www.lavantgout.com | Closed Sun. and Mon. | Reservations essential | Station: Place d’Italie.
$$ | BISTRO | Sylvain Danière knows just what it takes to open a wildly popular bistro: choose an obscure location in a residential neighborhood, decorate it simply but cheerfully, work extremely hard, set competitive prices (€36 for three courses at dinner, €26 for two courses at lunch), and constantly reinvent your menu. The real key ingredient is talent, though, and Danière has plenty of it, as demonstrated by his updated duckling au sang (in blood sauce) with celery-root purée, and a popular crémeux au chocolat (chocolate pudding) to finish things off. Locals mingle with well-informed tourists from Texas or Toulouse in the red-and-cream dining room, and you can watch the chef hard at work in his small kitchen. | Average main: €19 | 92 rue Broca, 13e, Latin Quarter | 01-47-07-13-65 | www.restaurant-lourcine.fr | Closed Sun., Mon., 3 wks in Aug, 1 wk at Christmas, and 1 wk in Feb. | Station: Les Gobelins.
La Tour d’Argent.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | La Tour d’Argent has had a rocky time in recent years with the death of owner Claude Terrail, but chef Laurent Delarbre has found his footing, and there’s no denying the splendor of the setting overlooking the Seine. If you don’t want to splash out on dinner, treat yourself to the three-course lunch menu for a reduced price of €85; this entitles you to succulent slices of one of the restaurant’s numbered ducks (the great duck slaughter began in 1919 and is now well past the millionth mallard, as your numbered certificate will attest). Don’t be too daunted by the vast wine list—with the aid of the sommelier you can splurge a little (about €85) and perhaps taste a rare vintage Burgundy from the extraordinary cellars, which survived World War II. | Average main: €105 | 15-17 quai de la Tournelle, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-54-23-31 | www.latourdargent.com | Closed Sun., Mon., and Aug. | Reservations essential | Jacket and tie | Station: Cardinal Lemoine.
$$ | BRASSERIE | Regulars grumble about the uneven cooking at Le Balzar, but they continue to come back because they can’t resist the waiters’ wry humor and the dining room’s amazing people-watching possibilities (you can also drop in for a drink on the terrace). The restaurant attracts politicians, writers, tourists, and local eccentrics—and remains one of the city’s classic brasseries: the perfect stop before or after a film in a local art-house cinema. Don’t expect miracles from the kitchen, but stick to evergreens like snails in garlic butter, onion soup, panfried veal liver with sautéed potatoes, and baba au rhum for dessert. After 10 pm, night owls congregate for the €26.90 menu. | Average main: €22 | 49 rue des Écoles, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-54-13-67 | www.brasseriebalzar.com | Reservations essential | Station:Cluny-La Sorbonne.
Le Buisson Ardent.
$$$ | BISTRO | This charming Quartier Latin bistro with woodwork and murals dating from 1925 is always packed and boisterous. A glance at chef Arnaud Vansanten’s €41 set menu—a bargain €28 at lunch for three courses—makes it easy to understand why. Dishes such as chestnut soup with spice bread, squid with chorizo and creamy quinoa, and quince Tatin (upside-down tart) with mascarpone and pink pralines put a fresh twist on French classics, and service is reliably courteous. Bread is made on the premises, and if you don’t finish your bottle of wine you can take it with you to savor the last drops. | Average main: €26 | 25 rue Jussieu, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-54-93-02 | www.lebuissonardent.fr | Reservations essential | Station: Jussieu.
Le Pré Verre.
$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Chef Jean-François Paris knows his cassia bark from his cinnamon thanks to a long stint in Asia. He opened this lively bistro with its purple-gray walls and photos of jazz musicians to showcase his culinary style, rejuvenating archetypal French dishes with Asian and Mediterranean spices. His bargain prix-fixe menus (€14.50 at lunch, €32 at dinner) change constantly, but his trademark spiced suckling pig with crisp cabbage is always a winner, as is his rhubarb compote with gingered white-chocolate mousse. Ask for advice in selecting wine from a list that highlights small producers. | Average main: €20 | 8 rue Thénard, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-54-59-47 | www.lepreverre.com | Closed Sun., Mon., and 1 wk at Christmas | Reservations essential | Station: Maubert-Mutualité.
$$ | WINE BAR | Part wineshop and épicerie, part restaurant, Les Papilles has a winning formula—pick any bottle off the well-stocked shelf and pay a €7 corkage fee to drink it with your meal. You can also savor one of several superb wines by the glass at your table or around the classic zinc bar. The superb set menu—made with top-notch, seasonal ingredients—usually begins with a luscious velouté, a velvety soup served from a large tureen, and proceeds with a hearty-yet-tender meat dish alongside perfectly cooked vegetables—well worth spending a little extra time for lunch or dinner. | Average main: €18 | 30 rue Gay-Lussac, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-25-20-79 | www.lespapillesparis.fr | Closed Sun., Mon., last wk of July, and 2 wks in Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Cluny-La Sorbonne.
$$ | BISTRO | Find offal off-putting? Off-cuts take pride of place on the prix-fixe menu (€28 at lunch, €34 at dinner), but don’t let that stop you from trying this bistro near the ancient St-Julien-le-Pauvre church. You can avoid odd animal bits completely, if you must, and still have an excellent meal—opt for dishes like marinated salmon or veal rib with fingerling potatoes—or go out on a limb with the tétine de vache (thin breaded and fried slices of cow’s udder) and groin de cochon (the tip of a pig’s snout). This adventurous menu is the brainchild of Nadège Varigny, daughter of a Lyonnais butcher (quel surprise). Veal kidney with potato gratin is a house classic, and there are always three fish dishes. Don’t miss the unusual desserts, like tangy ewe’s-milk ice cream. | Average main: €21 | 10 rue St-Julien-le-Pauvre, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-46-33-98-80 | www.ribouldingue-restaurant.fr | Closed Sun. and Mon. | Station: St-Michel.
$ | BAKERY | The moss wall murals are the first clue that this is not your everyday pastry shop. Sadaharu Aoki earned his reputation in the rarified world of top pâtissiers by combining a pared-down aesthetic with rigorous French technique and using traditional Japanese ingredients like yuzu (a tart citrus fruit), red bean, black sesame, and matcha (powdered green tea), which work exceptionally well with rich French-style ganaches and chocolate. For the duomo mâcha azuki, grass-green matcha’s pleasant bitterness pairs beautifully with mellow white chocolate cream and a just-sweet red-bean center. Take home a sachet of tart, bite-size yuzu-flavor pound cakes, some green-tea-enhanced chocolate tablettes, or any of a dozen small pastries individually wrapped for snacking on the go. | Average main: €7 | 56 bd. de Port Royal, Latin Quarter | 01-45-35-36-80 | www.sadaharuaoki.com | Closed Mon. | Station: Gobelins.
$$$$ | ECLECTIC | Chef Hiroki Yoshitake was schooled in the kitchens of famed innovators Pascal Barbot of Astrance and William Ledeuil of Ze Kitchen Galerie before striking out on his own. Dishes like miso-lacquered foie gras or sake-glazed suckling pig—perfectly crisp on the outside and melting inside—pair traditional Japanese and French ingredients to wondrous effect. Plates are artfully arranged with a sprinkling of piquant shiso leaves or jewel-like roasted vegetables to please the eye and the palate. Costing €48, the three-course set lunch menu offers a choice of fish or meat and finishes with Fukano Hirobu’s stunning confections. Shoes stay on in the tranquil half-timbered dining room upstairs, but the vaulted room downstairs is totally traditional—and one of the loveliest in Paris. | Average main: €35 | 12 rue de l’Hôtel Colbert, 5e, Latin Quarter | 01-43-29-59-04 | www.restaurant-sola.com | Closed Sun. and Mon. | Reservations essential | Station: Maubert-Mutualié.
Fodor’s Choice | Ze Kitchen Galerie.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | William Ledeuil made his name at the popular Les Bouquinistes before opening this contemporary bistro in a loftlike space. The name might not be inspired, but the cooking shows creativity and a sense of fun: from a deliberately deconstructed menu featuring raw fish, soups, pastas, and à la plancha (grilled) plates, consider the roast and confit duck with a tamarind-and-sesame condiment and foie gras, or lobster with mussels, white beans, and Thai herbs. A tireless experimenter, Ledeuil buys heirloom vegetables direct from farmers and tracks down herbs and spices in Asian supermarkets. The menu changes monthly, and there are several different prix-fixe options at lunch, starting at €40. | Average main: €39 | 4 rue des Grands-Augustins, 6e, Latin Quarter | 01-44-32-00-32 | www.zekitchengalerie.fr | Closed Sun. No lunch Sat. | Reservations essential | Station: St-Michel.
La Chine Massena.
$ | CHINESE | With wonderfully overwrought rooms that seem draped in a whole restaurant-supply catalog’s worth of Asiana (plus four monitors showing the very latest in Hong Kong music videos), this is a fun place. Not only is the pan-Asian food good and moderately priced, but the restaurant itself has lots of entertainment value—wedding parties often provide a free floor show, and on weekends Asian disco follows variety shows. Steamed dumplings, lacquered duck, and the fish and seafood you’ll see swimming in the tanks are specialties, and the oyster bar serves heaping seafood platters. For the best value come at noon on weekdays for the bargain lunch menus, starting at €13, or drop in for dim sum on weekends. | Average main: €13 | Centre Commercial Masséna, 96 bd. Masséna, 13e, Chinatown | 01-45-83-98-88 | www.chinemassena.fr | Station: Porte de Choisy.
$ | VIETNAMESE | The line outside this restaurant anytime after 7 pm is a sure sign that something exciting is going on in the kitchen. Its small dining room is crowded and noisy, and service is more than brisk—the only thing missing is an eject button on your seat—but it’s well worth it for some of the cheapest and most authentic Vietnamese food in town. If you find yourself in doubt about how to eat some of the dishes that involve wrapping meat and herbs in transparent rice paper or lettuce leaves, just spy on the regulars, many of them Vietnamese. Otherwise, go for one of the huge bowls of soup: tripe is popular, though there are plenty of other meat and seafood variations. | Average main: €12 | 70 rue Baudincourt, 13e, Chinatown | 01-45-70-91-75 | Closed Mon. and 3 wks in Aug. | Station: Tolbiac, Olympiades.
St-Germain is enjoying a revival as a foodie haunt, with Yves Camdeborde’s Le Comptoir du Relais Saint-Germain the perfect example of the kind of market-inspired bistro that Parisians (and foreigners) adore. The neighborhood’s old leftist roots and new bobo sensibility blend together nicely in eateries that are not too upscale yet reflect a discerning touch. You’ll find everything from top Paris chefs (Darroze, Robuchon) to neighborhood favorites so good (Semilla, Fish) that they draw Parisians from bordering arrondissements—and that’s saying a lot!
$$$ | BRASSERIE | When Sir Terence Conran opened this impressive 300-seat restaurant, he promised to reinvent the Parisian brasserie, and he’s come close. Alcazar’s mezzanine bar is famed for its DJ, and with its slick decor and skylight roof, it feels more like London than the Rive Gauche. The kitchen may have started out rather uncertain of what it wanted to accomplish, but the food is now resolutely French with the occasional Mediterranean touch, plus the house classic fish-and-chips. Prices are reasonable: lunch menus start at €22, while a dinner menu is €40. The chef seems to have found his groove with dishes such as salmon with ginger and veal braised with morels. For dessert, it’s hard to pass up the profiteroles, mille-feuille, or baba au rhum. Sunday brunch is popular, and the restaurant is now the Paris venue for the TV show Top Chef. | Average main: €26 | 62 rue Mazarine, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-53-10-19-99 | www.alcazar.fr | Station: Odéon.
$ | WINE BAR | Edge your way in among the students and lively tipplers at this homey, old-fashioned spot—one of Paris’s oldest wine bars—with antique tiles and a covered terrace. The basic menu, which includes several small dishes, like charcuterie, terrine, or regional cheeses, makes ordering the right glass a breeze. | Average main: €15 | 80 rue des Sts-Pères, 7e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-45-48-49-02 | Closed mid-July-mid-Aug. | Station: Sèvres-Babylone.
$$ | BISTRO | If it’s steak you’re craving, put your faith in Jean-Luc Roulière, a fifth-generation butcher who opened this long, narrow bistro near St-Sulpice church. Partner Franck Pinturier is from the Auvergne region, which is also known for its melt-in-the-mouth meat, so start with truffle-scented ravioli or a rich marrow bone before indulging in a generous slab of Limousin or Salers beef, excellent veal kidney, or, for the meat-shy, perhaps lobster or sea bass. The minimalist cream-and-brown dining room with checkerboard floor tiles and black-and-white photos on the walls keeps the focus on the food, and waiters are of the professional Parisian breed. | Average main: €23 | 24 rue des Canettes, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-43-26-25-70 | Closed Aug. | Station: Mabillon.
$$$$ | BRASSERIE | Step through the antique revolving door of this landmark brasserie for a blast from the past. These are the same tables where Hemingway penned pre-war notes, Proust ordered Alsatian beer, and intellectuals like Camus rubbed elbows with artists like Chagall. Maintaining its original 1926 decor (think paneled wood, mirrors, and tiled floors), the eatery serves hearty dishes, such as choucroute with sausages and confit de canard with sautéed potatoes. Expect a convivial atmosphere and friendly service from traditionally dressed waiters. A small outdoor terrace is good for drinks, but go inside to get the full experience. | Average main: €35 | 151 bd. St-Germain, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-45-48-53-91 | www.groupe-bertrand.com/lipp.php | Daily 9 am-1 am | Reservations not accepted | Station: St. Germain-des-Pres; St. Sulpice; Mabillon.
Café de Flore.
$$ | CAFÉ | Picasso, Chagall, Sartre, and de Beauvoir, attracted by the luxury of a heated café, worked and wrote here in the early 20th century. Today you’ll find more tourists than intellectuals, and prices are hardly aimed at struggling artists, but the outdoor terrace is great for people-watching and popular with Parisians. The service is brisk and the food is fine, but nothing special. | Average main: €22 | 172 bd. St-Germain, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-45-48-55-26 | Station: St-Germain-des-Pres.
Eggs & Co.
$ | BISTRO | With a cheerfully bright and tiny, wood-beamed dining room—there’s more space in the loftlike upstairs—this spot is devoted to the egg in all its forms, and whether you like yours baked with smoked salmon, whisked into an omelet with truffle shavings, or beaten into fluffy pancakes, there will be something for you on the blackboard menu. It’s perfect for a late breakfast or light lunch on weekdays (it opens at 10 am), though rather mobbed for weekend brunch (10 am to 6 pm). | Average main: €12 | 11 rue Bernard Palissy, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-45-44-02-52 | www.eggsandco.fr | Station: St-Germain-des-Prés.
Fodor’s Choice | Fish la Boissonérie.
$$ | BISTRO | A perennial favorite, expats and locals prize this lively, unpretentious bistro for its friendly atmosphere, consistently good food, solid wine list, and English-speaking staff—a quartet sorely lacking in the neighborhood. Dishes like velvety black squid-ink risotto, roasted cod with tender braised fennel, and crispy pumpkin tempura always hit the spot, especially when followed by decadent molten chocolate cake, honey-roasted figs, or banana-bread pudding. Everything is satisfying and reasonably priced. A big plus: it’s open all day Sunday. | Average main: €22 | 69 rue de Seine, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-43-54-34-69 | Reservations essential | Station: St-Germain-des-Prés, Odéon.
Gaya Rive Gauche.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | If you can’t fathom paying upward of €200 per person to taste the cooking of Pierre Gagnaire (the city’s most avant-garde chef) at his eponymous restaurant, book a table at his fashionable fish restaurant. At Gaya Rive Gauche, Gagnaire uses seafood as a palette for his creative impulses: expect small portions of artfully presented food, as in a seafood gelée encircled by white beans and draped with Spanish ham, or cod “petals” in a martini glass with soba noodles, mango, and grapefruit. Don’t miss the desserts, one of Gagnaire’s great strengths. Aim for the main-floor room, with its fish-scale wall, natural lighting, and bar for solo diners. | Average main: €36 | 44 rue du Bac, 7e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-45-44-73-73 | www.pierre-gagnaire.com | Closed Sun. No lunch Mon. | Reservations essential | Station: Rue du Bac.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | The most celebrated female chef in Paris is now cooking at the Connaught in London, but her St-Germain dining room is an exclusive setting for her sophisticated take on southwestern French food. Darroze’s intriguingly modern touch comes through in such dishes as a sublime duck-foie-gras confit served with an exotic-fruit chutney or a blowout of roast wild duck stuffed with foie gras and truffles. At its best, the food lives up to the very high prices, but for a sampling without the wallet shock, her €28 eight-course tapas lunch menu, served in the plush red salon, is one of the best deals in town. | Average main: €65 | 4 rue d’Assas, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-42-22-00-11 | www.helenedarroze.com | Closed Sun. and Mon. | Reservations essential | Station: Sèvres-Babylone.
$$ | SEAFOOD | When the oysters are this fresh, who needs anything else? That’s the philosophy of this bright 14-seat restaurant with crisp white tablecloths and pleasant service, popular with the area’s glitterati. If you find yourself puzzling over the relative merits of fines de claires, spéciales, and pousses en claires, you can always go with the €30 prix fixe that includes a glass of Charentais, a dozen No. 3 (medium) oysters, and coffee—or ask the knowledgeable waiters for advice. You can supplement this simplest of meals with shrimp and perhaps a slice of freshly made fruit pie. Because of the lack of space, there’s a minimum order of a dozen oysters per person. | Average main: €24 | 3 rue de Montfaucon, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-44-41-10-07 | www.huitrerieregis.com | Closed Mon. and mid-July-Sept. | Station: Mabillon.
Josephine Chez Dumonet.
$$$$ | BISTRO | Theater types, politicos, and locals fill the moleskin banquettes of this venerable bistro, where the frosted-glass lamps and amber walls put everyone in a good light. Unlike most bistros, Josephine caters to the indecisive, since generous half portions allow you to graze your way through the temptingly retro menu. Try the excellent boeuf bourguignon, roasted saddle of lamb with artichokes, top-notch steak tartare prepared table-side, or anything with truffles in season; game is also a specialty in fall and winter. For dessert, choose between a mille-feuille big enough to serve three and a Grand Marnier soufflé that simply refuses to sink, even with prodding. The wine list, like the food, is outstanding if expensive. | Average main: €34 | 117 rue du Cherche-Midi, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-45-48-52-40 | Closed weekends | Reservations essential | Station: Duroc.
$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | After extravagant success with his Asian-infused cuisine at Ze Kitchen Galerie, master-chef William Ledeuil extended his artistry to annex KGB (Kitchen Galerie Bis) just down the street, this time with a different focus and gentler prices. For starters, the “zors-d’oeuvres” of two-, four-, or six mini-dishes—think cubes of foie gras mi-cuit (half-cooked) in duck consommé, tender pork wontons in coconut milk with a hint of galanga—allow for a deeper exploration of what makes Ledeuil’s cooking so alluring. Main courses, like roasted monkfish with a prune-lemongrass relish or the superb braised veal cheek in teriyaki jus, showcase his wizardry. Top it all off with a banana cappuccino with caramel glaze and coconut sorbet. At €36, the three-course lunch menu is a bargain in this neighborhood. | Average main: €29 | 25 rue des Grands Augustins, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-46-33-00-85 | kitchengaleriebis.com | Closed Sun., Mon., and Aug. | Reservations essential | Station: Odéon, St-Michel.
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Worldwide phenomenon Joël Robuchon retired from the restaurant business for several years before opening this red-and-black-lacquer space with a bento-box-meets-tapas aesthetic. High seats surround two U-shape bars, and this novel plan encourages neighbors to share recommendations and opinions. Robuchon’s devoted kitchen staff whip up small plates for grazing (€19 to €75) as well as full portions, which can turn out to be the better bargain. Highlights from the oft-changing menu have included an intense tomato jelly topped with avocado purée and the thin-crusted mackerel tart, although his inauthentic (but who’s complaining?) take on carbonara with cream and Alsatian bacon, and the merlan Colbert (fried herb butter) remain signature dishes. Reservations are taken for the first sittings only at lunch and dinner. | Average main: €40 | 5 rue Montalembert, 7e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-42-22-56-56 | www.atelier-robuchon-saint-germain.com | Station: Rue du Bac.
$$ | BISTRO | Great bistro food is not so hard to find in Paris, but only rarely does it come in a comfortable setting. At L’Epigramme, the striped orange-and-yellow chairs are softly padded, there’s space between you and your neighbors, and a big glass pane lets in plenty of light from the courtyard. Chef Karine Camcian has an almost magical touch with meat: try her stuffed suckling pig with turnip choucroute, or seared slices of pink lamb with root vegetables in a glossy reduced sauce. In winter the elaborate game dish lièvre à la royale (hare stuffed with goose or duck liver and cooked in wine) sometimes makes an appearance. Desserts are not quite as inspired, so try to take a peek at the plates coming out of the kitchen before making your choice. | Average main: €22 | 9 rue de l’Eperon, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-44-41-00-09 | Closed Sun., Mon., 3 wks in Aug., and 1 wk at Christmas | Reservations essential | Station: Odéon.
La Bastide Odéon.
$$ | BISTRO | The open kitchen of this popular Provençal bistro near the Jardin du Luxembourg allows you to watch the cooks at work, and chef Hugues Germany demonstrates a creative hand with Mediterranean cuisine. Expect unusual dishes such as aged Spanish ham with a grilled pepper pipérade and artichokes; mushroom-and-pea risotto with arugula; and duck breast with orange sauce, date purée, polenta, and wild asparagus. To finish things off, try the pear poached with lemon and saffron, served with a fromage blanc sorbet. Unusual for Paris, an entire section of the menu is devoted to vegetarian dishes. | Average main: €20 | 7 rue Corneille, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-43-26-03-65 | www.bastideodeon.com | Station: Odéon; RER: Luxembourg.
$$ | BISTRO | Portraits of cows adorn the stone walls of this bistro near the Luxembourg Gardens, hinting at the kitchen’s penchant for meaty cooking (Ferrandaise is a breed of cattle). Still, there’s something for every taste on the market-inspired menu, which always lists three meat and three fish mains. Dill-marinated salmon with sweet mustard sauce is a typical starter, and a thick, milk-fed veal chop might come with a squash pancake and spinach. The dining room buzzes with locals who appreciate the good-value €37 prix fixe—there is no à la carte—and the brilliant bento box-style €16 lunch menu, in which three courses are served all at once. | Average main: €24 | 8 rue de Vaugirard, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-43-26-36-36 | www.laferrandaise.com | Closed Sun. and 3 wks in Aug. No lunch Mon. and Sat. | Station:Odéon; RER: Luxembourg.
$$$$ | BISTRO | Émile Zola, George Sand, and Victor Hugo were regulars here, and the restaurant’s mirrors still bear diamond scratches from the days when mistresses would double-check their jewels’ value. It’s hard not to fall in love with this storied 17th-century Seine-side town house with a warren of woodwork-graced salons. Anthony Germani’s cuisine seeks a balance between traditional and modern, often drawing on Mediterranean inspirations. For a truly intimate meal, reserve one of the legendary private salons where anything can happen (and probably has). You can also sample the restaurant’s magic at lunch, when a bargain prix-fixe menu is served for €45 in both the main dining room and the private salons. | Average main: €45 | 51 quai des Grands Augustins, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-43-26-68-04 | www.laperouse.fr | Closed Sun. No lunch Sat. | Reservations essential | Station: St-Michel.
Le Bouillon Racine.
$$ | BRASSERIE | Originally a bouillon—one of the Parisian soup restaurants popular at the turn of the 20th century—this two-story restaurant is now a lushly renovated Belle Époque haven with a casual setting downstairs and a lavish room upstairs. The menu changes seasonally: lamb knuckle with licorice, wild boar parmentier (like shepherd’s pie, with mashed potatoes on top and meat underneath), and roast suckling pig are warming winter dishes. For dessert, dig into crème brûlée with maple syrup or the café liégeois (coffee-flavored custard topped with whipped cream), which comes in a jug. If you’re on a budget, try the set menus ranging from €30.90 to €41.90. This is a good place to keep in mind for a late lunch or an early dinner, since it serves nonstop from noon until 11 pm. You can also drop in for a Belgian waffle and hot chocolate in the afternoon. | Average main: €22 | 3 rue Racine, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-44-32-15-60 | www.bouillon-racine.com | Station: Odéon.
Le Comptoir du Relais Saint-Germain.
$$ | BISTRO | Run by legendary bistro chef Yves Camdeborde, this tiny Art Deco hotel restaurant is booked up well in advance for the single dinner sitting featuring five courses of haute-cuisine fare. On weekdays from noon to 6 and weekends until 10, a brasserie menu is served; reservations are not accepted, resulting in long lines and brisk, sometimes shockingly rude, service. Start with charcuterie or pâté, then choose from open-faced sandwiches like a smoked-salmon-and-Comté-cheese croque monsieur, gourmet salads, and a variety of hot dishes such as braised beef cheek, roast tuna, and Camdeborde’s famed deboned and breaded pig’s trotter. If you don’t mind bus fumes, sidewalk tables make for prime people-watching in summer. Camdeborde also runs neighboring Avant Comptoir, a minuscule stand-up zinc bar with hanging hams and sausages where you can score a superb plate of charcuterie and an inky glass of Morgon. Quality crêpes and sandwiches are still served from the window out front. | Average main: €22 | 9 carrefour de l’Odéon, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-44-27-07-50 | www.hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com | Station: Odéon.
$$$$ | BISTRO | Showcasing the talents of Guy Savoy protégé Stéphane Perraud, this bistro is frequented by art dealers from the nearby galleries and the occasional bouquiniste (bookseller) from the quais across the street. Expect to hear more English than French in the cheery, contemporary dining room with its closely packed tables looking out onto the Seine, but the sophisticated seasonal cuisine—such as snails and mussels with gnocchi, followed by British Hereford beef with squash-stuffed rigatoni and a caramel crème brûlée—is as authentic as you could hope for. The €35 menu du marché (back from the market) lunch menu seems less imaginative than the pricier à la carte options—though it does include three courses and a glass of wine. The wine list is extensive, with 180 wines and 12 Champagnes. | Average main: €38 | 53 quai des Grands-Augustins, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-43-25-45-94 | www.lesbouquinistes.com | Closed Aug. | Station: St-Michel.
$$ | BISTRO | Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, this tiny neighborhood favorite reopened with notable young chef Charles Danet at the helm, earning enthusiastic acclaim from all quarters. The spare but constantly changing seasonal menu concentrates on fresh farm-to-table ingredients, offering meat and seafood dishes and plenty of hearty vegetables: filet de boeuf d’Aubrac (a pedigreed cow from southwest France) with potato terrine and Pardailhan turnips, scallops with cauliflower purée, or sweetbreads with pears and celery. Desserts like almond biscuit with candied clementines and brioche ice cream are too lovely too resist. Prices remain very reasonable for this quality: three-course lunches are €28, four-course dinners are €41, and five-course tasting dinners are €49. | Average main: €19 | 3 rue Ste-Beuve, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-45-49-10-40 | www.restaurantletimbre.com | Closed Sun., Mon., mid-July-mid-Aug., and 10 days at Christmas | Reservations essential | Station: Vavin.
Fodor’s Choice | Semilla.
$$$ | BISTRO | The duo behind the popular neighborhood bistro Fish and the excellent La Dernière Goutte wineshop have poured their significant expertise into this laid-back new bistro in the heart of tony St-Germain-des-Prés. Its sophisticated cuisine, superb wines by the bottle or glass, and total lack of pretension has quickly made Semilla the toast of the town. A lively open kitchen produces a menu of plentiful dishes either raw, roasted, baked, or steamed, with choices that will thrill both carnivores and herbivores. Velvety chestnut soup, lentil croquettes with a light curry emulsion, beet carpaccio, and the excellent marinated salmon are good choices to start, followed by roasted coquilles St-Jacques with Jerusalem artichoke puree or venison served with celery root and quince. There are also plenty of bistro classics to choose from, like beef tartare or côte de boeuf with roasted potatoes and a fine sauce bordelaise—and it’s open Sunday. | Average main: €25 | 54 rue de Seine, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-43-54-34-50 | Reservations essential | Station: Odéon, St-Germain-des-Prés.
$$$ | JAPANESE | If you’re having what is known in French as a crise de foie (liver crisis), the result of overindulging in rich food, this chic Japanese noodle house with a summer terrace and a VIP room upstairs is the perfect antidote. The blond-wood walls soothe the senses, the staff is happy to explain proper slurping technique, and the soba (buckwheat noodles), served in soup or with a restorative broth for dipping, will give you the courage to face another round of caramelized foie gras. The soba noodles are made fresh on the premises every day, showing Parisians that there is more to Japanese cuisine than sushi. Desserts come from Sadaharu Aoki, famous for green-tea mille-feuilles. Prices are sobering, but various set menus are available for €38.50 at lunch or €68.50 at dinner. | Average main: €31 | 22 rue St-Benoît, 6e, St-Germain-des-Prés | 01-45-44-11-18 | Closed Sun. and 2 wks in Aug. | Station: St-Germain-des-Prés.
It’s hard not to feel part of the café culture in Montparnasse. Along the broad boulevards you can find some of the city’s classic brasseries. As storied as they are, many have been bought up by chains and drained of much of the true charm that once attracted artists, politicians, and intellectuals. Though authentic brasseries can still be found—like Le Dôme—some of the area’s best food is found at small bistros on narrow side streets.
$$$ | BISTRO | David Rathgeber spent 12 years working for celebrity-chef Alain Ducasse before taking over this landmark restaurant, where he has created his own menu and welcomed a devoted clientele. Expect bourgeois classics with a subtle modern touch, perhaps white tuna steak with spinach, lemon, capers, and croutons, and crème caramel with salted butter—all executed with the precision you would expect of a Ducasse veteran. The excellent two-course lunch menu is a bargain at €23. Each month, the tea “tasting ateliers” span the globe via the world’s great teas, pairing them with French cuisine. | Average main: €27 | 181 rue du Château, 14e, Montparnasse | 01-43-22-64-86 | www.restaurant-lassiette.com | Closed Mon., Tues., Aug., and 1 wk at Christmas | Station: Pernety, Mouton-Duvernet.
$ | BISTRO | Cyril Lalanne belongs to a breed of young chefs who like to cook for a privileged few. If you can nab a seat in this unremarkable yellow-and-red dining room (be sure to call ahead), you’ll be rewarded with food whose attention to detail restores your faith in humanity. Foie gras makes several appearances on the chalkboard menu, since Lalanne is from southwest France, but you can also find freshly caught fish and perhaps farmer’s pork from Gascony, a rarity in Paris. Lalanne does his own variation on baba au rhum—with Armagnac, another nod to his native region—and the wine list is strong on southwestern French bottles. | Average main: €17 | 70 bd. Edgar Quinet, 14e, Montparnasse | 01-43-20-98-98 | www.restaurantlacerisaie.com | Closed weekends, mid-July-mid-Aug., and 1 wk at Christmas | Reservations essential | Station: Edgar Quinet.
$$$ | BRASSERIE | This world-renowned cavernous spot with Art Deco murals practically defines the term brasserie. It’s been popular since Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were regulars, and it’s still great fun. Today it attracts a mix of bourgeois families, tourists, and lone diners treating themselves to a dozen oysters. Recent additions to the classic brasserie menu are a tart of caramelized apple and panfried foie gras, beef fillet flambéed with cognac before your eyes, and profiteroles made with Valrhona chocolate. You usually can’t make reservations after 8 or 8:30, so be prepared for a wait at the bar. | Average main: €26 | 102 bd. du Montparnasse, 14e, Montparnasse | 01-43-20-14-20 | www.lacoupole-paris.com | Station: Vavin.
La Crêperie Josselin.
$ | MODERN FRENCH | With lacy curtains, beamed ceilings, and murals, this is the closest you’ll get to an authentic Breton crêperie without heading to the coast. Tuck into a hearty buckwheat galette, perfectly crisped on the edges and filled with, perhaps, a classic combo of country ham, egg, cheese, and mushrooms accompanied by a pitcher of refreshing dry Breton cider. For dessert, the traditional crêpe filled with crème chataigne (chestnut) or the sublime caramel au beurre salé (salted caramel) are not to be missed. With a two-course lunch formule with beverage for €12, this is a great place for a quick, satisfying, and thoroughly French meal. Extra bonus: the kids will love it. | Average main: €10 | 67 rue du Montparnasse, 14e, Montparnasse | 01-43-20-93-50 | Closed Mon., Tues., Aug., and 2 wks in Jan. | No credit cards | Station: Vavin, Edgar Quinet.
$$$$ | BRASSERIE | Now a fancy fish brasserie serving seafood delivered fresh from Normandy every day, this restaurant began as a dingy meeting place for exiled artists and intellectuals like Lenin and Picasso. Try the sole meunière or the bouillabaisse, the ingredients of which are on display in their raw form in the restaurant’s sparkling fish shop next door. You can still drop by the covered terrace for a cup of coffee or a drink. | Average main: €36 | 108 bd. Montparnasse, 14e, Montparnasse | 01-43-35-25-81 | Closed Sun. and Mon. in July and Aug. | Station: Vavin.
Change comes slowly to this old bourgeois neighborhood bordering the Bois de Boulogne. It’s full of Paris stalwarts, where families have gathered over generations, and you can find some wonderful and worthwhile deeply Parisian bistros and brasseries. Avoid anything looking too chic or polished, where you’ll very often pay high prices for mediocre fare.
Le Pré Catelan.
$$$$ | MODERN FRENCH | Live a Belle Époque fantasy by dining beneath the chestnut trees on the terrace of this fanciful landmark pavilion in the Bois de Boulogne. Each of chef Frédéric Anton’s dishes is a variation on a theme, such as l’os à moelle: bone marrow prepared two ways, one peppered and the other stuffed with porcini and cabbage, both braised in a concentrated meat jus. For a taste of the good life at a (relatively) gentle price, order the €110 lunch menu and soak up the opulent surroundings along with service that’s as polished as the silverware. | Average main: €120 | Rte. de Suresnes, 16e, Western Paris | 01-44-14-41-14 | www.restaurant-precatelan.com | Closed Sun. and Mon., 2 wks in Feb., 3 wks in Aug., and 1 wk in late Oct.-early Nov. | Reservations essential | Jacket and tie | Station: Porte Dauphine.