Table of Contents
- Our Paris Love Story
- Paris Food Scene
- Paris Food Guide
- Our Favorite Paris Restaurants
- Paris Bouillons
- More Restaurants in Paris
- Special Paris Restaurant Experience at Le Train Bleu
- Paris Brunch Spots
- Best Afternoon Tea in Paris
- Paris Cheap Eats
- Global Cuisine
- Paris Desserts
- Drinking in Paris
- Paris Markets, Specialty Shops and Traiteurs
- Things To Do in Paris
- Getting Around Paris
- Plan Your Paris Stay
- Hungry for More French Food?
- Pin It for Later
- About the Authors
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.
Eating well in Paris is one of the greatest joys in life.
After visiting Paris numerous times including four visits in the past year, we’re huge fans of the Paris food scene from its humble neighborhood markets to the trendiest of trendy restaurants. This is a city where it’s just as easy to find excellent cheap eats as it is to spend a car payment for a memorable world class meal.
You may be dreaming about a future trip to Paris and fear that you won’t be able to do or see everything during your trip, much less eat all the food. Let’s face it – it’s impossible to enjoy everything that Paris has to offer in one trip.
But that’s okay. This just gives you and us an excuse to return again and again.
Our Paris Love Story
We first traveled to Paris in the 1990s, a decade before we would meet in Philadelphia. Back then, we consumed our days at world-class museums including the Louvre, Pompidou and Orsay. Like most Americans, we wanted to see everything under the assumption that we might never return.
Our 2010 Paris trip was different. No longer single, we spent as much time exploring Paris’ cuisine as we did its culture.
With help from the book Hungry for Paris, we dined at cozy spots like Le Baratin (see below) and Robert et Louise. We also celebrated Daryl’s birthday at Hidden Kitchen, the secret supper club that preceded the now über-popular restaurant, Verjus.
In between meals, we strolled along the scenic Seine, visited Chopin’s final resting place and plotted our eventual return.
And so began our Parisian love affair…
Paris Food Scene
We’re not the first to fall in love with the food in Paris and we won’t be the last. The city’s food scene has become legendary all over the world, inspiring acolytes like Ernest Hemingway and Julia Child.
Paris excels at every type of art – culinary art included. Evolving over decades if not centuries, Paris offers a variety of cuisines that please and excite even the pickiest of diners.
Are you a meat and potatoes person? You can eat steak frites all over town. Vegetarian? Edgy Paris has great veggie options too. Gluten-free? Go to Boulangerie Chambelland in the 11th arrondissement for excellent gluten-free pastries.
Sure, the city has more than its fair share of Michelin-starred establishments helmed by restaurant icons like Alain Ducasse and Alain Passard. Without a doubt, these 100+ luxury restaurants are worthy destinations for big-budget diners celebrating a special occasion. But the Paris restaurant scene is so much more.
We typically prefer to dine at casual restaurants helmed by Paris’ new generation of chefs. Some of these young guns earned their chops at one or more Paris Michelin restaurants before embracing Le Fooding, a French movement that eschews old-school rigidity in favor of smaller, casual dining rooms, modern techniques and international cuisines.
Other Paris chefs honed their skills in different countries, bringing a fresh approach to the preparation of traditional French food. Thanks to them, many of the best restaurants in Paris serve food more typically eaten around the world in continents like Asia and the Americas.
In today’s Paris, it’s possible to eat Japanese food cooked by American chefs and French food cooked by Japanese chefs. It’s also possible to find French chefs cooking food more typically served in the UK, Italy, America and Vietnam.
But make no mistake, the food of Paris is still unmistakably French. Even with international influences and an abundance of exotic ingredients, Paris plates are tight, the knifework is flawless and flavors are clean.
Paris Food Guide
As is the case in much of Europe, doing advance research and planning is key with scoring reservations and experiencing memorable meals. Many restaurant websites have reservation systems. You must check those sites in advance and act quickly.
We’ve done the research and we’ve eaten the food. Read our Paris food guide to find our picks for where to eat in Paris.
Our Favorite Paris Restaurants
We never go to bed hungry in Paris – the city has more restaurants than we could visit in a year much less a week. The struggle is real during every trip as we negotiate where to eat from Paris’ never-ending list of worthy dining options.
Sometimes we discover restaurants through online research. Other times we get recommendations from Parisian restaurant workers and baristas. And, occasionally, we follow our noses into eateries that catch our attention.
Our quest to find the best Paris restaurants is a lifetime endeavor that rewards us on every trip. These are our favorites:
More than ‘just’ a Michelin-starred restaurant, The Frenchie empire includes a casual restaurant and wine bar in addition to its flagship restaurant. And the best part? They’re all located on Rue de Nil in the 2nd arrondissement.
We first encountered Frenchie in 2016, seven years after it opened and three years before Chef Greg Marchand, who’s grown to elite status since his days as Jamie Oliver’s protege, received his first Michelin star.
But we didn’t actually eat at the restaurant that year. Instead, we ate at Marchand’s casual FTG (Frenchie To Go) as part of a whirlwind weekend of eating American food in Paris. Finally, in 2020, we ate at Frenchie.
Described as a ‘micro-restaurant’ by Marchand, Frenchie serves a seasonal prix-fixe menu that’s simultaneously global and local. After working around the world in cities like Hong Kong and New York, the acclaimed chef is adept at sourcing local product and adding international flavors.
As is the case with most expanding culinary empires, Frenchie’s flagship kitchen is handled by Chef de Cuisine Sasha Minins. Minins, a Lithuanian native, adeptly handles Frenchie’s kitchen without losing a step.
Despite its notoriety, Frenchie is a small space with a fairly limited schedule that doesn’t include weekend meals. The restaurant’s five-course menu cost €88 at the time of our visit, with a lunchtime three-course option for €50.
You won’t find Frenchie’s menu online since it changes frequently. Expect dishes like foie gras with caramelized pecans and grilled guinea fowl, both featured on our three-course lunch menu.
Our meal started with Gougeres made with French Comté cheese and ended with a British cheese selection sourced from London’s Neal’s Yard Dairy. Highlights included a ridiculously tasty truffled potato and celeriac feuillete and smoked salmon brightly flavored with Meyer lemons and pickled turnips.
Glasses of locally-produced Grenache Blanc from Les Vignerons completed our culinary experience with panache. Les Vignerons, a unique local Paris winery, offers wine tastings in the Marais for those seeking a Parisian wine experience.
Frenchie is located at 5 Rue du Nil, 75002 Paris, France.
Considering the mutual affection between Tokyo and Paris, it’s no coincidence that a Japanese chef helms one of the city’s most exciting restaurants. Prior to opening Maison, Sota Atsumi trained at Michelin-starred restaurants in Lyon as well as famed Le Maison Troisgros before making waves at Paris’ Clown Bar.
Now on his own, Atsumi has created a culinary oasis in the city.
Diners enter Maison through a spartan ground-floor lounge that leads up a stairwell to a sophisticated, sun-drenched dining room situated in an ultra-modern space with a vaulted A-frame ceiling, hexagonal tiles lining the walls and a chef’s counter facing the kitchen. This is an urban farmhouse with large exposed maroon beams stretching over the room’s vast communal table.
But, at the end of the day, the real wow is in the food.
Starting with chestnut bread baked in the kitchen’s wood oven and miniature cloud-like tartlets filled with onion and haddock, we enjoyed a two-hour journey that took our taste buds to the Basque Country and beyond.
The aforementioned Basque Country can claim credit for the yellowfin tuna and monkfish as well as the cider, but Maison’s culinary team took each item further. Slabs of tuna, layered with paper-thin grapefruit, burst with acidity.
Atsumi’s Meaty monkfish was multidimensional – feeling more like a culinary journey than a mere plate of food. On this food trip, an initial bite of simple meaty flesh segued into flavors of herbs, mushroom, rich sauce and foie gras that unfolded like chapters in a book.
Buttery tender squab grilled on charcoal was served claw-on in recognition that the squab was once a living being. A tube of thick pasta arrived with a tasty liver-like sauce starkly similar to the banh xeo sauce we’d eaten in Da Nang, Vietnam.
We ended our Maison meal with Brie Noir de Coulommiers, an earthy, nutty cheese aged for 12 months, paired with an equally earthy, nutty fig walnut bread made with buckwheat flour. However, proving that enough isn’t really enough in Paris, we found room for pear creme brulee served with olive oil ice cream, candied kumquats and cereal crunchies.
Maison is located at 3 Rue Saint-Hubert, 75011 Paris, France.
La Bourse et La Vie
Open since 2015, La Bourse et la Vie is a classic French bistro ironically helmed by an American. The irony is not so palpable considering that the American is Daniel Rose, the chef responsible for Paris’ Spring (now closed) and Chez La Vieille as well as Le Coucou in New York.
Dining at La Bourse et la Vie was a no-brainer for us after experiencing Rose’s vision (albeit executed by our talented friend Chef Justin Bogle) at Le Coucou. Although La Bourse et la Vie offers a full dinner menu, going for lunch was an equally easy decision since the restaurant’s midday prix fixe menu provides excellent value.
Though it includes a fish option for pescatarians, La Bourse et la Vie’s lunch menu is all about the meat. Accordingly, we chose two carnivorous variations: steak au poivre and beef tartare.
House-made fresh cheese spread with chives and shallots and a beautiful, rainbow-like salad with large heirloom tomatoes, herbs and olives started our meal. Soon after, sides of dressed butter lettuce and an epic bowl of crispy frites that was almost impossible to finish accompanied our main course.
But, without a doubt, the meat was the star of the show.
Mindi’s rustic steak tartare was a round mound of chunky raw meat surrounded by egg yolk, egg whites, capers, onion, anchovy, pickles and garlic. Daryl’s generous entrecôte steak, prepared to a wonderful à point doneness with a hint of smokiness, shared the plate with an elegant sauce just viscous enough to avoid being thick or runny.
La Bourse et La Vie is located at 12 Rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France.
Our dinner at Le Rigmarole started on a highly inauspicious note as we dashed in from the rain and promptly broke a vase at our table while removing our outerwear. Things looked up when talented co-owner Jessica Yang welcomed us to the restaurant with a shrug and a smile.
Let’s cut to the chase. We loved everything about Le Rigmarole from its eclectic, yakitori-friendly menu to its bare-bones vibe. Though the menu could be described as more Japanese than French, Yang and partner Robert Compagnon deliver a culinary experience that’s Paris dining at its best.
Rigamarole has a menu. Ignore it. This is a restaurant where it makes sense to order one of two prix fixe chef’s menus priced at either €49 and €69 (subject to change).
Not only is the chef’s menu the price-effective way to go, but it’s also fun to succumb to an element of surprise as you await each course. And by each course, we mean many courses. Many, many courses. So many that we stopped counting after a dozen.
Yang queried us regarding our preference for offals, raw fish and vegetables before the parade of small dishes commenced with pickled kohlrabi, red cabbage and golden turnips. The kitchen team crafted our menu accordingly, including offals just for Daryl and a range of tasty treats for us both.
Each miniature course was a revelation. Raw endives shared a plate with caramelized pistachio. Grilled salmon with a spicy homemade yogurt sauce was so flavorful that we used a demi spoon to scoop out every drop.
Compagnon didn’t disappoint, grilling juicy yakitori skewers with the likes of butterflied chicken wings, chicken liver and a chicken heart on white binchotan charcoal. He also delivered with a thick and beefy homemade bone marrow spaghetti dish seemingly inspired by the cuisines of both Bologna and Rome.
Yang provided the meal’s sweet ending. Our desserts included velvety smooth lemon ice cream and chocolate fondant with praline crust and barley ice cream.
Le Rigmarole is located at 10 Rue du Grand Prieuré, 75011 Paris, France.
Bistrot Paul Bert
Far from a hidden gem, Bistrot Paul Bert is firmly on the radar for locals and travelers who enjoy elevated yet affordable bistro fare. Though it feels like it’s been around for a century, Bertrand Auboyneau opened the popular Paris bistro in 2000.
We realized the Bistrot Paul Bert’s popularity when we posted photos from our dinner on social media. Responses were overwhelmingly positive from close friends to food critics who had eaten at the quintessential Paris bistro during the past two decades. Ironically, their reactions were quicker than the bistro’s service.
Although Bistrot Paul Bert offers an a la carte menu, ordering the three-course prix fixe dinner (priced at €41 at the time of our meal) is the way to go unless your heart is set on Cote de Beouf. Presented on a handwritten chalkboard menu, the options available during our meal ran the gamut from classic Trout Menuière to seasonal Asperges Blanches (white asparagus).
The chefs at Bistrot Paul Bert have been cooking for decades. We could taste their experience in dishes like mullet carpaccio with lemon and cauliflower on top and sauteed squid flavored with preserved lemon.
Mindi ordered her usual tartare and was pleased with a chunky presentation that mixed onion, gherkins and parsley mixed into the meaty mound.
Daryl went rogue by ordering beef tongue. Not only could he taste the various levels of preparation from the homemade stock to the braised tongue cooked until meltingly tender, but it was the first time that he’s eaten tongue that tasted better than his grandmother’s.
The three-course meal includes a final course of either cheese or dessert. Selecting the signature Paris-Brest named after a historic bike race between the two cities is a must for its light choux pastry and divine praline-buttercream filling. We also enjoyed a buttery, sugary Grand Marnier souffle that was as big as it was light.
Be warned that, dining at Bistrot Paul Bert comes with a side of service ‘tude. This is ultra cool Paris after all. We had to assert ourselves to avoid sitting in a back room designated for tourists and waited interminably for our bill after requesting it multiple times. We also didn’t appreciate our server glad-handing for a tip after claiming that “it was his first night” while working the room like he’d been there for years.
Service issues aside, Bistrot Paul Bert is a Paris restaurant that we fully recommend and will happily revisit whenever we’re in the neighborhood.
Bistrot Paul Bert is located at 18 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 Paris, France.
Pierre Sang in Oberkampf
Oberkampf may be our favorite Paris neighborhood with its excellent selection of cafes, boulangeries, wine bars and restaurants. Staying at an Airbnb apartment in the area allowed us to leisurely explore the neighborhood, peeling away its layers and enjoying treasures like Pierre Sang.
The first restaurant opened by Chef Pierre Sang after he won Top Chef France in 2011, Pierre Sang (the restaurant) manages to be simultaneously simple and sophisticated with a rotating set menu that blends flavors from the chef’s home country (Korea) and adopted country (France).
Lunch guests can choose two, three or five plates while evening diners get six courses. Prices are ridiculously fair, ranging from €20 for the two-course lunch to €39 for the six-course dinner at the time of our visit.
Hedging our bets, we opted for three courses during our midday meal. Though more than enough food, we regretted not going for the full five based on the quality of the hake pictured above as well as pork loin garnished with gochujang miso sauce, haricot verts, mustard grains, broccoli puree and baby corn.
And how can we forget our dessert – four apple preparations on one seasonal plate – chantilly, sorbet, baba and cider – which we slurped and sipped with childlike glee.
We also can’t forget the street art that we viewed through the restaurant’s window. We thought it was Banksy but the art’s signature said otherwise. Either way, the whimsical design provided a harmonious complement to our satisfying meal.
Pierre Sang is located at 55 Rue Oberkampf, 75011 Paris, France.
If you travel to Paris from London via the Eurostar train or use public transit to get to town from the Charles de Gaul Airport, you’ll most likely drift through Paris’ 10th arrondissement.
As is the case in most cities, the immediate area around the Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est train stations is blighted and ugly with cheap hotels and a seedy street scene.
But a short walk either east or west will transport you to some of Paris’ most fun and funky areas. To the east, near Place de Republique, is a vibrant area along the Canal St. Martin.
To the west is a sort of no-nonsense nether zone between the Gare du Nord and Montmartre labeled as SoPi (south of Pigalle). There you’ll find intimate restaurants tightly filled with Parisians eating simple yet elegant bistro food while seated elbow to elbow. Les Arlots is one of those restaurants.
Chef Thomas Brachet serves what he humbly calls a ‘simple’ menu at Les Arlots. For us, food like his simple, expertly constructed, porky Pâte de Campagne is what we love about eating bistro classics in Paris.
Main courses were just as satisfying. We loved his skate wing, served with earthy yet sweet carrots, carrot purée and a generous amount of girolle (chanterelle) mushrooms.
We also adored his snappy, award-winning house sausage (Sausage Les Arlots) served with a rich sauce and creamy potato purée. When you dine at Les Arlots, this is a must-order dish.
Les Arlots is located at 136 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 75010 Paris, France.
After enjoying outstanding small plates and natural wines at Deviant, we made it our mission to check out the wine bar’s sister restaurant, Vivant 2. However, since Vivant 2 is closed on weekends, we couldn’t squeeze in a meal during that trip.
Quel dommage! Our dinner had to wait four months for a return trip to Paris.
Vivant 2 lives up to its name. Dimly lit with an intimate atmosphere, the restaurant is fully alive with a buzzing vibe generated by its busy culinary team and a stream of fashionable guests. Our neighbors were in town for Paris’ annual fashion week.
Though young in years, Chef Pierre Touitou (pictured above) is a culinary sage who creates nightly magic in a compact, open kitchen behind the restaurant’s sleek marble bar. A dozen or so lucky diners get a front-row view of the action, with Vivant 2’s kitchen just meters away from the stools.
Touitou trained with top chefs like Alain Ducasse and hails from a privileged lineage as the son of an acclaimed designer. This pedigree doesn’t stop him from cooking with controlled abandon.
During our meal, the young chef didn’t stop hustling – chopping, plating and blow-torching food with an aggressive precision that was fun to watch and a joy to taste.
Our first taste of duck pastilla made with Greek pastry and foie gras primed us for dishes like ruby red blow-torched tuna topped with juicy bits of finger lime. Our La Cour D’Armoise chicken arrived two ways – the breast roasted with black sauce, corn and tofu and the thigh served in a salad with frisée and watercress topped with padrons.
However, the piece de resistance had to be Touitou’s Tunisian-inspired, braised veal topped with vegetal Mloukhiya sauce.
Blackened with squid ink, the sauce’s complex flavor and mole-like texture provided an excellent counterpoint to the multidimensional flavors of the braised veal. The dish”s fiery Tunisian harissa paste gave us all the motivation we needed to start dreaming about a future trip to North Africa.
Vivant 2 is located at 43 Rue des Petites Écuries, 75010 Paris, France.
A visit to Paris without at least one traditional meal would be incomplete from a culinary perspective. Previously relegated to tourist traps and Michelin budget busters, old-school French cuisine is new again at historic Paris bouillons.
Dating back to the 19th century, opulently decorated bouillons serve bouillon broth as well as classic French dishes like Escargot and Blanquette de Veau for ridiculously affordable prices. Paris bouillons have undergone a rebirth and attract crowds of locals and tourists who patiently queue on a daily basis.
Bouillon Chartier, the most famous Paris bouillon, has been operating since 1896. Proving that Bouillon Chartier isn’t the only place to break baguettes while eating classic cuisine on a budget, we recommend the following additional Paris bouillons:
Serendipity led us to Bouillon Pigale in 2019, two years after the popular eatery opened in the 18th arrondissement. Our hotel was literally across the street.
Deterred by a long wait on our first attempt, we joined the crowds for lunch the next day. This midday meal was our introduction to the wonderful world of modern-day bouillons in Paris.
Bouillon Pigalle is the opposite of intimate with two sprawling floors and enough tables to accommodate 300 hungry souls. But, let’s be honest, crowds don’t queue for a romantic experience here. They come for the food – plates and plates of classic French fare served on the cheap.
After braving the aforementioned queue, we feasted on dishes like Oeufs Mayonaisse (boiled eggs slathered with creamy mayo) and Steak Tartare that rivaled versions we’ve eaten for twice the price. However, the highlight of the meal may have been a hearty serving of Blanquette de Veau (veal stew) served over rice.
As we sipped our wine and munched on crispy frites (fried potatoes), we just had one question. Why don’t we have bouillons in Lisbon?
Bouillon Pigalle is located at 22 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France.
Bouillon Julien oozes with history from its vintage cash register to its menu filled with classic French dishes. Though only operating as a bouillon since 2018, this popular bouillon is in a fabulous art nouveau building that dates back to the turn of the 19th century.
Edith Piaf dined here with her lover Marcel Cerdan in the 1940s. Decades later, the building achieved historical monument status in 1997. You really have to see the space to believe it – calling the restaurant ornate is an understatement.
Painted nymphs, stained glass and mirrors adorn sea-green walls covered with sconces galore while floral tiles cover the floor. It all sounds incredibly gaudy and yet the result is beautiful.
Beyond its decor, Bouillon Julien’s affordable menu attracts a mostly local crowd for lunch and dinner. Though empty when we arrived for our lunch just past noon, the bouillon soon filled and was bustling when we left an hour later.
Our lunch included a selection of French food favorites starting with ‘garlicious’ Escargot (pictured above) and crab-filled Tarama and continuing with Tête de Veau and Bouillon.
How could we resist ordering the bouillon’s signature dish, a beefy broth loaded with pasta, braised beef, lemongrass and ginger? We couldn’t and we didn’t.
A big bowl of frites and a carafe of ruby red Gamay wine completed our meal. Paying our bill, which clocked in at just under €40 including service, was the opposite of a hardship. In fact, it was a pleasure.
Bouillon Julien is located at 16 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris, France.
More Restaurants in Paris
Not every Paris meal has to be an event but they should all be excellent whether your visit is one day, one week or even longer. The following Paris restaurants will feed you well and make you smile:
Le Verrre Volé
Le Verre Volé is one of those restaurants that we argued about following our meal. Mindi thought the wine-filled, bookshelf-lined restaurant was a more of a wine bar than a restaurant while Daryl thought the sit-down space with an open kitchen was more of a bistro than a wine bar.
As it turns out, Le Verre Volé is a bit of both. On that, we can agree.
Located in the 10th arrondissement near Canal Saint-Martin, Le Verre Volé has a marvelous range of wines. Its open kitchen cranks out an everchanging menu of bistro dishes that, while skewing Parisian, are unapologetically dashed with international elements like taramasalata, mozzarella and gochujang.
Mindi couldn’t help but order tartare yet again but this tartare was untraditional – topped with creamy mozzarella, roasted beets and a light crunch of toasted quinoa. Daryl enjoyed a thick smoked steak of pork served with a creamy potato puree and an expertly viscous sauce.
A note about the service to those who believe that snooty service is a necessary but evil part of the Parisian dining experience…
With a wait of 20 minutes for a table despite our late evening reservation, we decided to pass the time by leaning on a street pole about a block away from the restaurant. Five minutes into our wait, a server came sprinting down the street to announce that our table was ready.
We give that server and Le Verre Volé an A+ for going above and beyond for us.
Le Verre Volé is located at 67 Rue de Lancry, 75010 Paris, France.
We ate at Le Baratin for the first time in January 2010, capping off a daytrip to chilly Versailles and a gorgeous sunset walk through Père Lachaise. We loved the intimate bistro’s atmosphere and loved the food even more.
Back then, Le Baratin’s Argentinian-inflected French cuisine was lauded as a hidden gem by Paris food authorities. Alex Lobrano’s enthusiastic admiration contributed to its status as a must-eat for food lovers visiting Paris.
Tempted to return a decade after our first meal, if for no other reason than to improve our dreadful photos, we solidified our decision after receiving a slight nudge from Frenchie’s Chef de Cuisine Sasha Minins.
Lucky enough to score a last-minute Saturday night dinner reservation, we enlisted our 21-year-old niece Danielle to join us for this culinary trip down memory lane.
In the 10-year gap between meals, it was easy to forget the rusticity of Corena’s utterly Franch menu dotted with occasional flirtations toward her native Argentina. Our meal brought those memories back.
While Danielle shared tales about exercising her young brain in Italy, Daryl dug into Cervelle de Veau – creamy calf’s brain in a lemon butter sauce – one of the bistro’s longtime favorites.
We enjoyed our meal with a fabulous, if slightly pricey, Cabernet Franc from Loire Valley. The wine paired well with braised one-pot dishes like Epaule d’Agneau – Braised Lamb Shoulder and Travers de Veau – a veal rib served over a light drizzling of Barolo vinegar.
The food of Le Baratin is best enjoyed on a cold Paris night with a bottle of wine from the restaurant’s excellent natural wine menu. Hopefully, we’ll be back a third time before 2030.
Le Baratin is located at 3 Rue Jouye-Rouve, 75020 Paris, France.
After growing up eating crêpes in Brittany where the popular French food was invented, Chef Bertrand Larcher started his crêpe empire in Tokyo. He later opened his first Paris crêperie in the Marais where he serves a full menu of sweet crêpes and savory galettes as well as oysters sourced from Brittany’s Cancale.
We, on the other hand, did not grow up eating crêpes and were previously unfamiliar with the buckwheat version until our Breizh Café lunch. After his first bite, Daryl joyfully exclaimed that the hearty flavor reminded him of kasha, a dish he’s enjoyed since childhood at family holiday dinners. Mindi just smiled and dug in with gusto.
Breizh Café’s menu separates its savory galettes into four categories – classics, ‘complètes’, house specialties from the sea and house specialties from the farm. The restaurant uses organic eggs and sources ingredients like buckwheat flour and andouille sausage from Brittany.
During our lunch, we ate two ‘compléte’ galettes – one topped with mushrooms, scrambled egg, ham, Comté cheese and onion confit and the other topped with a sunny side up fried egg, Compté cheese and andouille. The flavor of the raw milk Compté cheese paired well with the earthy buckwheat base in both, though we preferred the mushroom galette between the two.
We washed down our lunch with bowls of Breizh Café’s Jean Charles Bignon artisan cider. A bargain at €3.80 per bowl at the time of our visit, we instantly regretted not ordering a full bottle. It was that good.
Breizh Café has multiple Paris locations. We dined at the Marais location at 109 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris, France.
We couldn’t resist dining at Terra after receiving an enthusiastic recommendation from Manu Gunther during one of our visits at The French Bastards. Fans of his patisserie/boulangerie, we followed Gunther’s recommendation and made a reservation at the Marais restaurant.
What we found was a wonderful space with large, fun, family-style plates – an anomaly in a city known for serving precious morsels of food. Terra’s ever-changing menu features sharable items like whole fish, blanquette de veau and pasta.
While basking in the fun vaulted space, we shared a ginormous braised lamb shoulder served with cooked semolina and port jus. We can only imagine the glass-ceilinged former dressmaking shop in the summer illuminated by a lingering sun.
Terra is located at 21 Rue des Gravilliers, 75003 Paris, France.
Special Paris Restaurant Experience at Le Train Bleu
Le Train Bleu is a restaurant that has to be seen to be believed. If you’re visiting Paris on a budget, we propose a few ‘hypotheticals’ in which you can experience what is probably one of the grandest restaurant spaces in the world:
- Eat breakfast on your first morning before heading to your hotel room or Airbnb apartment.
- Splurge on lunch between museum visits.
- Enjoy a simple coffee and croissant before boarding a train to Lyon or Provence.
We chose a variation of option one assuming that we’d be seated in the main dining room. Alas, breakfast is served in the quieter, less opulent ‘salon’ section of the restaurant.
Priced at €15, our omelette was good though cooked with a surprising degree of brown. (We were taught that the French don’t brown their omelettes, which is how we prepare them at home.) Priced at €7.50, the accompanying bread service included fruit confiture and Normandy butter.
The restaurant, originally built for the 1900 Paris Exposition along with the Gare de Lyon, transports diners to the Belle Epoque with its intricate relief sculptures, humanist paintings and mirrors that enhance the ‘wow’ effect. Just passing through the ornate art-nouveau room is a thrill. Eating there is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Le Train Bleu is located at Place Louis-Armand, 75012 Paris, France.
Paris Brunch Spots
Traditional go-to Paris breakfasts involve eating croissants with coffee at spots like Pain et des Idees and Boulangerie Utopie. But, in recent years, a popular international institution has made its way into the city’s dining landscape: Brunch.
These are our favorite brunch spots in Paris:
Moko Hirayama and Omar Koreitem bring years of culinary experience to the table (or in this case, a dozen or so tables) at Mokonuts. The multi-national power couple incorporates Middle Eastern and Asian influences into the Mokonuts menu but the result is pure Paris.
In fact, no restaurant epitomizes modern Paris’ casual restaurant scene more than Mokonuts. Neither expensive nor fancy, the tiny cafe/bakery serves an international menu filled with eclectic ingredients as local as they are exotic.
Mokonuts is so popular that advance lunch reservations are an absolute must. However, spontaneous diners can show up for brunch on a whim since morning diners are served on a first-come, first-seated basis.
Fitting into the spontaneous category, we visited Mokonuts early and were easily able to find a table in the sparsely decorated dining room. Finding a spot to stash our luggage was more challenging. As noted above, the Mokonuts space is tiny.
During this Paris brunch, we shared a tomato tartine slathered with tangy labné and a sourdough waffle topped with eggs, chorizo and spinach. Since both dishes were savory, we ended brunch with an ooey-gooey cookie fresh out of the oven.
We chatted with Hirayama as we descended into a za’atar-induced state of bliss. The talented, multi-tasking chef found time to discuss travel and mid-life career changes while baking cookies in Mokonuts’ open kitchen.
Mokonuts is located at 5 Rue Saint-Bernard, 75011 Paris, France.
We didn’t realize that we missed California cuisine until we wandered into Echo for cups of specialty coffee near our hotel in the 2nd arrondissement. However, after chatting with friendly staff and perusing Echo’s menu, our return to the sun-drenched space was inevitable.
Beyond solid coffee drinks, Echo intentionally channels the Golden State with big salads, smash burgers and Mexican dishes. Even the chef, Mailea Weger, hailed from California, though she was training her American replacement at the time of our meal.
Knowing that we were traveling to Burgundy for a barge cruise in the afternoon, we ordered enough food to fuel us through the day. Tamarind iced tea and a tahini chocolate chip cookie completed our meal.
Though we enjoyed eating Carrot Salsa Roja Chilaquiles with a mishmash of ingredients like queso fresco, pickled chilis, fennel and carrot coleslaw, we were equally satisfied by a Turkey Butcher sandwich flavored with preserved lemons, honey, mayonnaise, apple butter and pickled dijon.
Echo is located at 95 Rue d’Aboukir, 75002 Paris, France.
With a name that translates to gastro refreshment bar, Buvette Gastrotéque operates as a Parisian wine bar at night. During our initial evening visit, we sipped wine and nibbled on bone marrow at an intimate table in the back of the bar.
But a wine bar is just one aspect of Buvette Gastrotéque. Considering that the original Buvette is located in New York City, a city where brunch is a weekly event, it’s no surprise that brunch is another aspect.
Our second visit was an entirely different experience. Well-lit and bustling with ex-pats, brunch is more about dishes like Le Sandwich, a waffle sandwich with bacon, egg and cheese, ideal for those looking to post their meal on Instagram.
Don’t get us wrong. We enjoyed our Buvette Gastrotéque brunch and recommend it if you’re staying in the Pigalle neighborhood.
Buvette Gastrotèque is located at 28 Rue Henry Monnier, 75009 Paris, France.
Best Afternoon Tea in Paris
There’s nothing like slowing down, relaxing and enjoying a dose of fine living after a day of hectic sightseeing in Paris. With the city’s embarrassment of pastry riches, experiencing afternoon tea is a must in Paris with no lack of options.
During a leisurely afternoon tea session shared with our sister Holly and niece Oliva, we enjoyed a tea tower topped with world-class pastry created by pastry giant Cedric Grolet. The price skewed high but the shared memories are priceless.
Paris Cheap Eats
Paris has a reputation for being an expensive city when it comes to food. Considering the preponderance of Michelin-starred restaurants (including Frenchie and Maison featured above), this reputation has validity.
However, fine dining is just one part of the Paris restaurant story. Another part of the story is an abundance of cheap dining options that transcend typical fast food and market fare.
If you’re looking for a quick, satisfying meal in Paris, the following restaurants will hit your sweet spot without breaking your bank:
Frenchie To Go – FTG
FTG (Frenchie To Go) is one of the best places to eat in Paris when you’re craving elevated American fast food favorites. Greg Marchand operates this casual eatery on the same block as his Michelin-starred flagship restaurant Frenchie.
In Paris, nothing celebrates American food more than FTG’s ‘hot dog’ – a housemade frankfurter sausage served on a soft ‘American’ hot dog bun artfully dressed with a Parisian squiggle of mustard.
FTG’s menu features eclectic portable items like a Reuben with coleslaw and cheddar and a Lobster Roll. FTG also serves fish and chips in a nod to the years Marchand cooked in London.
FTG is located at 9 Rue du Nil, 75002 Paris, France.
L’As du Fallafel
L’as du Fallafel is a must-visit Paris destination for budget travelers, kosher travelers and vegetarian travelers. Although we don’t fit into any of these categories, we enjoyed a late-night meal at the classic Marais spot back in 2010.
Since we didn’t take photos of our food back then, at least not good ones, we enlisted our niece Olivia Fink to snap a shot of her loaded falafel for this guide. Wow! Her pita stuffed with fried chickpea patties, hummus, cabbage, eggplant and spicy harissa makes us regret skipping a return visit.
L’as du Fallafel offers both French and Israeli wines along with a full menu of Middle Eastern street food favorites. However, if your goal is to keep the bill under €10, you may need to pass on the wine.
L’As du Fallafel is located at 34 Rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris, France.
Nothing gets our juices going more than the way the French approach the American hamburger. We’ve enjoyed wonderful ‘à point’ beef monstrosities topped with cheeses like Alsatian Münster and Reblochon in both Lyon and Strasbourg.
Those burgers are more in the mold of New York stalwarts like JG Melon and Minetta Tavern than the smashed patty burgers one would find at Shake Shack or Five Guys. But, in a way, they’re ‘pub-style’ burgers on steroids – always cooked to a precise level of doneness with a slightly red center that’s never raw.
But what about hamburgers in Paris?
Hoards of customers flock to PNY every day to eat solid burgers at the popular chain. What they get is more of a hybrid – somewhere in between a thicker smashed patty and a super thick pub-style burger. As for us, we got two Paris burgers.
Our Return of the Cowboy burger came loaded with bacon, English cheddar and “beignet d’oignon” which sounds so much classier than onion ring which is what is was. This burger was a solid, upscale interpretation of a Wendy’s baconator.
Our Napalm Sriracha with sriracha, cheddar and pickled jalapeños was also solid. However, in keeping with the French fear of spicy heat, this burger had as much in common with napalm as an ice cube. Interestingly, PNY has updated its menu to change the name from Napalm Siracha to Hot Siracha.
We would have enjoyed thicker patties and wish PNY’s burgers were topped with local French cheese instead of cheddar. That being said, PNY makes ‘tasty burgers’ served on quality pain au lait buns.
PNY has multiple Paris locations. We ate at the PNY located at 96 Rue Oberkampf, 75011 Paris, France.
Just like French chefs have influenced cuisine around the world, foreign chefs are now influencing what and how Parisians eat in France. Some of these immigrants hail from former French colonies like Algeria, Vietnam and Lebanon, while others come from countries like Italy, Japan and the USA.
While you’re in Paris, expand your culinary horizons at the following global restaurants:
Israeli food is making its mark all over the world. The Holy Land’s food is all the rage at spots like Ottolenghi in London, Zahav in Philadelphia and Shaya in New Orleans. As expected, Paris has joined the Israeli food party with restaurants like Maafim.
Located in the Sentier neighborhood, Maafim is a casual eatery/bakery with a simple menu. A hill of challahs greet visitors who walk into the cheerful 25-seat space each weekday.
We began our Maafim meal with a pretty plate of Salmon Tataki and a tasty sweet potato soup topped with croutons. Next up was Maafim’s “Salade de Fallafels” – golden brown orbs of chickpea topped with a creamy dressing, fresh herbs and vegetables.
We finished our meal with a wonderful ‘Shwarma Sandwich’ – airy white bread filled with grilled vegetable ‘shwarma’ topped with dabs of tahini sauce. This dish is a great option if you’re looking for vegetarian food in Paris.
Maafim is located at 5 Rue des Forges, 75002 Paris, France.
Based on France’s kinship with Japan, we placed ramen high on our Paris itinerary. That’s how we ended up queuing for ramen at Kodowari Ramen on a dreary May day.
Sure enough, even in the rain, a line snaked out the door at one of the city’s hippest ramen shops. After a 30 minute wait, we were in Parisian ramen land.
Kodawari offers a range of traditional and modern ramens. We tried one of each style – Shoyu Ramen and Kurogama Ramen.
Kodawari’s classic Shoyu ramen combines a mix of three soy sauces and Basque pork chashu. Their Kurogama Ramen adds garlic, ginger and pork chashu to a black sesame brew.
Vegans get their own soup with Pumpkin Paitan Ramen vibrantly served with bright, beautiful slices of pumpkin floating in a cep mushroom oil enhanced vegan broth.
Kodawari Ramen is located at 29 Rue Mazarine, 75006 Paris, France.
Mindi loves pizza. Daryl loves the idea of Parisians making pizza. So, it was inevitable that pizza made the cut on our autumn Paris agenda. Deciding where to go eat it was the only question. Contenders included Grazie, Peppe and Popine.
Based on the fortuitous timing of fellow pizza lover Daniel Young‘s Facebook post, we ended up at Bijou Pizza. Once we read that interesting pies were being concocted at this spot in the heart of the 9th arrondissement, we had to check Bijou out.
Naples native Gennaro Nasti opened Bijou in 2016 after opening popular Popine that same year. Channeling his Neapolitan roots, the award-winning pizzaiolo boldly serves Italian pizza to a Parisian clientele.
Nasti sources many of the pizzeria’s ingredients from Italian producers in Compagnia and Emilia–Romagna. He then separates Bijou’s pizzas into five categories – creative, contemporary, Neopolitan, special and crunch.
During our dinner, we opted for a contemporary pie topped with four types of Italian tomatoes. Although it reminded us more of pizza we’ve eaten in Verona than our favorite Naples pizzas, we happily ate every bite until the colorful pie was gone.
Bijou Pizza is located at 10 Rue Dancourt, 75018 Paris, France.
The Vietnamese may have forcefully eliminated the French from what was then Indochina in 1954 but, culinarily, the two countries will forever share a kinship.
Once we decided to eat Vietnamese food in Paris, we knew that Pho would be our meal of choice. In a bowl of Pho, broth and herbs speak French while rice noodles scream Southeast Asia. We found Song Huong just a five-minute walk off Place d’Italie and, with it, a cool Parisian take on the Vietnamese food favorite.
Song Huong’s Pho Entrecote Dac Biet, a sizzling beefy broth served with a side of pho rice noodles and bright red thin raw slices of entrecôte topped with fresh herbs, is a show stopper. We think all Pho should be served like this.
Song Huong is located at 129 Avenue de Choisy, 75013 Paris, France.
STREET BKK Fry & Beer
We discovered STREET BKK Fry & Beer the old fashioned way during a walk back to our Paris hotel. We spotted STREET’s inviting storefront along with a funky Southeast Asian menu. Once we smelled the distinct perfume of fried chicken and noticed fresh pillows of roti being hand-rolled in the rear of the corrugated metal lined space, we knew sharing a plate of food was a must.
STREET BKK Fry & Beer is one outlet of a chain of themed Southeast Asian restaurants specializing in ‘Bangkok style’ street food. Others include Grill & Beer, Roast & Beer and Rice & Noodles. Judging by the tasty late-night food we enjoyed, STREET BKK is a solid option for local, unpretentious Paris cheap eats with a global twist.
Our sharable combo came with two pieces of chicken, curry stew, lentils, roti and a range of sauces (garlic, mint and yogurt). While not fiery hot, the curry-spiced fried chicken was more than spicy enough for us. Costing under €20, it’s a wonderful value that will make you feel like a Paris local.
STREET Bangkok Fry & Beer has multiple locations. We ate at the location at 71 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 75009 Paris, France.
Paris is the global epicenter for dessert. From pastries to chocolate, this French city has the best sweets in the world. The key is to know where to eat the best of the best.
Drinking in Paris
Drinking wine and coffee are two of our favorites things to do in Paris. Not only does the city have a plethora of wine bars and coffee shops, but most are superb.
The quality of the wine should be no surprise since France’s status as one of the world’s premier wine-producing countries goes back centuries. However, Paris is a relatively new entrant to the global specialty coffee scene.
Paris Markets, Specialty Shops and Traiteurs
Some of Paris’ best food isn’t available at restaurants or cafes. Savvy food travelers know to visit local markets, specialty shops and traiteurs to purchase local produce, artisan products and prepared food.
There’s no better way to feel like a Parisian than by shopping with locals at a neighborhood market. Located all over the city, these markets sell fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat cheese and rotisserie chicken. Yes, rotisserie chicken.
The best Paris market is typically the one closest to your hotel or Airbnb apartment. However, if you want to explore further, we recommend Marché d’Aligre for its vast selection of local products, Marché des Enfants Rouge for its plethora of food stalls and Marché Saint-Quentin for its convenient location near the Gare du Nord.
Paris Specialty Shops
If you’re looking for cheese or charcuterie, Paris has a specialty shop to meet your needs. If you’re looking for wine or spices, you’ll find specialty shops for them too.
La Cigogne is a hybrid that sells a variety of products sourced from artisan French producers. This specialty shop is a great option if you want to stock your Airbnb kitchen or buy edible souvenirs.
La Cigogne is located at 6 Rue Saint-Lazare, 75009 Paris, France.
Spanning the gap between Paris grocery stores and restaurants, traiteurs sell a tempting selection of prepared food ready to be eaten at home. These shops can be a salvation on busy touring days when you want to eat well but don’t have the energy to dine at a restaurant.
Maison Guyard in the 7th arrondissement is a typical Paris traiteur. The shop sells a range of items including cooked meats, terrines, salads and roasted potatoes.
Maison Guyard is located at 42 Rue de Verneuil, 75007 Paris, France.
Things To Do in Paris
There’s absolutely no need to be bored in Paris. We recommend the following activities between meals:
Make your life easier and buy a Paris Museum Pass like the 2-day pass we enjoyed during our most recent visit. Not only does the card give access to top museums including the Louvre, l’Orangerie and Orsay, but it also includes entry at the Arc de Triomphe and Sainte-Chapelle.
Getting Around Paris
Paris is a sprawling city. You could easily walk for hours every day and never see it all.
We recommend taking the RER train from the airport unless you have the misfortune of flying into Beauvais. (We did that once and will only do it again for a crazy-cheap fare.)
With more than 300 stations, the Metro is the best way to traverse Paris and its many arrondissements. The fare is cheap, especially if you buy a 10-pack of tickets.
Paris’ subway system goes pretty much everywhere. Other options include buses, Uber, taxis and your two feet.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.