People are continuously drawn to Paris, and it still remains the top tourist destination in the world because of this endless fascination. Many people come for the beauty, the romance, the culture...but almost everyone comes for the food and the joie de vivre. There is no real Parisian experience. The thing I love about this city is that you can make it your own.
Below are my tips and recommendations for enjoying Paris. But the best way to enjoy this city is to walk around, drink it in, and do what you love. As Hemingway always said, Paris is a moveable feast.
For all of my restaurant reviews, click here.
Les enfants perdus
9, rue des récollets 75010 Paris (M: République). Excellent little French restaurant that puts a modern spin on many traditional dishes. Service is friendly, and the wine selection good. The brunch is pretty copious and not too unreasonable (around 21 Euros). Reservations recommended. http://les-enfants-perdus.com/
129, avenue Parmentier (M: Goncourt). There's magic in this man's cooking. Absolute magic. The menu changes daily, but it is always great. Amuses-bouche, followed by first course, 2 main dishes, and then desserts. 50 Euros prix fixe menu, wine not included. I went with 3 friends, and got out the door for 75 Euros. Many lament that it is impossible to get a table, but reserve at least a week in advance. You can show up for the second service at 9:00 PM, but only with a maximum of 4 people. http://www.lefooding.com/recherche/le-chateaubriand.html
109, rue Vieille du Temple (M: St-Sébastien Froissard). Fantastic crêpes, either traditional (ham, cheese, etc.) or creative. Here, you won't get wine recommendations, but rather cidre recommendations ! Reservations recommended. http://www.breizhcafe.com/fr-breizh-cafe-paris.html
139, rue Saint-Dominique (M: Ecole Militaire). One of Christian Constant's 3 restaurants on the same street. This one offers a bistrot atmosphere, with a normal menu and then a specials menu offering 3 or 4 different starters and main dishes. Friendly service that speaks English (there are always seemingly more Americans than French!) http://www.cafeconstant.com/3.aspx
135, rue Saint-Dominique (M: Ecole Militaire). Another Constant creation. Everything is served in a cocotte, or cast iron pots, making for a trendy concept. The chocolate tarte is to die for. No reservations accepted.
|Menu board, Les Cocottes|
117, rue du Cherche Midi (M: Duroc or Falguière), closed Saturday and Sunday. French bistro dining at its absolute best. My friend Tracy told me about this place, saying that it had the best confit de canard (duck confit) in Paris. Read about my meal here. Reservations are pretty much required.
9 Carrefour de Odéon (M: Odéon) This restaurant has been regaled by the NY Times and No Reservations alike. There is always a line in front of this restaurant, as people vie to get a table for dinner. The wine list is quite comprehensive, and they excel at pork products (cochon de lait, cochonailles). You can see some photographic evidence here. Get there early or come with friends that you can send to the Avant Comptoir to buy you some wine and cured ham or other delightful tapas as you stand in line for a table.
65, quai de la Tournelle (M: Maubert-Mutualité) A consistent, elegant yet simple French restaurant with a nice view of Notre-Dame. This is my go-to restaurant for visiting guests who want to dig into some great French cuisine. His steak with peppercorn sauce and fries is worth the extra Euros added on the menu. The menu changes some with the season, but it is always spot on. Read my review about it here.
À La Biche au Bois
45, avenue Ledru-Rollin (M: Gare de Lyon) Vegetarians beware! This restaurant is where you come to eat meat, and eat well. Pâtés, terrines, game dishes...you really should have a light lunch before coming here. Did I mention that they have some of the best French fries that I have ever put in my mouth? I didn't? Well, they do. Excellent place of a stick to your bones meal in the winter and delightful service. Reservations accepted (and recommended). Read my review about it here.
6, rue de Belzunce (M: Gare du Nord) Tucked away near the Gare du Nord, this unassuming restaurant delivers flavorful cuisine and service with a smile. The cheese tray will make you think that you have died and gone to heaven. Definitely a must! Reservations recommended.
3, avenue Winston Churchill (M: Invalides or Champs-Élysées Clémenceau) Gorgeous terrace, big airy interior, and delicious, seasonal selections make this one of my top places for a special occasion or a dinner with family. Open around the clock until late, and located in the Grand Palais museum makes this restaurant a fave. Reservations recommended; arrive early for terrace seating!
L'as du falafel
34, rue des Rosiers (M: St. Paul), closed Friday pm and Saturday. There is always a line at this well-known falafel restaurant, located in the Jewish quarter of Paris. You especially can't miss it thanks to the guy that is always trying to tempt you to buy one. Once you see the overflowing pita bread stuffed with golden falafels, marinated eggplant, purple slices of cabbage, and spicy sauce, it's hard not to join the crowd. Apparently, it is Lenny Kravitz's favorite.
Le Cambodge III
10, avenue Richerand (M: République or Goncourt), closed Sundays and public holidays. Family run operation in a tiny but charming space near the Canal St. Martin. Reservations are NOT accepted, so if you want to get in on the first serving, you need to be in line at the door by 7:40 PM. However, these folks are very nice, and if you don't get a seat, they will gladly take your phone number down and give you a ring when they have a table open. They will even recommend a bar to go grab a drink. My favorite dish is the Natin. http://www.lecambodge.fr/index.php
Many locations in Paris, but my favorite is on the Canal St. Martin, 67, rue Bichat (M: Goncourt), closed Mondays. Unsuspecting gourmet pizza shop, but man is it the best pizza I have ever put in my mouth. They have a "special pizza" every day that uses fresh and often seasonal ingredients. Interesting combinations, such as the Ché (marinated Cuban pork with garlic, lime, plantains). If you go to the Canal location, the best thing to do is order a pizza to go in the summer. They'll give you a balloon if you want to go hang out on the canal, and then they'll deliver it to you by bike. Such service ! http://www.pinkflamingopizza.com/pink_canal/pink_flamingo.html
6, rue Lefebvre (M: Porte de Versailles). My colleague recommended this Peruvian restaurant to me with much excitement when I told him I would be living near by. I therefore had to go. The owner is Peruvian, and it is generally full of Peruvian expats; it can get rowdy on Friday nights with lots of music and singing. The food is copious and even spicy at points. The ceviche is perfect. Don't expect to order Coca-Cola here...it's Inca Cola ! http://www.el-chalan.beau-paris.com/
Deux Fois Plus de Piment
33, rue Saint-Sébastien (M: Richard Lenoir or Saint-Sébastien). I read Dave's blog. He said it was spicy and great. I said, "Let's go Fab!" And we did. Excellent, authentic Sichuan cuisine (and yes, I know what it is because I lived there). We were in tears at points because the food was so spicy, but it was really good (especially the cold noodles). Reservations recommended.
|Cold beef slices, Deux Fois Plus de Piment|
198, rue Saint-Maur (M: Goncourt). A family favorite. The decor is a bit kitschy but the food...the food! Lamb tagine that falls right off the bone and you don't even need a knife to cut it. Couscous and Tagines, with some vegetarian options.
8, rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique (M: Maubert-Mutualité). Ethiopian food at its best. Small, so best for groups of 2 or 3. Reservations recommended. http://www.godjo.com/
Restaurant Raviolis (Guo Xin)
47, rue de Belleville (M: Belleville). I like dumplings. A lot. When I read about this "hole in the wall" place in the Chinese neighborhood in the 20th arrondissement, I decided to scope it out. The dumplings are handmade in the shop, and you can have them in a lovely soup or pan fried. They also serve noodle soups, as well as Chinese dishes that one might not consider appetizing (pig's stomach, chicken hearts). Service is fast and the meals are cheap (4.80 € for 12 dumplings). Read about it here.
Multiple locations throughout Paris. I think there is an underlying Parisian debate about who has the best macarons in Paris: Pierre Hermé or Ladurée. I honestly think it is Pierre Hermé. Trained at Ladurée, he has regular flavors, such as chocolate and caramel, and then seasonal concoctions, such as strawberry balsamic vinaigrette and coing. Also offers chocolates, pastries and ice cream. http://www.pierreherme.com/index.cgi?&cwsid=3323ph0A000108ph7456332
A la mère de famille
Flagship store: 33 et 35, rue du Faubourg Montmartre (M: Cadet or Grands-Boulevards) One of Paris's oldest chocolatiers, established in 1761. Chocolates, pâtes de fruits, jams, caramels, and plenty of other treats. http://www.lameredefamille.com/#/home/
Aux Merveilleux de Fred
129 bis, rue Saint-Charles (M: Charles Michels) Best meringues in Paris. Seriously.
231, rue Saint-Honoré (M: Tuilleries) This chocolatier was recently voted by Le Figaro as being the best place to get hot chocolate. My hot chocolate experience in Paris is pretty limited, but the hot chocolate offerings were darn good. Between noon and 6 PM, they change flavors that you can have every hour on the hour. Some pretty weird ones, like oyster (?) but some really good ones like cayenne pepper & chocolate. A variety of pastries are served as well. http://www.jphevin.com/content.php?view=galerie
23, rue de l'Abbé Grégoire (M: Sèvres-Babylone) For those who, despite being surrounded by some of the world's best pastries, still crave a good, moist cupcake, Synie's is the place to go. Out of all the cupcakes I have had here in Paris, hers are the best (read my cupcake store reviews here.) Her small tea room offers a perfect break from your shopping over at the Bon Marché. http://www.syniescupcakes.com/
133, rue de Turenne (M: Oberkampf or Temple) I have two words for you: Paris-Brest. Don't ask what it is, don't think about it...just order it! This is *the* go to place for caramels, fruit jellies, and pastries. Seriously some of the best I've eaten in the world. http://jacquesgenin.fr/
Where to Quench your Thirst
36, rue Beaurepaire (M: République or Jacques Bonsergent) Charming little café that sits along the Canal Saint-Martin in the bobo 10th arrondissement. If you come for an apéro, they have charming little planchas with meats, cheeses, or vegetarian things to snack on. Best in the summer.
Prescription Cocktail Club & Experimental Cocktail Club
Prescription Cocktail Club, 23, rue Mazarine (M: Odéon)
Experimental Cocktail Club, 37, rue Sauveur (M: Etienne Marcel)
Owned by the same group of people, these trendy cocktail bars make you think of a speakeasy back during Prohibition. Poshly decorated, with a touch of velvet, you feel cool just sitting there. The drinks change according to season and the mixologists' creativity, but generally they do not disappoint. Drinks are about 12-14 €.
28, rue Keller (M: Bastille) This place is just fun. Bacardi's concept bar near the bar quarter of Bastille offers a high tech but laid back atmosphere. Mint grows on all the walls for a fresh supply to put into the mojitos. You can even sign up for classes to learn how to make the legendary rum libation. http://www.mojitolab.com/
67, rue des Gravilliers (M: Arts et Métiers). Great wine bar chock full of southwestern wines. The staff is quite friendly, and they offer excellent advice on choosing a bottle of wine. The menu is even themed to suit the event that brings you to their wine bar. Many habitants of Paris hailing from Toulouse and the surrounding southwestern France area frequent this bar. Great sausage and cheese plates to accompany the wines.
La Lucha Libre
10, rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève (M: Maubert-Mutualité) Drinking and sumo wrestling in sumo costumes. Need I really say more? http://www.laluchalibre.fr/
Académie de la Bière
88 bis, Boulevard de Port-Royale (M: RER B Port Royal) Amazing beer selection. Belgian, Alsatian, and German cuisine to accompany your beers. Nice terrace in the summer. Reserve if possible.
68, avenue République (M: Saint Maur) Cute cocktail bar cum restaurant that has an old timey barbershop feel to it. Fun terrace in the summer. The cocktails were delightful and the food didn't look to bad either.
95, boulevard Montparnasse (M: Vavin or Montparnasse) Another great cocktail bar. Good Happy Hour and they even have some delicious non-alcoholic cocktails.
Dans les Landes
119, rue Monge (M: Censier-Daubenton) This wine/tapas bar with a Basque flavor is one of the darlings of the Parisian foodie world at the moment. Once there, it is not hard to see why. They have vast selection of wines, with a focus on the Southwestern vintages of France and Pays Basque. Their tapas menu is really really quite good : fried calamari with piment d'espelette, wooden planks piled with various charcuterie, fried polenta stuffed with duck breast and cheese. The list goes on and on. You should reserve a few days in advance, because even the bar and terrace are up for reservations. You cannot just pop in and have a drink.