Below are some of my favorite foodie haunts in Paris. This list is a curation of places I have tried over the years, some visits better than others, but like Paris promises again and again, the food is consistently good regardless of what district you find yourself wandering around in. An oldie but goodie I first discovered several years ago is L’Avant Goût Restaurant on 26 rue Bobillot.
L’Avant Goût Restaurant on 26 rue Bobillot, 75013 Paris. 01 53 80 24 00.
The place is very small and they even say it themselves, “the decor is not the most enticing,” however its charming and quaint, and they have authentic wooden floors that make you feel as if you’ve walked in from the country not the busy streets of Paris. It’s also a little out of the way and not in the more central, tourist parts of the city.
When I first went to this restaurant, they didn’t have a menu so you had to speak French and order from a chalkboard, the way it should be mon cherie. Chef Christophe Beaufront has an authentic French home cooking but inventive culinary style. He uses fresh ingredients in his dishes and yummy citrus, spices, ink and olives in his salad dressing mixes.
In traditional French style, there are plenty of meat dishes, foie gras, pork, beef and more. This is the kind of place where you should say “chef’s choice please,” and surprise me with something that will knock my socks off, or as close to that request as you can possibly communicate en francais.
Vaugirard on 59 avenue de la Motte Picquet in Paris. 01 47 34 11 64. Give this one a try for authentic French cuisine – romantic ambiance but also good for “out to impress with great cuisine” for business clientele.
Nos Ancient Les Gaulois on 39 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île in Paris. 01 46 33 89 59. This is a fun place for authentic traditional French cuisine. Think old wooden tables and a price fixe menu at €40, where they offer you a choice of beef or lamb kebab, rib steak, slice of leg of lamb or lamb chops. Tucked away in the heart of the Ile Saint-Louis, you get a taste of Medieval Paris.
A novelty for Paris when it opened, the idea was to create a friendly but easy going atmosphere with all you can eat vegetable baskets, buffets, steaks charbroiled in the dining room fireplace, wine poured straight from wine barrels, cheeses and desserts. They also have guitar accompaniments, in the tradition of authentic troubadours.
The restaurant is set in a 16th century building (one of the oldest on the Île Saint-Louis), which had once been the gatehouse for an ancient churchyard. The original vaulted cellar tavern is now used as a dining room, but the festive spirit of former Gaulish soirées is still prevalent and you feel like you’re dining in another era in time.
La Coupole in the 14th on 102 Bd du Montparnasse 75014 Paris. 01.1 43 20 14 20.
The chef is Jean-Philippe Bourgueil who began his apprenticeship at age 14 at Chateau de Varenne Islands to St. Hilaire. At 16, he became one of the youngest committed in France and developed his skills in the restaurant at the Eagle Croissy Beaubourg in Seine et Marne.
Also known for fabulous stews, he has worked throughout Paris including well known Parisian brasseries like the Boeuf sur le Toit, the Vaudeville and Julien. The venue of La Coupole is historic with beautiful pillars which are covered with imitation marble, mosaics, all of which are Cubist-inspired. The pilasters are covered with paintings by masters of the small “Roaring Twenties”. Watch the video of the head.
Chez Fernan, on rue due Christine, 01.43.25.18.55.
Imagine red and white checked table cloths and traditional French cuisine, including dishes like Duck Terrine l’armagnac, Salmon Carpaccio with olive oil or beef tartare. A la carte, you can get standard foie gras for €14, duck with gratin dauphinois, beef borgoinon, a foie de veau with a strawberry vinagrette, lamb and scrumptious salads. In the summer, you can also dine outside.
Restaurant Le Boomerang, Fondue, 3 rue Gregoire De Tours, Paris. 01.43.26.36.03.
This place is for fondue among other dishes. Although reviews over on Qype seem to have given this place several negative and one star reviews, my one and only experience with the place was okay. You can get mussels, beef, cod in mustard sauce or steak au poivre for your main and a creme caramel for dessert for around €20 or so.
Restaurant a La Grille Montorgueil, 50 Rue Montorgueil, Paris. 01.42.33.21.21.
I’ve eaten at this restaurant several times and it’s almost always by accident. I tend to pass it when I’m meandering around. For the area, their foie gras is a little on the pricey side at €18, although you can opt for cheaper alternatives for appetizers, including onion and emmental cheese gratin or hot goat’s cheese on a green salad, or their bone marrow with “Guérande” salt and Poilane bread toast, snails in garlic butter or scallops in a garlic cream casserole all for between €7-9.
Salad options include: a Nordic platter (lettuce, tomato, green beans, smoked salmon, prawns, artichoke heart, cottage cheese, chives), and a Landes salad, which includes tomato, green beans, smoked magret duck breast, duck foie gras and gizzard confit.
Very traditional meat main courses include a grilled chitterlings sausage with mustard Meaux, grilled steak, a Magret duck breast with honey and potato gratin, grilled beef ribs and aos marrow, penne with fresh salmon and chive cream, knuckle of pork was bed of sauerkraut, homemade steak tartare, grilled black pudding with sauteed potatoes (for the Brits who frequent the place) or a duck leg confit. For those who associate France with oysters, can you get them here and they’re fresh but not cheap. (roughly €9 for 3 which equates to about $5 a pop at the time of writing this). If seafood is your thing however, you can get a tasting, which includes clams, whelks, prawns, and shrimp for € 27.
Closeby is L’Escargot, 38 Rue Montorgueil, Paris. 01.42.36.83.51. Hearty food is well presented and you can find more unusual dishes on the menu such as kangaroo and a duck breast with a delicious hibiscus sauce. For seafood, try the swordfish and the seiche and dive into some of the more interesting wines on the menu – both red and white selections. They offer happy hour specials, including flavored vodkas and an extensive Sunday brunch for €20.
Les Fous De L’ile on rue des deux ponts in Paris. 01.43.25.76.67. Although the ambiance isn’t the best, the food is worth trying.
J’Go on rue Clemente near St. Germaine Des Pres, Paris. 01 43 26 19 02.
I like the J’Go restaurant and style, especially if you’re solo and just want to pull up a place at the bar and order yourself a nice glass of wine and a few appetizers. For example, they have a fabulous cream of pumpkin, pepper foie gras, scrambled eggs with duck Graton, beet greens with fresh cheese, a fried chicken veined Beatilla (I don’t typically eat deep fried food but if you do, they do a good job with this one), or try the spillum black Bigorre Pork Roast if you want something more traditionally French.
The cuisine of J’Go revolves around some key products from our region Midi-Pyrenees, the Lamb of Quercy, the Black Pig of Bigorre, the Chicken Farmer of the Gers, the Duck fat Southwest. The dishes roasted on a spit, for many people, are served on flat and thus participate in the usability of the table.
Le Chateaubriand. 125 rue de Tocqueville, Paris. 01.47.63.96.90.
This place is divine but pricey. For starters, you can feast on hot smoked quails and duck in a salad, pumpkin soup with truffles (yum), goose liver tatin with carmalized mango, hot foie gras served with melted apple and other preparations of foie gras as an appetizer. For mains, you can dive into quail cake with wild mushrooms, lamp chops served provence style, ribsteak, sliced roast duck with cherry sauce served over tagliatelle and the list keeps going.
La Mediterranee. 2 Place de L’Odeon, Paris. 01.43.26.02.30.
I love the ambiance of this place: fresh, fun, playful, colorful and creative. Jean Cocteau, a close friend of Jean Subrenat who was the owner at the time, designed the original logo, and Christian Bérard, a renowned painter, created the murals in the dining rooms. Each year the Prix Médicis literary award is presented in its private rooms.
They offer a wide array of cuisine options ranging from a seafood bouillabase, a variety of fish with scrumptious sauces and potato puree, beef tartare, lamb medallions, a beef filet with bearnaise sauce, duck with string beans, shrimp with tomatoes, and carpaccio.
Le Christine on 1 rue christine, 75006. Paris. . 01.40.51.71.64. Located very centrally in between St. Michel and Odeon metro stops, this quaint restaurant always delivers time and time again.
Carre des Feuillants at 4 eue de Castiglione off rue Saint Honore. 01.42.86.8282. This place is on the pricier side but great for game and other meat delicacies. If you’re a serious foodie, this is a must try.
Le Bofinger at 5-7 rue de Bastille, Paris. 01.42.72.87.82.
Steps from the Place des Vosges and the Place de la Bastille, the brasserie Bofinger is considered the “most beautiful brasserie in Paris.” The place is done in classically Belle Epoque decor, complete with padded banquettes, beveled mirrors, great lighting and colors, and serves typical Alsatian meals as well as a wide array of seafood assortments. It is known as the first Parisian brasserie where the proposed beer “at the pump.” Known as a place for politicians, journalists and other prominent Parisians alike, the place boasts a more decadent ambiance than many of the other brasseries I experienced this year. Historically, Georges Pompidou to François Mitterrand, the political class again crosses the revolving door.
Painters Arroyo Chambas Fromanger, Segui debate on art as a tool for social transformation. For example, in 1981, François Mitterrand reserved the first floor to celebrate its entry to the Elysee. Back on stage at Bercy, after a long exile in America, Michel Polnareff gave its first outing at Bofinger.
The wine menu had a variety of white, rose and red options, including the fabulous Aloxe Corton cru Les Chaillots 2006 Louis Latour Bourgogne that we ordered, an odd choice given that we ordered a huge plate of oysters, clams, lobster, shrimp and fish (a Norweigan salmon). We did however also order their fois gras which was served with an apricot-like chutney and toast. Their wine recommendation for the fois gras btw was a Gewurztraminer Vendages Tardives.
My French colleague made sure to point out that the butter they served was a well known homemade butter and it was oh so good. Also worth trying is the mushroom terrine, the string bean salad with duck, the beef filet and grilled chateaubriand served with tomato confit, green beans and french fries with a “sadly and not so sadly” rich bearnaise sauce. I’d also suggest the beef tartare, the chapon fricassee with morels, macaroni gratin, the rack of lamb with herb crust and black truffle, a whole lobster risotto with pearl barley and porcini.
Their desserts are divine, especially their chocolate covered with grand cru, creme fouettee, and their infamous creme brulee flambee served with a vanilla bourbon sauce, crusted on the top. For something a little simpler, try the gourmet pistachio macaroon served with a heart cherry and vanilla cream on top.
Le Vaudeville on 29 rue de Vivienne, Paris. 01 40 20 04 62.
Jean-François Thorel is the chef, a true Parisian who loves the unique atmosphere that is found only in large breweries in the capital. From the prestigious Hotel School Jean Drouant, he completed his apprenticeship with Marius Michel who transmits his passion for real taste. He is known for inventive dishes like calf’s head as well as his fresh cod. Read the recipe.
Le Vagenende on 142 Boulevard St. Germain, Paris. 01.43.28.68.18.
Housed in a former 19th century patisserie, Le Vagenende has been around since 1904 as one of the first Chartier restaurants, a chain of brasseries started by brothers Edouard and Carnille Chartier. Beautifully designed, there’s a glass roof over a terrace, which has Pivain glass panels displaying 36 different landscapes. What also jumps out at you is the fruit decorated earthenware, old mechanical piano and bronze coat racks.
For traditional, delicious appetizers, start with a choice of pumpkin and roquefort cheese served with chestnuts, the poached bio eggs and morel mushrooms, Scottish Salmon and King Crab or the duck foie gras with stewed dried fruits. For mains, try the leg parmentier veal, the kidneys with mustard seed (not as good as the former) or the chicken in red wine sauce served over a pasta.
Their presentation of their meals is exquisite as is the ambiance. It’s on the pricey side but if you don’t want to think about it, you can get a price fixe menu for around €30.
Restaurant Le Coupe Gorge, 2 rue de la Coutellerie, Paris. 01.48.04.79.24. I love this place; it’s cozy, quaint and has small wooden tables on two floors. I recommend going upstairs and finding a small two-top in a corner, ordering a traditional lunch and savoring it over wine for several hours on a drizzly cold afternoon. A French friend introduced this place to me on a cold December afternoon in 2009.
Bistro St. Dominique, 131 rue Saint-Dominique, Paris. 01.45.55.80.42.
I dined here on my first night in Paris this past year, a place I discovered after a long walk in the rain, jetlegged and impatient. The ambiance is cozy, and feels like a large living room when you first walk in. I wanted to like this place and in fact, the food was quite good, with classic dishes, such as duck breast with pepper and scrumptious sauces, kidney with veal mustard sauce and of course foie gras as an appetizer with a salad is a great way to start.
I took tasting notes on my menu which I was planning to reference later however the “owner” – a woman, saw that I had the menu and aggravated and with attitude, she demanded it back. I was shocked to learn that she was in fact the owner, and didn’t even waive when I told her I was planning to do a write-up on her restaurant, complaining that her “paper menu” cost money. Crikey, are you kidding? With an attitude like that, who needs publicity I guess, if you feel your restaurant is so great that you don’t need to be gracious to your guests during or after a meal. Someone needs to teach her a l’il Marketing and PR 101.
The food was good, but not that good and while they did offer more than acceptable choices of red wine by the half bottle and bottle, if you are traveling solo and only wanted to order a glass, their house wine was pretty unimpressive.
My neighbor’s fish.
Was it necessary to be so rude to your guests Bistro St. Dominique over a paper menu that was being used to write positive things on to share “your restaurant” with the world? A little perspective please.
Le Coupe-Chou, 9/11 rue de Lanneau, Paris. 01.46.33.68.69. Metro: Maubert Mutualite, Ligne 10.
I love the ambiance of this place…old world, dark, cave-like with stone walls, you feel as if you’re going back in time. This restaurant is well known in Paris and has a unique history, the building which houses it dating back to the 17th Century. I learned about its history from my Uber car driver en route to a group business dinner who apparently worked there as a teenager.
It was originally started by three actors who wanted to create a restaurant to welcome players and guests after the show back in 1962: Francis Lemonnier, Francis Nani and Christian Azzopardi. Today, “the Well Certain” is the main entrance of the Coupe Chou, although there are several rooms separated by stairs and narrow hallways .
This is an elegant restaurant, but rustic at the same time, surrounded by the picturesque streets of Lanneau, the slopes of the Montagne Sainte Geneviève, near the College de France, the Sorbonne and Contrescarpe. It’s well worth a visit if you’re into history and old world architecture and food.
La Ferme Saint-Simon, 6 rue de Saint-Simon, Paris. 01.45.48.35.74.
We went a little heavy with our ordering at this quaint, authentic French restaurant not far from Le Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay – pork, beef, foie gras and pig, more specifically: the suckling French pig served with a potato cake, the roasted French pigeon with bacon and green peas, the roasted saddle of French lamb with candied tomatoes and stock flavoured sweet garlic, and burgundy snails cooked with butter, parsley, truffles and mashed potatoes. Whoahh Nellie! You can definitely go lighter with their offerings of Dublin bay prawns and risotto, roasted scallops with truffle oil and spinach, sea-bass grilled with olive oil, monkfish wtih bacon, Dover sole in butter and truffle oil (okay, not that much lighter), or their Roasted European lobster which is a hefty €49.
They offer a fixed price menu for €35 and options include calamari stuffed with a white truffle cream and zucchini, chestnuts served with a confit of duck gizzards (would have liked to try this one), or a terrine of venison to start. For mains, you can have a sea bream pan-fried, served with Jerusalem pureed artichokes, a Roasted kidney of veal with mustard seeds and gratin of pasta or the lamb chops served with stewed potatoes and onions. For desserts, we tried the fresh mango (beautifully presented – see below) but you can also go a little more traditional with their rice pudding covered with carmelized apples or a Paris cake choux pastry, loaded up with praline cream and a crispy almond biscuit.
The owner is Dario Dondelli, who has gone out of his way to ensure that the ambiance and service is top notch, classic yet warm, romantic and tranquil. A tad expensive but worth it is the Gevrey-Chambertin 2007 Borgogne and even better is the 1997 Cht D’Armailhac which was perfect with our cochon, foie gras, terrine chevreuil and duck. Start with a Kir Royal; that goes for any of the more traditional French “gastronomique” restaurants where you’ll be diving into some classic dishes for hours.
L’Auberge du Louvre, 98-100 rue Saint-Honore, Paris. 01.45.08.44.69.
The reason to go to this place is for ambiance, moreso than the food. The waiters had a bit of attitude after the fact, even though they were eager and inviting when I first walked in the door. (don’t ask for anything outside the ordinary or substitutions – while this is the case with many French restaurants in Paris, they were particularly strict about altering the rules). My neighbors (it wasn’t hard to see since the tables are situated so close together) ordered a fondue which looked fabulous.
I went for the price fixe menu which ranged from 18-22 depending on what options you wanted. I went for a classic meat dish (below) with string beans, and foie gras and prawn/avocado salad (always served with mayonnaise in France) to start. Yes, two starters….I wanted to sample one from each price fixe menu and opted out of the dessert.
Les Editeurs on Carrefour de l’Odeon, Paris. 01.43.26.67.76.
This is a popular well known place near Odeon, which is the heart of literary Paris. It is more of a coffee shop than a restaurant and the food is nothing to write home about, but food is not why you hang out at Les Editeurs. It is both a cafe, a restaurant, a loungey bar, a tea room and a library taking over two levels at the crossroads of Odeon and Saint Germain des Pres. There are more than 5,000 books offered by publishers and it’s a charming cafe to wander through or simply people watch late on a rainy afternoon.
La Grille Saint Germain, 1 rue Guisarde, Paris. 01.43.54.16.87. I was introduced to this classic French restaurant by a Parisian journalist friend who has lived in Paris his entire life, growing up not far from Saint Germain and Odeon. He recommended a traditional dish called the Pot Au Feu, which was essentially a massive pot of meat, potatoes and vegetables (the carrots were to die for).
I ordered a traditional chicken dish with vegetables and potatoes. After days and days of foie gras and heftier beef and pork dishes, I was longing for a lighter dish with plenty of greens and not a whole lotta butter or truffles or cream or….you get the idea. I didn’t get the idea that tourists hung out at this small eaterie along Rue Guisarde despite the fact that it is fairly central. The menus were in French, French and French and the waiter was clearly not accustomed to yanks.
The wine was nothing to write home about but you could get a few decent full-bodied reds (Bordeaux and Roquetaillade) by the carafe and half carafe, all reasonably priced.
Cafe Du Centre, 57 rue Monotorgueil, Paris. While nothing to write home about for food, it is a cute bar along rue Montorgueil, a festive street that houses a number of great restaurants, bars and cafes. In addition to sandwiches, burgers, and salads, you can get traditional dishes as well such as the foie gras we ordered below. You won’t find a comprehensive wine list here since its more of a bar with a wider selection of beers and coffee than anything else.
Two creperies which I really like are:
- La Creperie Saint-Honore on 24 rue du Pont Neuf in Paris. 01.40.26.43.54.
- Creperie St. Eustache on 2 rue Sauval in Paris. 01.40.28.40.39.
Other Eateries, Cafes and Restaurants To Check Out:
- Le Comptoir near the Odeon, Paris.
- Les Bougresses – 6 Rue De Jarente, 75004 Paris. 01.48.87.71.21. I love this restaurant. Tucked away in the Marais, it is quaint and authentically French with wooden tables, low ceilings and best of all, it’s small and the food is great. When you don’t want the bells and whistles and just want great authentic French food and ambience in a small setting, this is where you should head.
- Le Deux Magots Brasserie on Boulevard St Germain, Paris.
- Le Tambour – 41 rue Montmartre, Paris. 01.42.33.06.90. A bistrot de l’urbain bucolique.
- Vin Des Pyrenees. 25 Rue Beautreillis, Paris. 01.42.72.64.94. See my write up of this restaurant.
- Pied de Cochon on Place Lachambaudie in the 12th. 01.40.02.02.12. Quite the ambiance and you can either go for traditional French cuisine and heavy red meats or oysters and seafood which is very fresh (daily).
- L’Epicerie Restaurant, 30 Rue Montorgueil, 75001 Paris. 01.40.28.49.78.
- Le Marathon Restaurant, 14 Rue Saint-Severin Paris. 011.44.07.11.11. A rotisserie which also has romantic ambiance.
- Les Quartre et Une Saveuers on 72 rue Cardinal Lemoine. 01 43 26 88 80. This is a delicious and healthy macrobiotic restaurant.
- Cafe Chic on Faubourg Street Honore. Metro stop: St. Philippe du Roule.
- Wine Museum on rue des Eaux, 5 Square Charles Dickens in the 16th arr. 01 45 25 63 26. It is the actual cellar of the former abbey of Passy and they certainly have the wines you’d expect but on top of fabulous sipping, you can take in medieval architecture. Since it has become well known, it’s worth booking in advance.
- Alcazar on 62 Rue de Mazarine, Paris.
- Maceo on 15 Rue des Petits-Champs, Paris.
- Chez David/Randal. David used to be the chef at Chez Panisse. The restaurant has a wonderful setting and is worth checking out; recommended by a New York friend who is a foodie.
- Le Pre Grill on 11 rue Saint – Severin Paris. 01.43.25.03.03. I first discovered this place in 2009 and have twice gone back. You can get a great feast in a big bucket with cabbage and meat outside or in if its winter. Closest Metro is St. Michel.
- Chez Georges, 1 rue du Mail, 2e, Paris.
- Café Charlot on 38 Rue de Bretagne, 3rd, Paris. 01 44 54 03 30
- Chez l’Ami Jean – 27 Rue Malar, in the 7th, Paris. 01 47 05 86 89
ETHNIC & OTHER:
Tavern Grecque – 8 Rue de la Huchette Paris, in the Latin Quarter. 01.43.54.96.14. The ambiance isn’t fabulous, but they have a good menu and the owner has amused me on two occasions, with his great sense of humor.
Saca Finkelsztayn, 27 Rue des Rosiers, 01.42.72.78.91. For take out/fabulous Yiddish food, deli style in the Marais. See my very extensive write-up of Saca Finkelsztayn which includes its history and food photos.
Tin Tin, 17 rue Louis Bonnet, 75011 Paris. 01 43 55 50 13. This is a great place for traditional Vietnamese.
Kong on 1 rue du Pont Neuf, Paris. 01.41.390.910. This place is trendy, hip, modern, colorful, vibrant and about as opposite as classic traditional French and old world style as you can imagine. A must try if you want an energy boost or some late night fun.
Le Martel , 3 rue Martel 75010, Paris. Metro: Bonne Nouvelle. This place serves fabulous Moroccon/North African cuisine. Try a little bit of everything as well as a side of their fluffy cous cous. The owners are also incredibly friendly and the service is top notch.
A must try during the winter months is the Berthiand ice cream; try the fig and chestnut.
I’ll mention this restaurant although I’m not sure that it is around anymore — Chez Maitre Paul which was on 12 Rue Monsieur Le Prince, 75006 Paris when I was there. I haven’t been to this place in years and it was a favorite but I heard through some sources that it may have closed down due to hard times and poor reviews.