[Paris] Suggestions on restaurants for a solo traveller

Two nights/days in Paris suggests maybe not “casual…” Le MaZenay open for lunch, more casual, excellent food.

The lower Marais/ 4th is very popular with tourists and suburbanites and so the restaurants tend to be rather cliché and not very good. My short list of restaurants there is very short indeed. Just 2 or 3. Top of the list, Capitaine on impasse Guéménée just off rue St-Antoine for usually very enjoyable modern bistronomique cuisine. But I’ve also become a huge fan of tiny Ilô on rue Castex just south of rue St-Antoine… I guess it could be categorized as franco-japonais but the ever-changing menu is at times much more Japanese than French and at other times vice versa… whatever, the young Japanese chef with his idiosyncratic French is a delight. I for one avoid trad cuisine at lunch (just too heavy) but, if that’s your thing, the very new Bistrot des Tournelles on, surprise surprise, rue Tournelles and Grande Brasserie on rue Bastille are both very worthy in one way or another and both are too new to be more than slight blips on the tourist radar. Because it offers mostly lighter Med cuisine, Chez Janou on rue Roger Verlomme @ rue Tournelles could also be a candidate even if it is quite a popular stop on the tourist choo-choo but also usually a gaggle of provençal exiles.

Since you were looking at Lolo, consider Caillebotte and Jeanne-Aimée in the same neighbourhood (Notre Dame de Lorette) for lunch.

Spurred by @pilgrim’s compliment, here are the links:



Thank you Caillebotte Ilo and Capitaine all look intriguing. Just what I was looking for. None have menus posted though, looks like ilo might on Tues. From the descriptions I’m guessing the food will definitely appeal - price range for plat ? Appreciate the great suggestions.

In Paris, good non-trad restaurants change their menus so frequently that even when they do post an online menu it’s probably not going to be the menu that you get on the day you go. It’s better to browse google and instagram pics to get a general idea of the type of cuisine but not necessarily of the exact dishes on offer for your lunch.

All will have mains for lunch in the the 18 to 30€ range and even less. Starters and desserts around 10€ and less. Two or 3-course lunch “formules” (if offered) usually in the 20 to 40€ range. I never drink more than 1 glass of wine for lunch but, if you are a wine-lover, your lunch tab could be doubled.


Prices seem quite resaonable. Too bad about dessert, the Assiette de fromages looks very tempting. At 18 months the Comté could be winter or spring milk?

Ilô sounds very attractive. On my last visit to Paris I had lunch at Ken Kawasaki, which I enjoyed a lot. @ParnParis - you feel Ilô is similar?

It seems quite a few restaurants have Japanese chefs, even if the restaurant isn’t serving Japanese food. Does anybody know why that is?

Meanwhile it’s getting harder and harder to make a choice. If you all keep adding so many attractive suggestions. I’'ve got 5 nights in Paris, but there’s still 10 restaurants on my shortlist. Choices, choices…

Oh, and @sonomajom - Ilô does have a menu on its website, though it’s easy to overlook. It’s on the far left of your screen: the word MENU, written vertically. Though the menu only tells you the prices of the set menus and the wine or sake to go with them. It says nothing about the food.

Ken Kawasaki and Ilô are different worlds, maybe different universes. Ken Kawasaki was a multi-starred high-end restaurant. A place, I must add, that I liked for the food but never really enjoyed because of the dulling ambiance and chilling price. Ilô is a newish hole-in-the-wall with great food and great personality. For me, it’s the sort of under-the-radar “starter” restaurant that I for one adore because it represents the brilliance and variety of the Paris food scene far better than high-end Michelin starred places. And has soul. I should add that I have quite a few decades to go before I’m an old fart, have style-tribe allegiances that easily colour my preferences, and massively enjoy the parisian lifestyle that many foreigners can’t really access because of language barriers. Whether Ilô will match your age and particular style, who knows ?

If you are looking for an upscale restaurant that does both French-Japanese and exquisite Japanese, have a look at Toyo on rue Jules Chaplain on the Montparnasse side of the 6th. It’s been around for a long time, no longer the new shiney bright object of desire, located in a quartier where quality Japanese is unexpected, and no longer gets the attention it deserves but, for me, always a wow. But dinner only. Very well situated for a very enjoyable before or after on the terrace of either La Rotonde or Le Select, the sparkling Piano Bar in the Closerie des Lilas, (all on boulevard Montparnasse) or the time-warp Rosebud on rue Delambre. http://www.restaurant-toyo.com/

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Ha, it’s striking how much experiences can differ. When I went to Ken Kawasaki in 2019, I think it had one star and prices were quite reasonable (for a one-star restaurant, that is). I really liked the food, but I also loved the atmosphere. I liked that it was quite small, with only about 15 seats, all at the bar and overlooking the kitchen. So as a solo, there wasn’t a dull moment. I was either looking at the action in the kitchen, or having a chat with my neighbors at the bar.

I looked up Toyo and it does seem to be quite similar. I see a few tables, but most guests sit at the bar, I think. And the bar actually overlooks part of the kitchen (I found several other restaurants that have bar stools, but they overlook the coffee machine and the sink). Anyway, thank you for adding yet another great option. As if I didn’t have enough trouble already, deciding where to go… haha.

I agree with k_man, Parn, and think you must be thinking of someplace else. As I recall, in summer/early November 2021, just before it closed, Ken Kawasaki at a 45€ lunch and dinner was maybe in the 85€ range. I also agree with him on the atmosphere and the fact that KK had only a single star.

Oops, a temporary brain melt in the heat of Abu Dhabi. I was thinking of Kei, not the no-more Ken Kawasaki. So very different. Apologies.

Kei really is the bomb – and not in the good sense.

That entire menu looks wonderful. Thank you for the report. I did pull out this comment, only because it surprised me. Granted, I’ve not been out and about in the U.S. (and especially NYC) for some time, but for a while there it seemed like everywhere had skate wing on the menu. I imagine it fell out of fashion. Thank goodness not everywhere.

It’s funny because over the past few weeks I have seen skate more often on restaurant menus. Maybe it’s because of inflation? Skate is still less expensive than some other fish that have become quite expensive, like turbot,

Couldn’t agree more. Haven’t been back to Kei since 2012!

@ParnParis wrote “…it (Ilo) represents the brilliance and variety of the Paris food scene far better than high-end Michelin starred places. And has soul.”

Well said, Parn. I can’t count the number of brilliant “starter restaurants” we have adored and followed when they grew into more 'adult" digs in which (IOHO) they lost their original luster, joy, originality, quirky patronage.

Dear husband says we are just junk-yard dogs. But I think there is an intangible special-ness of these early, perhaps immature, but passionate kitchens

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thanks - yes I had missed that little menu button - it was covered by the non stop parade of requests for marketing privileges

Skate is not particularly cheap —just shop at Paris fishmongers on a weekly basis to be aware of that—, it’s not one of the more expensive species either, but it’s in season, and the presence of certain fishes on restaurant menus at a given period of the year means that there is currently a large supply of them hitting the city from the coasts.
Turbot has always been expensive.

The ‘plan de campagne’ so far;

  • Thursday: arrive in Paris sometime in the afternoon, diner at a.léa.
  • Friday: lunch at Beefbar, diner at Omar Dhiab. Regarding Beefbar: I don’t have high expectations regarding the food, it’s all about the Art Nouveau interior, and the convenient location, close to La Galerie Dior (which is also on my list of things to visit).
  • Saturday: lunch TBD, diner at Toyo
  • Sunday: lunch at Brasserie Dubillot, diner at Pierre Sang in Oberkampf
  • Monday: lunch TBD, diner at Les Canailles Pigalle
  • Tuesday: lunch at Montée, leave Paris late in the afternoon

I just got back from a trip where I spent two evenings in Paris
Dinner at [ilo]
restaurant has only room for 16-18 diners so suggest booking though it wasnt completely full on a Wed night. Prix fixe was around 50euros with no choices offered. Wine by glass, saki available though somewhat limited choices. Amuse bouche of octopus/avocado and sesame mousse - delicious Starter - mackerel with salad of finely chopped green beans, cucumber and fennel with a pureed shiso sauce. Very good especially the salad and sauce. Main course - breast and leg of pintade with a leek/miso sauce accompanied by a roasted onion and some chopped red cabbage. Pintade was tender and sauce worked very well with it. Dessert was a sweet potato ice cream with roasted kumquat and crumble. Ice cream was amazing and kumquat a great addition. Overall very original meal, seems to be just one waiter and the chef running the place but service was good, tableware well chosen and setting with plain stone walls cosy and intimate without being crowded. Glad I took the suggestion. I had tried to reserve online but the form didnt like my phone # so I emailed the address on the web site and they responded quickly.
Second night I went to Les enfants rouges. This is clearly better known and reservations highly advised. It’s in the Haute Marais. As I was solo I was seated at the bar with direct view of the kitchen which was fun though bar seating isnt most comfortable as there isnt good knee room. THey did call my hotel to let me know that I would be seated at the bar in case I wanted to cancel. They only offer a prix fixe menu at 75 euros wines run 8-12 euros/glass. Again food is franco-japanese. All chefs looked Japanese as did the hostess and waitresses. They all spoke Japanese to each other. This menu had 4 choices in each section. Wine choices were more numerous than at Ilo and more interesting. Food was again very interesting but I’d have to say I enjoyed Ilo more and think their food was more ‘reussi’ as the French say. Here you can add on some appetizers which run 10-12 euros each - shisoto peppers, chorizo,
Starter - I had a lamb terrine with a salad of apples. It was good but not amazing. They also had a mackerel with yoghurt and herbs
Plat I chose what was described as a char-grilled veal with mussels and cauliflower salad. It wasn’t actually chargrilled - no char flavor - more sauté/grilled. Veal itself was excellent but I’m not convinced of the pairing with mussels. Other choices were beef cheek with PDT and wild mushrooms and a tuna dish
Dessert was an amazing marriage of exotic vanilla ice cream, roasted mirabelles and a fine chocolate cookie.
Finally I stumbled on a cute little place for lunch in the Marais She’s Cake. It’s tiny with a few tables opening onto the street. They serve two choices of cheesecake with grilled veg for lunch - I think it was 10 euros. The choices were comte/cumin or goatcheese/curry. I had hte comte/cumin which was unusual but very good and grilled veg - carrots, sweet potato, zucchini and beetroot with arugula were excellent. I also had a citronade fait maison with fresh mint which was a great accompaniement as it cut the richness of hte cheesecake. They also sell dessert cheesecakes in interesting flavors - rosewater/pistachio/ orange blossom.
Thanks to everyone who gave suggestions and input. WIsh I had had more time but still a few memorable meals!
BTW I stayed in an attractively priced hotel Le Petit Beaumarchais on border of Bastille and the Marais. Just ask for room cote cour. Great spa and well equipped if tiny rooms (but then aren’t all hotel rooms in Paris tiny except in American style hotels or 5 star).


I went to Pouliche at dinner. I just posted the photos of my experience, and I had a great time.

I always go places solo. Montee is solid. The dinner menu has increased, but others have had good lunch experiences. I found some cool places in Montmartre as well that I would like to go back and revisit.