[Paris] Where to eat?

Hi! I have about a short trip of 4-5 nights in Paris with one of those days being Bastille Day (unintentional) so it’s gonna be crowded everywhere, and I have a very long list of restaurants I want to try based on online research. If only I had more than 24 hours a day on vacation and 2 stomachs.

Would appreciate your takes/thoughts on these places and if I can/should cross out anything from this very long list because I don’t have a lot of time :frowning:

Boutique Pierre Hermé (for macarons)
Kodawari Ramen
LouLou Restaurant Bar
Le Petit Bouillon Pharamond
L’As du Fallafel
Popelini
Chez Janou
Robert et Louise
Aux Bons Crus
Cafe Carrete
Pink Mamma (mostly for the ambience and photo ops)
Bouillon République
La Closerie Des Lilas
La Jacobine
Luks Kebabs
Il était un square
La Boite aux Lettres
Le vent d’Armor
Restaurant Belle Maison
Chez Michel
La Boissonnerie

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I don’t know your style/ age group/ budget/ familiarity with Paris and so it’s difficult to say which will suit and which won’t. Some are just typical tourist experiences like Robert et Louise or even monkey-see/ monkey-do tourist rituals (L’As du Fallafel). Most are more or less trad and could be déjà-vu after a few days. Except for one ramen joint and one Italian (LouLou) , not much variety or outstanding quality (or so it seems to me as a Parisien). For every one of your choices, there are many alternatives that are just as good or better.

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Here’s a decent list of places around town. I’ve only eaten at a few but really enjoined Les Enfants des Marche (in the market) in 2019. Casual counter dining and we went at 7:30 and didn’t have a problem getting seating. Also like Le Mary Celeste in the haut Marais for small plates, Bistro Paul Bert for steak Frites, Le Servan for Thai twist on French food and I love Kunitoraya for Udon noodles (ducks for cover). Also you can get a good fallafel anywhere on the street where L’as du Fallafel is located-they’re all decent and don’t bother standing in long line for the famous one.

That’s true. Let me provide some colour. We’re 2 people in their late 20s, first time visiting Europe from South East Asia. Before that we’ll be in London for less than a week. Not as many fusion Asian places here as I figure I may get that back home but of course open to any twists/fusion Asian food too. Style-wise, we eat anything and have no particular style (modern, traditional, fusion etc). Not a fan of alcohol (so wine pairings aren’t important), and trying to find eateries closer to central Paris.

And this list was formed from looking through the common social media platforms actually hence pretty much tourist spots, which I don’t want my whole list to be hence seeking advice :slight_smile:

What alternatives would be better from your perspective as a Parisian?

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Thanks for this! :slight_smile:

Here are David Lebovitz’s restaurant recommendations:

Here are his pastry and chocolate shop recommendations:

The heavy hand of tourism is inescapable in central Paris and to a large extent you will be sharing your time and space with other tourists, not Parisians. But Paris is a surprisingly compact city and you can easily escape the tourist zones to sample a more authentic “vie parisienne”. Many tourists walk everywhere but that is very limiting and time-wasting. The métro system is very good but in a city like Paris nobody should cocoon themselves underground and miss the flavour and pulse of Paris on the surface. I for one prefer the bus or biking and you get a mini-sightseeing tour on the way. The bus system can initially seem very intimidating for foreigners but, believe me, it’s a cinch once you figure out the routes. The RATP itinerary planning function is a good start. When I am in an unfamiliar city I use Citymapper app on my phone/ laptop and presume it to be good in Paris as well. https://www.ratp.fr/ and https://citymapper.com/paris?lang=fr&l=fr (sorry, I use the French version… google to find English language version)

LouLou. The setting is fab, The food (Italian) not so much. If you can snag an outside table, probably enjoyable. If the weather is bad or they give you a table inside, probably disappointing. For alternatives, the seasonable terrace restaurant Les Petites Mains in the Palais Galliera/ fashion museum near the Palais de Tokyo/ modern art museum in the 16th is much better foodwise and comes with a view of the Tour Eiffel. https://www.lespetitesmains.paris/la-saison

No experience of La Boite aux Lettres that I can remember. It’s a little too close to the place du Tertre/ Sacré-Coeur ultra-touristy scene (which doesn’t make it necessarily bad). I tend to prefer the more genuinely charming (or at least less contrived) bits of Montmartre west of métro Abbesses. Some suggestions that will oblige you to experience the non-tourist side of Montmartre (in order of the quality of the cuisine): Chantoiseau on rue Lepic for excellent updated (lighter) classic French cuisine; Bistrot du Marquis on rue Caulaincourt; La Bascule on rue Durantin for an early light dinner of French tapas/ shareable small plates (no lunch, open 5pm to 1am, a popular hangout for 20- and 30-something Parisians so probably fun even if you don’t drink). Also, maybe afternoon tea and cakes at Terrass Hotel’s bar-resto with pano view. https://www.chantoiseau-paris.fr/ and https://www.bistrotdumaquis.com/ and https://www.labascule-abbesses.fr/ and https://www.terrass-hotel.com/restauration/bar-rooftop

Il Etait un Square is really just a hamburger joint and a not very convenient or appealing location. Not worth the trek and you can easily find other hamburger places that more easily slide into your tourist schedule. Just check this list of hamburger restos recommended by one of the local food critiques to find a place that fits your itinerary. https://scope.lefigaro.fr/liste/les-meilleurs-burgers-de-paris-55449620/ This site sometimes has a paywall. If so, let me know and we can figure out another way.

Not sure how Tuks Kebabs got on your list. Its kebabs are overstuffed with lots of unnecessary and taste-confusing stuff but probably very instagrammable. I only know the Canal St Martin location (takeaway), not the resto in the 13th. I much prefer the more trad kebabs in “La Petite Turquie”, a Turkish/ Kurd neighbourhood centered on the rue du Faubourg St Denis on the 10th …. favourites are Urfa Durum and Ozlem (on rue Petites Ecuries) for meat kebabs and Daily Syrien for falafel. It’s also adjacent to a hangout area, centered on Cour des Petites Ecuries, favoured by 20- and 30-something Parisians.

One bouillon is probably enough. My fave is Bouillon République because of its excellent price/ quality ratio, vibe and location on the fringes of the very enjoyable and trendy Haut Marais in the upper 3rd. If you want a more tourist-pleasing décor, Petit Bouillon Pharamond is an Art-Nouveau gem. Neither Bouillon takes reservations and the queues/ waits for a table can be long, especially between 8 and 10pm.

L’As du Fallafel. I’ll just copy and paste my remarks on another thread: “Speaking of lemmings, the mindless ritual of queuing up for “the best falafel” in Paris at l’As du Fallafel in the Marais mystifies me. I haven’t been to every falafel joint in Paris but enough to know that there are a dozen other falafel places that are as good or better. I even prefer Mi-Va-Mi (almost no queue, falafel better suited to my tastes, usually much more personable service) just across the street from L’As du Fallafel or to avoid the Fishermen’s Wharf-like scene on rue des Rosiers altogether. Paris has lots of other very good places for falafel”

Chez Janou. Can be lots of tourists and foreign expats and the food is good (not remarkable) but the ambiance is very enjoyable and convivial. Probably should remain on your list.

Robert et Louise. I haven’t been in a very long time. A 99% tourist restaurant and popular with organized tour groups. It’s very cutesy. I would delete but I’m not a tourist nor a sucker for the cutesy.

Aux Bons Crus. Very good… and a chance to explore the hip non-touristy 11th arrondissement. Yet, I prefer its sister restaurant Aux Crus de Bourgogne in the 2nd because of the somewhat better quality of food, better desserts. and usually very enjoyable, very Parisian vibe in a historic setting. Take your pick. http://www.auxcrusdebourgogne.com/

Closerie des Lilas. A has-been place exploiting its Hemingway associations and serving rather mediocre trad cuisine. The Piano Bar is, however, very sparkling and recommendable. For a meal or just hanging out on a sunny day on its people-watching terrace, my go-to in this neighbourhood is La Rotonde on the corner of boulevards Montparnasse and Raspail. Classic French cuisine done as it should be and a very enjoyable ambiance. https://larotonde-montparnasse.fr/

La Jacobine. Not a place that I particularly like but, because of its location in a very atmospheric cobblestoned passage, probably a very enjoyable tourist experience. It also gives you the opportunity to escape the 21st century for the 18th by exploring the adjacent Cour de Rohan, accessed from the Cour du Commerce St André, and other linked passages and courtyards. BTW, Chez les Libanais on nearby rue St-André-des-Arts has excellent falafel and will save you from feeling the need to stand in a very long queue at L’As du Fallafel in the Marais.

The pricey Le Vent d’Amour and the more trendy Belle Maison are both very good fish restaurants. While the food is probably better at Le Vent d’Amour, Belle Maison would probably appeal more to a pair of 20-somethings. To complicate matters, I’d also suggest Istr on rue Notre Dame de Nazareth on the fringes of the very trendy Haut Marais and, for a very casual and well-priced seafood/ oysters resto, Paris Pêche Sea Bar in the vibrant and very parisian Aligre quartier (great neighbourhood for shaking off the tourist dust) . https://www.istr.paris/ and https://www.paris-peche.com/seabar/

Chez Michel and its sibling Chez Casimir are keepers for the food. The setting around the Eglise St Vincent-de-Paul is pleasant but the general neighbourhood can sometimes be a bit sketchy.

Fish la Boissonnerie (despite its name, not a fish restaurant) is good but in the summer becomes almost like eating in a French restaurant in Seattle or New York. St Germain des Prés is one of the most popular hotel/ AirB&B quartiers for American tourists and the tone and demographics of Fish la Boissonnerie reflects that. Locals are more likely to eat at Huguette (fish restaurant) on rue de Seine. https://www.huguette-bistro.com/

I very much like La Grande Brasserie on rue Bastille in the Marias just off place Bastille. Newish so not yet discovered by tourists. So far, a youngish and very stylish Parisian clientele, but, given the huge surge in tourism that Paris is now experiencing, that could change quite quickly. Excellent trad cuisine in a sparkling setting. https://www.grandebrasserie.fr/ For the vibe, style, and food I’m also a big fan of the new-ish Lolo on rue de Châteaudun near Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. https://www.lolocaveamanger.fr/

I’m pretty sure that the lists suggested by other posters are not really appropriate for a pair of 20-something Singaporeans. Le Fooding is probably more relevant for the under-40s and has firmer hand on the pulse of today’s Paris . https://lefooding.com/ (English language tab at bottom of the page)

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That Lefooding site is great. Had forgotten about that resource (my Paris chops are very rusty). I used to be macdog (or something close to that) on Chowhound. So glad you came to HO.

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Hello, macdog! Good to hear your voice.

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Thank you. Not sure when I will be back in Paris but fun to be reading about new places and old favorites.

Just a couple of annotations to Parn’s excellent rundown.

The RATP mapping service is excellent and there is a free app that you can download. I try to avoid google maps in Paris – there are lots of mistakes; just last night a friend couldn’t find the restaurant where we were meeting because his uber driver was using google maps.

I believe Parn meant Bistrot du Maquis, not Bistrot du Marquis. The food is good enough (although not exceptional) there but I had a very bad experience: we were talking at table when the bill was presented, we (two couples) had our credit cards out and instructed Madame to split the bill – since we were talking, we did not examine the bill. She did split it, and we signed, and then immediately after we signed, we noted that there was a mistake on the bill. We asked for a correction, but Madame refused, saying we had signed and the matter was final. I have rarely encountered such pettiness in France, and I feel that life is too short to have to deal with such people, so I have not and will not go back, even though I had been there a number of times before. When I mentioned this to a friend who sometimes ate there, he said that he had heard other stories about Madame.

One more to add to the non-touristy side of Montmartre: a.léa in the old L’Arcane space on rue Lamarck; I believe just opened at the end of last year.

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macdog !!!.. I’ve missed you. Come back to Paris soon.

@onzieme… Thanks for spotting my typo. And yes, Madame at le Maquis can be very stern but I have had no run-ins with her. Just the opposite… I fear for my virtue.

a.lea completely slipped by mind and, yes, let’s replace Bistrot du Maquis with it. I’ll add that address has great restaurant feng-shui … enjoyed l’Arcane much more in this space before it moved.

This is a great list and really appreciate your thoughts + alternatives on the restaurants on my list! Thank you.

Thanks for this tip!

Oh that’s so nice, Parn. I didn’t look at a food or travel website for almost 2 years now I’m checking them all the time. I guess that means I’m ready to maybe get on a plane again…? I do have the advantage of delicious food in Santa Barbara and Bay Area so that’s some compensation.