The question I am asked about Paris the most is its restaurants – which could be a reflection of my image, or of my taste in friends, anyhow too late to change both. I am not home as often as I would like to be, and when I am here, I do my best to enjoy the city, to celebrate that I, even largely theoretically, live here, – and eating out is a big part of it. (There are also periods in my life when cooking at home simply makes no sense, because most of the things I buy over the weekend do not survive until my next culinary attempt.) So I have put together my top favorites in Paris, for you to savour.
Brunch is something very, very Parisian, with virtually every of the city’s 20 arrondissements offering its own version of it.
- Aux Cerises € in the 7th, 47 Avenue de Suffren, is one of my favorite addresses. The place is so small that they would not even have a site (or Instagram account, at this day and age, oh la!). The set up is more New York than Paris, but the French brunch classics (croque madame, croque monsieur) are there, alongside with the eggs made all the ways you could picture them, cheese cake and champagne. There are several set brunch menus, even though I am not a fan of anything set (and you should not be, either) and usually just pick from the menu. Make sure to book at + 33 (0) 142739297.
- Café Marly €€ at 93, rue de Rivoli in the 1st is a must when you are in Paris. This place is an absolute charm for dinner as well. There is no brunch menu, and the menu itself is rather small (and I probably know i by heart). Every item is a marvel but that’s not the food that you will remember the most. The view on the pyramide of Louvre, day or night, is a magnet for the Parisians and tourists alike, so do book in advance. Insider’s tip: check the interiors: one of the salons offers the view into the Louvre itself.
A WINDOW WITH A VIEW
I have a certified weakness for places with a view, and restaurants are no exceptions to this. Paris is a city for people who love a view. I was once checking in to the hotel here, and the receptionist told me: “Madame, you have a choice between a bigger room with a view on the park and a smaller room with a view on the Tour Eiffel. Us in Paris, we like smaller rooms, even very small rooms, as long as there is a view”. Got me sold then, sold still. You already know Café Marly. What else?
- Les Ombres €€€ at 27, quai Branly, in the 7th, is probably my favorite view on the Tour Eiffel along the banks of Seine – and some good French cuisine. My recommendation would be to go there for lunch, because, well, you see more. Summer dinner is also an option, and they have a spacey terrace. Fun fact: Les Ombres is not the most known panoramic restaurant of Paris but the one when the French episode of The Sex and The City was starred, when Carrie is having a lunch with her beau’s Parisian ex-wife.
- La Maison Blanche €€€ at 15, avenue Montaigne, Paris 8éme, is perhaps the most known panoramic restaurant of Paris, with a view, as its site truly states, on (some very famous) roofs of Paris – and a much more social location that occasionally throws parties. For me personally, this place is forever linked with some very happy moments, but if what you expect to see is the Eiffel Tower, stick with Les Ombres.
- From Jules Verne €€€€ you will see everything but the Eiffel Tower, because, well, it is where the restaurant is located. Michelin-starred, lit with the magic night lights of Paris, Jules Verne is probably the most Pinterested restaurant of Paris and the leader of romantic dinner wishlists. And it lives up to its reputation for decades. It is also on top of the most challenging bookings, so if you are after it, book WELL in advance. Avenue Gustave Eiffel, Tour Eiffel, 2ème étage – Pilier Sud, 75007 Paris.
- The Italian Di Vino €€ at 1 Place de Mexico, 75116 Paris one of the city’s best kept secrets. The restaurant itself does not have a view, – except for its terrace, which is down a street from Trocadéro, so you get a full size unobstructed view on the Eiffel Tower. And, carefully tucked inside the small squares of the 16th, it is probably the only place with the view which is free from tourists.
- Even though, technically speaking, Carette € at 4, Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre 75116 Paris, is not a restaurant but a salon de thé, or what you would normally call a café but with a sophisticated French twist, it has to be on this list. The most stylish, well, café at the entrance of place Trocadéro, and the one that, allegedly, serves the best desserts. It has also some of the city’s most Instagramed tables.
The places that flow in your imagination at the thought of dining in Paris. White linens, seafood, that crispy bread you can’t help eating waiting for your entrée over a glass of wine.
- Le Bar a Huitres €€, a chain of seafood restaurants in Paris, that every local scoffs at and every tourist loves (I am with tourists here). An occasion for me to dust off my Russian accent and enjoy the gastro ride. Overly glamorous and serving oysters (along with other gorgeous mouth-watering seafood) all the year round – which means not only during the months when it is right to serve them, in French world-known humble view, – that place is a great, great, great choice. Also not that expensive as it looks like – check out the fantastic lunch deals for all the days but Sundays.
- La Robe et le Palais € at 13 rue des Lavandières Saint-Opportune 75001 is a much less glamorous, much less touristic and, one can argue, much more French (no products are served here outside of the season they are supposed to be served) choice for food lovers. Better have a booking.
- Flottes €€ at 2 rue Cambon 75001 Paris, a few steps away from the heart of the universe of Chanel, is a white napkin French restaurant at its best. That sublime luxury you always want to find but never know what to put in Google search to look for it. The food is fantastic, too, and the prices are lower that what you would expect for the ambience and the location.
- I just love Café de la Paix €€ at 5, Place de l’Opéra – 75009 Paris. On my first visit to Paris, when I was just a young trader, eyes full of hope and drizzle over the big beautiful business world, the company’s owner took us there. Lifehack on getting the best view and on driving the price levels to one € sign: show up at the entrance with a confident look showing that you know what you are doing. Pass through the main hall to a bar and then take a left to the closed terrace. You will have a fantastic view on the streets of Paris and a much friendlier-priced menu.
- Le Congrès €€ is the seafood restaurant the way you always pictured it. White tablecloth, red tapestry, gilded lights and that gorgeous seafood platters on ice. Very traditional and very French. There are two Le Congrés restaurants in Paris: the one at Porte Maillot, more festive and business, and the one at Porte d’Auteuil, more weekend and romantic.
- Hôtel Costes €€€ at 239-241 Rue Saint Honoré 75001 is the cult place in Paris. The city’s most glamorous bar, a decade old music label, a style icon and an eternal rendez-vous for socialités. You might not like its dark and posh couloirs, soaked in perfume, mystery and guilt, but you can not miss it. What you could have missed is the restaurant. Same glamour, more space, more light and (!) a place you can dine in Paris after 10 p.m., when 99% of other city’s restaurants close their kitchens.
- Le Fouquet’s €€€ at 99 Av. des Champs-Élysées 75008 is a grand French classic. Dressed in red, crystal and gold, it has been on the Champs-Elysées forever. Black and white photos of movie stars of the 60s make its charm – and you get a chance to sit at one of the star’s preferred table: there are plates (gilded, of course) that indicate the preferences of the glamour monarchs of the past. The food is to die for, too, but you might not notice it, overjoyed and overindulged.
AROUND THE WORLD
Paris is not exactly the city of gastro diversity, like London is (then hey, we have our national grand cuisine) but it has its fair share of fabulous international restaurants.
- La Bocca Della Verita €€ at 2 Rue du Sabot, 75006 is my favorite Italian in town. The food is genuinely Italian, and so is the wine list, small but impressive. The location, at the heart of the 6th with its narrow streets that run and curl in picturesque shadowy turns, adds to its charm. You have to book.
- Miss Ko €€ at 51 Avenue George V, 75008 is the IT place of Paris, its funky, stylishly shadowed interiors soaked in bright colours, house music and neon lights, being a magnet for tourists and local socialités alike. The food (Japanese, Western world format) is decent but that’s not the food you are paying for here. To book well in advance for Friday/ Saturday night.
- Kaiten €€ at 63, Rue Pierre Charron 75008 is your high-end Japanese in Paris. There are more exquisite and more expensive places, but this one is very decent, reasonably fancy – and always full. The menu is longer than that of Miss Ko, the dress code is way more casual (supposing there is a dress code), you come here for food and not for the ambience. There is a running tape with small dishes, too, each marked with a colour drop specifying the price. A long-time favorite. Better to book for the rush hours.
- Diep €€ at 55 Rue Pierre Charron, 75008 is a few steps away from Kaiten, a few minutes off Champs-Elysées. It is Kaiten’s Chinese sister (or brother), even though the two places are no more related than their (true) Japanese and Chinese owners. High-end Chinese/ Thai food, in a very Chinese yet very upscale interior. Same reco: book for rush hours.
- Jipangue €€, located at the heart of the business area of the 8th at 96, Rue La Boétie, is a real Korean BBQ, with proper tables equipped with a cooking space to grill your meat. It also offers a fair selection of Korean dishes and sushi for those not sharing the grilling enthusiasm. The place is absolutely great, the only thing is to be aware of is the smell coming from the tables where that the beginners’ (slightly) turn meat to ashes. Leave furs and that LV scarf you have probably bought in Paris at the hotel.
- Now, here is some serious Japanese. Hokkaido € (!), at 14 Rue Chabanais, 75002 (and not other Japanese in town with this name!) is at the heart of rue Sainte-Anne’s area close to Opéra. With several streets over there filled with Japanese (and rare Chinese/ Thai) restaurants and food stores, this place is a gastro heaven for the fans of this cuisine. Hokkaido is definitely the perl of the quartier – one of the perls, to be honest, but the one offering fish on top of the traditional udon dishes (in the area you get served the real Japanese, not just the sushi/ roll Western version of it. In fact, sushi are not served in the best Japanese places here, and Hokkaido is no exception). It is also unbelievably cheap for the quality, so hush hush, and dial +33(0)142605095 to book!
At last, the places where Parisians go. Obviously, Parisians do go to (most of) the places above, but not every day. Japanese is a popular choice for a week dinner – and especially for a week lunch, and the Italian is a once-in-a-while choice, if it is not pizza that you can eat several times a week. Expensive places are kept for a special occasion, and every area of Paris is full of small restaurants that locals love and visit often. You see people casually chatting with a bartender, a small restaurant owner coming out to greet his regular guests, – eating out is a culture is Paris, affordable to everyone (at the level of the local restaurants, at least). And that’s the Paris I love.
- L’écaillier d’Ebéniste € at 76, rue Boursault in the not-so-glamorous part of the 17th, is the best example of a place like that. A tiny seafood restaurant with a short menu on a chalkboard, with equally compact wine list. The owners are also cooks, bartenders and waiters, and the place serves probably the best Parisian shrimps (and great oysters). By reservation only, and take a place at the bar for the full experience, if possible.
- The Place To… € is a hipster place with a modest Silicon Valley ambition. It self-advertises as a co-working space and offers French contemporary cuisine (as well as brunches and burgers) along with some healthy notes of smoothies and freshly squeezed juices. It is easy-going, refreshing and not too French.
- Le Scossa €€, at 8 Place Victor Hugo in the 16th, is, on the contrary, as French as it gets. Set up very cosily in two glass halls separated by the street, it is facing the picturesque Victor Hugo square, a symbol of peaceful well-off life (every area in Paris has its own symbolics, and square Victor Hugo has all the symbolics of the north 16th). Top choice for a casual candle light dinner and romantic (but not overly romantic – kind of French) lunch.
- La Gare €€ at 19, Chaussée de la Muette, also in the 16th. It is a local place but a local place at a scale. A former train station, it has a fantastic posh interior, full of space and light, not something you would often find in Paris. I see a point (and a very good one) in coming here for dinner on Thursday (when the true Parisians go out), Friday (to celebrate the end of the week) or for a stylish Sunday brunch. How this place is filled on the other days of the week is a mystery to me.
- Marius €€ at 82, Boulevard Murat, in the south of the 16th is like La Scossa at a full-fledge format of a restaurant. Delicious, stylish and expensive, a testimony to the French undermined wealth that only people from the same environment would get. Play along, don’t overdress and dive into the casual life of French bourgeoisie. I recommend to book, because the place is always full even if understated.
Are you still there, or booking?..
I will keep the list updated, make sure to come back for more. But you will anyway, for it is Paris, ne c’est pas?