Fora Favorites: Best Paris Restaurants

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  • Paris

  • France

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  • food and wine

Fora Favorites: Best Paris Restaurants
Fora’s Take

Embarking on a culinary adventure in a new culture is a delightful aspect of travel, and France, often hailed as a gastronomic haven, stands out. In the heart of Paris, skilled chefs elevate classic flavors with their time-tested techniques. We've carefully curated the best Paris restaurants. Consider this guide your trusted companion for savoring the very best of Parisian cuisine on your next journey.

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Aspic

24 Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne 75009

09 82 49 30 98 ; closed Sat-Sun

Une expérience supérieure ; il faut y aller. Très chaleureuse, très personnel. Un seulmenu chaque jour assure la qualité et la fraîcheur des ingrédients. L'imagination et le compétence assurent le reste.

The least well-known of the spots on this page, but it ranks among the best (choosing the best is a fool's game here). Michelin (one star) sez: "This is the bistro in all its splendor: old-fashioned feel, open kitchen etc. The food here is worth lingering over; a single set menu based on super ingredients and a few unexpected marriages of flavors." On point.

Verjus

52, rue de Richelieu, 75002 ; closed Saturday and Sunday

01 42 97 54 40; closed Sat-Sun

One of the most creative and affordable modern tasting menus in town. Chef Braden Perkins is self-taught, disciplined and obsessive. When he wasn't happy with the produce available from local sources, he partnered with other chefs to cultivate a more direct network from farms in Normandy. The result of all this is a tasting menu that mixes a modest amount of meat or fish with some of the best vegetable creations I've ever tasted. Six very small dishes (snacks) are followed by homemade bread and butter, three more substantial dishes, and dessert for 68€ (this was several years ago; probably will be more expensive now). Perkins' partner Laura Adrian has put together an incredible wine list that is heavy with organic and biodynamic producers, and her wine pairings for the tasting menu (55€) are spot on.

Quinsou

33 Rue de l'Abbé Grégoire, Paris 6è ; closed Sun-Mon

The same genre [and price range] as the above. And really, it is hard to choose among them. All reasonably priced tasting menus, all wonderfully inventive chefs with a slightly different take on their particular culinary obsessions, all very warm and friendly. Left me feeling that, yes, this is as close to the perfect as a restaurant experience can be. But that's just me. We had a truly wonderful and original "Bio" wine here from the Jura. Great list.

Chateaubriand

129 Ave Parmentier, 75011 Paris, France

+33 1 43 57 45 95; closed Sunday & Monday

This restaurant has the same basic idea as the three above: fixed menu, fixed price. And it is excellent and fun. But it is a little less culinarily ambitious (not a slur), a little cheaper, and a little jollier and bistro-like. Very friendly and accommodating. Creative but not extreme, attuned to the seasons and to new ideas. Chef Aizpitarte is known for his provocative flavor pairings (think steamed turbot with rhubarb and elderflowers or cherry ice cream with dried capers), so you do have to be open to such inventiveness. The wine list focuses on biodynamic and organic bins from both France and from far-flung corners of the world. It's been on Pellegrino's top 50 restaurants in the world for several years.

Bistros

Cartet

16, rue de Malte, 75011

+33 1 48 05 17 65; closed Sunday

A supremely eccentric place, which is the reason to go. Extremely small, so reservations are a must; it's not usual for there to be only one party dining at the restaurant. The chef does the cooking, the serving and provides the amusing and equally eccentric conversation. You eat whatever he cooks that day – usually hearty and very well-made bourgeoise fare. Pâté when you sit down; a generous dessert cart before you leave. Generous portions of everything else in between. It all feels like one has been whisked back, by some miracle of time-travel, to 1953 – charming, intimate and excellent. Cash-only.

Le Cadoret

1, rue Pradier, 75019 ; noon to 2p and 7:30p to 10p

01 53 21 92 13; closed Sun-Mon

Perfectly done, imaginative bistro dishes in a hip and friendly ambiance. Wonderful, especially in warm weather when the wall-size windows are flung open and even interior dining seems to be outside. The female chef is a wonder, with a light and sure touch; her partner and brother, the sommelier/floor manager, is attentive and has assembled a reasonably priced wine list that is as inventive as the cuisine. A real feel of a neighborhood, if all your neighbors were 35-40 years old and good-looking.

Mieux

21 Rue Saint-Lazare, 75009 Paris

01 71 32 46 73 ; Closed Sunday

One iteration on the perfect bistro. The menu is seasonal and can change from day to day, depending on what's in the market ("the produce writes our menu here"). Prices are quite moderate. There is a real creative, curious brain in the kitchen with cooking skill to match. Service is very obliging and welcoming. The ambiance is warm and informal. So, why delay? A neighborhood bistro for some very lucky neighbors. Lunch is in the 25E range (entrée, plat, dessert); dinner maybe 40E, without wine. Alex Lobrano says: "It's solidly good but unpretentious restaurants like Mieux which assure Paris's enduringly superlative gastronomic credentials." He's right.

A la Tour de Montlhéry/Chez Denise

5, rue des Prouvaires, Paris 1e

Tel: 01-42-36-21-82 ; Metro: Les Halles; closed Sat-Sun

A wonderfully rough-edged joint, a hold-over from Les Halles days as the central food market of Paris. Often seating at tables with other diners, which can be great fun. Great meats like steak are a specialty, but also lots of great cod dishes; duck confit with sorrel sauce, chicken with green peppercorn sauce and lamb with white beans. Look for daily specials. Great bread. Great charcuterie. Leeks vinaigrette, etc. Dessert? Try Oeufs a la Niege [poached meringue in crème anglais]. Feeds four! Lots of good inexpensive wines like Brouilly, right from the barrels on the bar. Legendary NY Times gourmand, R.W. Apple said, "If you have time for only one bistro meal in Paris, A la Tour de Montlhery should be it!" Still good advice.

Bistro Paul Bert

22 rue Paul Bert, 75011

01 43 72 24 01; closed Sun-Mon

The original in the re-establishment of the quality, classic bistro in Paris, and still the standard-bearer. A jumble of rooms, dark wood, intimate, charming and friendly; the very image of the bistro of your dreams, with a menu to match. The impeccably sourced food is first rate, as is the wine list. Not to be missed if bistros are on your agenda.

Juvenile's

47 rue de Richelieu, Paris 1èr

01 42 97 46 49; closed Sun-Mon

An intimate, lovely, old bistro convenient to the Louvre and other central Paris, right-bank attractions. But this place is focused on the food and the experience of eating, not the tourists. A small classic bistro menu, which changes daily, perfectly prepared. Lovely service, relaxed atmosphere. Perfect for lunch before or after soaking up your daily cultural minimums. Feels like old France staffed by relaxed and knowledgeable younger people. Even comes with a resident dog that signs. Implore you not to feed. Sweet.

L'Assiette

181, rue du Château, 75014

01 43 22 64 86 ; closed Mon-Tues, Open Sunday.

Chef-driven, classic bistro is an out-of-the-way corner of town. It serves many of the classic, hearty dishes, like escargots, tête de veau and cassoulet, which have mostly disappeared from the city's restaurants. "Cuisine canaille revisitée," as they say. The customers are mostly local, which makes this a great option if you are looking for an authentic experience. Book a couple of days in advance.

Mensae

23, rue Mélingue, 75019

01 53 19 80 98, closed Sun-Mon

Ambiance informelle mais mature, la cuisine française influencé par Japon. In a simple dining room on the Belleville hill and not far from the sprawling Buttes-Chaumont Park, some of the best bistro fare in Paris is being served. Comfort food like frogs' legs in garlic butter and crispy pork belly with braised cabbage share space on the menu with brighter fare like confit trout with beets and horseradish, or a falling-apart lamb shoulder with creamy beans and preserved lemon. Mensae's cuisine is a little more elevated than the other bistros noted here. It should perhaps be on the first page of this guide, but it is à-la-carte, so...

La Bourse et la Vie

12 rue Vivienne, 75002

01 42 60 08 83; closed Sat-Sun

This dining room near the Bourse (the former stock exchange) is compact and cozy, complete with all the markers of a comforting old bistro. It's largely filled with Americans, especially now that chef Daniel Rose has become the toast of Manhattan with his French restaurant Le Coucou. The latter is delicious but difficult to book and easily five times the price of La Bourse et la Vie. Feels like a steal if your reference point is French food in New York. BUT when comparing it to other Paris bistros, this place feels lavish and expensive. Rose continues to resurrect and refine vintage dishes that modern-day travelers are rarely able to encounter. His version of pot au feuis is deeply delicious and evokes the classic dish that was bubbling a century ago on stoves all over the nearby neighborhood. However, it's radically different and probably more delicious than the original because it marries perfectly cooked (not boiled to death) cuts of veal and lightly cooked vegetables with the sort of profound bouillon (broth) that has become Rose's signature. It's also served with a side dish of tête de veau with a sauce ravigotée. More "authentic" Paris bistros are not making food like this anymore. All this specialness doesn't come cheap, of course. That delicious steak-frites is priced at 39€, and dinner for two is likely to be 120€ before wine.

Excellent but more modest neighborhood places, if you are in the neighborhood

Le Bon Georges

45 rue Saint-Georges, 75009

Telephone: 01 48 78 40 30

It's all about les bons produits at Le Bon Georges; beef from Alexandre Polmard, sustainable seafood from small-scale fishermen, market fresh veg from Joël Thibault, and vins de propriétés. And, I have to say, the most memorable beef tartare I've ever eaten in a life well-furnished with beef tartare. The menu changes each day at this relatively new, but classically beautiful bistro.

A la Biche au Bois

45, ave Ledru-Rollin, Paris 12e

tel : 01-43-43-34-38 ; M : Gare de Lyon; closed Sunday

Not fancy but a very jolly and warmly raucous scene full of regulars and new-comers. Specialty in game – venison, grouse, partridge, etc. in season. Rognons de veau is good if you like. The "menu" is a good choice. Excellent patés, including fois gras; good cheese course.

Gegéor

1 Rue Moncey, 75009 Paris

+33 7 67 12 88 09 or online; closed Sat & Sun.

Also a wine bar. One of our neighborhood favorites when we lived in the neighborhood; and now someplace we would actually travel to. A bright, open space, though not large, with a bright, young, helpful staff, an excellent wine list and equally excellent wine advice. The food is not fancy but very well prepared with the best ingredients, delicious and well-priced. You can buy the wine on the wall and either drink it with your meal (for a small extra fee) or take it home. All around, lovely.

Informal, not too expensive but good food and a young spirit

Clown Bar

114 rue Amelot [Cirque d'Hiver], 75011 ; fermé le lundi et le mardi

01 43 55 87 35

Géré par l'équipe de Saturne. Bar à vins avec la cuisine plutôt sophistiquée. Il vaut le voyage seulement pour l'intérieur, qui est tellement charmante [des clowns, bien sûr, en carreaux peint des années vingt, je crois]. Wines are heavily natural, with good options by the glass as well as the bottle. Les réservations indispensables. Worth the trip just to see the clown-themed tiled and stain-glass interior, preserved as part of the French national patrimony. And right next to the Cirque d'Hiver, from whence the clowns. 😊

Le Grand Bain

14, rue Dénouyez 75020

Open for dinner 7 days/week

09 83 02 72 02

Aussi la cuisine sophistiquée dans une ambiance très informel. Jeune et bruyant et amusant. Les petits plats ou les grands plats à partager. On one of the grungiest/coolest streets in Paris, there's an ever-changing chalkboard menu of small plates, many of them vegetable-driven (if not always vegetarian). You'll also find massive hunks of protein to share. We shared a whole lamb's shoulder that had been cooking all day long. A neighboring table was diving into a beautiful (entire) sole for only 30€.This delicious drama played out while sitting outside on a street that's a destination for graffiti tourists. Le Grand Bain is a great place to eat well and to drink natural wine while surrounded by the joyful cacophony of Belleville.

Au Passage

1bis Passage Saint-Sébastien, 75011

7pm to 1:30am

01 43 55 07 52; closed Sun-Mon.

A soul-mate of sorts to Le Grand Bain [above]. Delicious, interesting dishes meant to be shared; communal tables that encourage socializing with strangers; hip but relaxed atmosphere, young-ish crowd and amiable chaos – in most enjoyable sense of the word – in the dining room. As Paris by Mouth notes, "staples are homemade (butter, bread, stock, charcuterie), vegetables and fish receive priority attention, and meat is served in a nose-to-tail spirit with every last offaly bit turning up on the menu. So much heart and creativity for so little money." Yes.

Others

Huiterie Regis

3, rue de Montfaucon, Paris 6è

tel : 01-44-41-10-07

M : Mabillon

Intensely small, intensely simple place, all in white with perhaps 12 seats, and virtually nothing on the menu but heavenly Belonsjust in from Brittany that morning, some good Chablis and a lovely tarte aux pommes. Mmmmm. Lunch, late night after a show or an oyster snack is the meal. Reserve or try off-hours. A favorite with us.

Pirouette

5, rue de Mondétour, 75001

Excellent cuisine.

Française mais moderne; l'équipe est très bien informée et accueillante.

Brasseries et Bouillons

Bouillons are large, popular restaurants with modest prices, solid, tasty traditional French food, and sometimes spectacular décor. Two worth a detour, for the décor alone, are Bouillon Julien at 16 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 10e (incredible Art Nouveau setting and murals); and Bouillon Chartier, 7, rue de Faubourg Montmartre, with similarly grand interiors. The motto of Julien is "Beau, Bon et Pas Cher" (beautiful, good and not expensive), which would apply to both. Open late and open weekends!!

If you haven't ever been to a Parisian brasserie, you should go. Big portions of choucroute garnie full of meats and sausages is often the specialty and should be accompanied by beer or Alsatian whites such as Riesling. Choucroute means sour kraut, but it's not like sour kraut such as we have it in the USA. But lots of other stuff at these places. And in general, they are open late and usually seven days a week. Brasserie Flo is an excellent choice; beautiful old interior, boisterous in a good way at 7, cour des Petites Ecuries, in the 10e; the Balzar at 49, rue des Ecoles in the5e also lovely – the kind of place where the regulars have little cubby holes for their napkins! And then there is always Bofinger, 5-7 Rue de la Bastille, 75004, a classic beauty.

To try

Bambino, a buzzy restaurant on Rue Saint-Sébastien in Paris's 11th arrondissement, was inspired by Tokyo's jazz kissacafes, with their expansive record collections and impressive sound systems, and by Romano in Tel Aviv, which has an open kitchen and oversize bar at which you can eat without ever having to sit down. The restaurateur Fabien Lombardi was determined to create a similarly casual and festive atmosphere with what is his seventh space. "I'd been living in Paris for over ten years but realized I was still missing a place where I felt I could go all the time," he says. The result is indeed welcoming, with a "la fête," or a party vibe, that builds over the course of each night: The main countertop faces a large, wooden midcentury sound system set amid Lombardi's personal collection of vinyl records — mostly hip-hop, soul, funk and jazz — which are spun on loop behind the bar. The remainder of the room is optimally set up for dinner and dancing, as high-top tables encourage patrons to fuel up on sophisticated bites paired with draft beer, cocktails or natural wine. And while food service ends at 11 p.m., dancing continues until 2 a.m. bambinoparis.com

Gone but not forgotten (sob!)

Le Philou

Le Grand 8

Le Moissonnier

Need to Know

Note: Most of these restaurants can now be reserved online, but not all (Cadoret, for instance, must be called). Many Paris restaurants are closed Sunday or Monday or Saturday (unbelievably enough) so check to be sure. Also, best to reserve at most of these places for dinner, though no need to do so far in advance. Often (but not always), the day before or even that morning is fine. But go for lunch, too! (nb. Most of the phone numbers assume you are calling from Paris; if calling from the US or using a US-based cell phone, add +33 at the beginning and remove the "0" atthe beginning.)

A really good source, in English, for restaurants is Paris by Mouth (parisbymouth.com). Reliable, with restaurants both by type and by arrondissements (eg. Bistros in the 11th or expensive fixed-menu restaurants in the 16th). They also give excellent food tours (cheese, wine, charcuterie, chocolate, baked goods are all included, with plenty to eat) of neighborhoods like the Marais and St. Germain. Highly recommended.

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Paris. In need of further inspiration? Check out this guide, 72 Hours in Paris: An Art & Food Itinerary.



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