10 Killer Restaurants to Try On Your Next Trip to Paris
Café culture is part and parcel of Paris’ identity—something we reassure ourselves often as we inevitably over-indulge on a trip into town. Here, 10 sans précédent dining rooms prepped to please every type of diner, be you the low-key bistro-hunter or impossible-to-impress gourmand.
A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.
In 2011, twenty-something chef Sven Chartier and colleague/sommelier Ewen Lemoigne both left their posts at Paris’ Racine to open their own venture just down the street in the Bourse district. Flash forward a couple of years to check in on the duo, and Saturne–their conceptual wine cellar and bistro–is sitting pretty with its own Michelin star. Take a seat in the sleek, blonde-wood dining room for a rustic-yet-elevated six-course dinner menu (with optional natural wine pairings); no matter the dish, you’ll find that tastes, textures, and even colors collide to create an inspired dining experience.
Clover Grill is the latest endeavor from Michelin-starred chef Jean-François Piège. Setting its roots in the Les Halles neighborhood of the 1st arrondissement—one of Paris’ OG foodie hubs— the handsome space is all polished marble floors, slick mahogany tabletops, bold floral wallpaper, and geometric light fixtures. While the killer design at first distracts diners from the menu, ember- and spit-roasted courses deliver their own punch. Order a champagne cocktail, then tuck into carnivorous dishes like wood-smoked noire de Baltique beef and duck foie gras for your main, just be sure to leave room for dessert; we’re all about the grilled pineapple with vanilla-chili ice cream.
This bijou bistro popped up in the 11th arrondissement in 1908, but it came to real acclaim in 2008 when French celeb-chef Cyril Lignac (also of Michelin-starred Le Quinzième) took over. The old-style dining room (think: painted sky ceiling, worn wooden chairs, and a well-loved bar) now serves up a seasonal three-course menu with starters, mains, and desserts like Burgundy snails with persillade, lamb shoulder and green beans with almonds and fresh apricots, and rum syrup sponge cake with bourbon vanilla whipped cream. Though it’s easy to fill up on all that’s put in front of you, spare a little space for a post-meal cafe au lait and fresh madeleine straight from the kitchen’s pan.
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Chef Bertrand Grebaut’s one-Michelin-star Septime may have opened in 2011, but it’s still one of city’s hardest-to-score reservations. A revolving—that is, daily—prix-fixe menu of seasonal, cleverly-conceived bistro dishes is complimented by distressed industrial decor, and while the spot plays host to trendy see-and-be-seen crowds, it’s decidedly unfussy and refreshingly affordable. Drop by on a weekday (they’re closed Saturdays and Sundays) for a four-course lunch or seven-course dinner with optional wine pairings; this summer has seen dishes like endive pot-au-feu roasted in bone marrow and fromage blanc ice cream with pumpkin puree.
Hunting for a see-and-be-seen spot with cozy décor (we’re talking small leather benches, hanging sausages, shelves filled with jars of preserves) and drool-worthy bites? Head for the Marais where Biglove Caffè serves up indulgent comfort foods not for the carb-phobic among us. Breakfast and brunch spell out Buffalo-ricotta-stuffed pancakes piled high with fresh fruit, mascarpone loaves topped with fresh raspberries, and Italian-style caffeine-fixes, while lunch and dinner mean truffled pastas and Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas.
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Le Bon Georges
If you’re looking for the French bistro of Hollywood films—you know the one: an unassuming (but adorable) exterior, classic rattan cafe chairs, and a hand-scrawled, highly-traditional menu—then Le Bon Georges is your place. The restaurant has all but reinvigorated Paris’ age-old bistro infatuation with a menu crafted entirely from local French producers (peep their site to see where just about every ingredient is sourced from), and an extensive by-the-glass wine list that pays special attention to labels from Burgundy and Rhône. Come famished and go for their specialty—Boeuf Polmard, which is served as steak, tartare, and carpaccio.
Three-Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire is as iconic as French culinary legends come, and his eponymous flagship restaurant showcases what he does best: fine-dining, fusion-style. Stop by the 19th-century Hôtel Balzac locale—not far from the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysées—for an equally indulgent and innovative multi-course meal in the chef’s refined, but pared-back dining room. Pro-tip: don’t go filling up on the bread course!
Wander into Paris’ historic art gallery-, hipster shop-, and gay club-adorned Le Marais quarter and you’ll come across GrandCoeur, a no-frills gourmet brasserie from Argentine chef Mauro Colagreco (who holds two Michelin stars for Le Mirazur in Menton). Choose between dining on the open-air terrace or indoors under exposed beam and raw stone ceilings—either way, candlelit tables lend a warm atmospheric touch to your dinner (think: Sicilian eggplant and herb salad and ibérico with chard, sorrel, and potatoes). For an ultra-intimate meal, head for Le Jardin, Grandcoeur’s nature-inspired restaurant-within-a-restaurant where five-course (plus a pre-meal amuse-bouche) menus revolve around what’s in peak season.
Gold velvet upholstery, marble-topped tables, leather banquette seating, and other Art Deco details draw fashionable young denizens to Maison Lautrec’s Pigalle-situated neo-bistro. Don’t think the high aesthetic appeal and red-hot address is what carries the spot, though; dishes hold their own with fresh seasonal ingredients—including honey—harvested on their own farm just 27 miles outside the city. Going all out on your rez? Arrange to tuck into plates of smoked salmon with avocado cream and citrus fruit vinaigrette, and cuttlefish tagliatelle, with sesame vinegar, black mayonnaise, and olive sauce with up to 10 friends at the Chef’s Table (situated just behind the kitchen).
Allard has been serving up some of Paris’ most sought-after dishes since it opened in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés nabe way back in 1932. Though the kitchen is no longer run by Marthe Allard or her extended family of chefs, 1995-and-on owner Alain Ducasse has maintained its traditional pedigree by taking a simplistic approach to the menu and putting a female chef, Fanny Herpin, at the helm. Stop by for one of seven classic dishes—one served each day of the week—including pan-seared hanger steak with grenaille potatoes béarnaise and free-range Guinea fowl with green lentils.
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