Eating well in Paris isn’t hard to do, but there are many ways to do it. You could go big and do something fancy at Alain Ducasse or nosh your way through croissants, cheese and tasty snacks. This guide to Paris is for those who like something more casual, the people who are fans of going to a bar with some atmosphere that also happens to make very good food, where you don’t have to dress up, and you can be in and out in less than 2 hours. Paris has perfected this style of eating, and so, with one exception, here’s a list of some places that do this very well.
80 Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris, France
+33 1 43 72 74 53
If you’ve been to France before, you know that things shut down on Sunday. And Monday. Actually, it could be any day, but we don’t have to get into that. Clamato is one of those exceptions, but the food is so good that you won’t think you’re settling for something that was the only Sunday option. The menu is seafood focused, so while you won’t find brunch fare like waffles or crepes, you will find fresh cockles that taste like the sea, velvety red tuna and delicious fried cod. Be sure to get a side of polenta fries and save room for the bread and butter pudding.
Septime La Cave
3 Rue Basfroi, 75011 Paris, France
+33 1 43 67 14 87
Chances are you’re going to try making a reservation at Septime and fail miserably. So you decide to drown your sorrows in several glasses of wine at the neighboring wine bar Septime La Cave. It will probably make you even more regretful, because if the small plates at Septime Cave are any indications of the meal at Septime, it probably would have been a pretty epic one. The charcuterie plate, a standard at any bar, is somehow ten times better here than at any other you’ll get in Paris, and the bread is pretty perfect as well. Obviously it’s all meant to complement the wine, which is on the natural and funkier side. Septime La Cave also doubles as a retail shop, so you can buy bottles of the wine you really like.
114 Rue Amelot, 75011 Paris, France
+33 1 43 55 87 35
The name is strange, and there are indeed clown motifs decorating the tiles, but the food at Clown Bar is no joke. The cooking here is pretty cerebral, and not just because there’s veal brains on the menu. It sounds like a pretty scary thing to order, but you’ll be amazed by how much it has in common with a rich chawanmushi, and even more amazing is that you finished the whole thing. You would never think to turn duck foie gras into a pie, but Clown Bar opens your eyes to such possibilities, and you’re so happy that they did. There’s also an amazing selection of rare Japanese whiskeys like Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu that may not be officially on the menu, but they’ll be more than happy to quote you a price and give you a pour. Something else I learned about Paris is that the chocolate mousse tends to be universally good, as is the one at Clown Bar.
Chez Alain Miam Miam
26 Rue Charlot, 75003 Paris, France
+33 9 86 17 28 00
Be prepared to wait at least an hour for one of the famous sandwiches at Chez Alain Miam Miam in the Marais. They’re simple and hearty, stuffed to the brim with mouth-watering meats and cheese. It’s like someone handpicked all the best produce and meat from the greenmarket and put them into a sandwich. The reason why it takes so long is that each sandwich is carefully hand made, and Chez Alain himself will slice you samples of comte or whatever else you need in order to make a more informed decision about your sandwich. They’re huge and can easily feed two, but if you have the room for it, the savory crepes are also worth a try.
9 Rue d’Argenteuil, 75001 Paris, France
+33 1 42 60 52 61
There’s a lot to do in the 1st arrondissement–you can go see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, walk through the beautiful Tuileries garden, and go luxury shopping on Rue St. Honore–but there aren’t that many eating options. Randomly, however, there is an excellent udon restaurant called Sanukiya. It’s as good as any of the spots in Saint Mark’s Place in New York, and it’s also very reasonably priced. The lunch sets are the way to go, where you can supplement your udon with a drink, fried chicken karage, rice and an egg omelette.
18 Rue Breguet, 75011 Paris, France
+33 1 43 55 53 93
Grive is a very low-key bistro that does classic, comforting food very well. The food is so appealing because it’s very familiar and not fancy–think roasted chicken, salmon or boiled eggs. I was particularly impressed by the fresh oysters, which did not even need any lemon or sauce to enhance them. Conclude your meal here with a chocolate dessert, which again is very strong.
17 Rue Rodier, 75009 Paris, France
+33 1 53 20 94 90
La Condesa is a high end Mexican restaurant in Paris, which sounds a bit odd and like it would be a bad idea, but it’s actually quite the opposite. It isn’t explicitly Mexican, aside from the corn tostada amuse bouches, because it’s clear it derives its flavors from a multitude of cultures. The global reach is pretty wide–Mexican, Japanese, New Nordic, Italian and obviously French were all represented. The tasting menu is the only option at dinner, and the courses progressed as follows: a light vegetable dish reminiscent of the infamous asparagus steak at L’Arpege; a breathtaking veal agnolotti in an aromatic broth (one of the best things I ate in Paris); a codfish with cauliflower cream; a rich and dense duck with risotto; and two excellent desserts–a Greek yogurt cream and an even better chocolate cream with ginger ice cream.
54 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris, France
+33 1 43 54 34 50
I was probably the most lukewarm about my meal at Semilla, which was rated highly in the blog Paris by Mouth for its creative and modern French plates. I didn’t really love the dorade ceviche, which was overpowered by a strong coriander sauce, and the choice to pair clams on a bed of lettuce and foam seemed unusual to me. Meat seemed to be its stronger suit. The foie gras was solid and the veal cheeks in green tea were legitimately very good. The chocolate dessert, as expected, was a home run.