Parisian Food Adventures


Le Baratin
3, rue Jouye-Rouve 75020
métro Pyrénées

This small, cozy bistro with its great wines, excellent dishes, and simple, comfortable ambiance is a great place to get a fantastic dinner. Just make sure to make reservations, otherwise there's no hope for you. A lot of traditional French fare, sometimes of the kind that takes bravery to sample (e.g. veal brains), with some new and tasty touches. My last main dish was veal cheek cooked in a Dutch oven with salsify, and it managed to be adventurous and comforting at the same time. And speaking to the homey atmosphere, the owner's cat even fell asleep on my jacket. I hear tell though that other than cats, famous chefs are known to be found among these tables.

Breakfast in America
4, rue Malher 75004
métro Saint-Paul
17, rue des Ecoles 75005
métro Cardinal LeMoine or Jussieu

The homesick American's dream. Or the nostalgic French ex-study-abroader's paradise. You can order root beer here, for chrissakes. It's standard American diner fare, which you can find in plenty of restaurants around the city, but this is the only such place I've been to that I can actually assure you is seriously successful in its attempt to achieve this authentically. Trust me, I've had more than my faire share of disappointments in the search for a decent American breakfast outside of my own kitchen (I still fail to understand the inclusion of cole slaw in the French interpretation). But this place gets it right. Just one piece of advice: come for eggs and bacon, for blueberry pancakes, for home fries, for jus de chaussette (literally "sock juice," the French nickname for weak American-style coffee). But go to Coco & Co for your burger. (See below)

Chez Hannah
54, rue des Rosiers 75004
métro Hôtel de Ville or Saint-Paul

So apparently, most of the authorities on the subject tell me I've got the wrong place, but when I do my normal stroll from Hôtel de Ville into the Marais, I usually end up reaching this falafel place first, and it's always been so good to me, I've honestly never looked elsewhere. The falafel is great, and the way they pack your pita full of vegetables and lay those perfectly fried eggplants on top, with a good dollop of hot sauce... I've never been unfaithful to Chez Hannah's falafel, because Hannah has never given me a reason to be.

Update: I have now officially tried L'As du Falafel, and the two are so strikingly similar I might just have to vote Hannah out of (a) loyalty, and (b) impatience (the line is a bit shorter).

Coco & Co
11, rue Bernard Palissy 75006
métro Saint-Germain-des-Prés

I love this place. I am in love with it. The concept is eggs, eggs in many ways. From Benedict to a topping for THE BEST BURGER I'VE TASTED IN PARIS, everything I've yet sampled has been delicious. The place is charming and very small, so reservations are of the utmost importance. My only complaint was that they didn't have my favorite egg-dish cocktail (Bloody Mary) on the booze menu, and though they very kindly whipped it up, I think it's not really their forte. But even so, a huge brunch favorite. Prices are of a Parisian reasonable.

116, rue Oberkampf 75011
métro Parmentier or Ménilmontant

So this place isn't perfect. They don't nail it every time. But it has a special place in my heart, plus it's all little mistakes (like that time with the tepid escargots--which they promptly warmed!), so I personally forgive them. Especially because they had the brilliant idea of putting crushed walnuts in the persillade (the escargot's buttery, parsley-y companion), and it's frankly fantastic. Plus they do a mean steak tartare, have tasty wine, great lamb dishes, and provide a really enjoyable, convivial atmosphere. I know some who might say otherwise, but I'm a believer.

Graine d'Orge
15, rue de l'Arc de Triomphe 75017
métro Charles de Gaulle Etoile

I found out about this place from the Guide Michelin while searching for a special place to celebrate my first anniversary of living with Clément. So it's above our usual budget, but it still won't break the bank too badly, and it's a very worthy, even sensible, splurge. I believe the menu including entrée-plat-dessert was around 35 euros. It's a very art déco styled place with white tablecloths and poised waiters, fantastic food, and the unusual bit: an entire beer menu, as well as a staff who will match each of your courses with a fitting brewsky. France doesn't usually take beer this seriously, but we do, and we weren't disappointed. Au contraire! A couple memories: my barley risotto with artichokes, truffle oil, and a delicate white fish, paired with a crisp, light, citrusy bière blanche. Clément's foie gras poêlé with an apple compote and a strong, sweet, malty beer to compliment. See? I told you.

Guilo Guilo
8, rue Garreau 75018
métro Abbesses

This meal was my birthday gift from some very good friends. And what a gift it was. This wasn't simple Japanese steakhouse fare, this was a gastronomic journey. So my friends tried for weeks to get a reservation, by calling at exactly 2 pm everyday, at which time the reservations for one month from that date begin. But if you call at 2:03 it's all over, enough people are on call waiting to fill up the place. One month later. It's truly insane. But the food... The flavors, the textures, the colors--beautiful presentation, course after course--I can't even begin to describe everything I ate, other than by providing the albeit bizarre images of climbing over rough, gelatinous, seaweed-jelly mountain ranges, swimming in a sea of fish broth... Trippy, I know. You have to be patient to eat here. But when you finally make it, what can I say, 6-7 courses, from as simple as rice soup to as complex as an assortment of incredible and mysterious little bouchées, it really is a trip. A delicious, delicious adventure.

Les Jardins de Mandchourie
32-34, Allée Vivaldi 75012
métro Daumesnil

Chinese food lovers: in a city where Chinese food is abundant and bad, welcome to heaven. The menu at this place is practically long enough to read like a novel, including explanations of the different regional cuisines of China, so you'll take a while to make up your mind. But hark! You will be eating boiled peanuts with chopsticks as you ponder your endless smorgasbord of possibilities, and sipping on Tsing-tao, so sit back and take your sweet time. Everything is delicious. Well, except maybe the desserts, but you didn't come for that, did you? You came for exotic perfumes, for culinary adventures with a side of rice. That you shall have. And if your goal is to eat so many red chiles you cry, rest assured that that you will, my friend. That you will.

Mama Shelter
109, rue de Bagnolet 75020
métro Porte de Bagnolet

The food here is good. Nothing magical, but 0 complaints. It seems to change with the seasons, and there are always simple, homey, comfort-food kind of dishes, sometimes with a bit of zing, sometimes just straight up. But the coolest part, let's be honest, is that the whole joint is designed by Philippe Starck, and it's gonna be awesome to sit there and sip your (delicious) cocktail and eat your Hachis Parmentier, even if 90% of everyone there is just there to be seen. You'll see each other, and your dinner will be super tasty, and the whole thing will have made for a pretty cool night.

Le P'tit Bouquet
101, rue Couronnes 75020
métro Jourdain

This restaurant is a little treasure just off of the oh-so-charming rue des Cascades, a winding street dotted with little bistros that fluctuate between hip and traditional. On a quiet stretch of road, this cozy restaurant provides a sort of intimacy. Its dishes are mostly traditional French, but they include plenty of twists toward the international, boasting Thai touches, among others. The service is great, the wine is great, the food is grreeeaaatttt, and it's really a deal. An entrée is between 14-20 euros. I was wined, dined, and desserted into blissful oblivion for 30 bucks. It was honestly perhaps the best parmentier de canard (duck meat Shepherd's Pie) I've ever had. Also, the chocolate mousse comes in a giant saladier (big salad bowl), even if you just order one portion. So, you can eat your weight in chocolate mousse here, which doesn't lose the place any points. All in all, a very good card to have up your sleeve.

La Plancha
34, rue Keller 75011
métro Voltaire or Bastille or Ledru-Rollin

This is one of Clément's and my favorite restaurants in Paris. It's a tiny, cozy Basque place with two long wooden tables and a little seating at the bar, no printed menu, and pay-what-you-drink Sangria by the pitcher. Everything is incredibly (olive) oily, which you might think is a criticism, but it's not. It's delectable. Only problem is, there are no real, substantial napkins. You might wanna stuff a few paper towels in your pockets before leaving home. But anyway, the concept is à la plancha, so pan-seared, skillet-cooked stuff. Mostly seafood, but some meat if you aren't a huge seafood fan. The pan-seared tuna with garlic and fleur de sel may make you weep from pleasure, so make sure to ask for that. But it's all great, the calimari, the shrimp, etc. etc. etc., and the sangria is perfection. Dangerously so. The desserts are equally amazing, my personal favorite being the crême brûlée, which is gently flavored with orange flower (my mouth is watering now). You'll come out of the place drunk, greasy, and grinning, and what better sign of a good meal?

For a Drink, For an Apéro
Rosa Bonheur
Avenue de la Cascade, Parc des Buttes Chaumont 75019
métro Buttes Chaumont, Botzaris

Mama Shelter
109, rue de Bagnolet 75020
métro Porte de Bagnolet

La Mercerie
98, rue Oberkampf 75011
métro Parmentier

L'Art Brut
78, rue Quincampoix 75003
métro Rambuteau

Les Marcheurs de Planète ("Le Zinc")
73 rue de la Roquette 75011
métro Bastille

Other Treats
Cacao et Chocolat
29, rue de Buci 75006
métro Mabillon or Saint-Germain-des-Prés
63, rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile 75004
métro Pont Mairie or Saint-Michel
36, rue Vielle du Temple 75004
métro Hôtel de Ville

31, rue Saint-Louis-en-l'Ile 75004
métro Pont Mairie or Saint-Michel

Pierre Hermé
4, rue Cambon 75001
métro Concorde

Pierre Marcolini
89, rue de Seine 75006
métro Odéon
3, rue Scribe 75009

Fromagerie Pascal Beillevaire
About three million locations so I'll choose mine:
140, rue de Belleville 75020
métro Pyrénées

Crèmerie Quatrehomme
62, rue de Sèvres 75007
métro Sèvres-Babylone

Glacier au Marché des Enfants Rouges
30, rue de Bretagne 75003

Gelati d'Alberto
12, rue des Lombards 75004
45, rue Mouffetard 75005

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