Paris, like most tourist infested cities, is a mecca of over priced mediocre restaurants and bars. You have to seriously do some investigative work to find a place worthy of spending your euro and expanding your wasteline.. especially when we’re talking in the calories we are expecting to consume. Luckily, I have put in my due diligence and hand crafted the perfect eating itinerary for you on your jaunt to Paris. Please, for the love of crepes, leave a recommendation in the comments below so I can have a reason to return to the city of macarons again soon.
But first, some basic Parisian Eating Rules: (and even before that, tips on ‘before you go’ to Paris here!)
- Cheese is dessert, order it as such. And order it at every meal.
- One can never eat too many macaroons.
- Not all Parisian restaurants are created equal. Steer clear from menus with too many offerings, restaurants too close to tourist attractions, and places that try to solicit you to sit down by basically cat calling you when you walk by.
- Once you place an order, that table real estate is yours. There is no rush. In fact, you’ll basically have to trip the waitress to get her to bring you the check.
- Tipping is not necessarily mandatory…. but I still believe in 5-10%.
- Coffee = cafe americano. Cafe = espresso.
- You want a croissant that is straight, not curved. The straight ones are by law cooked with butter. Curved may be made with margarine.
- When buying your baguette.. go for the pointed edges, not round. Pointed = made by hand, round = machine.
- The tap water is perfectly fine to drink in Paris.
- ….but don’t dwell on water. Du vin & champs have a rightful place at the French dining table. Enjoy them liberally.
My favorite Restaurants in Paris:
I suppose I’ll start with what I consider the best. It would be an absolute shame to go to Paris and not eat at Septime. The tasting menu is inventive with fresh and flavorful dishes that tickle your tastebuds and leave you wonderfully satisfied. The service is perfect, the wines exquisite, the atmosphere charming. There’s a reason why there is a three week wait for reservations at Septime, and that is because the chef knows what he is doing. The beautiful thing about Septime is that the 7 course dinner is constantly changing with the season, so every time you go will be fresh and exciting. This is also wonderful for Americans who may not speak perfect (a lick) of French past bonjour and merci. The tasting menu takes all of the guess work out of trying to decipher the menu. All you have to do is sit back, point to which bottle of red you can afford, and remember to add the cheese board to your dessert.
Septime is located in the 11th, an area unscathed by tourist zombies. You have to make reservations 3 weeks in advance (or pray to the champagne Gods for a cancellation).
2. La Jacobine.
Unassuming and casual, this bistro is nestled into a quiet little street in St. Germaine. Sure, you’ll see plenty of tourists, but for good reason… you’re in tourist central and the food is great. Here you’ll have the best french onion soup I’ve ever eaten. Gooey, crusty, salty, loaded with onions… it’s as good as it gets. This is also the place you get to cross escargot and quiche off your ‘must eat in Paris’ list. What was that? Escargot isn’t on your list? Well put it on there and order it at Le Jacobine, you’ll be delighted by the little pesto butter balls that have a friendlier consistency than oysters or mussels. The quiche has a melt in your mouth flakey crust and a scrumptious blend of cheeses and vegetables. Order the quiche on top of one of their speciality salads and you’re sure to have a great meal.
3. Cafe Marly.
Yes, you come for the unbeatable atmosphere, but the food is also worthy of a visit. Here, you have to order the croque madame. I searched far and wide for mycoveted all time favorite brunch meal in Paris. All I wanted was a ham, gruyere and béchamel sandwich topped with an egg that lived up to my standards (best one I’ve ever had was in LA at Little Next Door, go figure). In Toulouse, I felt that on every corner I met a sandwich that satisfied my craving, but in Paris, I struck out time and again until Cafe Marly. Their rendition of a classic did it for me, and I would return again and again for this sandwich. However- The fig tart, while beautiful enough for it’s own display inside the Louvre, fell short on taste.
I know, it’s a chain. But for good reason! Their salted caramel macaroons are flawless.
Creamy gelato that rivals any scoop you’ll find in Italy. This is in no way a hidden gem and you should expect to wait in line. Berthillon is such a local legend that the entire neighborhood surrounding his ice cream shop pays homage to him by displaying ‘we serve Berthillon gelato here’ on their awnings.