Where to Eat in Paris
Doin’ it for the ‘grams and the frites.
Three initial observations on food from a first-timer in Paris:
1. The whole baguette-a-day cliché is true. There’s a boulangerie or three on every block, and people roll through town with a loaf tucked in their bike basket (along with a bouquet of fresh flowers and a bottle of wine, because the French know how it’s done) or literally munch on one as they walk down the street (as we saw at least four times in eight days).
2. The croissants put every pain au chocolat this side of the Atlantic to shame. Crack one in half, and you won’t see that spongey, chewy, Starbucks-y feuilletage, but rather airy swirls of pastry reminiscent of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Do not partake unless you want to forever raise the croissant bar.*
3. Paris n’est pas cheap. Budget a solid amount for eating out (because let’s be real, it’s why you came, right?). But if you are looking to save a few euros, the bodegas are awesome, and picnic spots abound.
Carbs and cash aside, dining is an art form in Paris, and there are plenty of Michelin stars to choose from. But you’re [probably] there for a good time, not a long time, and need to plan accordingly. From the bougie to the boozy, here’s where to eat in Paris right now.
*Which, come to think of it, they probably have.
For brunch with your girlfriends:
Never has a name been so true to its menu. With its milk-and-honey yellow plates, sun-drenched skylights, and sassy Anglophone-friendly easter eggs (the WiFi password is “Macaulay Culkin” and the tiny sign-off on the receipts reads “we love you, except when you’re annoying”), Holybelly’s branding is as good as its Benny—which, trust, is g-o-o-o-d. Don’t skip the toasted fennel sausage patty and homemade hashbrowns, and be warned: They’ll be offended if you order milk with your drip coffee (it’s just too good to be watered down).
For getting the tourist out of your system:
Straight up: This place is touristy and expensive. Like eight-euros-for-tea expensive. But for a dense, creamy teapot of hot cocoa on a chilly afternoon and that classic Parisien-café vibe, the patio was perfect for lingering and people-watching.
For the best-lit lunch with a side of Pinterest-worthy decor:
Navy blue velvet booths, rattan chairs, sky-high ceilings, and some of the best pizza in Paris—at only a short walk from Le Palais Royal, the Louvre, and Le Jardin des Tuileries, Daroco is ideal for a lunch break between sights. Be sure to get the killer tiramisu for dessert (or hit up Café Kitsuné down the street for a perfect orb of salted caramel ice cream).
For sneaky tacos and tiki cocktails:
Arrive at the address for bobo (bohemian bourgeois) hotspot Candelaria, and you’ll find a nondescript hole-in-the-wall taco counter and a few confused faces glancing at their Instagram feeds, wondering where they went wrong. March purposefully to the back of the restaurant, press the door open, and watch the taqueria open up into a candlelit, woolen-walled Mexican fiesta teeming with locals and tourists alike. It’s the kind of chill place you’d hang out on a Friday night back home—remember to flick the cocktail spinner to pick your drink (you can’t really go wrong—the bartenders have won some serious accolades, landing on lists like Top 10 Bars in Europe).
For a super-cozy candlelit dinner:
Be sure to make a reservation for the thimble-sized Seb’on in Montmartre. Ranked #31 of the approximate 31 billion restaurants in Paris, this is that classic French fare you need to experience at least once in the city: an ever-changing nine-item menu of three starters, three mains, and three desserts. Thick pucks of foie gras to smear with chutney on crusty bread. Melt-in-your-mouth sea bream in a pool of red wine sauce. Bourbon-vanilla crème brûlée. “C’est bon” is an understatement.
For fresh fish and cute servers:
Right around the corner from Seb’on (if, say, you miss your reservation after snapping too many stories in front of La Maison Rose) is La Belle Maison, a cerulean-doored seafood-centric restaurant staffed by what I can only imagine is an off-duty lacrosse team. If you need a momentary distraction from all the bone structure going on, the tuna tartare—mixed with avocado and mango and topped with shaved coconut—is a more-than-worthy candidate.
BONUS: For post-dinner drinks and some serious Instagram fodder:
While lunching at a less delicious restaurant, a server scribbled the name of this speakeasy on our napkin. He explained it was fronted by a laundromat, and to open the door, you had to press a button hidden on one of the washing machines. Intrigued, we headed there that night, and DAMN was it ever fun. Once you’ve figured out the laundry situation, you climb a flight of stairs to a pop-art-inspired loft bar where the seats are swings and Brillo boxes. Order a plate of oysters and one of the quirky cocktails, and prepare to set up camp for the night.