The bistro scene in Paris just keeps getting better, with a flurry of exciting new openings, many with impressively pedigreed young chefs. Most of the newcomers have dispensed with à la carte, instead offering a limited menu or simply what the chef feels like whipping up that day. This is good news for adventurous eaters, who get a fresh, seasonal, and inspired menu every time. For price-to-quality, the new breed is hard to beat, with lunch menus ranging from 17-22€, and dinners between 25-44€, an excellent bargain considering the skyrocketing prices at Paris's better-known eateries.
Here you'll find five of the crème de la crème, where you're sure to dine exceptionally well, with enough cash left over to do it again tomorrow.
Chef Romain Tischenko—voted Top Chef 2010—and brother, Maxime, who cut his teeth at Inaki Aizpitarte's Châteaubriand, have Paris foodies flocking to this far corner of Paris's hip 10th arrondissement. The minimal dining room overlooking a pretty square is the perfect backdrop for meticulously prepared dishes like Basque pork with razor-thin slices of cauliflower, olives, and pumpkinseeds, or sea bass with asparagus and mint, small masterpieces of texture and flavor. Paired with a select natural wine, it's a great choice for diners eager to experience the essence of what this scene's all about.
34 rue Sainte-Marthe, 10th, 01 42 06 05 03
Laid-back newcomer Semilla is a welcome addition to a neighborhood short on affordable dining. But don't let the casual atmosphere fool you, the bustling open kitchen spars with the big boys, consistently offering inspired, market-driven dishes—like the excellent house-smoked salmon or a cup of velvety mushroom velouté for starters, followed by succulent stuffed cod or crispy pork with chorizo and tomato confit. Expect superior, reasonably priced wines by the bottle or glass from neighborhood cave La Dernière Goutte, whose owners, Juan Sanchez and Drew Harré, brought us the ever-popular restaurants Fish, Cosi sandwicherie, and now Semilla.
Restaurant Pierre-Sang Boyer
This recent Top Chef contender isn't letting it go to his head, Pierre-Sang Boyer not only deftly prepares your meal, he may take your order or even clear your table. If the atmosphere's a tad chaotic, that's because they don't take reservations and the menu changes every meal, every day. Seated around a long communal table in front of an open kitchen (with a few tables for two), diners choose a two, three, or four-course, no-choice menu, with dishes like ultra-refined "country" pâté ("My grandma's recipe," says Boyer) or melt-in-your mouth beef cheeks with buttery Chinese cabbage, paired with a 5€ glass of "blanc, rosé, rouge, or bubbles" chosen specifically for each dish. Not knowing what you'll get till it's in front of you might be scary with a lesser chef, but rest assured you're in excellent hands.
After scarcely a month on the scene, Abri is already a hot ticket, with reservations at this unassuming storefront bistro at a premium. A friendly, competent staff and exquisitely rendered dishes add up to a superb—and, at 22€ for a four-course lunch; 38€ for six-course dinner—excellent-value meal. Working from an open kitchen, chef Katsuaki Okiyama—veteran of superstar restos Taillevent and Robuchon—prepares dishes like lemon-marinated mackerel topped with micro-thin beets and honey vinaigrette or succulent duck breast with vegetables au jus. There's also a 13€ chef's sandwich (including beverage) available Monday–Saturday, from 10 am–5 pm.
92 rue du Faubourg-Poissonière, 10th, 01 83 97 00 00
With revamped quarters and a brand new chef, the good news is L'Office is better than ever. Japanese chef Yosuke Yamaji, who honed his craft in the hallowed kitchens of Atelier Joël Robuchon, Pascal Barbeau's L'Astrance, and Alain Ducasse Tokyo, is putting out some seriously refined dishes, with seasonal starters, like fried oysters and tender cèpes with tart green grapes or piquant pork dumplings, followed by an entrée of buttery veal and beets served two ways with a honey-olive oil coulis, or poulet fermier with aubergine confit. A warm interior, congenial staff, and lively crowd cinches the experience. It's also open Monday, a rarity in Paris.
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Photo Credits:Le Galopin: Le Galopin; Semilla: Semilla ; Restaurant Pierre-Sang Boyer: Restaurant Pierre-Sang Boyer ; Abri: Abri; L'Office: L'Office