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13 Top Paris Chefs Share Their Go-to Restaurants for Their Night Off

Top chefs in Paris dish about their favorite spots to eat and drink when off duty.

Those looking to dine out in Paris have no shortage of choices—and, for that matter, no shortage of lists telling them which old classics are unmissable and which newly opened hot spots are worth the hype. But if you really want to know where to eat in Paris, it’s best to go straight to the city’s best source: its chefs.

Paul Boudier, chef-owner of Montmartre bistro Le Maquis, perhaps puts it best:

“I live a pretty boring life,” he says. “On the weekend, I rarely go to restaurants since I spend my whole week there. So when I go, I want it to go well. Out of sheer laziness, I always go to the same ones.”

And luckily, he and other top chefs in the French capital were more than willing to open their little black books for us. Their favorite spots for their nights off range from lowbrow to luxe, from the corner bistro to the corner banh mi spot to no shortage of Michelin-starred tables.

And, as an added bonus, given that the lights tend to go off in Paris’ dining circles on Sunday and Monday, should your visit fall on one of these days, we’ve got you more than covered.

1 OF 18

La Crête

WHERE: 5th Arrondissement

At Le Saint-Sébastien, Chef Chris Edwards focused on local sourcing and a marriage of French technique and influences from around the world. But on his night off, he craves wholly different international flavors.

“I think my favorite place on a Monday evening is called La Crête on Rue Mouffetard,” he says, citing the picturesque, cobbled street known for its food market. His standing order is a series of mezzes followed by a dish known as “Spécialité de ma Grand-Mère” (My Grandma’s Specialty). It consists of a large lamb shank braised with figs and comes, as most dishes on the menu do, with a roasted potato still wrapped in its foil.

“Greek beers to start, Greek wine with the meal, raki, then another raki with the staff to finish,” says Edwards. “Close by is a bowling alley with wonky pool tables and young people’s music to work off the excess.”

2 OF 18

Hanoï 1988

WHERE: Île Saint-Louis

Paris boasts no shortage of excellent Vietnamese spots, but this one is particularly close to the heart—and palate—of Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze (the inspiration, for what it’s worth, for Colette in Disney’s Ratatouille). Hanoï 1988 serves what Darroze dubs the very best pho, not to mention other specialties from the owner’s hometown; all made fresh to order.

“The food is very good, authentic,” she says, and she should know: The chef has spent quite a bit of time in Vietnam, where both of her adopted daughters were born, and has even revisited some of the country’s flavors on the menu at her Marsan.

3 OF 18

Saigon Sandwich

WHERE: 11th Arrondissement

Chef Edward Delling-Williams recently left the capital in favor of the Norman coast, where he now owns and runs The Presbytère. But he remains a big fan of Paris’ Vietnamese food scene.

“I miss the banh mi massively,” he says. His go-to comes from Saigon Sandwich, just a few minutes walk from his Le Grand Bain.

“It’s just a cheap banh mi like I think it’s five euros,” he says. “[The restaurant] is rammed, and [the food] is delicious.”

4 OF 18

Dong Huong

WHERE: 11th Arrondissement

Boudier is yet another fan of Vietnamese fare—more specifically, of Dong Huong, known for their steaming bowls of fragrant pho. But Boudier, a long-time regular, has a different standing order.

“I get the pancakes,” he says. “The bun cha with pancakes. All the time. Bun cha, pancakes, a bowl of broth, the egg rolls, of course. And if I’m feeling naughty, I get bánh cuốn too.”

He certainly knows his way around the menu, and that’s no surprise.

“I’ve been going for maybe 15 years,” he says. “Whenever I come in, they always tell the same joke: asking if I want the couscous with meatballs. It gets me every time.”


5 OF 18

Aux Mandarins de Belleville

WHERE: 19th Arrondissement

Not far from Saigon Sandwich, in the heart of Belleville, Delling-Williams also has a soft spot for the Chinese food at Aux Mandarins de Belleville, which he says was his go-to on his day off.

“They’ve got really good chicken’s feet in black bean sauce,” he says, noting he loves everything about the space, from the outdoor seating to the freshness of the ingredients to the genial staff.

“It’s just delicious Chinese food, basically. It’s cheap, it’s quick, it’s easy. They’re really lovely there,” he says. “It’s just nice; it’s just a cool little place.”

6 OF 18


WHERE: 6th Arrondissement

When Darroze isn’t eating Vietnamese food, she’s often enjoying the cuisine of Japan, and one of her favorites is Kaïto, a luxe sushi spot from master sushi chef Takuya Watanabe, formerly of Michelin-starred Jin.

“There are no seats,” she cautions. “Taku wanted to reproduce the ambiance of the bars at the fish markets in Tokyo. So you eat everything standing at the counter.”

As for what’s on the menu, while you’ll find a whole range of sashimi, chirashi, and tamagoyaki, she says the namesake Kaïto Maki is unmissable, boasting two kinds of tuna, marinated squash, size, and sesame.

7 OF 18

Riviera Fuga

WHERE: 7th Arrondissement

Norihisa Semboshi, Chef at Le Bar Long, Le Royal Monceau—Raffles Paris, is also a Japanese food fan, though he gets his fix at Riviera Fuga, which blends flavors from Japan and the South of France.

“I’m particularly fond of its boat-on-the-Seine concept, right next to the Alexandre III bridge and the Eiffel Tower,” he says. “I usually go there on Friday evenings with friends or colleagues. It’s a place where you can go frequently to have a good time and enjoy lunch, dinner or even some tapas.”

His go-to? “The octopus grilled to perfection with potatoes.”

8 OF 18

Lao Siam

WHERE: 19th Arrondissement

At Chez Marius, Chef Dimitri Gris’ menu is frequently inspired by the cuisine of his native Dolomites, but one of his go-to’s is Lao Siam, a Belleville staple known for its excellent Laotian and Thai cuisine–a recommendation echoed by Delling-Williams, who frequented this spot steps from his Le Grand Bain on his nights off. And seeing as it’s open on Sundays and Mondays, it’s no wonder it’s a chef’s dream.

9 OF 18

Mori Venice Bar

WHERE: 2nd Arrondissement

When Chef Simone Zanoni of Michelin-starred Le George wants to feel a bit more at home, he heads to Mori Venice Bar, where Massimo Mori specializes in Venetian fare. “I love this ultra simple way of cooking,” says Zanoni. “An ingredient, a starch, a light little sauce. It’s fresh, and it’s convivial, so you can share lots of things.

Zanoni has only lovely things to say about pretty much all of Mori’s offerings, from the “crazy-good” spaghetti alle vongole to the “beautiful” wine list. But he’s got a special place in his heart for the aperitivo, which playfully features a terra cotta lady whose skirt hides slices of IGP Parma ham served with Italian mostarda. “And there’s something I love from my childhood, which is the ice cream cart at the end,” he says.

10 OF 18

La Cantine du Troquet

WHERE: 15th Arrondissement

It may seem as though Parisian chefs steer clear of their own native cuisine, but of course, that’s not the whole story. Chef Stéphane Jégo of L’Ami Jean adores La Cantine du Troquet in the 15th with an ever-changing menu inspired by Chef Christian Etchebest’s Basque roots and loads of heart. The fare is hearty but precise, frequently featuring game meats like hare or offal like blood sausage, each of which is made with stellar ingredients, like charcuterie from Eric Ospital.

“I love the crispy pigs’ ears,” says Jégo. “And they’ve got this amazing bread from Jean-Luc Poujaran, which is really just incredible. You get the crispy pigs’ ears, you take the bread, a bit of the fat with Espelette pepper, and it’s flavorful, it’s rich, and you really just can’t help but love it.”

11 OF 18


WHERE: 18th Arrondissement

On his day off, Michelin-starred Chef Omar Dhiab is more than willing to cross Paris to 18th arrondissement restaurant Méha, with excellent value fine dining fare. At simple tables arranged in fairly close quarters along a shared banquette, one can dig into plates Dhiab dubs “bistronomic,” a category that sees the approachable codes of the bistro fine-tuned with luxury gastronomic appeal.

That said, he’s quick to note that you’ll often find slight twists to the classics on the menu, given the chef’s Moroccan heritage. “But it’s still French cuisine,” he says. “He makes langoustine ravioli with a langoustine bisque that’ll knock your socks off.”

12 OF 18


WHERE: 11th Arrondissement

In the Middle Ages, a “Vantre” was a “place of rejoicing,” so it’s no wonder Chef Oliver Piras of Il CarpaccioLe Royal Monceau—Raffles Paris is such a big fan of this spot in the 11th.

“The cuisine is classic French with some very interesting modern touches, and the wine list is fantastic,” he says. “My favorite dish is their pigeon and quince tart, a real delight. I usually go there once every two months.”

13 OF 18

Le Roi René

WHERE: 10th Arrondissement

A relative newcomer to the scene, Le Roi René is a new favorite of Chef Eloi Spinnler of Orgueil.

“It’s kind of a modern tavern,” he says. “Big candles, really special natural wine.”

The food, meanwhile, is classic French with a little twist. “Big sole meunière, big veal sweetbreads,” he says. “Just really hearty.”

14 OF 18

Bien Elevé

WHERE: 9th Arrondissement

Spinnler lives not far from another one of his favorites, Bien Elevé, a restaurant specialized in dry-aged meat, which was unheard of on the French dining scape just a few short years ago.

“I’ve got a fairly ethical approach,” he says. “I’m not necessarily going to have the vision of all those ayatollahs who only want vegetarian or vegan. I’m really looking for quality products and sensible animal husbandry.”

And Bien Élevé ticks all the boxes. “They keep a close eye on all of their supply chains, so it’s pretty cool,” he says. “It’s just a really good meat-focused restaurant with a really lovely dry aging program.”

15 OF 18

Au Petit Panisse

WHERE: 11th Arrondissement

Niçoise native Julia Sedefdjian became France’s youngest Michelin-starred chef at just 21 years old, and when she has the day off from her Baieta, she goes straight to 11th arrondissement bistro Au Petit Panisse.

“It’s got great wines by the glass, daily specials that change all the time, excellent value at lunch and even at dinner,” she says. “So it’s somewhere I go often on Sunday or Monday.”

The chalkboard menu changes constantly, characterized by simple approaches to mains and more innovative, surprising twists when it comes to the appetizers. In the past, she’s fallen hard for the duck tartare with egg yolk and microplaned parmesan or the black sausage croquettes with apricot ketchup. For dessert, meanwhile, the white chocolate panna cotta with celery flower and hazelnut is “magnificent.”

16 OF 18

Les Inséparables

WHERE: 18th Arrondissement

Chef Jason Gouzy’s approach at his Pantagruel is no surprise if you’re familiar with the gluttony of its namesake; here, he marries a more-is-more mindset with the elegance that helped earn him his Michelin star. It’s exactly the vibe he seeks when he’s dining out, which is one reason he loves Les Inséparables, located in his own 18th arrondissement. The 62-euro prix fixe, he says, is excellent value for the quality of the cuisine—and Dhiab agrees.

“Their tasting menus are always really well-crafted and well-executed, with good ingredients,” he says. “That’s really what makes the difference. Perfect cuissons, perfect sides, with the generosity you’re looking for, the perfect jus, the perfect sauce.”

But while it certainly has upmarket appeal, at the end of the day, according to Gouzy, “it’s really a neighborhood spot that’s evolved over the course of the years.”

17 OF 18

Le Violon d’Ingres

WHERE: 7th Arrondissement

When he’s looking for a special occasion spot, Jégo doesn’t need to go far: Le Violon d’Ingres is just a few minutes walk from his own restaurant, and it’s one of his all-time favorites: a Michelin-starred address with a “really homey atmosphere,” according to the chef.

The cuisine, he says, is quite delicate, hewing closely to French tradition.

“You could have a really good vol au vent, a really good pigeon, really excellent grilled scallops when they’re in season,” he says. “The boss is a friend of mine, but that’s not why I go there. It’s because it’s really a convivial place for people who love good food.”


18 OF 18

Le Clarence

WHERE: 8th Arrondissement

If there’s one restaurant that chefs love nearly unanimously, it’s Le Clarence, a two-Michelin-starred spot located within a sumptuous 19th-century private mansion steps from the Champs-Elysées.

“It’s one of the benchmarks of world gastronomy,” says Piras. “[Chef Christophe Pelé’s] creativity knows no bounds.”

Gouzy agrees, noting he treats himself to lunch there once a year.“I think his food speaks a lot to cooks,” he says. “And, of course, the space is incredible, out of time.”

“He’s got an incisive side to his food,” adds Boudier. “He’s really mastered the classics, but each and every time, he manages to twist them.” He’s a particular fan of Pelé’s flair for marrying proteins from sea and land, dubbing “genius” a dish of John Dory with lamb offal and raw artichokes; Piras, meanwhile, was conquered by quail with squid ink and chorizo sauce.

“On paper, there are loads of things that shouldn’t work, but he makes them work,” raves Boudier.

It’s no wonder Spinnler even goes so far as to dub it “the best restaurant I’ve eaten in in Paris.”

Iltorored January 10, 2024

I think you need to clarify to your readers that HA NOI 1988 is located in the Ile St Louis and not on the Ile de la Citè. Other than that I think Helene hit it right on as the best spot for Pho !