Paris Restaurants

A new wave of culinary confidence has been running through one of the world's great food cities and spilling over both banks of the Seine. Whether cooking up grand-mère's roast chicken and riz au lait or placing a whimsical hat of cotton candy atop wild-strawberry-and-rose ice cream, Paris chefs—established and up-and-coming, native and foreign—have been breaking free from the tyranny of tradition and following their passion.

Emblematic of the "bistronomy" movement is the proliferation of "gastrobistros"—often in far-flung or newly chic neighborhoods—helmed by established chefs fleeing the constraints of the star system or passionate young chefs unfettered by overblown expectations. Among the seasoned stars and exciting newcomers to the scene are Yannick Alléno, who left behind two Michelin stars at Le Meurice to open his locavore bistro Terroir Parisien at the Palais Brogniart and earned three stars at the storied Pavillon Ledoyen within his first year at the helm; David Toutain at the exceptional Restaurant David Toutain; Sylvestre Wahid at Brasserie Thoumieux; and Katsuaki Okiyama's Abri.

But self-expression is not the only driving force behind the current trend. A traditional high-end restaurant can be prohibitively expensive to operate. As a result, more casual bistros and cafés, which reflect the growing allure of less formal dining and often have lower operating costs and higher profit margins, have become attractive opportunities for even top chefs.

For tourists, this development can only be good news, because it makes the cooking of geniuses such as Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Eric Frechon, and Pierre Gagnaire a bit more accessible (even if these star chefs rarely cook in their lower-price restaurants) and opens up a vast range of new possibilities for exciting dining.

Like the chefs themselves, Paris diners are breaking away from tradition with renewed enthusiasm. New restaurants, wine bars, and rapidly multiplying épicieries (gourmet grocers) and sandwich shops recognize that not everyone wants a three-course blowout every time they dine out. And because Parisians are more widely traveled than in the past, many ethnic restaurants—notably the best North African, Vietnamese–Laotian, Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese spots—are making fewer concessions to French tastes, resulting in far better food.

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  • 1. Abri

    $$$ | Pigalle

    This tiny storefront restaurant's immense popularity has much to do with the fresh and imaginative food, the friendly servers, and great prices. The lauded Japanese...Read More

  • 2. Abri Soba

    $$ | Grands Boulevards

    Those unable to score a sought-after table at chef Katsuaki Okiyama's restaurant Abri should have better luck at this small soba bar tucked away on...Read More

  • 3. Addommè

    $$

    One of Paris's newer pizza places, in the Haut Marais, is also one of the best, serving irresistible handmade Neapolitan pies with top-quality Italian toppings:...Read More

  • 4. Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées

    Tucked away in a quiet garden across from the Petit Palais, Ledoyen—open since 1779—is a study in Empire-style elegance. Star chef Yannick Alléno injects the...Read More

  • 5. Angelina

    $ | Louvre

    Founded in 1903 and patronized by literary luminaries like Marcel Proust and Gertrude Stein, Angelina is famous for its chocolat "l'Africain," ultrarich hot chocolate topped...Read More

  • 6. Assemblages

    $ | Marais Quarter

    At this restaurant set on a pretty street leading right into the Place des Vosges, it's hard to know if you've landed in someone's chic...Read More

  • 7. Astair

    $$ | Sentier

    This classy brasserie in the heart of the Passage des Panoramas, Paris's oldest and most picturesque covered gallery, has much more going for it than...Read More

  • 8. Aux Cerises

    $ | Eiffel Tower

    Don't expect to be mobbed by tourists at this bright café two minutes from the Champs de Mars; locals love it for the sidewalk terrace...Read More

  • 9. Back in Black Coffee

    $ | Bastille

    This sleek 2,000-square-foot café—an easy walk from Place de la Bastille and the Marais—is a favorite spot for breakfast, veggie-centric nibbles, and exceptional scones, breads,...Read More

  • 10. Bellefeuille Restaurant

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées

    Set inside the gorgeously refurbished Saint James Hotel, one of the city's stand-out lodgings, the beautiful Bellefeuille has quickly become popular thanks to chef Julien...Read More

  • 11. Berthillon

    $ | Île Saint-Louis

    Parisian ice cream is served at cafés all over town, but it's worth making the pilgrimage to this mecca of artisanal crèmes glacées to understand...Read More

  • 12. Bontemps

    $ | Marais Quarter

    This charming courtyard café-tearoom grew out of an adorable pastry shop (next door) specializing in the French sablé, those classic melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies, with an...Read More

  • 13. Breizh Café

    $ | Marais Quarter

    Eating a crêpe in Paris might seem clichéd, until you venture into this modern offshoot of a Breton crêperie. The plain, pale-wood decor is refreshing,...Read More

  • 14. Café de la Paix

    $$$$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    Once described as the "center of the civilized world," this grand café was a meeting place for the Belle Époque's glitterati. It's an elegant...Read More

  • 15. Café de Mars

    $ | Eiffel Tower

    California-born chef Gina McLintock's elegant-cozy interiors perfectly echo her scrumptious gourmet bistro fare with an Asian twist. Crowd-pleasers include dishes like delicate pumpkin beignets, rib-eye...Read More

  • 16. Caffè Stern

    $$$ | Grands Boulevards

    Lodged in one of Paris's most picturesque historic passages, the Italian Caffè Stern—a listed monument updated by designer Philippe Starck—is loaded with the sort of...Read More

  • 17. Comice

    $$$$ | Western Paris

    The culinary experience here is a progression of delights, from your first luscious sip of carrot vélouté to a light-as-air chocolate soufflé contrasted with a...Read More

  • 18. Comice

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower

    Don't let its off-the-beaten-path location keep you away from this elegant restaurant, which won a Michelin star before being open even a year. The husband-and-wife...Read More

  • 19. Double Dragon

    $ | Oberkampf

    Anyone with a hankering for enticing, well-priced, gourmet-inflected Chinese fare in a chic setting need look no further. Friendly to both carnivores and herbivores alike,...Read More

  • 20. Fragments

    $ | Marais Quarter

    If you're serious about what's in your coffee cup, head straight to this streamlined café near the Place des Vosges, where you'll find only the...Read More

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