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. Hiramatsu

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    In this Art Deco dining room near Trocadéro, Takashi Nakagawa continues his variations on the subtly Japanese-inspired French cuisine of restaurant...Read More

  • 2. L'Abeille

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Everything here, from the dove-gray decor to the sparkling silver, speaks of quiet elegance—all the better to savor Christophe Moret's masterful...Read More

  • 3. L'Arpège

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Breton-born Alain Passard, one of the most respected chefs in Paris, famously shocked the French culinary world by declaring that he was bored...Read More

  • 4. L'Astrance

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Pascal Barbot rose to fame thanks to his restaurant's reasonable prices and casual atmosphere, but after the passage of several years, Astrance...Read More

  • 5. La Table d'Aki

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Set in a quiet, aristocratic quartier near the Musée Rodin, La Table d'Akihiro might just be the most perfect little-gem restaurant in all...Read More

  • 6. Restaurant David Toutain

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Although chef David's Toutain's approach may be exasperatingly conceptual for some, others find his earthy, surprising, and inspired concoctions...Read More

  • 7. Afaria

    $$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    The otherwise unexciting 15th arrondissement is home to much-lauded chef Ludivine Merlin and his Basque-inspired recipes. Basque cooking is...Read More

  • 8. Au Bon Accueil

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    To see what well-heeled Parisians like to eat these days, book a table at this chic little bistro run by Jacques Lacipière as soon as you get...Read More

  • 9. Brasserie Thoumieux

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    When this old-world bistro was revived, much of its vintage character was thankfully preserved. Despite its location in the sedate 7e arrondissement...Read More

  • 10. Café Central

    $$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    If it's apéritif time, this is the place to be. With soft lighting, loungy music, plus a generous selection of wines, cocktails, and beers,...Read More

  • 11. Café Coutume

    $ | Eiffel Tower | Café

    A lofty space between the Musée Rodin and the Bon Marché makes this the perfect pit stop between museum-going and shopping. Look for healthy...Read More

  • 12. Café du Marché

    $ | Eiffel Tower | French

    On the quaint Rue Cler, this small but busy café is popular with residents. Savor your morning café and croissant here, or enjoy an inexpensive...Read More

  • 13. Carette

    $$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Serving chic Parisians since 1927, this Art Deco tea salon on Place du Trocadéro is a hot spot for lunch or afternoon tea. ...Read More

  • 14. D'Chez Eux

    $$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    The red-checked tablecloths and jovial maître d'hôtel at this authentic southwestern French bistro near the Invalides might seem like a tourist...Read More

  • 15. L'Ami Jean

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | Spanish

    If you love Yves Camdeborde's southwestern France–inflected cooking at Le Comptoir but can't get a table for dinner, head to this tavern-like...Read More

  • 16. L'Os à Moelle

    $$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Come for the early sitting at this little bistro specializing in classic French fare and you'll often discover the dining room filled with more...Read More

  • 17. La Table Lauriston

    $$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    This chic bistro near the Trocadéro has a winning formula: top-notch ingredients, simply prepared and generously served. The trademark dish...Read More

  • 18. Le Café Constant

    $ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Parisians are a nostalgic bunch, which explains the popularity of this down-to-earth venue, a relatively humble bistro with cream-color walls...Read More

  • 19. Le Grand Colbert

    $$$ | Louvre | French

    One of the few independently owned brasseries left in Paris, Le Grand Colbert, with its globe lamps and ceiling moldings, feels grand yet not...Read More

  • 20. Le Jules Verne

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Alain Ducasse doesn't set his sights low, so it was no real surprise when he took over this prestigious dining room on the second floor of the...Read More

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