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. Frenchie

    $$$$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    A brick-and-stone-walled bistro on a pedestrian street near Rue Montorgueil, Frenchie has quickly became one of the most packed bistros in town...Read More

  • 2. Frenchie Bar à Vins

    $ | Grands Boulevards | Wine Bar

    If this weren't one of Paris's outstanding wine bars, the wait and metal tractor seats might be a deterrent. Yet wine lovers would be hard-pressed...Read More

  • 3. Juvéniles

    $$ | Louvre | Wine Bar

    A favorite with the French and the expat crowd, Juvéniles is the ideal kind of neighborhood outpost that mixes great dining with an inspired...Read More

  • 4. Le Grand Véfour

    $$$$ | Louvre | French

    Originally built in 1784, Le Grand Véfour has welcomed everyone from Napoléon to Colette to Jean Cocteau under its mirrored ceiling, and is...Read More

  • 5. Restaurant du Palais-Royal

    $$$$ | Louvre | French

    This stylish modern bistro serves stunning gastronomic cuisine to match its gorgeous location under the arcades of the Palais-Royal. Sole, scallops...Read More

  • 6. Yam'Tcha

    $$$$ | Louvre | French

    Inspired by Chinese cooking, many of the dishes here rely on brilliant flavor combinations and very precise cooking, like the roasted Challans...Read More

  • 7. Au Rocher de Cancale

    $ | Louvre | French

    As its impressive facade attests, this café has a special history. It opened in 1846, when Balzac was a regular and Rue Montorgueil was the...Read More

  • 8. Café Marly

    $$$ | Louvre | Café

    Run by the Costes brothers, this café overlooking the main courtyard of the Louvre and I.M. Pei's glass pyramid is a stylish place in Paris...Read More

  • 9. Chez Georges

    $$$ | Louvre | French

    If you were to ask Parisian bankers, aristocrats, or antiques dealers to name their favorite bistro for a three-hour weekday lunch, many would...Read More

  • 10. Frenchie To Go

    $ | Louvre | French

    The third outpost in Frenchie's Rue du Nil empire, Frenchie To Go capitalizes on three of the latest Paris food trends: breakfast, fast food...Read More

  • 11. L'Ardoise

    $$$ | Louvre | French

    Despite the updated chic decor, this tiny, reliably good bistro has not sacrificed substance to style. This is first-rate dining, and the three...Read More

  • 12. L'Ecrin

    $$$$ | Louvre | French

    An exquisite jewelbox setting and a Michelin star have placed L'Ecrin at Paris's dining forefront. An ethereal, highly refined cuisine highlights...Read More

  • 13. La Bourse et La Vie

    $$$$ | Louvre | French

    After a takeover by the French-trained American chef Daniel Rose, this bistro stalwart transformed from a duckling to a swan, with elegant revamps...Read More

  • 14. La Régalade Saint-Honoré

    $$$ | Louvre | French

    After taking over the original La Régalade, chef Bruno Doucet kept some of what made the old restaurant so popular (country terrines, reasonably...Read More

  • 15. Le Fumoir

    $$ | Louvre | French

    Equal parts café, bar, and restaurant, Le Fumoir is a timelessly popular place to sip coffee and read the paper, or enjoy an after-dinner drink...Read More

  • 16. Le Georges

    $$$ | Louvre | French

    One of those rooftop show-stopping venues so popular in Paris, Le Georges preens atop the Centre Georges Pompidou. Part of the Costes brothers...Read More

  • 17. Le Nemours

    $ | Louvre | French

    Plan your day over a croissant and a café crème at this classic café with two long rows of tables overlooking lively Place Colette, just steps...Read More

  • 18. Les Fines Gueules

    $$ | Louvre | French

    Invest in good ingredients and most of the work is done: that's the principle of this wine bar–bistro that's developed a loyal following. The...Read More

  • 19. Macéo

    $$$ | Louvre | French

    With a reasonably priced set menu, this is an ideal spot for a relaxed meal after the Louvre. Natural light streams through the restaurant,...Read More

  • 20. Verjus Bar à Vins

    $ | Louvre | Wine Bar

    On an atmospheric street behind the Palais Royal gardens, this tiny wine bar allows customers to perch on metal stools at a narrow bar and enjoy...Read More

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