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

    $$ | Canal St-Martin | French

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

  • 2. Holybelly

    $ | Canal St-Martin | Café

    A welcome addition to the Canal St-Martin area, this spacious, modern coffee bar caters to Paris's blossoming breakfast and brunch scene with...Read More

  • 3. Jacques Genin Salon de Thé

    $ | Bastille | French

    Master chocolatier-pâtissier Jacques Genin deserves the Legion d'honneur for his efforts to restore great traditional French pastries to their...Read More

  • 4. Le Baratin

    $$ | Latin Quarter | French

    This place has been around for more than 20 years, but that hasn't stopped it from being one of the more sought-after and reliable out-of-the...Read More

  • 5. Le Baron Rouge

    $ | Bastille | Wine Bar

    This proletarian wine bar near the Place d'Aligre market is a throwback to another era, with a few tables and giant barrels along the walls...Read More

  • 6. Le Bistrot Paul Bert

    $$$ | Bastille | French

    The Paul Bert delivers everything you could want from a traditional Paris bistro (faded 1930s decor, thick steak with real frites, and good...Read More

  • 7. Le Galopin

    $$ | Canal St-Martin | French

    Across from a pretty square on the border of two up-and-coming neighborhoods, this light-drenched spot is one of Paris's standout gastrobistros...Read More

  • 8. Le Servan

    $$ | Canal St-Martin | French

    Here an impressive but unfussy gastronomic menu features Asian-inflected dishes that express the food's far-flung influences. A starter of ...Read More

  • 9. Astier

    $$ | République | French

    There are three good reasons to go to Astier: the generous cheese platter plunked on your table atop a help-yourself wicker tray, the exceptional...Read More

  • 10. Au Boeuf Couronné

    $$$ | Canal St-Martin | French

    Parc de La Villette once housed the city's meat market, and this brasserie devoted to fine beef (whether French or Irish) soldiers on as if...Read More

  • 11. Au Passage

    $ | République | Wine Bar

    This bistrot à vins has the lived-in look of a longtime neighborhood hang-out—which it was until two veterans of the raging Paris wine-bar...Read More

  • 12. Au Trou Gascon

    $$$$ | Bastille | French

    This elegant establishment off Place Daumesnil—off the beaten tourist track but worth the trip—offers a refined take on the cuisine of Gascony...Read More

  • 13. Bofinger

    $$ | Bastille | French

    One of the oldest, loveliest, and most popular brasseries in Paris has improved in recent years, so stake out one of the tables, which are dressed...Read More

  • 14. Café A

    $ | Canal St-Martin | French

    The Maison de l'Architecture—a center for architectural advancement—occupies a onetime monastery near the Canal St-Martin. Inside its Renaissance...Read More

  • 15. Café Charbon

    $ | Oberkampf | Contemporary

    This ultracool café is a neighborhood institution that stays open late every night of the week. ...Read More

  • 16. Chez Prune

    $ | Canal St-Martin | French

    Grab an outdoor table at this hot spot on the Canal St-Martin and watch the world go by. ...Read More

  • 17. Dong Huong

    $ | Belleville | Vietnamese

    While not quite a secret, these two undecorated dining rooms on a Belleville side street can be hard to find, but this is where Chinese and...Read More

  • 18. Jeanne A

    $ | Canal St-Martin | Wine Bar

    This six-table épicerie-bistro–wine bar–traiteur on a pretty cobbled street is just the thing for an uncomplicated lunch, dinner, or afternoon...Read More

  • 19. Le Chateaubriand

    $$$$ | Canal St-Martin | French

    A chef who once presented a single, peeled apple pip (really) on a plate (at the museum restaurant Le Transversal outside Paris) has no ordinary...Read More

  • 20. Le Dauphin

    $$ | Canal St-Martin | Wine Bar

    Avant-garde chef Inaki Aizpitarte transformed a dowdy café into a sleek, if chilly, all-marble watering hole for late-night cuisinistas. Honing...Read More

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