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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Brasserie de l'Isle Saint-Louis

    $$ | Île Saint-Louis | French

    With its dream location on the tip of Ile St-Louis overlooking the Seine and Notre-Dame, you'd think this charming brasserie, like so many before...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Café La Belle Férronnière

    $$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    A favorite of Parisians for morning noisettes, business lunches, and after-work apéros , this popular spot is a short walk from the Champs...Read More

  • 7. Café Le Brebant

    $$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    Night owls will love that this popular brasserie—a favorite of Parisian film folk—is open until 5 am daily. The rest of us can just enjoy the...Read More

  • 8. Café Le Passy

    $ | Western Paris | French

    The plush chestnut-and-cream decor of this café is the work of one of Givenchy's nephews. Cocktails are classy, there's a good variety of beer...Read More

  • 9. La Coupole

    $$$ | Montparnasse | French

    This world-renowned cavernous spot with Art Deco murals practically defines the term brasserie. It's been popular since Jean-Paul Sartre and...Read More

  • 10. La Mascotte

    $$$ | Montmartre | French

    Though everyone talks about the "new Montmartre," exemplified by a wave of chic residents and throbbingly cool cafés and bars, it's good to...Read More

  • 11. Lazare

    $$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    With so many of Paris's fabled brasseries co-opted by upscale chains, the news that three-star Michelin chef Eric French was opening a modern...Read More

  • 12. Le Balzar

    $$ | Latin Quarter | French

    Regulars grumble about the uneven cooking at Le Balzar, but they continue to come back because they can't resist the waiters' wry humor and...Read More

  • 13. Le Dôme

    $$$$ | Montparnasse | French

    Now a fancy fish brasserie serving seafood delivered fresh from Normandy every day, this restaurant began as a dingy meeting place for exiled...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Les Patios

    $ | Latin Quarter | French

    If you're young—or young at heart—come here to hang with the Sorbonne crowd. ...Read More

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