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. 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

  • 2. La Caféothèque

    $ | Marais Quarter | Café

    This was Paris's first coffee bar, founded by former Guatemalan ambassador to France-turned coffee ambassador Gloria Montenegro. With three...Read More

  • 3. Soul Kitchen

    $ | Montmartre | Café

    Run by three friendly young women, the snug Soul Kitchen unites a pleasantly homey decor and welcoming atmosphere with the kind of Anglo-French...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Café de Flore

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés | Café

    Picasso, Chagall, Sartre, and de Beauvoir, attracted by the luxury of a heated café, worked and wrote here in the early 20th century. Today...Read More

  • 6. Café de la Mairie

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés | French

    Overlooking the St-Sulpice church, this retro café recalls the Latin Quarter of yesteryear before the proliferation of luxury boutiques and...Read More

  • 7. Café des Musées

    $ | Marais Quarter | French

    A true neighborhood haunt, this bustling little bistro near the Musée Picasso offers a convivial slice of Parisian life at a good value. Here...Read More

  • 8. Café du Métro

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés | French

    You can refuel at this friendly café-brasserie after a shopping spree around Rue de Rennes. Main menu items are pricey, but the free Wi-Fi...Read More

  • 9. Café Lomi

    $ | Montmartre | Café

    A trailblazer on the Paris gastro-coffee scene, Café Lomi first supplied expertly roasted single-origin coffees to the first wave of barista...Read More

  • 10. Eggs & Co.

    $ | St-Germain-des-Prés | French

    With a cheerfully bright and tiny, wood-beamed dining room—there's more space in the loftlike upstairs—this spot is devoted to the egg in all...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. La Palette

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés | French

    The terrace of this corner café, opened in 1902, is a favorite haunt of local gallery owners and Beaux Arts students. Light fare is available...Read More

  • 15. La Rotonde Brasserie

    $$$$ | Montparnasse | French

    A second home to foreign artists and political exiles in the '20s and '30s, La Rotonde has a less exotic but faithful clientele today. It's...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. Le Bar du Marché

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés | French

    Grab a sidewalk table—if you're lucky—or stand at the bar, skip the food, and order an apéritif at this constantly packed little place. The...Read More

  • 18. 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

  • 19. Le Sélect Café and Brasserie

    $$ | Montparnasse | French

    Isadora Duncan and Hart Crane used to hang out here, and now it's a popular place for a beer, glass of wine, or well-made cocktail. Emmentaler...Read More

  • 20. Ten Belles

    $ | Canal St-Martin | Café

    Canal St-Martin's first seriously good coffee bar, the tiny Ten Belles is where pedigreed baristas cater to a hip crowd of good brew connoisseurs...Read More

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