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. Bal Café

    $ | Montmartre | Café

    Set in a bright, modern space on a tiny street in the lower reaches of Montmartre, the popular Bal Café caters to a diverse clientele who come...Read More

  • 2. Breizh Café

    $ | Marais Quarter | French

    Eating a crêpe in Paris might seem a bit clichéd, until you venture into this modern offshoot of a Breton crêperie. The plain, pale-wood decor...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Le Buisson Ardent

    $$$ | Latin Quarter | French

    This charming Quartier Latin bistro with woodwork and murals dating from 1925 is always packed and boisterous. A glance at the €39.90 set menu...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Benoît

    $$$$ | Marais Quarter | French

    Without changing the vintage 1912 setting, superchef Alain Ducasse and Thierry de la Brosse of L'Ami Louis have subtly improved the menu here...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 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 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Drouant

    $$$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    Best known for the literary prizes awarded here since 1914, Drouant has shed its dusty image to become a forward-thinking restaurant. The playful...Read More

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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

  • 19. 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

  • 20. 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

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