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. Angelina

    $ | Louvre

    Founded in 1903 and patronized by literary luminaries like Marcel Proust and Gertrude Stein, Angelina is famous for its chocolat "l'Africain," ultrarich hot chocolate topped...Read More

  • 2. Aux Cerises

    $ | Eiffel Tower

    Don't expect to be mobbed by tourists at this bright café two minutes from the Champs de Mars; locals love it for the sidewalk terrace...Read More

  • 3. Fragments

    $ | Marais Quarter

    If you're serious about what's in your coffee cup, head straight to this streamlined café near the Place des Vosges, where you'll find only the...Read More

  • 4. Holybelly

    $ | Canal St-Martin

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

  • 5. La Caféothèque

    $ | Marais Quarter

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

  • 6. Ladurée

    $$$ | Champs-Élysées

    With 100-plus locations worldwide, the largest branch of the Ladurée tea salon empire is worth the splurge, thanks to the sumptuous pastries, which steal the...Read More

  • 7. Le BAL Café Otto

    $ | Montmartre

    Set in a bright, modern space on a tiny street in the lower reaches of Montmartre, the popular Le BAL Café Otto caters to a...Read More

  • 8. Loustic

    $ | Marais Quarter

    One of the Marais's first specialty coffee bars, it's also one of its most stylish—and one of the best. The coffee here is excellent, the...Read More

  • 9. Matamata

    $ | Grands Boulevards

    This tiny gem of a coffee shop may not have the ambience of Paris's historic brasserie cafés, but it does have something you won't find...Read More

  • 10. Soul Kitchen

    $ | Montmartre

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

  • 11. Terres de Café

    $ | Eiffel Tower

    A five-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, Terre de Café is a boon to coffee lovers. It also serves gluten-free pastries, healthy fruit smoothies, and...Read More

  • 12. The Broken Arm Café

    $ | Marais Quarter

    This stylish café, attached to an oh-so-chic concept store, is a tad roomier than the profusion of postage-stamp-size cafés that have sprung up all over...Read More

  • 13. Café Charlot

    $$ | Marais Quarter

    It may not have the healthiest food in the Marais, and the coffee may not be third wave, but that doesn't keep chic locals from...Read More

  • 14. Café Coutume

    $ | Eiffel Tower

    A lofty space between the Musée Rodin and the Bon Marché makes this the perfect pit stop. Look for healthy salads, sandwiches, snacks, desserts, and...Read More

  • 15. Café de Flore

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

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

  • 16. Café Kitsuné

    $ | Louvre

    This Japanese-inspired mini-chain of coffeehouses is the place to be seen during Paris Fashion Week. There are three locations: one at 208 rue de Rivoli,...Read More

  • 17. Café Lomi

    $ | Montmartre

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

  • 18. Café Marly

    $$$ | Louvre

    Run by the Costes brothers, this café overlooking the main courtyard of the Louvre and its famous glass pyramid is a stylish place to meet...Read More

  • 19. Gramme

    $ | Marais Quarter

    "Gastro-café" may be the best description of this pint-size coffee shop with an inventive menu of seasonal fare. You can enjoy your artisanal coffee, homemade...Read More

  • 20. KB Coffee Roasters

    $ | Grands Boulevards

    Set at a leafy crossroads on the lively Rue des Martyrs, this is a top pick in this vibrant neighborhood for a quick stop or...Read More

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