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. L'As du Fallafel

    $ | Marais Quarter | Middle Eastern

    If you're looking for one of the cheapest and tastiest meals in Paris, look no further than the fantastic falafel stands on the pedestrian Rue...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Amorino

    $ | Île Saint-Louis | Italian

    Popping up all over—and winning converts faster than you can finish a double scoop—is the Amorino chain of gelaterias, which serves inventive...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. 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

  • 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. Chartier

    $ | Grands Boulevards | French

    This classic bouillon (a term referring to the Parisian soup restaurants popular among workers in the early 20th century) is a part of the...Read More

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. L'Avant-Goût

    $$ | Latin Quarter | French

    Arnaud Van Santen belongs to a generation of gifted bistro chefs who have rejected the pressure-cooker world of haute cuisine in favor of something...Read More

  • 17. L'Os à Moelle

    $$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Come for the early sitting at this little bistro specializing in classic French fare and you'll often discover the dining room filled with more...Read More

  • 18. La Charlotte de l'Isle

    $ | Île Saint-Louis | Café

    Sip tea (or lusciously thick hot chocolate) and sample tasty cakes at this atmospheric salon. ...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. La Crêperie Josselin

    $ | Montparnasse | French

    With lacy curtains, beamed ceilings, and murals, this is the closest you'll get to an authentic Breton crêperie without heading to the coast...Read More

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