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. Frenchie

    $$$$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    A brick-and-stone-walled bistro on a pedestrian street near Rue Montorgueil, Frenchie has quickly became one of the most packed bistros in town...Read More

  • 2. L'Abeille

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Everything here, from the dove-gray decor to the sparkling silver, speaks of quiet elegance—all the better to savor Christophe Moret's masterful...Read More

  • 3. Sola

    $$$$ | Latin Quarter | Eclectic

    This foodie sanctuary is where dishes like miso-lacquered foie gras or sake-glazed suckling pig—perfectly crisp on the outside and melting inside...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Hélène Darroze

    $$$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés | French

    The most celebrated female chef in Paris is now cooking at the Connaught in London, but her St-Germain dining room is still the setting for...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Lapérouse

    $$$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés | French

    Émile Zola, George Sand, and Victor Hugo were regulars here, and the restaurant's mirrors still bear diamond scratches from the days when mistresses...Read More

  • 8. Le Timbre

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés | French

    The meaning of Le Timbre ("postal stamp") really does describe this intimate space, where a spare but constantly changing seasonal menu concentrates...Read More

  • 9. Racines

    $$$ | Grands Boulevards | Wine Bar

    Originally a cave à manger (a wine bar/bistro) serving natural wines and top-quality French fare, the foodie world rejoiced when adulated...Read More

  • 10. Taillevent

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Perhaps the most traditional of all Paris luxury restaurants, this grande dame basks in renewed freshness under brilliant chef Alain Solivérès...Read More

  • 11. Verjus Bar à Vins

    $ | Louvre | Wine Bar

    On an atmospheric street behind the Palais Royal gardens, this tiny wine bar allows customers to perch on metal stools at a narrow bar and enjoy...Read More

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