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. Abri

    $$ | Canal St-Martin | French

    This tiny storefront restaurant's immense popularity has much to do with the fresh and imaginative food, the friendly servers, and great prices...Read More

  • 2. Fish La Boissonerie

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés | French

    A perennial favorite, expats and locals prize this lively, unpretentious bistro for its friendly atmosphere, consistently good food, solid wine...Read More

  • 3. Juvéniles

    $$ | Louvre | Wine Bar

    A favorite with the French and the expat crowd, Juvéniles is the ideal kind of neighborhood outpost that mixes great dining with an inspired...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Le Galopin

    $$ | Canal St-Martin | French

    Across from a pretty square on the border of two up-and-coming neighborhoods, this light-drenched spot is one of Paris's standout gastrobistros...Read More

  • 6. Le Hide

    $$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Hide Kobayashi, known as "Koba," is one of several Japanese chefs in Paris who trained with some of the biggest names in French cuisine before...Read More

  • 7. Le Servan

    $$ | Canal St-Martin | French

    Here an impressive but unfussy gastronomic menu features Asian-inflected dishes that express the food's far-flung influences. A starter of ...Read More

  • 8. Les Papilles

    $$ | Latin Quarter | Wine Bar

    Part wineshop and épicerie, part restaurant, Les Papilles has a winning formula—pick any bottle off the well-stocked shelf and pay €7 corkage...Read More

  • 9. Afaria

    $$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    The otherwise unexciting 15th arrondissement is home to much-lauded chef Ludivine Merlin and his Basque-inspired recipes. Basque cooking is...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Au Bourguignon du Marais

    $$ | Marais Quarter | French

    The handsome, contemporary look of this Marais bistro and wine bar is the perfect backdrop for traditional fare and excellent Burgundies served...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Boucherie Roulière

    $$ | St-Germain-des-Prés | French

    If it's steak you're craving, put your faith in Jean-Luc Roulière, a fifth-generation butcher who opened this long, narrow bistro near St-Sulpice...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Café Central

    $$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    If it's apéritif time, this is the place to be. With soft lighting, loungy music, plus a generous selection of wines, cocktails, and beers,...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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

  • 19. Café Le Brebant

    $$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    Night owls will love that this popular brasserie—a favorite of Parisian film folk—is open until 5 am daily. The rest of us can just enjoy the...Read More

  • 20. Chez Casimir

    $$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    This easygoing bistro, run by Breton chef Thierry Breton, is popular with polished Parisian professionals and hipster foodies alike. The affordable...Read More

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