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. Back in Black Coffee

    $ | Bastille

    This sleek 2,000-square-foot café—an easy walk from Place de la Bastille and the Marais—is a favorite spot for breakfast, veggie-centric nibbles, and exceptional scones, breads,...Read More

  • 3. Bontemps

    $ | Marais Quarter

    This charming courtyard café-tearoom grew out of an adorable pastry shop (next door) specializing in the French sablé, those classic melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies, with an...Read More

  • 4. Breizh Café

    $ | Marais Quarter

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

  • 5. Café de la Paix

    $$$$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    Once described as the "center of the civilized world," this grand café was a meeting place for the Belle Époque's glitterati. It's an elegant...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Frenchie Bar à Vins

    $$ | Grands Boulevards

    If this weren't one of Paris's most outstanding wine bars, the wait and metal tractor seats might be a deterrent. Yet wine lovers would be...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Jacques Genin Salon de Thé

    $ | Marais Quarter

    Master chocolatier Jacques Genin's sophisticated carrés are like small jewels, perfumed with ganaches of exquisite subtlety in seasonal flavors like rosemary, Szechuan pepper, or bergamot....Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. La Chocolaterie Cyril Lignac

    $ | Charonne

    You don't have to be a chocoholic to appreciate this cozy little nook of a café focused on all things derived from the cocoa bean:...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Le Baron Rouge

    $ | Bastille

    This laid-back wine bar near the Place d'Aligre market is a throwback to another era, with just a few tables plus giant wine barrels along...Read More

  • 14. Le Valentin

    $ | Grands Boulevards

    A head-turning variety of luscious pastries, classic French breakfast sweets and breads, ice cream, chocolates, and homemade jams will tempt every sweet tooth at this...Read More

  • 15. Maison Plisson

    $ | Marais Quarter

    The deep sidewalk terrace at this three-in-one gourmet grocer, restaurant, and café is a great place to linger over lunch and a glass of wine....Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. Mokonuts

    $ | Oberkampf

    One of the city's best examples of the casual gourmet cafés popping up around Paris, Mokonuts is run by a talented husband-and-wife team who create...Read More

  • 18. Pain de Sucre

    $ | Marais Quarter

    A dazzling array of gourmet pastries here includes all the classics in imaginative and delicious flavor combinations. There are also impossibly moist individual cakes, Paris's...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. 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

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