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. Astair

    $$ | Sentier

    This classy brasserie in the heart of the Passage des Panoramas, Paris's oldest and most picturesque covered gallery, has much more going for it than...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Comice

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower

    Don't let its off-the-beaten-path location keep you away from this elegant restaurant, which won a Michelin star before being open even a year. The husband-and-wife...Read More

  • 6. Comice

    $$$$ | Western Paris

    The culinary experience here is a progression of delights, from your first luscious sip of carrot vélouté to a light-as-air chocolate soufflé contrasted with a...Read More

  • 7. Gaya

    $$$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    If you can't fathom paying hundreds of euros per person to taste the cooking of Pierre Gagnaire, one of France's foremost chefs, at his eponymous...Read More

  • 8. Guy Savoy

    $$$$ | St-Germain-des-Prés

    Within the beautifully restored Monnaie de Paris, you'll find star chef Guy Savoy's hallowed dining room. The market-fresh menu features à la carte classics such...Read More

  • 9. Jean Imbert au Plaza Athénée

    $$$$ | Champs-Élysées

    In one of the most anticipated announcements in the Parisian food world, the Plaza Athénée named talented young chef Jean Imbert, a protégé of his...Read More

  • 10. L'Arcane

    $$$$ | Montmartre

    Once a well-guarded foodie secret, a Michelin star brought this singular restaurant, tucked behind the Sacré-Coeur, richly deserved acclaim. Now the dining room is packed...Read More

  • 11. L'Arpège

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower

    Breton-born Alain Passard, one of the most respected chefs in Paris, famously shocked the French culinary world by declaring that he was bored with meat....Read More

  • 12. L'Astrance

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower

    Pascal Barbot rose to fame thanks to his restaurant's reasonable prices and casual atmosphere, but after the passage of several years, L'Astrance has become resolutely...Read More

  • 13. La Régalade Saint-Honoré

    $$$ | Louvre

    After taking over the original La Régalade, chef Bruno Doucet kept some of what made the old restaurant so popular (country terrines, reasonably priced wines,...Read More

  • 14. Le Grand Véfour

    $$$ | Louvre

    One of the area's most historic spots has welcomed everyone from Napoléon to Colette to Jean Cocteau beneath its mirrored ceiling and is still a...Read More

  • 15. Le Pré Catelan

    $$$$ | Western Paris

    Live a Belle Époque fantasy as you dine beneath the chestnut trees on the terrace of this fanciful landmark pavillon in the Bois de Boulogne....Read More

  • 16. Le Villaret

    $$$ | Oberkampf

    Classic bistros are making a comeback in Paris, and this neighborhood favorite embodies everything people love about this French institution. Here, traditional fare is lovingly...Read More

  • 17. Le Violon d'Ingres

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower

    With chef Alain Solivérès (formerly of Taillevent) now at the helm, this much-beloved outpost has taken on a new shine—and a Michelin star. The food...Read More

  • 18. Louis

    $$$$ | Grands Boulevards

    It may not be the most glamorous or the most well known of the city's Michelin-starred restaurants, but this intimate, prix-fixe dining room in an...Read More

  • 19. Maison Russe

    $$$$ | Eiffel Tower

    Oriental carpets, plush velvets, glossy wood, candlelight glinting off silver: this is a dream of Belle Époque Paris, where it's no stretch to imagine threadbare...Read More

  • 20. Parcelles

    $$ | Marais Quarter

    One of the city's best-kept secrets, this gem of bistro has been a fixture since 1936, and the new owners have retained the old-world vibe...Read More

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