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. L'Assiette

    $$$ | Montparnasse | French

    David Rathgeber spent 12 years working for celebrity-chef Alain Ducasse before taking over this landmark restaurant, where he has created his...Read More

  • 2. Ladurée

    $$$ | Champs-Élysées | Bakery

    With 50-plus locations worldwide, the most opulent branch of the Ladurée tea salon empire is worth the splurge. Reserve a table upstairs or...Read More

  • 3. Le Bistrot Paul Bert

    $$$ | Bastille | French

    The Paul Bert delivers everything you could want from a traditional Paris bistro (faded 1930s decor, thick steak with real frites, and good...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Semilla

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

    The duo behind the popular neighborhood bistro Fish and the excellent wineshop La Dernière Goutte have poured their significant expertise into...Read More

  • 6. Au Boeuf Couronné

    $$$ | Canal St-Martin | French

    Parc de La Villette once housed the city's meat market, and this brasserie devoted to fine beef (whether French or Irish) soldiers on as if...Read More

  • 7. Café La Belle Férronnière

    $$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    A favorite of Parisians for morning noisettes, business lunches, and after-work apéros , this popular spot is a short walk from the Champs...Read More

  • 8. Café Marly

    $$$ | Louvre | Café

    Run by the Costes brothers, this café overlooking the main courtyard of the Louvre and I.M. Pei's glass pyramid is a stylish place in Paris...Read More

  • 9. Carette

    $$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    Serving chic Parisians since 1927, this Art Deco tea salon on Place du Trocadéro is a hot spot for lunch or afternoon tea. ...Read More

  • 10. Chez Georges

    $$$ | Louvre | French

    If you were to ask Parisian bankers, aristocrats, or antiques dealers to name their favorite bistro for a three-hour weekday lunch, many would...Read More

  • 11. Chez Savy

    $$$ | Champs-Élysées | French

    Just off glitzy Avenue Montaigne, Chez Savy's Art Deco cream-and-burgundy interior is blissfully intact, occupying its own circa-1930s microcosm...Read More

  • 12. D'Chez Eux

    $$$ | Eiffel Tower | French

    The red-checked tablecloths and jovial maître d'hôtel at this authentic southwestern French bistro near the Invalides might seem like a tourist...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. Goupil le Bistro

    $$$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    The best Paris bistros emit an air of quiet confidence, and this is certainly the case with Goupil, a triumph despite its out-of-the-way location...Read More

  • 15. Guilo Guilo

    $$$ | Montmartre | Japanese

    Already a star in Kyoto, Eiichi Edakuni created a sensation with his first Parisian restaurant, where 20 diners seated around the black horseshoe...Read More

  • 16. Julien

    $$$ | Grands Boulevards | French

    Famed for its 1879 decor—think Art Nouveau stained glass and La Bohème –style street lamps hung with vintage hats—this Belle Époque dazzler...Read More

  • 17. KGB

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

    After extravagant success with his Asian-infused cuisine at Ze Kitchen Galerie, master-chef William Ledeuil extended his artistry to annex KGB...Read More

  • 18. L'Ardoise

    $$$ | Louvre | French

    Despite the updated chic decor, this tiny, reliably good bistro has not sacrificed substance to style. This is first-rate dining, and the three...Read More

  • 19. L'Huîtrier

    $$$ | Champs-Élysées | Seafood

    If you have a single-minded craving for oysters, this is the place for you. The friendly owner will describe the many different kinds available...Read More

  • 20. 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

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