Since we arrived back from our month-long escapade in France, I’ve received a variety of requests for a recap of the places we ate in Paris. These questions are from readers who are heading to Paris soon (either in reality or in dreams—both valid!) or who simply love food (we should be best friends).
It can be surprisingly hard to find a great meal in Paris without shelling out a fortune, and I do want to be clear that restaurants in France are expensive, particularly when compared to average cities in the U.S.
Because I’d been dreaming about this trip (and French food) for years, we directed our budget towards meals. Remind yourself that the food is a key part of your experience (and that the people serving you are being paid a living wage, a worthy investment).
When you travel to Paris and are about to spend your hard-earned moolah on food in one of the world’s greatest food capitols, the last thing you want is to eat a bad meal, and I hope this list may be somewhat helpful.
All of the restaurants I listed have good-sized portions (unless I’ve noted otherwise), and none of them will serve you a tiny bit of foam and call it dinner (unless I’ve noted otherwise).
This list is organized into a few categories:
- Bakeries | Patisseries | Chocolate Shops | Gelato. My pieces of heaven.
- Macarons. I ate so many, they merited a separate section.
- Our Paris Favorites. The restaurants in Paris we love.
- Good Eats. Truly enjoyable and excellent options for lunch and dinner.
- Hit the Spot. Didn’t blow our minds, but no regrets and would recommend.
- Not Worth Repeating. Places we wouldn’t return.
- On the List. Places we’ve had recommended to us but have not yet tried.
I’ve also included the most valuable resources that helped me plan our eats below, so check those out for more options.
I still have so many places I would have loved to try, but with limited time, resources, and digestive capability, a girl has to make choices.
BAKERIES | PATISSERIES | CHOCOLATE SHOPS | GELATO
Du Pain et Des Idees. The best bakery in Paris and 100% worth the trip to the 10th. Get their signature escargots, the sacristain, and either a chocolate croissant or regular croissant (or both).
Pierre Herme: My first stop in Paris is always Pierre Hermes for one of his specially flavored croissants and macarons (more on those in a minute). Do note that not all Pierre Herme locations have a bakery, though happily the one in the 6th arrondissiment on Rue Bonaparte by our apartment did.
Eric Kayser: Eric’s Odeon baguette (which is loaded with yummy, crunchy grains) isn’t traditional, but it’s my hands down pick. I also developed a small obsession with the fig-stuffed wheat rolls.
Landemaine. Wonderful croissants; near the Catacombs.
Ble Sucre Bakery: In the Marais. Fabulous croissants and madelines.
Le Grenier a Pain: Award-winning bakery in Monmartre with a killer citron (lemon) tart. I’m only sad I was too full to eat the salmon and goat cheese fougasse right along with it.
Poilane: Poilane’s rustic, lightly tangy, and deeply complex sourdough is widely regarded as some of the best bread in the world (and it is shipped all over the world too). In a word, wonderful. You can purchase by the slice, or go for the entire 6-pound miche and carry it onto the plane with you. My toast will never be the same. Be sure to try their wood-fired desserts as well. The rustic apple tart was one of my favorite treats of the entire trip.
Jean-Charles Rochoux: My favorite chocolate shop overall, and I’m still pining away for their chocolate basil truffle. Ask the cashier to recommend a few flavors. You won’t be disappointed.
Patrick Roger: His chocolate-coated prailines are other-worldly. Be sure to note the life-sized lion sculptures made of chocolate in each of his shops (as if you could miss them).
L’Eclarie de Genie. My friend calls these “life changing eclairs.” Go find out why.
Jaques Genin: Best. Caramels. Ever. You must go. And you must get the mango passion fruit caramel. How does he squeeze in so much butter? The Paris-Brest pastry is the most remarkable French pastry I’ve ever had. Excellent chocolate and pates des fruits as well.
Bertillion Gelato: The Paris original. Higher prices and smaller servings than the Italian chain GROM, which you can also find in Paris. Overall, we prefer GROM.
Patisseries, in general: At 4 pm each day, pop into a patisserie and pick something that looks yummy. We had great success, and I’m sure you will too.
Paris has a handful of celebrated macaron shops, so of course I had to try them all for “research” purposes. I had one winner over all, but particular flavors at some of the different shops really stole my heart. I recommend you try them all, then decide for yourself.
Pierre Herme: Hands-down favorite. Pillowy soft and filled with layers of complex, creative flavor. The ginger-coconut-cinnamon-lime, passion fruit-chocolate, raspberry-rose-yogurt, and straight-up dark chocolate were the most memorable.
Laduree: My second favorite. Their strawberry popseed was one of my favorites that I tried the entire trip, and I went back the last day just to have it one more time. Laduree also has adorable tea salons where I highly recommend you treat yourself to some luxury with a fabulous pastry and café viennois (coffee with a big bowl of whipped cream).
Carette: I took my sister to Carette’s tea salon (similar idea to Laduree) for her birthday. Fun experience (and the pistachio and cassis macs were particularly outstanding), but if I could only choose one salon, it would be Laduree.
Dalloyau: A mix of classic flavors with a few creative specials. The congag mac was incredible.
Fauchon: Head to their store on Place Madeline for an overwhelming foodie experience, all in pink and black shiny paper. Everything glitters, including some of the macarons, but the meringues were too hard for my taste.
OUR FAVORITE PARIS RESTAURANTS
Note: Reservations strongly recommended or a must for all of the below.
Les Papilles. There’s no menu. Pay a flat fee for four courses, and you’ll adore every bite. Now, when my mind wanders during the day, I catch myself fantasizing about the braised lamb shoulder we had as our main course.
Verjus. Book early and come for a real treat. My favorite in Paris. Stop for a drink in their downstairs wine bar first. (Their sister restaurant Ellsworth is great too).
Les Juveniles. Delightful spot run by two sisters. Great plates to share.
Chez Janou. A wonderful stop in the fourth for warm service and fabulous Provencal fare.
Pirouette. Elevated cuisine in a hip setting.
Pottaka. We eat here every time we are in Paris.
Le Bon Georges. Everything you want a French bistrot to be.
La Bonne Excuse. Delicious food and the most delightful, warm service.
Le Gard du Robe. My favorite Paris wine bar. Stop in for a few glasses and a delicious + well-priced meat/cheese board.
11e Domaine. A gem of a wine bar in the 11th. No menu. Describe what you like and be delighted.
Bistrot Paul Bert: This neighborhood spot has received acclaim from The New York Times, yet is absolutely unassuming. Paul Bert is widely reputed for having some of the best (if not the best) steak-frites in Paris. Just don’t try to order your steak beyond medium—they won’t serve it. Dessert here is a must.
Le Saint Sebastian. Creative takes on French cuisine in the 11e.
Chez Dumonet. A true neighborhood gem of a bistrot with the best duck confit.
Breizh Cafe. Authentic Brittany buckwheat galettes (savory crepes), dessert crepes, and cider. The owner hails from Brittany an offers the real deal. So amazing, we went twice. Make reservations, even for lunch, and don’t forget to order the salted caramel crepe for dessert.
Cafe de la Nouvelle Marie. Real deal French cafe, tucked away just behind the Pantheon. The most charming lunch spot.
L’Avant Comptoir. This standing-only wine and tapas bar offers a wide menu of small plates and wines. The menu hangs from the ceiling, it’s bursting with energy, and is the kind of place you come to eat and drink far too much and make lots of friends doing it. I loved the high-energy, and the opportunity to try creative twists on French classics. (Foie gras skewkers? Prosciutto and artichoke waffle? Boudin noir savory macaron? Bring it!) They also set out enormous baskets of fabulous bread and slabs of the best butter I have ever eaten in my life.
Cuisine de Bar. (CLOSED) Delightful tartines (think open-faced sammie loaded with flavor), served on Poilane bread (see above for Poilane info). After I expressed interest in the incredible the sea salt placed on the table, our server gave me a little container to bring home. (I later returned and purchased a 3-kilo bag that I’m depleting rapidly.) I enjoyed this spot so much, we went twice. UPDATE: Now closed.
FISH. In the 6th. This is a great spot if you are dining solo. Enjoy the bar.
Les Philosophes. A step-up from the usual tourists traps in the 4th.
Chez Paul: An excellent, classic bistro offering French staples at very fair prices. Between the rabbit, steak, and swordfish at our table, everyone was happy. The fried dandelion green, poached egg, and bacon salad I had for a starter was excellent too (perhaps because there was more bacon than greens).
Le Village: A gem in Monmartre (by the Sacre Couer/Moulin Rouge). Fabulously untouristy and the location of our first croque madames of the trip. Hello eggy, cheesy, hammy, sammie heaven.
Café Le Precope: One of the oldest restaurants in Paris and a favorite of Ben Franklin. Wonderful French classics and great service.
Cafe Angelina. A cup of their legendary, decadent hot chocolate is touristy but also a Paris must and 100% worth the hype if you are a chocolate lover.
Holybelly. Wildly popular breakfast spot. Good if you want a healthy, hearty breakfast (like a perfect omelette) or stack of yummy pancakes.
Da Rosa (CLOSED). Part high-quality deli, part restaurant, part wine bar, this spot offers a salivating selection of high-quality Spanish meats, cheeses, and olives. Can one live on bread, meat, and cheese alone? After eating at Da Rosa, I’m willing to venture a yes (provided I can still have dessert). UPDATE: Now closed.
La Rotisserie (CLOSED). Right on the banks of the Seine and serving the best coq au vin of the trip. Great service and the fire-roasted meats were yummy. UPDATE: Now closed.
HITS THE SPOT
Les Antiquaires: I was a bit nervous to try a place so near The Orsay (a major tourist site), but this café was more than fine. Go for their giant, wonderful salads, one of which includes a softball-sized serving of burrata (a creamy cheese made by angels) surrounded by prosciutto.
Chez Georges: Definite neighborhood vibe, friendly service, cheap wine, and good, filling basic food. If I lived nearby, I would be a regular.
Café du Marche: Near(ish) to the Eiffle tower. Giant salads, tasty burgers, really tasty fries, all at great prices. We wound up eating here twice because we were in the same neighborhood and searching for a staple.
Restaurant Polidor: This place has been around since 1845 (as has its plumbing). It’s jam packed with happy diners, and the food is no-frills but completely tasty.
La Bourse et La Vie. Well known for their modern takes on classics (I thought it was a little overhyped).
Pizza Sant’Antonio: The giant 11 euro pizza pies were just what the hungry travelers ordered after a long day of exploring.
Chez Denise, also called La Tour de Montlhéry. This is a revered Paris spot with big portions. Not our favorite, but popular with many.
NOT WORTH REPEATING
I want to preface this section by saying—none of these places were bad. I just have some hesitation recommending them, for the reasons I’ve listed below.
Cave la Bourgone: Inexpensive (relatively), but you get what you pay for—Ben’s steak was fairly chewy, and my salad was more toasted bread than greens or cheese.
L’Ebouillante: If you are looking to sit outside and aren’t too fussy about your food, this place is just right. I loved being out on the sidewalk, but the food wasn’t particularly memorable.
La Cremerie: In a super touristy spot in Monmartre, and priced to match. Go for the atmosphere if you like, but don’t have your heart set on a great meal.
L’Atlas Brasserie: An easy, decent dinner option in St. Germain on busting Rue de Buci, but nothing revolutionary. They do offer a large menu with a wide-range of options, so this could be a good choice for larger (pickier) parties.
Le Reflets du Scene: Good if you need a bite after visiting the Louvre, but not for much else. Nice service.
Frenchie Wine Bar: If I money were of no consequence, this restaurant would be listed as a “Must Eat.” The food is some of the best we had in France, but the portions were teeeeeeny tiny and expensive for their size. If you are a big foodie and don’t mind dropping some serious $$ to fill yourself up, it’s worth going. Warning: no reservations and the wait can be formidable.
Le Trumilou. We were underwhelmed by this casual spot on the right bank of the Seine. Maybe if we’d been on the sidewalk, it would have been a better experience.
FOR NEXT TIME…
Quinsou. Highest on our wish list.
Aux Prés. Refined meat-based brasserie dishes in a cozy and traditional restaurant run by a TV star chef.A la carte menu around 75 euros per person (2 seatings : 7-7:30pm or 9:30pm)
Les Climats. 41 rue de Lille. Heaven for those who are Burgundy wine lovers. Modern restaurant with art déco décor. Very intimate. A true culinary experience. A la carte menu, around 180 euros per person. (prices vary a lot with the choice in wine)
Ze Kitchen Galerie. 4 Rue des Grands Augustins. A trendy restaurant, design decoration and Fusion French and Asian food by a French Chef
Chez Fernand. 9 Rue Christine. A small casual restaurant.
Huguette. 81 rue de Seine. Little sea food Bistrot, open all day long. Fresh and Good, Oysters, Ceviche, Risottos.
Hugo & Co. Excellent neobistrot in the latin quarter, 2nd restaurant of the Cambodian Chef Tomy Gousset. Décor influenced by nature, very reasonably priced.
La Rotonde. Legendary brasserie, because during the twentieth century it was possible to cross Picasso, Chagall, Léger, Apollinaire, Debuss … In a decorative style of the thirties, the establishment has kept its soul, and was able to combine yesterday’s nostalgia with the charms of the present. The establishment is regularly full.
Alcazar. 62 rue Mazarine. trendy restaurant, on 2 floors (nice bar upstairs), lively ambiance, recently beautifully renovated. Good food
Le Reminet. 3 Rue des Grands Degrés. Traditional bistro in the Latin Quarter with remarkable food. Attentive and friendly service. Menu changes regularly. Candle-lit dinners.
Le Recamier. Nice french casual located in a dead end street, nice and quiet terrace. Specialty of the house are soufflés.
Boutary. The gourmet restaurant of the caviar house of the same name. Like the flagship product of the House, it combines refinement and relaxed conviviality for a moment of pleasure to share. Only chef’s menu
EATING IN PARIS | Resources
I found these resources to be extremely helpful when planning our meals and sweet excursions. David Lebovtiz’s recommendations were particularly reliable and led us to some of our most memorial experiences.
My Paris + Dining Tips by David Lebovtiz
10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris by David Lebovtiz
Paris Fall 2022 Picks – Paris by Mouth
The Paris 10: Must Tastes by Dorie Greenspan
Common Ordering Mistakes in Paris by David Lebovtiz
French to English Food Glossary by Patricia Wells