There are times when all you really want is a good meal. Those times seem to occur quite often in Paris where excellent bistros and restaurants line nearly every street you walk down. And that's not to mention all those must-eat-here places, you know, the ones that have all those user recommendations and Instagram photos.
But image doesn't always equate with taste. So when the only thing that will do is a satisfying, taste-good, sure-fire meal, you can have confidence that any of these restaurants on this list won't let you down. Some offer haute cuisine, what some men might call frilly food, and others offer just that perfectly grilled, thick steak served with potatoes and an excellent glass - or bottle, why not? - of red wine.
Many of today's noteworthy chefs here in Paris seem to practice the cult of personally sourced ingredients. There was a time when restaurants made their purchases at the big fresh market called Rungis out by Charles De Gaulle airport, every morning. Many still do that, but you'll find that the really finicky chefs have their fish provider, their meat cultivator and their butter and cheese curator on speed dial on their portable phones. And they don't readily share that info with others. This is one of the ways you can assess how passionate a chef is about the ingredients he allows into his kitchen and hence onto your plate. Here on this list, all of these chefs meet that telling criteria.
Many lay claim to creating a Chef's Table, but few achieve it. Here at Table, one of the city's best restaurants and the least pretentious, you get the distinct feeling you are eating in Chef Bruno Verjus' very own home kitchen. When this distinguished culinary author decided to open his own restaurant, he did so with the conviction of providing diners with the absolute best and purest ingredients prepared to perfection. The daily lunch and dinner menus change but for an early fall meal anticipate a tomato and peach cold soup, followed by a generous hunk of slow-cooked pig, the skin roasted and basted with provencal herbs rendering mouthfuls of crispy, flavorful pig and skin. This is a chef who not just takes pride in where he sources his ingredients, like giant sea bass from Ile d'Yeu, he's having a love affair with the raw ingredients he uses. (01 43 43 12 26)
Cafe de L'Homme
Recently re-opened after impressive renovations, this restaurant affords sweeping views onto the Eiffel Tower. It's a misnomer to call it a cafe as it serves proper meals, requires a reservation and men will feel much more comfortable in a suit jacket here.
What's more, it's open until 2 a.m. so you can come here for drinks and dessert, too. The restaurant's renovations were done by Gilles & Boissier, two names that anyone familiar with French design will already know. The emerald green dining chair upholstery compliments the white marble tables and white leather, supremely comfortable, accent chairs. This jewel-like atmosphere is set off by floor to ceiling mirrors framed in blonde wood.
Things not to miss on the menu: Veal filet mignon on a bed of buttery sauteed spinach; tuna tataki, foie gras from Landes and the chantilly profiteroles. For French wine connoisseurs, the wine list is unparalleled in Paris. (01 44 05 30 15)
What does a young French chef do when he earns his first Michelin star at 22? Why, he heads to America, the land of dreams. This is exactly what Chef Gilles Epie did when he became the youngest chef ever to earn that star of distinction. Fast-forward twenty-some years and the Chef, having helmed LA's top-shelf restaurant, L'Orangerie, during the 90's, returned to his Parisian home with his American bride where they opened Citrus Etoile.
Already in its 10th year, Citrus Etoile is the go-to restaurant where food critics are regulars. Chef Epie, a firm believer of the successful chef's credo that one must be generous and passionate about serving only the best ingredients, keeps his cuisine on the light side of very French. Hence the vegetables here are never over-cooked but rather delicately revealed. The restaurant's location, a hop-skip-jump from Etoile, couldn't be more convenient. (01 42 89 15 51)
Beetroot Gaspacho with goat cheese, a thick juicy steak - the kind you dream of, their signature Le Hot Duck as appetizer... these are only a few of the savory items on the menu that you'll find here at the Rostang's L'Absinthe. Pair that with a chilled carafe of Beaujolais and you've got yourself a memorable meal. Adding to the charm of this family bistro is its location on the Marche St. Honore, a pedestrian area and market square hidden between the Eglise St. Roch and Place Vendome.
And let's not forget the handcrafted absinthe cocktails, the namesake of this little gem. Though if sitting out on this picturesque terrace on a Parisian market square and pedestrian zone is your idea of a perfect end to a wonderful day, then rest assured there are plenty of cocktails and a solid wine list, too, to choose from for your down time. (01 49 26 90 04)
First opened in 1899 as a watering hole for carriage drivers of the wealthy and sylish Parisians who frequented the "Most Beautiful Avenue in the world," the Champs-Elys�es in its heyday, this brasserie is still an icon. Over the centuries it has become even more famous not just for its quality, even gastronomic, fare, but also for the VIP clientele who are loyal habitu�s.
This is where the C�sars, the French Film Academy awards, holds its official dinners every year and the link between cinematic stars and Fouquet's is an unbreakable bond here in France.
On the menu you will find Chef Jean-Yves Leurangeur's homage to a few of the regular stars that have lit up this restaurant, such as the Merlin a la Colbert, s a favorite of Robert Hossein, also the lobster raviolis "John Todt," and please don't pass up the signature dessert, Millefeuille Tradition Fouquet's. (0140 696 050)
A visual and culinary feast, this impeccable restaurant is alive with scent and spectacle. Even more so now that Chef Christian Le Squer heads up the kitchens. It's a vast operation, being the Executive Chef for the Paris Four Seasons and he counts among his stellar team, the esteemed sommelier and restaurant manager, Eric Beaumard.
The menu changes seasonally so for Autumn expect dishes such as deer and pheasant, but also a variety of fresh-caught fish sped in from the coast of Brittany, the chef's native region. Allow yourself to be guided by the sommelier's choices, this hotel property boasts one of the finest cellars in Europe, with 50,000 bottles, and counting, of fine and rare French and international wines. (01 49 52 71 54)
Sur Mesure par Thierry Marx
It's easy to feel a little intimidated when you do at last get the chance to dine in the signature restaurant of a famous celebrity chef, whose picture graces billboards city-wide. But intimidating is anything but what warm-hearted Chef Thierry Marx instills by his humble and approachable persona. It is this warmth that he transmit through his cuisine and his curated signature dishes.
At the Mandarin Oriental Paris, Sur Mesure is its 2-starred and starring restaurant. This is where Chef Marx's talents are displayed to full effect – and full dining enjoyment. The menu encourages partaking of five, six, seven or eight courses. The only dish that is served to all is the Sushi & Caviar. If you are not yet a lover of caviar, you will find it exquisite when served atop a traditional singular piece of seaweed-wrapped maki. And that's just for the amuse bûches. (01 70 98 78 88)
Another winning restaurant by Enrico Bernardo, this one is on the second floor of a former mansion built in the style and era of Napoleon III. Today the Elephant Paname is an impressive multi-level dance and art exhibit venue.
At the heart of all this action is where you'll find Goust. It has one Michelin star and the wines here are selected by the curated team of this world's best sommelier, Bernardo himself. This restaurant qualifies thoroughly as destination dining. Meaning, you could plan your whole trip to Paris around a dinner here. The Spanish-origin chef, Jose Manuel Miguel, is a talent to be reckoned with. The chef's tasting menu, for dinner, is the option you'll want to indulge in and it changes nightly. Some hints of what you can expect are sea urchin morsels baked on the half shell or smoked herring panna cotta served with green apple emulsion. (01 40 15 20 30)
First built in 1728 (hence the name) these salons of the mansion, the Hotel Mazin La Fayette, have been fully restored and feature a gastronomic restaurant. This is fine dining as has come to be expected from the Relais & Chateaux brand. This mansion was home to the great Franco-American historical figure, the Marquis de La Fayette from 1827 until his death.
More than a restaurant today, Le 1728 aims to be at the centrifuge between gastronomy, wine creators, collectibles and fine art.
The restaurant's new chef, Gaetan Joly, comes from a Michelin-starred Paris restaurant where he was head chef. And it shows. Creative, playful, refined and delicate his dishes show a master craftsman at work and one who has researched the source of his ingredients. Example, the lamb from Mt. St. Michel: fed on low-tide marsh grass the meat has that wisp of salt water air to it. (01 40 17 04 77)
Le Grand Restaurant
This is celebrated French chef Jean-Francois Piege's very own restaurant in that he is not just the Executive Chef but also the owner. Opened in 2015 it more or less instantly was awarded 2 Michelin stars. One of the specialties is slow-cooked Bleu lobster from Brittany (the most tender and flavorful of lobsters) that is served over a blackcurrant reduction sauce. Another specialty is the puffed potato paired with a dollop of caviar on top.
Though, surprisingly, it's not these imaginative dishes perfectly executed that are the only big draw here, it's also the playful and meticulous presentation. Each course of your meal is presented and then revealed as the nugget of culinary treasure that it has been fashioned into by Chef Piege. The key words here are playful and treasure. This sort of dining experience is for those whose taste buds enjoy being slightly surprised, delighted and even exhilarated. (01 53 05 00 00)
About Paige Donner
Paige is a transplanted Parisian. She first arrived as a young bride in the early 90s to live in Paris, having uprooted herself from her native California.
Paige has two APPs: #ParisFoodAndWine and #BordeauxFoodAndWine available on Apple and Android.
Paige hosts Paris GOODfood+wine which airs on World Radio Paris and is also available on iTunes. When not in Paris Paige often visits vineyards and wine regions. She is also founder of Paris Food And Wine.
As a journalist, Paige writes/has written for the NY Times,LA Times, Michelin Guide, Fodor's, Blackbook, Variety
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