For Centuries Rue Montorgueil Has Been Famous For Its Food Culture



There is something about the compactness and accessibility of Montorgueil, the little neighborhood just to the north of Les Halles, that has long earned it its reputation as the food street of Paris. It's true that Paris has many streets richly endowed with food lovers' fare, but few entire neighborhoods can rival this one when it comes to food culture. And considering we're talking about Paris, that's saying a lot. 

The cobble-stoned street of rue Montorgueil stretches from the St. Eustache church, crosses rue Etienne Marcel, and continues on for another couple of blocks. The far reaches of the area are what has become known as Silicon Sentier because of all of the start-up offices and co-working spaces in and around rue Sentier and rue d'Aboukir. This is the area that butts right up against Grands Boulevards. Here, too, is  where you'll find Rivié  and Frenchie's Bar à Vin, as well as Boneshaker Doughnuts, just on the outside border of what is considered Montorgueil. The walking street is also dotted with all kinds of ethnic eateries - like the Brazilian inspired Itacoa -  and also Thai fast food to pizza to falafel takeaway as well as cheese shops, fruit stands. If you're looking for pastry/bakery shops, here you'lld find the oldest patisserie in Paris, Stohrer, dating from 1730.

This area is also known as being affordable and many of the places here are casual. This area is not necessarily the place to come to for a fancy restaurant dinner night out, but rather a good place to come with friends or your significant other when you just want a good meal and not too much fuss. In this category is Lombem, a steakhouse, à la Française, that specializes in excellent cuts of beef grilled over a char flame and thick French Fries, hold the grease. 

The restaurant, L'Escargot, recognizable by its huge golden snail, “escargot” in French, that graces its entryway, is also found here along this lovely little pedestrian street. Montorgueil gives you many delicious reasons to explore this area. A restaurant that will delight you with its bistronomy fare is Le Pas Sage located in the gorgeously old-world covered passage of Le Grand Cerf.



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It wasn't that long ago that you'd hear the occasional comment in Paris that this was a city where it was tough to find a good steak. Not anymore. Just as the trend for meatless Mondays seems to be taking root in urbanized areas around the globe, a parallel trend of highly curated and perfectly marbled steaks has firmly taken hold of urban, sophisticated dining trends. At least, it has here in Paris. The very best cuts of France's finest beef are what you'll get at this steak restaurant. The star is French-raised beef from the celebrated regions of France such as Aubrac, Charolaise and Limousine - where the finest cows are raised. Thick-cut fries compliment your main, and since they are quick fried, you get them served on your plate with the least amount of grease possible. Beet hummous and generous Caesar salads offer more options.


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There are a couple of restaurants in Paris, near this area especially, that are popular places for all-nighters since they stay open and are serving either 24/7 or until the wee hours. But few of the late, late night places get as grungy authentic as this one. Babylone has been a favorite of the post-club goers and the kitchen/serving staffs of the surrounding areas' (Les Halles, Le Marais, Montorgueil) restaurants for decades. It's as much a place where you come to enjoy a meal as it is a place where you come to drink in the colorful crowd who gathers here until closing which is usually around 6 a.m.. It's a bit tricky to classify the cuisine but it's accurate to describe it as long-stewed and spicy Caribbean, Creole and Cajun dishes. It's not really all that hard to find either, especially once you're there.


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The restaurant of the ultra-hip fitness club and well-being center, is nestled in the glass rooftopped atrium-like inner courtyard. The real overhaul though is with their new menu which caters to the body-conscious, health-conscious clientele. Many choices on the menu are either gluten-free, vegan or both. Inventive combinations of exotic herbs like red basil and ginger used in generous doses with a beef Thai salad. Wines are nicely paired with the menu's choices of starters, mains and full-portion salads. A lovely choice of fresh-pressed juices accompany your meal, too, such as a pear-cucumber-mint press or orange, carrot and ginger is also a choice. The original cocktails are also available at the restaurant and make it well worth tasting each one on the menu. A few are served in pineapples and flaming tiki cups. After lunch you can always retire to the bar area and enjoy one at leisure.


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In what has become a sea of Parisian hamburger joints, there is now, at long last, a real doughnut shop. Doughnuts fresh-baked every 2 hours from morning 'til evening by pastry-chef-trained Amanda Bankert who owns the shop with her Irish husband. Mid-mornings and at about 4pm in the afternoons, expect a line out the door for these hot, fresh bundles of doughy, sugary joy. Dark chocolate and craft stout. I thought that might get your attention! That is just one of the tasty-creative doughnut flavors, this one's called Hoppy Days, that Amanda has come up with for her pastry-doughnut classics. Another one is Sweet Virginia which has maple icing and salted peanut brittle bits sprinkled on top. Some of the flavors are staples and some are seasonal like the St. Paddy's bright green lucky charm icing doughnut or the matcha green tea flavored icing doughnuts. The size of these guys are American-style, too. More than a handful, one of these will fill you up but if you buy two, or two dozen, you'll get to taste more of the flavors. Oh and her densely chocolate-y brownies just won Best of Paris recently, too. So be sure to get one of those for your bedtime snack. Wink, wink.


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Hailed by hipsters as one of the coolest places in Paris when it opened a few years ago, this bistronomy restaurant has nonetheless evolved even further and I daresay, it has become better. It used to be a wine bar and a restaurant but now the wine bar is just across the way, literally next door. Separating out wine bar from restaurant allowed the new young owner to focus on developing a finely honed menu, one where each raw ingredient is grown, harvested, fished or hunted by a person he's on a first name basis with. Taste things here like cream of parmesan served over a perfectly cooked egg yolk with finely chopped champignon de Paris sautéed in butter and garlic until black. The steak for two could feed four and it comes served on a wooden cutting board with accompanying dipping sauces.


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Opened in 1846 this is one of the neighborhood's longest standing and most richly historical restaurants. Opened when the rue St. Denis and rue Montorgueil were largely just foot paths, this restaurant has welcomed such artistic greats as Gavarni and Baudelaire. For decades and decades it had the reputation of being one of the best places in Paris for oysters, a delicacy that wasn't even featured on the menu, but simply served as an "amuse-bouche" to whet the appetite. This location is actually the second incarnation of the restaurant. The first stood across the street, opened at least as early as 1734 and closed in 1845. It's believed that it was at this location that the celebrated gastronomic club, "Caveau," had its defacto headquarters and met here regularly. This location today, with its powder blue and gold-trimmed façace, remains a landmark dining destination on this street and also in Paris.


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Newly opened by chef Rafael Gomes after putting in his 3 solid years as chef at the Grand Coeur (in Paris Marais), this attractive spot in the up-and-coming 'start-ups central' area of Paris is an instant hit. Here, the Brazil-born, U.S. trained (Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park both NYC top restaurants) is free to do as he wishes and follow his inspiration. Lunch is a good time to stop in to try the singularly delicious roasted avocado salad. You'll also find daily specials that include market fresh ingredients like artichokes and asparagus blended with a perfectly creamy but light risotto served with generous white-breast filets of Bresse chicken. A generous steak is also on the menu and there are also vegetarian choices which makes this a super choice for dinner, too. The signature dessert here is a white chocolate served with passion fruit granita and a coulis sauce of passion fruit. All is house made and all comes from the sheer passion and delight the chef has for his chosen profession. The interior decor is rustic and laid back with a gorgeous central table for group seating. Service is friendly and international but all seem to share that Brazilian touch of warmth.


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Rivie Restaurant and Brasserie
Photo courtesy of The Hoxton /Alex Prior


 

Do you enjoy dining in a harbor of hot, trendy 20-somethings? If so, if that is your scene, this is one of those Parisian places that will make you feel like you have found your tribe. Self-described as a restaurant and brasserie, this London offshoot instantly became the place to be seen when it opened in 2017. Spotted here are hipsters casually wearing the latest t-shirt and jeans fashion, sporting top-of-the-line laptops, smartphones and any other acoutrements de jour that make the statement that they are the 'It' boys and girls. You can expect high quality from the kitchens here with a signature chicken dish served with 'aligot', that cheesy mashed potato specialty that the French do so well and sides of grilled cauliflower. The signature dessert coconut meringue that is much more chocolate than coconut and whose presentation has you at hello.


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Its claim to fame is that it's Paris' oldest patisserie. Established in 1725 when King Louis XV's new wife, the Polish Maris Leszczynska's father's pastry chef followed her to Versailles. Five years later, Nicolas Stohrer, the Polish King Stanislas' former pastry chef, opened this shop on rue Montorgueil. They are famous here for their Baba au Rhum which they once served to the Versailles court. The fine pastry shop remains as an anchor in this street both as a reminder of its storied past and also its current burgeoning reputation as one of Paris' trendier neighborhoods. There is no place in which to sit and enjoy your pastry in the shop, so it's buy-and-eat-on-your-way-out or take-home. But many Parisians will make a detour on their Saturday shopping days or on their way home from work just so they can pick up a few sweet treats from this historical pastry bakeshop.


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If there is a world-famous rue Montorgueil restaurant, this is it. Its namesake welcoming snail that hangs in all its golden-brass glory above the door, doesn't let you forget that you're in France now. The interior had a makeover in spring 2014 so the interior décor feels refreshed though they maintained the restaurant's old-world feel. In addition to the variety of escargot (yes, snails) dishes you'll find on the menu here, you will also find many of the French classics, in respect to the seasons. The enclosed terrace dining in the colder months offers a welcoming view onto the pedestrian street just outside and all the interesting passersby.


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Paige's latest book, The Romantic Couple's Guide To The City of Love, Sexy Paris follows her earlier guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light and her acclaimed...  More About Paige

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