Best Restaurants in Paris

Sometimes Simple Is The Best And These Neighborhood Bistrots Are All That

There's something comforting about wandering outside and seeing the familiar - familiar surroundings, familiar faces, familiar bakeries, butchers and, yes, bistrots. It's always a challenge to update this 'Best Restaurants' list for Paris. It's like having to choose your favorite child. And with 44,896 restaurants in Paris (as of last count in 2017, compared to NYC's 26,697 also from 2017 tally) I'd be fibbing if I said I'd tried them all. 

But that said, there are some bstrots and neighborhood favorites that remain with you long after the meal has stopped lingering. So this update of Best Paris Restaurants is for all of you who yearn to visit the City of Light just one more time, for those of you who dream of visiting for the first time, and for those of us who never left. It's for all of us who have come to love and appreciate the familiar, the familial, and the faces at the corner bistro we see as we pass on our daily comings-and-goings. In other words, sometimes the simplest really is the best. 

After wandering the streets and visiting the landmarks of Paris, 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' places, you know, the ones that have all the user recommendations and Instagram photos.

But image doesn't always equate with quality. 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 have begun 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 some even have their own vegetable gardens. Here on this list, many of these chefs meet that telling criteria. 




3rd Arondissement - Marais

'In the heart of the gariguette;' That is this Provençal Restaurant/Bistrot's moniker. Lets air that out a bit. Ready for a mini-deep dive into French nostalgia and romantic cultural references? 'Gariguette' refers to the potpourri of scents you find when hiking the dry, hot country trails of the S. of France. The scent is evocative of sagebrush, thyme, rosemary and a distant hint of lavender. For a French person it prompts memories of long, langourous summer afternoons spent playing petanque while sipping pastis on summer holiday. And this is exactly where you step into when you enter Chez Janou. Time stops and all of a sudden you are 'en Provence' once again. The central, classic zinc bar is lined with over 80 types of different pastis that you can order by the glass. The menu is just as classic and full of nostalgia. Much of it is market driven.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Leave room for chocolate mousse, it's served in a big soup terrine and is enough for a table of four. Also prepare to taste pastis!

Paige's expert tip: I love Paris, but sometimes you really do wish you were 'en Provence.' At this neighborhood bistrot, you get to have it both ways. As you enter Chez Janou, you get to step into a France that's been immortalized in the caper films of Louis de Funes. All that is good and right, classic and delicious about France, you'll find here at this simple, neighborhood bistrot hidden just a stone's throw away from Place des Vosges and Bastille. Here you can always find an abundant selection of fresh-caught seafoods and shellfish. And, of course, succulent meats grilled 'à point' round out the choices. The bistrot's sprawling terrace in the summer not only encircles the angular sidewalk but overtakes the little 'place' across the street, too. The decor is full of Jacques Tati posters from 1950s films.

Read more about Chez Janou →

4ème Arrondissement

The Southwest region of France is known for its food. After all, this is where the Perigord is located and from which the famous truffles come. Less known are its wines. But once you've been introduced to the beauty of Malbec's original terroir, there is no going back. This restaurant consecrated itself to being the culinary tapestry by which the region's wines would shine. So the menu is fairly simple: a dozen oysters to share for starters, a huge (1 kgl) chuck roast of beef 'Irish Vintage' to share between two or even two adults and two kids are the kinds of items you'll get to choose from here. Gazpacho, devilled eggs and other nibbles are also S. West classics that go well with these deep reds and sometimes sweet whites. Roast duck served with raspberries and beets as its cold side; and the French toast as dessert which is made with brioche (not bread!) served with melted salted caramel butter - now aren't these mouthwatering?

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: On Sundays, their upstairs 'speakeasy' bar transforms into a children's babysitting den. Yep, that means parents can enjoy their Sunday brunch, in peace for once.

Paige's expert tip: French Southwestern cuisine is known the world-over. After all, the Perigord is famous for its truffles and foie gras. But here in Paris, it, likes its lovely wines, is often overshadowed by its glitzier kinsfolk. So this lovely little bistro, in a historical building just a couple doors down from where Jim Morrison once lived, offers the whole Southwestern-inspired culinary package.

Read more about Aux Vins des Pyrenees →

4ème Arrondissement

My Burgundy - "Ma Bourgogne." The family traditions carried forward by this landmark bistro occupying a place of honor in the arcades of the Place des Vosges harken from his mother and grandmother. It's from these family recipes the daily specials and the evergreen dishes originate from. 'Menu' in French means Special of The Day. (Whereas 'la carte' in French means 'menu' in English). Here Le Menu includes an appetizer, a main dish, a dessert or 'fromage' and a beverage. All that for a fixed price. Given that you're dining at one of the top 3 real estate addresses in Paris, this is a fair deal for superior quality food. The bistro's wine list lives up to its name, too. Whether you're fond of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays or not, pretty much anything from Burgundy is sure to win you over, if you're a wine lover. They do take reservations here (subtle hint) so it's probably good to plan ahead since this is an overwhelmingly popular choice with locals and visitors alike.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Could there be more of a 'living the fantasy' moment than dining on classic Burgundy 'Jambon Persillé' while sipping Chardonnay at the Place des Vosges?

Paige's expert tip: Here you'll find welcoming staff and service. Meaning, despite this being a destination dining address at one of the most beautiful Parisian landmarks, they're still keeping it real.

Read more about Ma Bourgogne →

1er Arrondissement
Photo courtesy of L'Absinthe

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.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Comfort French food served in generous proportions at a neighborhood-feel bistro in a pedestrian zone in the center of Paris is what L'Absinthe is.

Paige's expert tip: This is the charming neighborhood bistro to dine at when you want a thick cut steak, a carafe of chilled Beaujolais and a side of roasted baby potatoes. You'll find more than just comfort food here, though. They've got a crafted menu of absinthe cocktails and their own signature appetizer, too, Le Hot Duck, which, once you've tasted, you understand why they trademarked it.

Read more about L'Absinthe →

9ème Arrondissement

This is the kind of tucked away little bistro on a Parisian sidestreet in a chic quartier that inspires novels and pivotal scenes in French films. The young team of Jonathan Caron and Anne Legrand have the mentorship of Christophe Pele (2 stars, Le Clarence) in common, save for a passion pure of serving up excellence on a plate. Here at L'innocence, with its tightly fitted dozen tables, the food becomes the sole focus. Chef Legrand works in the open kitchen to craft her fixed menu dishes while Caron interacts with guests and selects wine pairings. Each evening differs, but you can expect delicacies of grilled cauliflower with minted fromage blanc and citrus condiments; toasted foccaccia with basil olive oil; white asparagus with smoked poutargue in a white butter sauce; lamb shank served with carrots from Annie Bertin's gardens, and for the pre-dessert, tempura-fried acacia blossoms with Bruyere dipping honey.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: New talent with fresh, imaginative cuisine is a rarity. What Legrand and Caron serve up here will have you re-discovering what fine dining truly means.

Paige's expert tip: This is the restaurant to take someone special for whom food is an art form. Yes, of course, ingredients are sourced from only the best producers who sell their products exclusively to only a handful of the top chefs. But even more than that is what Chef Legrand delicately does with her materials. And with Caron working the dining room, the partnership dishes up a superlative alchemy of food and wine. Perhaps it is the pedigree of chefs past such as Chef Rose who have left a bit of fairy dust inside these walls? Or, more likely, it is simply the absolute purity of passion and dedication to excellence in French cuisine that sets this young duo's restaurant apart. It is one not to be missed and offers promises of a meal breathtaking in its delicacy, imaginative creativity, execution, presentation and service.

Read more about L'innocence →

5ème Arrondissement

Refreshing here is that the service is quick and pleasant and the staff is welcoming and warm. Duck is the dish here, so much so that it even embodies its mascot. Other classics on the menu not to miss is the Mimosa eggs which are a crab salad filled devilled eggs appetizer, heavy on the fresh crab. The foie gras is top quality. Sides - whipped mashed potatoes, full of cream and butter, a fresh green salad, roasted potatoes and sauteed crisp vegetables in, yes, butter come in dishes that you can share. Don't even think about skipping dessert here. If you've never tried the French whipped, lightly toasted egg white in a sea of creme anglaise, otherwise known as Ile Flottante, I highly recommend you do. The portion here is more than generous and its done exceptionally to perfection. Or you can always go for the tarte du jour.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: During the warmer months, outdoor terrace dining here means looking out over the Seine onto the Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris and the Ile Saint-Louis.

Paige's expert tip: For your first visit to this bistro, stick with the classics and signature dishes. That means have a taste of the roast duck and the crab stuffed devilled eggs. The wine cellar at the sister ship (La Tour d'Argent) is ranked one of the best in the world. So even the wines by the glass here will be excellent choices for whatever you order. Sides are fun and are meant to be shared. A simple tapenade and country style bread is your pre-appetizer for whetting the palate as you peruse the menu. Under the recently assumed reigns of André Terrail, son of the famous Tour d'Argent restaurateur, Claude Terrail, the family's gastronomic bistro La Rotisserie d'Argent offers delightful accessibility. The sizzle of the establishment's signature roasting duck and farm-raised chicken greets you when you enter this red-checked tablecloth icon on the Left Bank. It is literally just next door to the shrine of gourmets the world over, La Tour d'Argent, but here what is served is the bistro version of French food of the highest quality ingredients. Claude Terrail acquired this bistro in 1989 with the intention that snobbery had no place within its walls.

Read more about La Rotisserie d'Argent →

8ème Arrondissement

This is one of Paris' newest and most elegant restaurants. You may have heard of the Prince Robert of Luxembourg's famous wine estate in Bordeaux, Chateau Haut-Brion? In 2016 he opened these doors to his private mansion in Paris not far from the prestigious Champs-Elysees. Devoted exclusively to the French Art de Vivre, dining here is a most memorable experience that transports you into a luxury cocoon of timelessness. Chef Christophe Pele offers his deliciously devilish take on French classics that marry a modern twist to the favorites. Each day he uses his 2-star Michelin prowess to create the day's offerings. But of course you can choose from the menu as well. In terms of gastronomic dining, a phenomenal wine list and surroundings unparalleled even in Paris, Le Clarence with its friendly and welcoming team, offers you the kind of fairytale experience heretofore only a dream.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: When the occasion calls for chateau dining Le Clarence instantly transports you into that magic of French luxury and refinement, while retaining that at-home ease.

Paige's expert tip: Fairytales do come true. That is what dining at Le Clarence will have you believe. The chateau's decor was done by Prince Robert himself who tastefully recreated the atmosphere of his legendary Bordeaux estate here in the heart of Paris. For those exquisite wine pairings with lunch or dinner, you are in excellent hands here with Head Sommelier Antoine Petrus. There are over 120 outstanding winemakers to choose from on the menu representing mostly French but also international wine regions. And, of course, you have your choice of all the excellent Domain Clarence Dillon vintages as well including Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion and Quintas.

Read more about Le Clarence →

8ème Arrondissement

Set menus come in a range of three or four services for lunch and four or seven services for dinner. Rather than being seated in one large dining room, you are seated in one of several smaller dining salons, thus adding to the air of intimate dining. Many tables have views out onto the exquisite private garden surrounding the manor. Things to taste on the menu include 'blue' lobster from the Iles Chausey, pigeon de la Guerche on a bed of roses 'eternelle' accompanied by balsamic whipped beets. Delicate white cod served with raw slivered coconut over a fine glaze of lightly curried pumpkin purée. And the chocolate soufflé, so rich and velvety that it melts the bourbon vanilla ice cream and the créme chantilly it's served with.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The creative flair Chef Pacaud lends to his classically interpreted cuisine, maintains Apicius as a culinary temple.

Paige's expert tip: I don't always recommend Michelin-starred restaurants, but this one I do, and without hesitation. Apicius has long been a culinary landmark, a Parisian temple of gastronomy, and now under Chef Pacaud's masterful touch, you not only dine on extraordinary finesse but experience the complete and whole pleasure of haute cuisine presented with excellent, friendly, professional service. The restaurant's bar off to the left when you enter the private manor is a good way to begin or end your meal. Named after the Roman who wrote the first culinary book in the times of antiquity, Apicius is the Michelin-starred restaurant set apart in a world unto itself nestled in an 18th c. mansion just a few streets away from the Grand Palais. Helmed now by the young and extraordinarily accomplished Chef Mathieu Pacaud, within a year of taking over, he maintained this iconic temple of gastronomy's Michelin star. He and his business partner, Laurent de Gourcuff have infused this park-like setting in the center of the city with a hip, fun, dynamic ambiance while not relinquishing a shred of the establishment's elegance.

Read more about Apicius →

6ème Arrondissement

Located now at the Monnaie de Paris, this celebrated restaurant serves contemporary haute cuisine in a just redone - though historical - space overlooking the Seine on the Quai Conti. The Monnaie de Paris, France's former mint, is the oldest French institution and was founded in 864 under the reign of Charles II. It offers, now, in this newest incarnation, spectacular views overlooking the Seine. The interior design has notes of the theatrical, with tables placed just so, to capture the natural lighting. Salmon, flown in direct from Scotland, is served on its bed of ice at table, seasoned before your eyes with a triad of citrus before gingerly being sprayed with a consomm– of citrus. One of the signature dishes you mustn't miss is Chef Savoy's savory use of brioche. It's a recipe original to him and one that, with its homage to the simple mushroom, delights every time.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Chef Guy Savoy is one of France's culinary ambassadors, hands down. This, his ultimate flagship restaurant, overlooks the Seine from its minted, majestic perch.

Paige's expert tip: If the exquisite meal here has left you sated, and you absolutely must pass up the signature house brioche, don't fret. Just down the street, Team Guy Savoy has opened up a Brioche Takeaway so now you purchase this lovely, doughy (sweet and savory) goodness to bring with you.

Read more about Guy Savoy →

7ème Arrondissement
Photo courtesy of photo by Pauline Le Goff copyright of Chef Alain Passard used with permission

When Parisians speak of Chef Alain Passard's restaurant, Arpege, it is in hushed, reverential tones. Descriptions of meals enjoyed here invariably include mention of vegetables; also that it requires a good three hours of dining time spent at the table. Vegetables have become, since the early 2000s, the chef's signature. He still serves meat and his preferred method of cooking is still over an open flame, a technique his grandmother taught him. But in the past decade he adapted this talent of flamb–ing, grilling and roasting to vegetables: "Learn how to travel delicately with your pan on the open flame guaranties texture, taste, color, light and transparency with your vegetables," declares this illustrious French chef. He maintains three of his own vegetable and herb gardens to assure the highest quality ingredients: "Between the gardeners and me, we discuss carrots and beetroot like others speak of Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc!"

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Long before 'plant based diet' became a buzz phrase, Chef Passard was dishing up veggies in his 3-star restaurant. They're grown in his Normandy garden.

Paige's expert tip: This is the only restaurant in the French capital today to manage all its own fresh vegetables, herbs as well as red and black fruit cultivation. The restaurant's name is inspired by the chef's second love: music. Makassar wood furnishings and Lalique crystal ware round out the clubby decor.

Read more about L'Arpège →


Meet Paige Donner

Paige's guidebook Paris On 4 Paws, A Dog Lover's Guide To The City of Light , her cookbook, Le CBD Cafe Coockbook and novel, I'll Take Paris are all available on Kindle and Amazon. .

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