Good News: Two Hour Lunches Are Still Tres Parisian

Paris is full of all the businessmen and women who lunch. This is a serious group who dine out at least five days a week and at the best restaurants, notably in the 1st, 2nd, 8th, 7th and 6th arrondissements. In fact of the restaurants here, Ralph's is highlighted for its inviting courtyard terrace dining which makes you feel like you're in some French countryside version of Ralph Lauren's RRL Ranch in Colorado and not nestled in Saint-Germain des Pres, the choicest part of Paris' city center.

Then there is the notion of Ladies Who Lunch which takes on a whole different dimension here in Paris. In chic neighborhoods there are any number of fashionable women, of a certain age, who dine out for lunch as much to display their impeccably coiffed hair and their perfect manicures as to enjoy a meal outside their high-ceilinged Haussmanian building apartments. You will find many of them at Le Recamier, a well-guarded Parisian secret.

That's not to say, however, that fashionable bistros and little lunch eateries haven't popped up all over. Indeed, a few, like Graine and Shaka Poke are currently all the rage for healthy, quick meals. But one of the nice things, if not the nicest thing, about being on vacation is that you can linger over a delicious lunch. And what better than to linger over lunch? Here on this list you will find lovely restaurants, such as Baltard au Louvre, Restaurant Lumen, Uma Nota and Grand Bistro de Breteuil where the food and the setting vie with each other for what is most alluring about the restaurant. 




7éme Arrondissement

This is a restaurant that Parisians have long tried desperately to keep to themselves. It is nestled in a quiet, pedestrian only courtyard in the chicest part of Saint-Germain des Pres. When shopping at Le Bon Marche is the day's doings, a lunch at this traditional souffle restaurant is in order. It is owned and operated by a husband and wife whose life has been invested in the running of this institution. Beautiful salads and distinguished wines by the glass are served here, too. But their real draw is their souffles, both savory and sweet. Choose from, for example, a foie gras and fig souffle served with port sauce or lobster souffle. The courtyard setting here makes it one of the prettiest terraces in the summer and ever so discreet in the cooler months. For dessert? A souffle, of course!

Inspired by the Japanese quarter of Sao Paulo called Liberdade, this restaurant concept has just taken flight here in Paris. It is the brain chlld of a brother and sister team, both French, who tasted their way through the street food botecos of Brazil, as well as the gastronomic restaurants, and wanted nothing more than to share the food - and the cachaca based cocktails - with the folks back home. Back home was at that time Hong Kong, so the testing ground for this success story was first there, and now, it's here in Paris.

18th Arrondissement - Montmartre
Terrass' Restaurant And Bar
Photo courtesy of Terrass' Restaurant and Bar

This is one of the few rooftop restaurants in Montmartre. And perhaps the only one that has a view of the Eiffel Tower. It's open for lunch on weekdays. You have just to enter the lobby, walk past the cheeky t-shirt display that says you are in a No-Go Zone now, and take the lift up to the top floor. Here you are greeted by an open kitchen that looks directly out onto the glass wall view of the Iron Lady. The bar is just off to the left. In warmer weather, the outdoor patio diining has to be one of the most agreeable in town. High above any noise or traffic pollution, this is an outdoor terrace rivaled by few others. And the cosy little corner with cushions and couches gives you a nice area in which to relax before or after your meal.

1er Arrondissement

It's arrived and with a big wave of Allooohhhaaa! The poke bowl craze has hit Parisian shores, if only on the banks of the Seine. This past year has seen rice bowl shops open up and many are good, but this one is super strategic for its location (just a stone's throw from the Louvre) and for its variety of toppings. First you start with white, brown or black rice. Next you top that off with an array of toppings of your choosing, each healthier than the last. So, if you have a taste for fish for this meal, choose salmon or ahi tuna. More into fowl now? Add a generous helping of cooked and diced chicken breast. All of this can get topped off with edamame, pineapple, avocado, green onion, nuts and seeds, etc. There are about 40 toppings to choose from. All freshly replaced throughout the day.

8éme Arrondissement

With a recent menu makeover by celebrity chef Yoni Saada, this couscous restaurant infuses traditional cuisine with innovative state-of-the-art presentation. Think salad bar but with couscous offerings. Couscous is, of course, the traditional grain dish of North Africa and paired with spicy sausages, stewed vegetables and other meat selections, it makes for a hearty, healthy and flavorful meal. Some of the sides include orange and orange blossom salad which tastes just as it sounds. It is fresh oranges sliced and doused with a generous splash of orange blossom water.

Les Tablettes de Jean-Louis Nomicos
Photo courtesy of Les Tablettes Jean-Louis Nomicos copyright

Hands down one of the most cheerful gastronomic restaurants in Paris, here Chef Nomicos highlights his Mediterranean origins. Nomicos took over this 16th arrondissement landmark over seven years ago now, to the enduring delight of the difficult-too-please westside Parisians. A recent interior makeover has refreshed the space with air and light. The signature dish is Black Truffle Macaroni with Foie Gras. His menu is full of inspiration from his sunshine-filled Mediterranean roots, such as citrus caviar, lamb, fresh vegetables and foie gras. Of course all dishes are made with the finest French gourmet ingredients like ris de veau (veal sweet meats) a French delicacy. And the chef himself is friendly, generous and gregarious, characteristics you feel in his dishes, the ambiance of his restaurant and the good nature of his staff. Another rarity is that this gastronomic restaurant is open 7 days a week. Don't miss the Absinthe Granita dessert.

7th Arondissement - Eiffel Tower

This Grand Bistro is what happens when two stars collide. On the one hand, you have the impressive pedigree of the Doerr family empire of grand Parisian restaurants and bistros, and now you have the all-new menu redone by the Purcel Brothers, legends in the French culinary world (formerly of the Maison Blanche). This neighborhood is one of stately old Haussmanian buildings where servants had proper quarters in the buildings. It is back behind Invalides and is ever so residential. In the warmer months, take advantage of the leafy, shaded terrace seating where you can sip your glass of wine and nipple on amuse buches as the courses come served by white-gloved waiters. This is classic bistro fare, with a Purcel flare, so expect organic grass-fed beef steaks flame-grilled to perfection, french fries made from new potatoes from Noirmoutier, pulled duck breast served with roast peaches, rosemary-infused rack of lamb.

1er Arrondissement

It's not so easy to find a truly unique restaurant in Paris, but this one fits that bill beautifully. Here you have a Japanese chef, trained in Italian cuisine, serving up his dishes in the heart of Paris, in an elegant restaurant just next to the Eglise Saint.-Roch. Chef Akira Sugiura, a graduate of Japan's most prestigious culinary school, serves up signature pasta dishes from the Italian tradition with Japanese and French influences. It's also not outside of the realm to be served your main dish of fish, fowl or meat with a pair of chopsticks here. The setting is exquisite, as this restaurant within a hotel sits up against a private courtyard walkway next to the historic Eglise St. Roch, known in Parisian circles as the church where all the celebrities go.

6th Arrondissement - Rive Gauche

Cocooned in a verdant green courtyard inside this 17th century private mansion in the heart of Saint-Germain des Pres, the only haute-cuisine American fare restaurant in Paris offers comfort food cooked to perfection. The restaurant, of course, is by famed designer Ralph Lauren and it could not shout chic any more distinguishedly than it already does. Ratchet that up a notch when the fashion week crowd descends upon it, which is twice a year. The steaks served here are flown in directly from the RRL Ranch in Ouray County southwest Colorado and there is only one other place in the world that serves them: Ralph's New York. It comes with spinach and french fries as sides plus three different sauces: pepper, bbq and horseradish. The burgers and the salads, the crabcakes and the burrata-zucchini, the Ralph's brownie are other must-haves. There is also a generous mocktails list along with wines.

4th Arondissement - Beaubourg an

Where but in Paris could you find Italian-Asian fusion cuisine prepared masterfully by a Thai-Italian chef? Sounds exotic? It is and it isn't since most of the dishes Chef Davide Galloni whips up taste more like fanciful comfort food. The Chef and his restaurateur partner, Alex Kogan, are both graduates from the esteemed culinary school here in Paris, Le Cordon Bleu. They lucked out finding this location in central Marais a couple years ago which turns out to be more fortuitous than perhaps even they imagined since right next door to them the huge complex, Eataly, is set to open. Brunch has become popular, but lunch and dinner remain something of a favorite with the local crowd. That they are right in the heart of Marais shopping, just a few steps away in fact from the famed BHV department store, make this a delicous and easy choice for dining.


Meet Paige Donner

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