Paris is supposed to be the cuisine capital of the world, so why on earth is it do easy to have an average, verging on terrible, meal? Sure, there are loads of French restaurants in Paris but there is a reason why Parisians – and us, as half Parisians ourselves – will only set our feet in a few of them.
When people visit Paris they have visions of the Latin Quarter filled with students and cute restaurants. And while we agree that some of the restaurants are cute, you are more likely to come across a serious case of food poisoning that a student with a book in their hand.
Unfortunately there are so many restaurants in Paris that cater exclusively for tourists and the quality of the food they serve also reflects this. That is why we have used our 8 years of experience in the French capital to compile a short list of some of our favourite restaurants in Paris.
But before we get started, here is our 5-point check list to help you pick out the best restaurants:
How to spot a bad restaurant in Paris
1. Look at how many languages the menu has been translated in to. Just English is probably ok, but as soon there is page after page of translations, run away! If we are honest, some of the best places only have a menu in the local lingo, so start brushing up on your French.
2. Count the number of dishes available. If the menu looks more like an encyclopedia, just walk away. There is no way a restaurant can offer 30+ dishes that are fresh and homemade.
3. Keep an eye out for the homemade symbol. We are seeeing more and more of the following symbol to show that dishes are homemade. If not, look out for ‘fait maison’, ‘plats maison’ or ‘cuisine maison’ which all mean the same thing.
4. Listen and look out for the locals. Have a good look around the inside of the restaurant and on the terrace. If you can hear French and there is a significant absence of backpacks and cameras, it is probably a good bet.
5. Get away from the city centre! You will see from the list below that none of the restaurants we recommend are in the very centre of Paris. Rather, head a little further out to where the locals hang out at the weekend. A metro ticket, a bike or even your feet will get you there in no time – Paris is smaller than you think!
Les Fabricants: From the heart of the South West
Don’t have a big lunch if you plan on going to Les Fabricants for dinner! Imagine big plates of tender duck, enormous salad in metal bowls, delicious pan-fried garlic potatoes or even a mountain of veal, mushrooms and cheese. If you’re feeling adventurous, share a plate of snails covered in parsley and butter to start. All meals are inspired by the South West of France and portions are hearty – don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Note: Cash only and no reservations
Rue Jean Pierre-Timbaud
Metro: Goncourt, Parmentier or Ménilmontant
Chez Justine: French food with a twist
Just around the corner from Les Fabricants you can eat international food with French sophistication. Dishes vary from tender steaks and duck to burgers and escalope milanese (our favourite!). Choose from one of the many accommpaments – we always go for the mac ‘n’ cheese.
Note: The dish of the day (plat du jour) is often the cheapest option on the menu 🙂
96 Rue Oberkampf
Metro: Goncourt, Parmentier or Ménilmontant
Montparnasse 1900: The French feast
We always take our guests here when we want to impress. The restaurant has kept the old Belle Epoque style and it can be hard not to get your camera out for a few snaps. We always get the Belle Epoque menu for its value for money: an apéritif, starter, main, cheese course, dessert, tea or coffee and a half bottle of wine per person for 35 euros. It is a lot of food and drink, so you need a good appetite!
59 Boulevard du Montparnasse
Metro: Montparasse Bienvenüe
Une photo publiée par Anny Cooper (@anny.cooper) le
Le Plomb du Cantal: Mashed potato heaven
Some of Frog’s favourite foods are mashed potatoes and cheese, so when ‘aligot’ combines both of these with a sprinkle of garlic, he is in French food heaven. All meat dishes are served with either aligot, truffade or homemade French fries. Don’t forget to get your camera out when the food arrives – the way they serve the aligot is impressive!
Note: Avoid the house wine if you can afford it. We think it tastes watery.
4 Boulevard Saint Denis
Metro: Strasbourg Saint Denis
— Frog and Freckles (@frogandfreckles) 23 octobre 2016
Crêperie Saint-Malo: A taste of Brittany
Freckles loves crêpes, so we have tested our fair share of crêperies in Paris. Our absolute favourite has to be Crêperie Saint Malo at Bastille. The food is both delicious and affordable: try the menu of the day (savoury + sweet crêpe) for around 12 euros.
Note: This is a good option for lunch if you’re in the area
16 rue de la Roquette