So, you’re going to Paris? Wonderful! If you’ve landed here it’s likely because you asked about where to eat/drink (shop/caffeinate/amuse yourself) on your upcoming trip.
I’ve created this as a (mostly) one-stop shop to keep recommendations in one place. This is a question I get fairly often.
First, let’s stipulate: No one itinerary for Paris will serve everyone … or, really, even any two different people. What you’re hoping to discover is likely unique — or hopefully so, since there’s been a rash of Anglophone visitors descending on the same handful of spots (we see you, Septime Cave) and having what amounts to a rubber-stamped experience. So, if you want to visit Septime, Clamato, Paul Bert, Clown Bar, Le Baratin, etc., well, have at it, and godspeed.
Consider this my cheat sheet as someone who has spent a lot of time in Paris, lives there part-time, and generally tries to keep up. We all have our mercurial sides — I’ll never set foot in Le Baratin again, no matter the ambient nostalgia, nor in Oxymore (long story), and this is what has survived mine. It’s a very Parisian mode of being.
The first thing you’ll want to do is check on the Paris map we’ve been maintaining for about a decade. It contains things that we’ve enjoyed or found useful, in no particular order — largely just things that I’d return to, although in a few instances, some popular places that I haven’t nixed outright but would acknowledge with caveats. (See the above names.)
Please note that I don’t check this map for accuracy or currency. I’ll remove or update things that have closed or evolved, but this content has a factchecking budget in line with its business model.
Even if you’ve used this map before, there’s a couple new categories, namely The Hit List and On Deck. I’ll explain those below.
I’ve also suggested a handful of particularly notable spots below based on what your interests might be.
Otherwise, enjoy, and for sure report back on good experiences/bad experiences/downright weird experiences. Santé!
THE HIT LIST
I’ve found that it’s helpful to maintain, even within a list, a set of spots that are perennially my top recommendations — or my top recs of the moment. That’s what you’ll find here. These are the places I personally go back to the most often, or wish I did. If you ask me about Paris after a couple glasses of wine, these are where I’ll likely mention.
Some quick notes:
Le Saint-Sébastien and Sur Mer show up on pretty much every recommendation I offer. The first, run by our friends Dani and Thomas, is to me a quintessential neobistro. Dani has one of the great, underrated wine programs in Paris. Thomas runs Deck & Donohue. Chris is a terrific and underrated chef. The latter? I wish every city had a restaurant like Olive’s. Not only is her cooking a wonder of seafood, but this is as cozy as cozy gets. It’s a sibling restaurant to the well known Verre Volé, but I’d pick her spot every time.
Café du Coin and Paloma are quintessential neighborhood spots. Café les Deux Gares a bit more widely known but equally so. They feel like home whenever I’m there. Le Servan is the bistro run by Tatiana Levha and her sister; Tatiana’s husband Bertrand runs Septime, so this is part of that very clubby Paris realm. But Servan finds its intersection between Parisian postmodernism and the right set of pan-Asian accents, and when it’s on, it’s glorious. Also it’s about 200 meters from my house, so there’s that. (But their other restaurant, Double Dragon, is literally on my corner and yet doesn’t have me nearly so enthused.)
Chanceux was a net-new thing for Paris: a deli-slash-lunch spot with great coffee and terrific food. This is because of Thomas Lehoux, formerly at Ten Belles and Brûlerie Belleville, who more or less paved the way for third-wave coffee in Paris, and his wife Farah Laacher, who’s another of Paris’ most underrated talents in the kitchen. Her lunches are fantastic. Their new spot on the Left Bank, Chanceux Galande, opened recently.
Bistrot des Tournelles is at the heart of traditional bistro-food revival in Paris, and is a legitimate sub for your Paul Bert reveries.
Cheval d’Or is a whole Paris tale unto itself — an old classic Belleville Chinese spot, taken over in 2023 by an absolute dream team of east Paris bistronomy: Hanz Gueco, who cooked at Verjus (and many other places); Crislane Medina (formerly at Rigmarole), Luis Andrade and Nadim Smair. Hanz’s hybridization of Chinese, French, Italian and more is mind-bending; his mapo agnolotti were perhaps my dish of 2023. Book well in advance.
Paris will never be a great pizza capital but there is great pizza. Drogheria Italiana is currently a fave. (R.I.P. the much loved Da Graziella.) For reading pleasure, and because I love to poke holes in the theory that the French don’t eat pizza, and because of multiple recs in Nantes (long story), I suggest giving this guide a read, from the team at Zenchef. And marked on deck right now is Ave Pizzeria Romana, a fave from multiple sources that’s a completely different style — one that needs scissors to cut.
Paris is however a terrific food capital for food from Asia and the Levant (and beyond), both in original and hybridized form. There’s no end of options, but Lao Siam, Chez Nanchang, and lately Mala Boom are where I go when I need not-French food. And while Paris has a raft of great traditional Indian restaurants, I will say if you’re in the 2nd, don’t miss Jugaad, which is its own lovely thing.
Same with Yemma Office and Urfa Durum, for generally Middle Eastern sandwiches (Moroccan and Kurdish in this case). Yes, Bourdain ate at Urfa. Yes, it’s still really good. Speaking of sandwiches, Le Favori has more than earned its following, and if you want a deep dive on the jambon beurre, Caractère de Cochon will be the spot of your dreams.
Le Rigmarole has finally returned, open for lunch only. This is the story of the most intensely personal restaurant imaginable — literally Rob and Jess serving every customer — and how that meshes with trying to have a life. Their cooking is gorgeous and unique, as is that of their friend Dan Pearson, whose Pizzamarole pop-up managed to make it to the Times. (Dan is returning in his own space this year. Also, you’ve probably heard of Folderol, Jess and Rob’s ice-cream-slash-wine spot, lately the darling of the socials, to no one’s amusement.) In a similar vein is Mokonuts, similarly irresistible to the food tastemakers in recent years, and similarly a beautiful lunch, and of course Moko and Omar’s other spot, Mokoloko, which has become an incubator for all manner of pop-ups.
Finally, La Cagouille and Amarante are here in part because they solve an age-old Paris problem: Where to eat on Sundays? This isn’t to say they’re not great. Cagouille is epic seafood right by the Gare de Montparnasse, convenient on many levels. Amarante is one of the hidden gems of the 12th, right near the Gare de Lyon. Christophe Philippe is a fantastic chef, always underrated; he makes some of the best veal tongue in Paris. I’m never sure how Amarante has endured but I’m very glad it has, and try and send anyone there looking for a great Sunday dinner. More Sunday recs here and here, and many of the spots above, including Mala Boom, Chanceux, and Giclette (plus Clamato), are also open Sundays.
… is exactly what it sounds like. This is my scratchpad for things to check on. When I know, you’ll know. (And they’ll move to another category.) New intel welcome!
Not to say “everything else,” but, this is the wider roster from which Hit List options sub in and out. There is nothing about being here that means these are less good or important (except where noted … sorry, Enfants du Marché). Just that perhaps they’re less convenient to my very eastern Paris environs, or I just haven’t been back in a while.
Yes, I know I should break out boulangeries/patisseries. One day.
Keeping up with where to drink great wine in Paris is an art indeed, in part because the wine nerds have overrun the 11th and neighboring arrondissements, chasing every last bottle of Selosse, Domaine des Miroirs, Belluard, Ganevat, Raveneau, and the like. Because of that, a great wine spot is a constant moving target. (And note: It will never really be just wine, because at some point you’ll almost certainly have to grignoter with your glass.)
Plenty of suggestions here, and they’ll always be changing. (And they’re sprinkled across the different categories.)
Right now my current crush is Giclette, on rue Keller. In part because of the food from Kaori Endo, who runs Petit Keller a few doors down. Where else will you find maki and Japanese potato salad next to charcuterie and Époisses? But also because of Guillaume Dupré, one of the fixtures of Parisian natural wine (Coinstot Vino, Goguette, etc.), who has composed a collection of wines that’s the work of someone who’s been in this world long enough to see the layer behind the layer. It is, I’ve been saying lately, what Septime Cave was before we Americans descended. Delicatessen Place is in a similar place, but with a much smaller space and selection — but also terrific light bites and pasta. I love hanging out there.
But there’s lots else. Saint-Sébastien as mentioned above. 228 Litres is in the Hit List because Pierre Renauld and team find great new Champagnes before just about anyone but Les Caves du Forum (IYKYK), as well as tons else. I think 228 suffers from being more New French Wine than Vin Nature, but at the same time, I love the lack of ideology and the sheer quality here. Ici Même is a relatively new addition: a caviste with a bar service, and a great mix of the nature and the actual good wines. (OMG KIDDING.) Le Barav is much the same, and a hidden gem farther north near République. And of course there’s La Buvette and Camille Fourmont’s new cheese-focused spot near the Gare de Lyon, Olga. Buvette and Fourmont really catalized much of the wine culture of the 11th in the late 2010s, and it’s still basically my second living room.
This isn’t to overlook the many, many others.
Parisian cocktail culture has found its way back to the greatness of the previous ’20s, all for the good. What I can say is that most of the pioneers, namely Josh Fontaine’s Le Mary Celeste and Candelaria, plus The Little Red Door, are in fact still in great shape. So are Combat and Bisou, the latter of which has nailed the bespoke-cocktail vibe in a very Parisian way. Kissproof has been rising fast lately, too.
On any given cocktail night, you’ll most likely find me at Dirty Lemon, in part because of the quality of the bartenders, but also because chef-owner Ruba Khoury puts her Palestinian heritage to effect on the menu, including perhaps the single most brilliant bar move in years: a late-night kebab sandwich. Because why grab one on your stumble home when you can have it with your martini? Also to mention are Abricot, from my friends Allison and Jen, because Paris needed a Cali-vibe cocktail bar with vegan snacks. Bar Principal is a great bar for when you just want a bar, no frills. Cambridge Public House has a very pub aesthetic but is one of local bar owners’ faves for good reason. And note that Saint-Sébastien has a terrific espresso martini.
Let’s just say that a great many Anglophone sources for dining and other intel in Paris are … meh. Long story, needs wine.
That said: The source for Parisian food I use more than any other is, hands down, Le Fooding, which has guided and nursed the néobistro and generally the postmodern French food movement as no other publication has. Paris By Mouth has a savvy eye on Parisian restaurants, although more of it is now behind a Substack paywall, but plenty of reviews are still available, and there’s still a running tab on who’s open Sundays. Similar the work from Wendy Lyn, aka Paris Is My Kitchen, whose city guide is a great resource.
Z by Zenchef is a digital magazine run by Ezéchiel Zérah, one of the most talented of the young cohort of French food journalists. The pieces are great (even if Zenchef is constantly making life interesting for Resy). And you probably already know the work of David Lebovitz, who has become one of the most prominent voices of expat life in Paris. He is diligent and thoughtful in maintaining his own list of restaurants.
And I will always endorse anything suggested by my friend Lindsey Tramuta, author of The New Paris and one of the great experts on Paris today. She writes our Paris Hit List for Resy, and as a bonus, occasionally conducts bespoke food tours of Paris, if you’re in need of such things.