Mark Bittman, Patricia Wells, Alain Ducasse (when he’s slumming) and a SoHo waiter or two are my voices of reason for this eclectic food guide. For my birthday I might be doing a little fancy French at Le Grand Vefour but for the rest of my stay I want rustic, hearty, classic… Yes, this means I will gain ten pounds. C’est la vie. Paris is an occasion and I plan on celebrating!
1. Le Severo
One of Mark Bittman’s favorites… Severo is a small bistro away from the tourists. Very Parisian. Fantastic beef, BEST EVER FRENCH FRIES. I don’t need any more convincing
(14th/ Metro Alesia; 8 rue des Plantes)
2. Chez Georges
One of Ina Garten’s favorites…A perfectly preserved 1920’s bistro. “Every millimeter of the long, narrow dining room, with its mirrored walls and Gothic columns, is packed elbow-to-elbow, filled with carefree, carnivorous crowd that’s there as much for the ambiance as for the cuisine, and enjoying the warm welcome of owner Betrand Brouillet.” “Baskets of perfectly sliced Pain Poilane, steaming platters of steak, kidneys, grilled lamb chops, duck, sole and turbot… The bistro star remains the classic onglet de boeuf with shallots to bring out it’s flavor… Alongside come fine, traditional French fries… The house Brouilly hits the spot… Outrageous Ile Flottante! Exemplary cheese plate. Who could ask for more?”
(2nd/ Metro Sentier; rue de Mail)
3. Aux Lyonnais
Alain Ducasse updated this classic standby… “The place is drop-dead gorgeous, an 1890 bistro that does not feel contrived. It’s one of the bistros of your dreams.” Here, the food is gutsy and prepared with great attention, and the service is better than average. Stew of winter vegetables… “sabodet”—a classic Lyonnaise dish of salami and potatoes served with a sauce gribiche… Strongly suggested to order the pink sparkler Bugey Serdon (you don’t see it often and it’s cheap!).
(2nd/Metro ?; 32 Rue Saint Marc)
4. Chez Denise
Boisterous, smoky bistro near Les Halles…”It’s that kind of place—friendly, truly unpretentious, fun—and filled with meat, mostly off-cuts. The most popular thing is the French fries, served in abundance. Start with something like leeks vinaigrette (starting with pate or saucisson would be overkill)… move to the cote de boeuf served with marrow bones… or kidney, brains, steaks or chops… I’ve yet to find a loser among them… A meal comes to about 30 Euro. Barrels of Brouilly at great prices. Share the Ile Flottante.
(1er/Metro Louvre-Rivoli or Chatelet-Les Halles; 5, rue des Prouvaires)
5. La Closerie des Lilas
Hemingway and Fitzgerald… Here you’ll find a fabulous jazz pianist, the world’s best champagne julep and you don’t even have to have dinner—feel free to sit at the bar and enjoy. The clientele is as chic Left Bank as ever. Freshest oysters…
(6e/Metro Vavin or Port Royal; 171 boulevard du Montparnasse)
Near our B& B… Patricia Wells loves this place for a casual meal. It’s equal parts local haunt, store, neighborhood bar and epicurean eatery.
(6e; 6 rue de Chevreuse)
7. Le Epi Dupin
Near our B&B… Not known for interior design, but fantastic food-yes! Francois Pasteau turns out an “endless parade of inventive dishes” based on Pasteau’s early morning trips to the Rungis Market. Tatin of endive and goat cheese…mackerel filets in a hazelnut, fennel crust…There’s a great prix fixe lunch.
(6e/Metro Sevres-Babylon; 11 rue Dupin)
8. Huitrerie Regis
One of Mark Bittman’s favorites (clearly, he’s my new boyfriend…) … The small oyster bar maybe seats 20 and is located right off of Boulevard St.-Germain. “Clean” and “pleasantly-lit,” at this bar you get super-fresh oysters—and not much more. Four varieties of oysters: Belon (most expensive), fines de Claire, speciales de Claire, pousses en Claire. The names describe how long they have spent in the growing pond and how much space they are given.
(6e; 3 rue de Montfaucon)
9. Willi’s Wine Bar
A favorite of many…250 wines, many by the glass and a menu that includes fantastic terrines and Lyonnais sausage in truffled vinaigrette…Lunch is the busiest time, it’s best to enjoy cozy ambiance during the quieter evenings.
(1e/Metro Bourse; 13 rue des Petits-Champs)
10. Au Petit Fer a Cheval
Old Paris in the Marais… This is a “tiny, popular, super-trendy neighborhood café that dates back to 1903.” “Quirky and uncommon.” “Friendly and open—a place where you could actually get to know the French.” “This is the real thing, a one-of-a-kind place, a sentimental favorite, a part of pre-war Paris.” The café derives its name from the marble-topped horseshoe bar (the fer a cheval) that is its centerpiece. Come during the day so you can actually enjoy the ambiance as well as the daily specials…warm goat cheese salad with Poilane bread and other lighter fare. Open ‘til 2 a.m.!
(4e; Metro Hotel de Ville; 30, rue Vielle du Temple)
11. Mon Vieil Ami*
One of the best eats in Paris situated on Ile Saint Louis… Recommended by Melissa Lafsky (“Opinionistas”), Alain Ducasse and Patricia Wells (no, M. Ducasse and Madame Wells didn’t email me like Melissa did). “Fun, modern, youthful.” High-ceilinged, black & white, modern dining room where the waiters serve you a chilled glass of Alsatian pinot blanc the moment you’re seated. Smoked salmon rillettes…pate en croute…pan-fried foie gras…pan-fried mackerel with leeks vinaigrette. Can’t wait! We have reservations for Wednesday lunch.
(4e/ 69 rue Saint Louis en I’le)
Pronounced BOW-fahn-jay, this is the oldest brasserie in Paris and a protected national monument. It’s a Belle Epoque dining palace with polished wood, shining brass, comfortable banquettes and—the piece de resistance—a glass dome over the central dining room. French writers, academics and politicians come here for the two classic brasserie dishes—platter of fruits de mer (6 different kinds of oysters!) and charcroute. Sign me up for champagne and oysters!
(4e/Ile de la Cite, Ile St. Louis; 5-7 rue de Bastille)
13. Ma Borgogne
One of Alain Ducasse’s favorites… Situated on one of the most beautiful squares in Paris, the Place des Vosges, the Borgogne absorbs the beauty of its surrounding architecture that dates back to 1407. Don’t go fancy or complicated here—stick to classics. serves French cuisine de terroir—hearty countryside dishes like Beaujolais sausage and stuffed cabbage.
(4e/Metro Bastille; 19 Place des Vosges
14. Gerard Mulot
Best breakfast pastries and tarts in town… I’m going to skip café and croissants at the hotel and beat a path down the rue de Seine for a still warm pain au chocolat.
(6e/76 rue de Seine)
15. La Verre Vole’
The manager of my neighborhood restaurant, “Shorty’s .32,” recommended this ‘cave a manger’ to me… Situated in the trendy area near the Canal St. Martin, this boite looks as if it will satisfy all cravings! It’s a specialty grocery store, wine cellar and eatery all in one. Salads…roasted meats…all those Frenchy French terrines…
(near Canal St. Martin; 67 rue de Lancry)