This guest entry is from my friend Gideon Ben-Ami, who graciously stepped in and wrote this post about vegetarian dining options in Paris…david
UPDATE 2012: Since this was written, the dining scene has changed and I’ve added some new vegetarian restaurants (and vegan) that have come on to the scene since this post was written. You’ll find them further down the page… -dl
A you can imagine, being a vegetarian in Paris can be a challenge. During my 5 years in Paris I’ve witnessed many die hard veggies succumbing to the sins of the flesh. The usual excuse is that it’s just too hard (or the temptations too great) in the self-proclaimed food capital of the world. “I never ate meat till I tried the duck,” one friend told me while another announced, “Technically I’m still a vegetarian, though sometimes I do eat steak.”
If you’re dining at a neighborhood bistro, you’ll probably get by okay if you eat fish. But if you’re vegan, then you might need to smuggle in a nut cutlet or two under your raincoat as you’ll soon get tired of munching on side salads. Unlike many other European capitals, restaurants here don’t necessarily have a vegetarian option on the menu.
Paris does, however, have its fair share of vegetarian restaurants.
Are they any good?
I donned my corduroy jacket, slipped on a pair of sensible shoes and criss-crossed the streets of the French capital to find out. What I found came as a pleasant surprise—there’s quite a lot on offer and something for every palette.
Here is a list, in no particular order, of some of the most well-known vegetarian restaurants in Paris:
Le Grenier de Notre Dame
18, rue de la Bucherie (5th). On the Left Bank a stone’s throw from Notre Dame this is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Paris, it’s a friendly place with a cozy atmosphere and a varied menu catering for vegetarian, vegan, and macrobiotic customers. English menu, serves alcohol.
Le Potager du Marais
22, rue Rambuteau (3rd), Métro: Rambuteau. A lacto vegetarian place near to the Centre Pompidou. The restaurant is very narrow with all the tables put together into to make one long community table. Looking down the restaurant I felt I was entering a Michelangelo painting. Our supper (maybe not our last) was quite tasty with a mainly French menu including classics such as French onion soup all made from organic produce. The desserts were especially good. English speaking staff, serves alcohol.
9, rue la Cerisaie (4th) Métro: Bastille. Closed weekends. Serves vegan, macrobiotic food. The food is a pleasant mixture of French and Far Eastern dishes such as soups salads quiches, lentils, vegetarian sushi. This place has a rather austere look to it, feeling more like a church hall than a restaurant. Has a macrobiotic shop next door.
24, rue Cail (10th) Métro: La Chapelle. Indian vegetarian restaurant serving Thalis, Dosas, Pooris and all the South Indian favourites. Food is refreshingly spicy, which is not always the case at Indian restaurants in Paris. Good value with lunchtime menus from 9.50€.
92, rue du Chemin Vert (11th), Métro: Père Lachaise or Voltaire. Small Chinese vegan restaurant that with a large menu, food is tasty and freshly prepared with many mock meat options. Inexpensive.
20, rue Nationale (13th) Métro: Porte d’Ivry. Chinese vegan restaurant run by devotees of Ching Hai (known as The Supreme Master) whose pictures adorn the walls. Nice food with friendly service and a small store inside. Closed Tuesdays.
8, rue Xavier Rivas (5th) Métro: St Michel. Maoz is an international falafel chain has a take away stall in Latin quarter. (Check out David’s write up on Maoz.) Also try the rue de Rosiers (Métro St Paul) several options including, L’As du Fallafel “as recommended by Lenny Kravitz” and Chez Hanna “The best fallafel in the world”.
Updates from David
In recent times, a new crop of vegetarian restaurants has sprouted up in Paris, serving more distinctive fare. So I’ve added a few places, below. I haven’t eaten at a few of the newer ones, those without descriptions, although they have gotten good reviews and thought I would offer them up as well. I have provided addresses and phone numbers, and welcome any feedback.
I’m a big fan of Bob’s Juice Bar (15 rue Lucien Sampaix), a lively, fast-paced vegetarian restaurant and juice bar where you dine at a communal table. Owned by an American, the place is genial and the food is delicious. Think tofu sandwiches, muffins, and futomaki. The same owner, Mark Grossman, runs Kitchen (74, rue des Gravilliers) as well.
Some vegetarians might appreciate La Bonne Heure (72, rue de Moulin des Prés, Métro: Tolbiac.) This cozy, all-organic neighborhood spot is like flashback to the 80s, with rice plates piled with vegetable stews. The freshly-made vegetable tarts with whole-wheat crusts are nourishing, if not revolutionary. Still, it’s a sweet place and the staff is warm and friendly.
I’m very fond of Saravanaa Bhavan, an Indian restaurant (170, rue du Faubourg Saint Denis, Métro: Gare du Nord.) The food is great and the restaurant is completely vegetarian.
New on the scene are:
Tuck Stop: 13 rue Lucien Sampaix, Tél: 09 80 72 95 40
Green Pizz: 8, rue Cadet, Tél: 01 48 00 03 29
Pousse-Pousse: 7. rue Notre Dame de Lorette, Tél: 01 53 16 10 81
Soya: 20, rue de la Pierre Levée, Tél: 01 48 06 33 02
Gentle Gourmet Café (Vegan): 24, rue de la Bastille, Tél: 01 43 43 48 49
Le Bar des Artisans (Vegan): 23, rue des Vinaigriers, Tél: 01 42 01 03 44
Vegan Follies (Cupcakes): 53, rue Mouffetard, Tél: 01 43 37 21 89
10 Restaurants Végétariens à Paris (L’Express)