Paris Restaurants, Bistros, Cocktail Bars and Bakeries

Not a day goes by when I don’t get a message requesting a restaurant recommendation in Paris. (Curiously, I also get asked for restaurant recommendations in cities I’ve never lived in, or even visited.) My promise to you is that I’ll only write up or recommend places I’ve been to, and with apologies to all who’ve asked for restaurant recommendations on social media, if I answered every request and message, I wouldn’t have time to write up this list for you. Or even go out to eat myself.

I do update my Paris restaurant list when I find a place I like. Similarly, when a restaurant or bistro isn’t what it used to be, I remove it. When I do a more extensive write up of a place, you’ll find it listed in my Paris restaurant categories. But other times, when I’m just going out to dinner, not toting my camera with me (and not remembering all the details the next day), I’ll give it a more general shout-out on my Paris restaurant page. But here’s a little more to add to that list, as well as some sweet shops and cocktail bars that are worthy of being on your radar.

Brasserie Bellanger (140, rue du Faubourg Poissonière, 10th) is one of the newer of the low(er)-priced bistros that have popped up in Paris over the last few years. The young owners promise everything is fresh and fait maison (homemade), which was a criticism rightly leveled at some of the old-school bistros that lost their luster, noting that the brasserie sources things directly from producers, which allows them to keep prices modest. Our vegetable-centric pollack (above) was nicely cooked, served on a heap of fresh vegetables. The frites we ordered alongside – because man cannot live by fish alone – were some of the best I’ve had in town. We finished with an Île flottante filled with mango puree and very good Paris-Brest. The staff is very friendly although if you choose a table outside, expect a majority of the neighboring tables to be occupied smokers.

Another place that I’ve been enjoying, where I’ve not taken a picture at, is Le Mermoz (16, rue Jean Mermoz, 8th). This starkly-decorated bistro allows you to focus on the food, which isn’t just beautifully-presented, but it’s perfectly prepared. A recent lunch started with a plate of lightly blanched green beans with fresh almonds and pickled apricots. Dessert was softly cooked cherries bathed in sabayon with cubes of Gâteau de Savoie and a sprinkling of fresh elderflowers. The focus is on quality of ingredients and preparation, rather than portion size, at least at lunch, when I’ve dined there. But it’s usually enough for me.

I’ve written about les routiers before, French truck stops known for serving honest, no-nonsense fare, hearty enough for truckers, who need a decent meal to break up the monotony of being on the road. Aux Bons Crus in Paris probably doesn’t get that many truckers, but locals like it because it serves honest French food without a lot of fuss. Recently three women next to us were thrilled to be able to get kidneys, while we shared a Frisée salad with lardons (bacon), rillettes (not my favorite dish on the menu), and œufs mayo, before digging into mains of straightforward French fare, everything intentionally priced to please camionneurs (truckers), and the rest of us.

Yup, I know it’s not called Bo Bun, but that’s what they call it in France. (And yes, in France, it’s also café express, not an espresso.) If you have a problem with the language, take it up with the Académie Française. Whatever you call it, Bo Bun has become as popular at the Apérol Spritz around town, especially with the twenty-something set. But the one at Lux Café (73, rue Saint-Maur, no website) is different than others. The grilled rolls and pork (although it’s available with fried tofu, and yes, with grilled pork the dish is traditionally referred to as Bun Cha) are on a bed of curled up sheets of noodles, rather than the traditional strands of vermicelli.

There’s only one thing on the menu and the prices are higher than the other places around town, but I think it’s worth it. If you want to walk up to Belleville, Dong Huong has a pretty good one, too. Actually, at Dong Huong I always get B12 on the menu, do-it-yourself rice paper rolls that you roll up with grilled chicken, fresh herbs, carrots, and rice noodles. It took me a while to get the hang of it; an older Vietnamese waiter saw me struggling the first time and came over to show me how it’s done. Now, I’m almost a pro, although when I was in Vietnam, when I saw how deftly everyone make their rice paper rolls, and realized how much I still have to learn.

Also on my radar has been Poulette, perhaps the prettiest restaurant in Paris. We went for lunch and started with asparagus bathed in a Chartreuse-tinged mousseline and œufs mayo, then moved on to an outstanding plate of quail in a sauce of d’Anjou white wine with green peppercorns and fingerling potatoes. Happily, Poulette has fresh fruit juices made to order at the bar, if you’re on lunch break and don’t want to drink wine, but if you come in the evening (or if you’re up for a little day-drinking), there’s an especially strong list of house-made cocktails.

It was late afternoon when we arrived at Cravan (17, rue Jean de la Fontaine, 16th), so was happy to have a sip of one of the libations of Franck Audoux, the owner of this truly hole-in-the-wall café. But what a hole! Designed by Hector Guimard, who designed many of the art nouveau Paris métro stations, everything at Cravan is pretty, and perfect. I’ve not been during mealtime but I’ve tried a number of the small plates, which are a quite a change from the bowls of peanuts or potato chips served around town. (However, these aren’t free.) I’ve loved everything I’ve had here, from the straightforward cocktails that focus on French spirits, like the Cognac-forward Boulevardier I had last week, but the snacks have always been excellent. The café is rather cozy, but the expansive terrace is a gorgeous place to sit in the warmer months.

I went shortly after it opened and Double Dragon (52, rue Saint-Maur, 11th) had a few kinks to work out. They didn’t take reservations so we got there when they opened at 7pm, and there was already a line. The other was the music, which was pretty loud. Thankfully both have calmed down, however they still don’t take reservations, and Double Dragon offers up Asian fare quite a few steps above the other places around town. Opened by the two sisters that operate Le Servan down the street, you’ll find little pepper icons on the menu to let you know something is spicy. The server warned us against a few of those things on the menu, then heard my accent, and let me go ;)

The fritters (above) are tofu beignets lined with Comté cheese, served with a mayo-based XO sauce.  The thrice-cooked beef with celery was very good, and the Sichuan noodles were, indeed, very spicy. But we both slurped them up.

An old favorite that I hope never changes is Le Petit Vendôme, known for having some of the best sandwiches in town. True, there are places to sit, but if you want to feel like a local, order a sandwich, saddle up the bar, order a glass of Burgundy, and enjoy the atmosphere…and le sandwich. The classic jambon-beurre here is renown.

On the other end of the spectrum is La Fontaine de Belleville, a spiffy, well-polished French café, owned by Belleville Brûlerie, pioneers of the quality coffee movement in Paris. It’s been restored and serving the legendary coffee that’s roasted not far from the café, and you can also get a classic jambon-beurre sandwich and a Croque Monsieur, then finish up with one of the excellent house-made desserts. The Pain d’épice, shown above, goes great with a p’tit crème.

Further up the hill in Belleville, is La Cave de Belleville, a natural wine bar. Often these kinds of wine bars attract a hip crowd, who seems more interested in jumping out of their seats to grab a smoke outside, or check their Likes, rather than doing any serious eating. (I’m always amazed when a server puts down plates of hot food in front of people, and at that moment, they run outside.) Here, everyone stays put as the plates of cheese and charcuterie are hard to walk away from. The one shown (above) was dinner for three of us, along with a plate of burrata that was better than most versions around town. Wines are available by the glass or bottle, and the wine prices are remarkably reasonable.

On the sweet side, I went to a launch party for Aqua Vitae chocolates from Edwart. Edwin, the owner and chocolatier, loves liqueurs and spirits and his new collection of chocolates brilliantly incorporates them. Sometimes when people add liqueurs, they can be too faint to fully appreciate. But each chocolate in this assortment, which includes one blended with Glenfiddish whisky aged in IPA barrels, Del Maguey mezcal and Venezuelan chocolate, and the elusive Chartreuse végétal elixir (unavailable in the U.S., but comes in a handy wooden box for travel), boldly go where few chocolates dare to go. The collection is available for a limited time only.

The sign outside says “Depuis Hier,” nothing that they’ve been open “since yesterday,” The French Bastards have arrived on the Paris pastry scene. There are babkas and cruffins, as well as a formidable lemon meringue tart (which is meant to be for one, but I think it’d feed four), but their regular vienoisserie, the croissants and pains au chocolat (above), are outstanding. One day the exceptionally friendly bâtards called me into the kitchen and sliced into a slew of trial batches, to taste. Their croissants are larger than others around town, but as buttery flakes and shards flew around while we sampled, I learned that they’ve hit their stride and this is a bold new addition to the pâtisseries of Paris.

Starting a meal with a drink is a French tradition, during l’heure de l’apéro, or apéritif hour. This Kiss & Fly (above) at Mino was a refreshing twist on the spritz, a blend of Pimm’s, lemon, ginger cordial, finished off with grapefruit soda and prosecco. While this is a very competent cocktail bar with friendly bartenders, the food is quite good, too. The menu changes frequently but the flavors (and decor) continue to be drawn from the Mediterranean.

Staying by the sea, the nautical theme at Copper Bay will take you away from being in a bustling city center, along with a line-up of seasonal cocktails shaken and stirred up by the friendly staff. There may be a Tipsy Tea, their interpretation of a Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, or a Tzatziki, made with dill-infused vodka, basil, cucumber, and mastic spirit. You can also get artisan sparkling apple cider or pastis (with or without orgeat syrup), served by the glass, carafe, or even frozen.

Considered the oldest cocktail bar in Paris, Gallopin has expanded to the space next door, for the more casual La Rôtisserie Gallopin featuring cocktails on tap, created by one of the best bartenders in Paris, Stan Jouenne. His coffee-fueled Negroni combines Grand Brûlot coffee-Cognac liqueur, Salers (gentian) and Dolin vermouth, all from France, as the bar only uses French spirits. I haven’t eaten at their rôtisserie yet (it just opened this week), but if this drink is any indication, we might both want to check out the food.

Someone requested the recipe for these Socca Chips on social media, which are available at the Fédération Française de l’Apéritif, which is like asking the recipe for Fritos. It’s not going to happen, at least in anyone’s home. (If you do have a recipe for Fritos, please forward it to me!) But as I often say, everything doesn’t need to be available everywhere, all the time. It’s often best just to go somewhere and enjoy it there, which holds especially true for the FFA, as this apéritif bar is called. Only French products line the shelves, including buckwheat galette (crêpe) chips, that are also “Recipe, please” worthy, and a changing selection of cheese and meats to go with whatever you’re drinking.

Combat may seem like an unusual name for a Parisan bar (in my next book, I explain why), but you don’t need to know why right now, you just need to go to what is one of my favorite cocktail bars in Paris. The drinks aren’t over-the-top (thank you…) but straightforward, and delicious. For some reason, the bar height and size works perfectly for me; I always feel like I’m dining (or drinking) in someone’s home, rather than in a bar. The cocktail I prefer is the Perfect Serve, above, with whiskey, dried pear, sherry, ume liqueur, and a touch of absinthe. The name is spot-on.

While I avoid the term “industry favorite,” a number of bartenders in Paris have told me they like Sherry Butt. They’ve got a beguiling list of drinks, which changes, but I recently enjoyed a Ronin (above), with Japanese whisky, madiera infused with pandan (a tropical plant), oloroso sherry, Champagne, smoked sea and – whew – black salt. It sounded more complicated than it was, and I’m always amazed when a bartender can add a curiously diverse list of ingredients to a glass, and make it taste like simple liquid. That’s a skill worth raising a glass to, which we did.


Paris Restaurants, Bistros, Cocktail Bars and Bakeries

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  • June 25, 2019 5:24pm

    Is Brasserie Bellanger shipping those Fries? Oh my, they look SO gooooooood!!!! :D

    • Margaret
      June 26, 2019 3:23am

      Your new book sounds interesting and exciting (!) — look forward to reading when it comes out. Are the recipes from all over France, or just mainly Paris?

      • June 26, 2019 7:42am
        David Lebovitz

        I went around France, from the French alps, to Burgundy and the south of France, for research and some recipes are specific to Paris while others are from French café traditions, which reflect the entire country. Topics covered also include regional specialties from Gascony, Brittany, Normandy, the Jura, and Marseille.

  • Kathleen
    June 25, 2019 5:40pm

    Love your work David. Have most of your books. Here is the NYT Frito recipe.

      June 25, 2019 7:05pm

      Thank you, David — I’d love to try most of these places. HOWEVER, could you possibly go to the trouble of consistently providing the address (and arrondissement) of each establishment?

      I realize that you hyperlinked each name, but frankly I’m *feinante* (especially during a canicule) and I’m just not going to go all the way across Paris for one bistro if another one nearby appears equally, or nearly, as good. So ideally I’d like to refine my search from the start.

      Sorry to be demanding, because clearly it took you a LOT of time already to curate this list!

      Merci beaucoup d’avance.

      P.S. I don’t live terribly far from you, I believe — proche da la Bastille.

      • Saron
        June 26, 2019 2:21am

        Laura, all you have to do is click on the highlighted bar/restaurant name to see the location.

      • Elizabeth
        June 27, 2019 11:34am

        I feel like that will get in the way of David’s life and ability to get posts up (and books written). He posts the links to the site, I think that’s perhaps enough. If you want to go, you’ll have to plan it out…

      • isabella
        July 13, 2019 12:45am

        Just open Google maps. It’s really THAT simple.

  • Ellen portal
    June 25, 2019 5:42pm

    Yes everybody asks you for recommendations because you are an expert. I keep writing to you asking for a recommendation in the 15 eme …any thoughts? Preferably a casual place for lunch…Merci!

  • Jen
    June 25, 2019 5:55pm

    Too much hipster tue les bobos. Your link to Brasserie Bellanger shows a suave beautifully designed website with “here our our suppliers all over Europe, here is our IG account”… but NO address., just a logo on their menu “Faubourg Poissonnière” Where is it?

  • June 25, 2019 6:01pm
    David Lebovitz

    Jen: I didn’t realize their website didn’t have the address. I checked on Google and found it, and added it to the post. (They don’t take reservations so I didn’t include the phone number.) Thanks for letting me know.

    Ellen: I rarely go over there so don’t know places in the 15th – sorry!

    Kathleen: Thanks! : ) Now if someone could figure out how to make socca chips (!) Although I’d rather go out for them, since I like hanging out at the FFA.

  • June 25, 2019 6:01pm

    Friends recently stumbled into le Procope, not knowing it’s the oldest café in Paris. They loved it so much they went back the next day. They also enjoyed Lilane in the 5th.

  • Charlotte K
    June 25, 2019 6:21pm

    Holy cow. I have a pretty good lunch here in Boston today, homemade tomato soup and some fresh potato chips. But I’d trade it all for …well any of that stuff in those pictures up there.

  • betty wickett
    June 25, 2019 6:49pm

    So timely as we will be renting an apartment in Paris in September. I plan to read all your books before then so I can make good use of the kitchen.

  • Eric
    June 25, 2019 7:23pm

    Hello , I’ll be staying in the Latin Quarter in spring, looking for bistros near by Hotel Jardin. Kind Regards Eric

  • Marguerite
    June 25, 2019 7:43pm

    Makes me feel better to know you order œufs mayo, too. I love them but always feel like an oddball American to order lowly hard boiled eggs in Paris. But oh, the mayo when it’s made right!

    • June 26, 2019 7:48am
      David Lebovitz

      People who aren’t used to the idea of œufs mayo think it’s a little strange, but it’s become one of my favorite things. It’s sort of become a cult (again) in France, and there’s a society (called the ASOM) to “save” the œufs mayo now, too!

  • Rebecca Rassier
    June 25, 2019 7:49pm

    I started following French Bastards on Instagram after learning about them from you. This past spring I passed through Paris for a day as I made my way from Lyon to a CDG flight. I made a pilgrimage to French Bastards (open on a Sunday!) and it was very much worth it. An amazing almond croissant and really friendly staff. The place has a great vibe as well as tasty treats!

  • LynneZ
    June 25, 2019 9:47pm

    Your beautiful stories and photos make my heart happy and my tummy hungry! I will be staying in Lyon for the month of September. What food cities should I take day trips to? I will visit Dijon, and …? As always, I love reading and your blog and cookbooks :) Warmest wishes, L – San Diego CA

  • June 25, 2019 9:55pm

    What a scrumptious post David! Thank you. The only thing to munch close at hand was some shredded Comté. Now its gone. Have you tries Pho Taï mentioned in the Eater’s bo bun link. Fabulous.

  • Cassie
    June 25, 2019 10:17pm

    We bought those socca chips in Nice and couldn’t get enough and now bring home bags whenever we’re lucky enough to find them elsewhere in France. In Colmar a shop just around the corner from where we were staying happened to have them and we were overjoyed. The stash is getting low so it means a trip to France is in order (though making your socca recipe at home scratches that itch too!).

    • June 26, 2019 7:45am
      David Lebovitz

      With the interest in gluten-free eating I see in the U.S. that there are a number of chickpea “chips” options. I don’t know how they compare to these but it’s nice to have those options, too!

  • Yermat
    June 25, 2019 11:39pm

    The extraordinary Breizh Café has now branched off in the 17th : 31 rue des Batignolles. Best crêpes (sweet) and galettes (buckwheat) in Paris.

    • June 26, 2019 7:44am
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, they’re opened other branches around Paris since they opened their first place in the Marais. Good news for people that live near one!

  • Paul
    June 26, 2019 4:45am

    Wow, David, you’ve been on fire lately. Thanks for the last few amazing posts. Thanks also for the tips on cookware shops.

  • witloof
    June 26, 2019 5:23am

    Bookmarking this for when I’m in Paris in August {and also crossing my fingers that a few of these places will be open!}

  • Melody G
    June 26, 2019 6:03pm

    David, this is so timely! My husband and I will be visiting Paris the first week in August. Neither of us have been so I’m sure it will be an experience. We’re also low-key foodies, so I look forward to checking out one or two places on your list. What’s close to Hotel Edouard 7 you’d recommend? Also any places in Majorca you know of? :)

  • Billie Ford
    June 26, 2019 11:47pm

    A friend and I dined tonight at Brasserie Belanger and those fries, I would agree, were some of the best – I also think they were lightly salted something usually lacking. Even though my plate had potatoes, the boeuf presse, which also was excellent, I could not pass on those fries. The wait staff were all fabulous.

  • Betty Ulrich
    July 2, 2019 9:01pm

    i am so curious to know the most popular cheese used on the jambon-beurre sandwiches? My first trip into Paris was to the Louvre and had one of these sandwiches in their bistro..thought I had died and gone to heaven!
    Thanks so much!

    • July 3, 2019 10:25am
      David Lebovitz

      It’s usually Emmental cheese although if making one at home, a nice Comté, Beaufort, or Gruyère could be used.

  • Sylvie
    July 9, 2019 2:51am

    I love this post. Thanks for your insights as always!

  • Margaret
    July 18, 2019 12:24pm

    Just to say thanks so much for the Brasserie Bellanger recommendation. The food was absolutely excellent, the service was friendly, they didn’t rush us at all even though we arrived late, and it’s excellent value for money too. Much appreciated (as is your writing!).