Cafe du Coin

I’m often asked by people coming to Paris what neighborhood they should stay in. The usual “off-the-beaten-path…but not too far from the center” doesn’t help me figure out what fits those seemingly opposing bills. Everything in Paris is pretty close and most places are a 20 minute métro ride away. Like most cities, the good places aren’t clustered in the center of the city. They’re everywhere.

People tend to opt for the lovely St. Germain area, or the Marais, which are nice areas and people feel comfortable there. I know when I travel, I don’t want to stay in the outskirts of town and face a long commute to go anywhere. I don’t necessarily want to live like a local. When I’m on vacation, I don’t want to have to check my mail, do paperwork, and pay bills. I’m happy to go out to lunch every day and drink wine, or head to the beach.

I get that people don’t want to eat in a tourist trap, but if you walk around the popular-with-visitors neighborhood around St. Michel (in the 5th), for example, there are plenty of those kinds of places over there. (Lest you think I’m turning my nose up at that area, there are good places around there such as Shakespeare & Co. Café, Maoz, Café de la Nouvelle Mairie, the Beaufort cooperative, Treize, and Les Papilles, that I frequent.)

But Paris has changed, and continues to evolve. The majority of interesting places are now in the double-digit arrondissements, like Café du Coin. Lower rents and a neighborhood vibe are much of their appeal to the chefs and owners. As a visitor one needn’t feel hesitant about going to places in those parts of town. You’ll get a friendly welcome at Café du Coin, as I did with a friend when we took a break from work for a weekday lunch.

The appetizer pizzetta (above) has become the signature dish at this corner café. The little pizzetta that I started with was made with taleggio cheese and Niçoise olives, a mix of pitted and unpitted. If you go in the evening, when the café becomes a wine bar, only the pizzettas are available. (The vibe and crowd is also decidedly different at night and if you want to dine, you’ll want to come for lunch.) I split the pizzetta with my dining companion, who had the Kefta made of pork with labneh.

The meatballs were a tad on the salty side and we both agreed that another dollop of the cooling labneh would have been put to good use with the gently spiced boulettes.

The wines are Café du Coin are natural wines, meaning they are made without additives or sulfites and the taste can be not what people are expecting, if they’re expecting a glass of traditional wine. In France, a glass of wine is €5-8 (more or less) in a restaurant, so it’s not a big deal if the wine you get isn’t quite what you were thinking. But when it’s $12 to 16 a glass, plus tax and tip, as a glass of wine can be in the U.S., expectations when you’ve dropped $20 on a glass of wine are different.

Things that would be considered flaws in traditional wine are considered acceptable attributes in natural wines. Cloudiness, brett, and untamed acidity can happen. That’s not a swipe, but natural wines can have characteristics that surprise people who aren’t expecting them. One thing I do like about natural wines is that they don’t taste “standardized.” It’s one of the reasons I’m acutely interested in bean-to-bar chocolates; you can taste how they were made. Ditto with natural wines.

We tried a Sancerre from the Loire, which went well with the food (and being lunchtime, white wine seemed more appropriate.) We liked it so much that my friend ordered a second glass, and broadly speaking, the wine list here is so reasonable that it’s a good opportunity to give something you might not know about a try, and not worry about breaking la banque.

Not being a squid-eater, I admired my dining companion’s plate, accompanied by almonds, celery, squash and cimi di rapa, similar to turnip greens, but declined a taste.

My Rumsteak Rossini was a very generous portion of beef with a thin slice of foie gras melting on top. I saw other plates going out with heftier slices of liver on top, but the thin one was just right for the beef, which was served atop an excellent gratin Dauphinois (potato).

For dessert, there were ribbons of 18-month old Comté cheese with a few hazelnuts.

I went with the grapefruit tart with candied citron. The filling had a pleasing tanginess and I’ll eat a Michelin tire if it has citron on it. So I greatly appreciated the effort of the kitchen to candy the citron and make such a nice presentation. The crust could have come out of the oven a few minutes earlier, but it was nice to get a housemade dessert, and the slice was devoured.

Prices, of course, are subject to change. But we both agreed the €20 three-course meal was a good deal. The coffee was good, too.

Café du Coin
9, rue Camille Desmoulins (11th)
Métro: Voltaire
Tél: 01 48 04 82 46

[Reservations for lunch recommended.]


As everyone knows, Paris suffered a devastating loss this week with the fire at Notre-Dame cathedral, in the center of the city. Thanks to the heroic efforts of the Paris pompiers (firefighters), portions of the building were spared from destruction and a number of artifacts were saved as well. Efforts to salvage what they can, determine the cause of the fire, and the direction the restoration will take, are ongoing. Thanks to everyone that left messages about the fire and it’s heartwarming how many people from around the world were moved by the disaster. – david

Café du Coin, an excellent neighborhood café in Paris

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40 comments

  • Katrina
    April 18, 2019 5:10pm

    Dear David – my husband and I will finally be going to Paris this fall (from Chicago, IL) for our honeymoon. Your posts and recommendations have truly been a blessing and have helped structure our whole trip. I’m sad you are no longer doing tours, but we did schedule one through Paris by Mouth and are so excited! If you happen to see a very tall girl walking around in early October with a loaf of bread in one hand and a stick of butter in the other, yell out “Hi Katrina!” and chances are it will be me! :)

    • Recetario de Rocio
      April 23, 2019 1:56pm

      I just took the matzo candy out of the oven and it looks and smells amazing. Best Regards from Madrid my friend.

  • Kirsten Herold
    April 18, 2019 5:22pm

    Thanks for an enjoyable and informative post! Makes me yearn to go back. On where to stay, we usually stay in the northern half of the 9th arrondisement. Not wildly touristy but still very central, and at least 40% cheaper than being closer to the river. A very short walk (10 minutes) both to Marais, Montmartre, and about 20 minutes downhill to the river. Also easy buses, which many tourists don’t take but which are totally worth figuring out — you see more, and feel safer from things like pickpockets etc. than in the Metro.

  • Marianne Ahrne
    April 18, 2019 5:25pm

    Thanks for the tip! My granddaughter lives 81 metres away in the Cité Industrielle. She’s vegan so I’ve to go to the cafë alone when I visit but it seems worth it.

  • April 18, 2019 5:27pm

    David, Did you know there is a Cafe du Coin in Vallauris france? I wonder if it is the same people? The food I had there keep me going during a five month artist residency. The food was delicious and the staff very friendly.

    • Simon Ouellet
      April 19, 2019 1:01pm

      Café du coin is a very common name for restaurants in french. It could likely translate to “Neighborhood’s cafe”. It would be surprizing that it’s the same owners. Sorry!

  • Jennifer
    April 18, 2019 5:27pm

    Hi David! I love your writing, photography and above all your insights. The picture of the floor made me chuckle — he’s human after all, and makes a misfire off the camera roll as he’s posting? Or is it a subtle flag that the cafe is a bit on the grubby side around the edges? Delete this comment if it’s the former and the pic is going to the bin, if it’s the latter, bravo on the passive aggressive dress-down! (actually, delete it if it’s the latter too .. lol)

    • Sharon
      April 18, 2019 10:15pm

      Jennifer – when I looked at that photo, I thought that David was intrigued with the tiles. I love tiles and would have been interested in them too.
      Sharon

      • Julie Hock
        April 18, 2019 11:40pm

        I loved that photo and felt pleased that it was included in this article.

  • Iris
    April 18, 2019 5:33pm

    When we were in Paris we used to go frequently to Maoz. The falafel with the various toppings were always fresh and slightly addictive.
    In Seattle, I have asked a local restaurant owner to open a franchise so I could have the food here. Sadly, he said no.

    • sillygirl
      April 19, 2019 3:02pm

      Well bummer – we live in the Seattle area and would have eaten there, too!

  • Gayle
    April 18, 2019 5:50pm

    Hi David, I usually stay in the 11th, just near the Voltaire metro. I’m always on the lookout for new places to try and Cafe du Coin was on my radar screen anyway. Good to know its a lunch thing rather than a dinner thing, so thanks for that.

    Have you tried Au Bon Crus? It’s very near my apartment and it seems to get good buzz.

    • April 18, 2019 5:56pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, I like that area as well and that restaurant is fun and good – it’s on my list of Paris restaurants.

      • Gayle
        April 19, 2019 12:26am

        Perfect. Thanks for the reply :)

  • April 18, 2019 5:53pm

    Some areas I like in Paris are around Place de Clichy–a little grimy, close to Montmartre; Quinze-Vingts, just beyond la Bastille; and the area behind the Arènes de Lutèce–in the 5th but beyond the tourists.
    I like the shot of the floor tiles.
    Pork keftas is a surprising combo.

  • April 18, 2019 5:54pm
    David Lebovitz

    Iris: I like Maoz quite a bit but it is a franchise that one has to want to open. I would imagine there is a good falafel place in Seattle since it’s such as good food city?

    Jennifer: It’s not a goof. I find the details found in old (and new) French cafés interesting, like the wooden chairs and tiles, so I like to give a snapshot of those too, since they tell something about the place, in addition to pictures of the food.

    Kirsten: I love the 9th, which is diverse and interesting. You can walk in any direction and find something new (or at least new to you!) The Marais is pretty and centrally located, but has become quite crowded and in the summer, people hang out and party on the streets late in the evening (especially in the Upper Marais) and since most hotels don’t have AC, it can be tough to sleep in the summer with the windows open and people carrying on outside.

    Katrina: Glad you are making good use of my recommendations!

    Diane: I don’t think it’s the same. I believe the name is sort of popular in France for a café “of the corner” or “neighborhood.” : )

    • April 18, 2019 6:25pm

      Got it! I suspected as much. The one in Vallauris is wonderful. If you are ever in the south of France, check it out!

  • Liza in Ann Arbor
    April 18, 2019 6:30pm

    Favorite line: I’ll eat a Michelin tire if it has citron on it…heehee

  • ellen
    April 18, 2019 7:21pm

    any tips for a hidden delight (either for eating or shopping) in the 15th? thanks

    • April 18, 2019 7:35pm

      I’m not David (though you probably figured that out already!), but we love to stay in the 15th. I really enjoyed our meal at tiny Le Volant Basque, if you’re in the mood for a hearty dinner!

      • Ellen
        April 19, 2019 6:49am

        Thank you! It’s on our list! Can’t wait

    • Nadine
      April 19, 2019 6:22am

      When we’re in Paris, we head straight for Le Grand Pan, 20 rue Rosenwald. Rugby team hangout with fabulous grilled steaks and a Mont Blanc dessert I think about when we get home to NYC. Don’t miss Le Petit Pan, friendly bar across the street.

      • Ellen
        April 19, 2019 6:51am

        Another new name! This is wonderful! Thank you so much!

    • Joan
      April 19, 2019 10:29am

      I don’t know whether you like Lebanese food, but there is a fantastic Lebanese supermarket called Les Delices d’Orient- 44-52 avenue Emile Zola in the 15th, quite near the Beaugrenelle shopping centre.

  • Tom
    April 18, 2019 10:14pm

    Comté and hazelnuts — a combo I had, in Paris, about 30 years ago and have never forgotten. I could eat it every day.

    I’ve been wondering what to do with my leftover candied citron (after the hot cross buns get made tomorrow). That grapefruit tart with the citron on top sounds divine. How timely!

  • Ellen Morgan
    April 18, 2019 10:54pm

    In the south of France wine is normally between 2 and 3€ a glass at a resto. And 3€ a bottle at a wine shop. And 1€40 a litre in vrac

  • Elizabeth H. Cordes
    April 18, 2019 10:56pm

    If you like citron, I would like to offer this recipe for citron cookies (family recipe made at winter holiday time)

    Citron Cookies

    Preheat oven 350.

    4 eggs
    1 box brown sugar
    1/2 pound citron, finely diced
    1 cup pecans, finely chopped
    1 tsp. cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg
    2 tsp. baking powder
    3 1/2 cup flour (more if needed)

    Beat eggs, add sugar. Add flour, sifted w/ spices and b.p. Add citron and nuts. Mix well. chill. roll and cut. bake 350 for 8 minutes

    stored w/ a small piece of apple, they will be the way I like them, a little chewy.
    Et, merci bien pour tous vos recettes!

    • Michelle
      April 19, 2019 12:09am

      Would love to know how big a box of brown sugar is -I have been looking for a Leckerli type recipe for a long time

    • Sandra Alexander
      April 19, 2019 12:10am

      Citron cookies sound good! Please, what is the weight of “a box of brown sugar”? Thanks!

      • Elizabeth H. Cordes
        April 22, 2019 1:26am

        candied citron (which I just do not think is “lemon.”) And a box of brown sugar is a pound, right you are. That’s 453 grams. 16 oz.

        • Micala
          April 25, 2019 12:22am

          Thanks so much

    • Nancy Baker
      April 19, 2019 3:09am

      Sounds like a lovely recipe…my old brain recalls a box being a pound.

    • MSTV
      April 19, 2019 7:13am

      Is the citron candied or fresh?

      • Elizabeth H. Cordes
        April 22, 2019 1:27am

        candied citron (which I just do not think is “lemon.”) And a box of brown sugar is a pound, right you are. That’s 453 grams. 16 oz.

  • April 20, 2019 12:53am

    I just read a column in last Sunday’s New York Times about restauranteurs in Paris serving less expensive meals. One of the half dozen places mentioned was your Cafe du Coin. A three course lunch for 20 euros sounds like a terrific bargain in Paris.

  • Linda Schiffer
    April 21, 2019 3:12am

    Happy Passover David! I just took the matzo candy out of the oven and it looks and smells amazing. I wanted to send you a photo but I don’t know how – I’m old. But I just wanted to wish you a good and happy holiday and thank you for all the great stories and recipes you share with me. Good Pesach! Linda

    • April 21, 2019 6:51pm
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the caramelized matzoh. Happy holidays : )

  • Ame
    April 24, 2019 9:29am

    Excellent recommendation! I happened by Cafe du Coin for lunch coming back from the Van Gogh Experience (Atelier Lumiere in the 11th) — highly recommend both although go to the show early for a quieter (music is excellent).

  • Mike
    April 24, 2019 7:34pm
  • Judy Novak
    May 6, 2019 1:20am

    My husband and I had our first dinner ever in Paris at Brasserie Lipp, in 1972, on my husband’s 40th birthday, a wonderful beginning. Since then we have been in Paris about 25 times, usually on the way back to L.A. after driving in Europe. In Paris, we always stayed in the St. Germain area in the early years, but then changed to a small hotel by the Rodin, a lovely walk to Rue St. Dominque and our favorite restaurants there. So many restaurants in Paris have radically changed or closed as the generations have passed by. We appreciate your recommendations as we don’t have the time or inclination to try a new place on a whim. We will be in Paris again in September, then traveling by train and back to Paris. Thank you for giving us some “food for thought” for what might be our last Paris adventure. But, who knows?

    We hope your podcast idea works out – we can live vicariously through you, as always.

    Judy Novak