Paris is one of the world’s great food cities. Whether you’re looking to eat with the locals or discover new aspects of French cuisine, these restaurants guarantee a memorable dining experience – but you’ll have to book ahead.
The Beef Club
The first food initiative of the Experimental Cocktail Club global empire was the extremely successful Parisian restaurant The Beef Club, which specialises in, you guessed it, meat. Fittingly located at the site of a former butcher’s shop, the dimly lit space with its raw floorboards and bistro seating evokes the feeling of an old-school brasserie rather than a steak house and that faded ambience provides much of its charm.
You could say that Caviar Kaspia is having a revival. This 8th arrondissement sturgeon restaurant by the Catholic Madeleine Church has been attracting a new wave of diners since word got out that it is one of Karl Lagerfeld’s favourite eating spots. As you can imagine, it is now packed with “friends of the house of Chanel” from the full spectrum of creative disciplines, which make a nice contrast to the spot’s loyal, moneyed clientele who can’t get enough of its shots of vodka and jacket potatoes served with the world’s finest caviar and a dollop of sour cream.
Whether you are staying in the 1st arrondissement, or you’ve just taken the kids for a run on the carousel in the Tuileries, Angelina is perhaps Paris’ most famous patisserie for a sweet pick-me-up. On the weekends there are often queues down the block for a seat inside, so skip to the takeaway line and bag yourself one of their namesake Angelina financiers to go instead. If you aren’t visiting on the weekend, the tea room is also a well-trodden work meeting point for breakfast, lunch or an afternoon coffee.
This well-loved bistro, covered in vintage posters and located right behind the Place des Vosges, is now part of the Costes brothers restaurant, cafe and hotel empire. It still, however, carries an independent vibe and remains one of the city’s friendliest and vibrant brasseries, serving superb Provençal cuisine. You may need to wait for a table but the line moves quickly and a pastis (aperitif) at the bar with bottomless pots of black olives passes the time nicely. Be sure to save room for dessert – the chocolate mousse that you scoop out yourself from a communal bowl, is on another level, so don’t be shy.
It can be hard to find a relaxed restaurant that offers a good range of comfort food in Paris’ 1st arrondissement, which is otherwise crammed with five-star hotels or high-end patisseries. Ferdi, which opened in 2004 and is owned by Alicia and Jacques Fontanier, has always been a fashion favourite with designers and showgoers but it has reached a new height of fame since Kim Kardashian and Kayne West became regulars. Situated just a stone’s throw away from Place Vendôme, here you will find burgers and ceviche (depending on whether you feel like a hearty meal or something light) served up in a low-key environment.
La Perle has long been a favourite Marais meeting spot, drawing a creative crowd of all ages from petit déjeuner to midnight. Prime time is 4pm and on a sunny afternoon the corner cafe will be bustling with Kooples advertising campaign lookalikes (French actor Romain Duris is a regular) having their afternoon espressos, full reds or a chilled glass of rosé. The result is amazing people watching, despite the basic 1970s décor.
For those seeking a true gastronomic indulgence, three-starred Michelin chef Yannick Alleno’s Pavillon Ledoyen merges romance with food poetry. Situated in a prime spot in central Paris, the neo-classical building is one of the oldest restaurant spaces in the city and overlooks the stunning gardens of the Champs‑Élysées. Alleno’s exquisite flavour combinations and unexpected textures are legendary and this is certainly not a meal to be rushed. Opt for the tasting menu.
La Petite Table
If you could combine the ease and décor of a Bills restaurant with the daily salad bar spread of Notting Hill’s Ottolenghi, you would get the Marais district’s new-ish, all-day dining spot La Petite Table. If you are into details – from an artisan butter to the new way to serve tea (with muslin bags that customers fill with leaves themselves) – it’s a must-eat. Pop by for coffee or brunch, grab a selection of the day’s healthy salads or stop in for an aperitif before dinner – chances are you’ll do all three if you are staying in the area.
Run by one of Paris’ best young chefs, Grégory Marchand, Frenchie is renowned for its low-key gastronomy and casual ambience as much as its impossibility to obtain a booking. If you do get in, you will be won over by this establishment’s simple charm and the food’s exceptional presentation and flavour combinations.
Image: Paris Tourist Office