The Best Restaurants in Paris, According to the Experts

Chef versus critic Paris

One loves the classics while the other adores the new and imaginative. But what these experts agree on is the restaurant with the best view of Paris.

The chef: Jean-François Piège, owner-chef of La Poule au Pot, Clover Green, Clover Grill and two-Michelin-starred Le Grand Restaurant.

The critic: Alexander Lobrano, author of Hungry for Paris and Hungry for France and a food writer for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

What’s your favourite bakery in Paris?

JFP: More than the bakery itself, it’s the baker I adore at Lalos. Frédéric Lalos is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France [winner of a “Best Craftsman of France” award] and makes many extraordinary kinds of bread with incredible ingredients, flours and fermentations.
AL: Paris right now is dancing a minuet between tradition and modernity; there’s spectacular, creative new stuff but the traditional hasn’t been this good in years. For classic French pastries, I send people to Du Pain et des Idées. It does excellent apple and lemon tarts and possibly the best croissants in the city.

And the best café?

JFP: The legendary and historic Café de Flore for its Parisian atmosphere. You just have to sit at one of its terrace tables and enjoy the comings and goings of passers-by, including actors and writers, on Boulevard Saint-Germain.
AL: If you’re after some place a bit old-fashioned, I would recommend Le Nemours, near the entrance to the Palais-Royal. You’d think a café within five minutes of the Louvre would be a tourist hellhole but it isn’t. The 18th-century interior has been renovated recently, it has very good coffee and the theatregoers from La Comédie Française make for fascinating people watching.

What’s your pick of Paris’s non-French restaurants?

Ibrik, Paris

JFP: At Racines, owner-chef Simone Tondo, who is from Sardinia, does incredible cooking full of fun, love and sentiment. That is what I truly love about him. When you taste his dishes you feel like you’re in Italy.
AL: A really fun foreign restaurant in Paris is Ibrik Kitchen, which serves Romanian food. The cabbage stuffed with veal and rice on a bed of mămăligă [Romanian polenta] may not sound like a dish that you’d jump out of your seat for but it’s unbelievably delicious.

If you could recommend only one Michelin-starred restaurant…

JFP: For me, the two chefs who are the undisputed masters of Paris are Alain Passard of Arpège and Guy Savoy, who runs the restaurant at the Monnaie de Paris. I would choose either of those places.
AL: I think the Michelin Guide is most valuable for its onestar picks – those that have achieved a suitable level of technical perfection but also have imagination. Virtus is run by two friends: a Japanese chef, Chiho Kanzaki, and an Argentinian, Marcelo di Giacomo. Their food is magical. It’s elegant but not pretentious; sincere, surprising and witty.

Where would you go for great food with a view?

JFP: The oldest restaurant in Paris, Tour d’Argent, has one of the best views of the capital and an amazing wine cellar. The chef, Philippe Labbé, is simply incredible.
AL: I’m not being very original here but Tour d’Argent has the sexiest view down the Seine. The food is festive and profoundly French. It’s the place to go if you have a ring in your pocket.

Who does the city’s perfect crêpe?

Breizh Cafe

JFP: Breizh Café in the Marais. The ingredients are fresh and seasonal and the recipes are original.
AL: Breizh Café. The owner is from Brittany, where the best crêpes come from, and he uses organic stone-ground flour and organic eggs. Most people have a savoury crêpe or galette with a glass of hard cider then a sweet crêpe for dessert. My favourite is the sea salt caramel.

And the most delicious oysters?

JFP: Le Bar à Huîtres by Dorr has great atmosphere and décor and the quality of the produce is second to none. I love to have the fresh oysters with bread and salted butter and a glass of the 2015 Domaine de Belle Vue Muscadet Gaïa.
AL:  Oysters in France are staggeringly good. They’re grown along the Atlantic coast and, like wine, have completely different flavours depending on where they are raised. Huîtrerie Régis, a hole in the wall run by an old man named Régis, serves the most superb oysters with excellent bread and butter and good white wine. You have to order a dozen at once, which sounds like a lot until you’ve tasted one.

Is there a restaurant that really nails the Paris vibe?

JFP: My restaurant La Poule au Pot in the heart of the city embodies French culinary art in a true Parisian institution. The cooking is French but the identity of the restaurant is Parisian, a style called cuisine bourgeoise
AL: When visitors come to Paris, they yearn for that black-and-white-movie-type French food that never tastes the same anywhere else. I send people to a bistro in Montparnasse called L’Assiette, where chef David Rathgeber does magnificent modern versions of traditional dishes, including what is probably the best cassoulet in Paris. 

SEE ALSO: How to See the Best of Paris for Free

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