What to Eat when in Paris
I know the obvious- croissants, crepes, steak frites. But I would like to be adventurous and try as much as possible- especially things that are hard to find outside of Paris. I am looking for recommendations for anything from breakfast, lunch dinner or just snacks. Note: I will try almost anything, but hate cheese and pork of any kind, and am on a budget.
Well, I was there a couple years ago, and also in college. What I really remember in college was the red lentil salad--so simple with so few ingredients and yet delicious! I am still trying to find a recipe/similar salad here.
Of course, baguettes--not the fancy breads, but the every day. My daugher, her friend and I could eat, each one a day when we went a a couple years ago--it doesn't get better than that daily fresh long loaf.
Pate--any and all are wonderful, along with inexpensive red wines--from my memory the bread, wine and pate are the essence of Paris!
Rue du Mouffetard has a world class market of the most beautiful foods to watch, buy, admire--please take your time and get there--the fruits, roasted chickens, seafood, are achingly beautiful and and delicious---my dream is to get an apartment in walking distance and dine on the market's bounty.
Let's start with the snacks. Wherever you go in Paris, you can find a boulangerie or patisserie in the immediate vicinity. When you are ready for a snack, just duck in and choose something that looks good. Maybe a miniature quiche or a single slice of a larger quiche. Or perhaps a pastry (I just love pain au raisin). If you are a little more hungry, a sandwich with pate or with French ham might hit the spot (some boulangeries make sandwiches, too). For ice cream, be sure to try Berthillon. They have the most amazing flavors.
You said that you hate cheese. Too bad because the cheeses available in France are divine. If you hate cheese but like other dairy products, be sure to drink some milk and get some butter. Both are much richer and more flavorful than what you get in the U.S.
Oysters seem to taste better in Paris than anywhere else (except maybe Seattle). There are huge oyster beds in Brittany so the mollusks in Paris are very fresh.
Wine, of course, is something to enjoy while you are in Paris. A wine bar is a good place to try a few different kinds and you can get an inexpensive meal, too. I like Jacques Melac's wine bar near the Bastille.
Try to find a way to manage your budget so you can splurge on one great meal. Dining in Paris is a wonderful experience. There are many places where you can get a really terrific meal for about 40Euros.
Have a great trip.
being the large city that it is, paris gives you a nice opportunity to try specialties from the other regions. i find meals in europe very affordable for the quality of product sold. as purplescout mentioned, breakfast and lunch are easy to keep lower in cost. for dinners many places offer pre-fixed menus which are very good.
I would encourage you to experiment with cheese, OK what you have experienced in the past may have put you off, but French cheese is spectacular. Even if you don't like "cows" cheese then try goats (Cherve) or sheeps (Brebis) cheese. Even the range of cows cheese can be a revelation from the soft and creamy St Felician to the hard Compte.
Not liking pork can also limit you, France has great Charcuterie, but much of it uses pork as a base. So even a game terrine or pate will have a pork content (obviously tricky if you avoid pork for religious reasons). However, again it is good to experiment. French charcuterie is broad based and you could easily find you like something you did not expect to.
As others have said oysters are great (plus the other seafood in Brasseries), duck and pinterde (guinea fowl) are all good. A good bet for lunch is to order salad and/or an omelet, both quite simple but also quite parisian.
If you are o a budget go for the set meal (Formula) when you go out. Often these can cost around €20 for three courses - especially if you head off the tourist trail. Most of the lunch menu's are designed for for office workers who typically have a large meal for lunch.
Fruit - there are some amazing fruits in paris. for example, the navel oranges I got from the Monoprix were some of the best I have ever had.
Yop! I have never seen some of the Yop! flavours that I found in Paris.
You might want to do some research on the bakeries of Paris and do a taste testing of bagettes.
Hot Chocolate -- I don't know anywhere else where you can get such wide range of different flavours of thick thick chocolate (this is an entire meal)
Macroons -- again, just get a couple to taste, they're the ultimate Paris treat
Chocolate -- E6 can buy a nice assortment of choclate from most of the highest end chocolatiers and is a complete meal ;-) you'll get 4-6 pieces.
The hot chocolate is a must. I favor Laduree (on Rue Royal), but some prefer Angelica (is this the right name??). Laduree is definitely the more opulant room, and really is unbelievably good, especially in these cold months. Have a great time!
PS - really - DO maybe try one cheese plate - just leave what you really cannot manage to get down. It is worth the price just to see how different it is there.
In Oct I went to Laduree, stood in line and could not understand what the big fuss was about. The macaroons are extremely expensive and I decided to try just one before buying and decided they were not that special. I did go to Angelina's for hot chocolate and eggs benedict. I loved this place, it's near the Louvre. Had no more room for one of their gorgeous pastries, wish I could have gone another time.
Falafel from L'As a Fallafel -- the best I have ever had; Macarons from Pierre Herve or Ladure; Hot Mayan Chocolate from Angelina; wonderful game preps. this time of year; lunch at Taillevant. Enjoy yourself.
Steak Hache w/ ketchup only...that's how my friend rolls.
Lots and lots of merguez sandwiches.
Thanks so much for the informative responses. I know my food preferences may seem strange to many Frenchmen! But, as I said, I am definitely open to adventure- duck confit, omelettes, mayan chocolate- they all sound so good. The quiche though I doubt I can eat (doesn't quiche by default have cheese and/or ham)? I don't mind if there is a small amount of pork in a dish as long as it's not very well detectable (I'm not kosher- I love shrimp too much!) so I will definitely try beef bourginon. I really want to try authentic french onion soup as well- but be honest here- if I were to ask for them to leave off the cheese would they give me strange looks? (I doubt I'd be the first as I know many Asians live in Paris, and lactose intolerance is quite common in all parts of Asia) And I am willing to taste some cheese- but as I haven't liked any yet in my entire life I hope my friend who is wishing I will "convert" doesn't get his hopes up too high!:} Another question- what about really good Parisian ethnic food? Someone already mentioned merguez- that sounds yummy! From what I know, Vietnamese, Senegalese and Moroccan cuisine is common in Paris now. What would be some ethnic dishes that are found in Paris but perhaps less common in the states? Also, I never tasted pate. Does it taste heavily of liver? Thanks again!
lots of quiches (which are basically baked egg dishes) do not have ham or cheese -- leeks and mushrooms is a common filling, for example.
to be honest, if you ordered french onion soup w/o cheese I do believe you would get strange looks. it's pretty easy to dig underneat it though.
there are a tonne of couscous places in Paris. not my fav thing so no recos, but I know of no NA city so densely populated with this type of restaurant.
Don't worry a lot of Pate's and Terrines won't taste of liver. My partner is "liver phobic" but wolfs down just about any terrine or pate put in front of her.
Word of caution about ethnic food in Paris. The french generally don't like spices so much Vietnamese and North African food is "de-tuned" for French taste with little chilli or ginger. Quite frustrating given the wide variety of the restaurants.
I echo the recomendations about Fallafel. "L'As du Fallafel" is a great place. Currently there are "fallafel wars" underway in the rue des Rosiers with the other restaurants competing for business, often giving out free samples so you can sample for free.
For couscous, go to Chez Omar...it is by far the best couscous in Paris...cash only. Long lines, but worth the wait
coq au vin
coquilles st jacques
if you bring yourself to try the cheese.... with some meat (or pate) and bread...will help.
what i love about europe is how they "specialize" .. shops what specifically make certain foods (many mentioned above). i wouldn't get the FO soup w/ out the cheese.
they often serve their steaks with pomme frite and bernaise. very good.
pates, and fois gras. (taste in small doses with bread)
Good. Go to Ile de Goree Restaurant in Paris. Fantastic African Cuisine. I took my travel group to this restaurant and everyone raved about the service and the great time that we had. They serve very good billy-goat, fish, boudin noir, and other unusual dishes. I think that you'll enjoy your dining experience there. Bon Appetit!