Great food with a fun atmosphere
I will be visiting Paris in a few weeks with a girlfriend who will be a first-time visitor. We are looking for places to eat that have good food but also are a fun, lively atmosphere. By lively atmosphere I don't mean lounge/clubs that serve food as an afterthought but rather restaurants where the crowd is a bit more festive. My past trips to Paris were with boyfriends so we ate in more quiet, romantic-type places so I am drawing a blank this time around. I do really like L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon -- are there similar recommendations for restaurants where the patrons eat at the bar? I have lived in SF, NYC and now Chicago and it is quite common to eat at the bar with friends but I have gathered it is not the same in Paris.
We are staying at the Hotel Lutetia so would prefer to go to places within walking distance or a short taxi trip. Price is not a concern but as we will only be there for four days and have lots of stuff to see, three hour lunches probably aren't what we are looking for -- or at least not every day. We are in our midish-30s so when I say lively I don't mean college crowd. Additionally, if there are recs for nice places to get a glass of wine or cocktail post-dinner, I would love to hear them!
Thanks so much!
First, there is l'Atelier de JR in Paris. Alain Dutournier, the chef at Le carré des Feuillants, also opened an Atelier like sort of place called Pinxo (close to Place Vendôme).
But as you say, eating at the bar in Paris is uncommon. But if you want lively, visit Chez Denise for a very late dinner (1am_ish), when a diverse crowd shares delicious and generous food. Places like l'Ami Jean or La Régalade are also places where you'll discuss, probably exchange food with your neighbours. Is that the kind of lively you have in mind?
I suggest you try La Cantine du Faubourg. The food is great and the atmosphere is totally unique. There is an open kitchen. The dining room walls are covered with an ongoing and ever changing show of projected images. I mistakenly stumbled into this place several years ago (I got mixed up about the address of my intended destination) and decided to stay once I walked down the stairs. You can check out the website and see if it looks like what you're trying to find. www.lacantine.com
In a totally different "lively" vibe, you might enjoy a wine bar like Jacques Melac, where you can sit at the bar, drink different wines, and eat some down-home charcuterie or whatever the plat du jour might be. I had divine beef cheeks last time I was there.
Maybe you should try eating at "Helene Darroze", 4 rue d'Assas 75006, just behind the Lutetia.
Her gastronomic restaurant is on the first floor, but on the ground floor her "Salon" and "Boudoir" serve a tapas-style menu in a lounge-lile atmosphere:
Paris is also about Bistrots: here are a few I can suggest:
L'Ami Louis (I have never been), Benoit and La Fontaine de Mars . Lots of people will tell you these places are overpriced but personally I have never been dissapointed with Benoit and La Fontaine: great service and food. These restaurants are popular with foreigners and locals alike so it is easy to get into a conversation with your neighbors as the atmosphere is quite relaxed (but not festive...).
"OakGlen" is spot-on: for a glass of wine and charcuteries, La Cremerie and Le Rubis are good choices: Rubis is very old Paris, at 10 rue du Marché Saint Honoré 75001 and "La Cremerie" is more Left-Bank chic and only walking distance from Le Lutetia... .