Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > France >
Aug 23, 2010 10:09 AM

Guidebooks to Paris Food and Restaurants

I can't believe Patricia Wells' food guide to Paris is over ten years old at this point. Is there anything more recent that's remotely as good?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think Alexander Lobrano's Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City's 102 Best Restaurants is the best recent book on Paris restaurants that's not a guidebook like Pudlo or Lebey or Le Fooding but mixes history with judging meals. It doesn't have the sorts of non-restaurant info that Well's did, for that, I think Clotilde Dusoulier's Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris is terrific.

    23 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      Great, thanks, John, yeah, that's just what I was hoping for. I don't like general guidebooks for food tips.

      1. re: Jim Leff

        I second Lobrano's book as the best thing since the Patricia Wells book. (And speaking of her, I've recently downloaded her very helpful French-English food glossary via onto my iPhone -- so now we have access to it everywhere, even when we don't have internet service.) -- Jake

        1. re: Jake Dear

          "I've recently downloaded her very helpful French-English food glossary via onto my iPhone -- so now we have access to it everywhere, even when we don't have internet service.)"

          this is certainly one of the best hints, if not the best, i've got for my trip so far... i have been worrying how to bring the hard copy with me (from another website) to all meals as it would be such a hassle, now i've got the problem solved! what a brilliant idea, thanks!

          1. re: Jake Dear

            Do you have a link to the original document (or a public link to the item in your dropbox)?

            1. re: Jim Leff

              Sure, I'll post the public link to the PW glossary later today (I'd do it now but it's difficult to do on my iPhone / in transit) -- unless someone else posts it before then. Last I saw, the glossary was publicly posted on Patricia Wells' web site.

              PS: We previously used the Marling Menu Master for many years -- this glossary is so much better. -- Jake

              1. re: Jake Dear

                Here's the Patricia Wells glossary:

                Note: You have to save it to "favorites" in dropbox in order to have access to it without benefit of internet.

                And -- it's all free (up to a certain storage volume point). -- Jake

                1. re: Jake Dear

                  "Note: You have to save it to "favorites" in dropbox in order to have access to it without benefit of internet. "

                  help... i just installed dropbox on my computer and uploaded the PW's glossary, but can't find "favourites" !! pls help so i could use the glossary offline while in france. will be leaving home in a couple of days, thanks!!

                  1. re: Tweety2004

                    Sorry, I just saw this. You don't need dropbox....just bookmark the PDF file, which can be loaded in any browser. The link to the PDF file is at the bottom of this page:

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      And sorry too -- I just saw this, and hope it's not too late for you. To save to "favorites" in dropbox, open the item in dropbox and then click on the star symbol at the bottom of the dropbox screen (I think it usually says "favorites" in small letters underneath the star).

                      Re "You don't need dropbox....just bookmark the PDF file, which can be loaded in any browser." Maybe I'm just a technical klutz (I am), but that did not and does not allow me to get access without the internet on my iPhone. (I can see how that would work on a PC or laptop, etc., but the point was to have the glossary on a handy little device that could fit in a pocket and be available without access to the internet.) Anyway, when I saved it to my "bookmarks" on my iPhone, and then switched my phone to "airplane mode" to simulate having no access to the internet, and then click on the bookmarked glossary file (or any other bookmarked file), I get a box saying I have no internet access. But when I try to access the glossary in "airplane mode" via my "favorites" file in dropbox (which I understand is downloaded to my iPhone), there it is, without internet access. And so this is the only way I've found to have access to the glossary on my iPhone without internet access. That's how it seems to work for me, anyway. -- Jake

                      1. re: Jake Dear

                        Ok, yes, sorry, bookmarks in safari only work when connected.

                        The other choice is to download the Microsoft Word version (linked on Patricia's web site) onto your desktop computer and either email the text to your mobile device (and save the email in a prominent place) or load it into whichever text reader you use on the device.

                        1. re: Jim Leff

                          Right. I had tried that approach (emailing the word doc to myself, etc.) before I resorted to doing it by dropbox as I described above. I found that emailing to myself was not a very convenient approach, and the formatting was lousy, and so I found dropbox to be the best option. (By the way, I promise that I have no connection to dropbox! I didn't even know of it until an IT fellow at my office made me use it for some work-related stuff.) -- Jake

        2. re: John Talbott

          My wife & I are really enjoying Lobrano's book for all the reasons John mentioned. It's like having a trusted ex-pat friend show you his favorite spots. I wouldn't want to use it as a sole source, though, so we also have been finding Time Out's eating & drinking volume quite useful. It's smaller, cross-references well with Lobrano, and lists actual prices (the $$, $$$, and $$$$ reviews in Lobrano's book have quite a wide range.)

          Other pluses to Time Out - an index by arrondissement, sectioned by French vs. other cuisines, metro stops, decent 0aps, and portable size - this one you can carry around in a coat pocket all day.

          1. re: Scott O

            We used Lobrano's book this past summer, and he never steered us wrong. An updated version has just been released (September 2010). Our hope is that he might be working on a similar guide to restaurants all over France and that it will come out before we hit this road for a month during the summer of 2011.

            1. re: andaba

              An Amazon reviewer says:

              "he includes restaurants whose food he found "good" or merely "better-than-average." I had expected to find reviews of 100 restaurants with excellent food -- after all, there are probably thousands of such restaurants in Paris"

              If that's true, that would dissuade me from buying. Not only does it mean the book is less useful, but, more importantly, if he had to scrimp to hit his tally of 100 restaurants, that means he wasn't approaching the project laden with vast treasures to select from. I say this as someone who's faced the task of coming up with a book reviewing 100+ restaurants.

              1. re: andaba

                I haven't seen the updated version of Lobrano, but the previous one, while entertaining, certainly differs diametrically from some of my own conclusions. For example, he steers diners away from l'Ambroisie, my favorite Paris restaurant, and recommends l'Épi Dupin, one of the more mediocre places I've had the misfortune to dine. He also likes the Belleville neighborhood, which is filled with litter on the streets, decrepit buildings, telephone card shops... Chacun à son goût.

                1. re: fanoffrance

                  I tend to enjoy restaurants in neighborhoods filled with litter on the streets, decrepit buildings, and telephone card shops, myself. Chacun à son goût, indeed!

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    I also like Belleville. But "neighborhoods filled with litter on the streets, decrepit buildings, and telephone card shops" are not my only critère for choosing a resto. Plus, Belleville is much more than that.
                    A chacun son goût.

                    1. re: Parigi

                      Just to clarify, I'm not saying litter, decrepitude, or phone card shops are necessarily positive indicators. Just that I know plenty of great places in such environs (as well as in most other sorts of environs). For me, the social class of the nabe makes little impact on my dining decisions. guessed it! ......chacun à son goût!

                  2. re: fanoffrance

                    The Marais: brash commercialism, gaudy boutiques, hordes of tourists and expat's... Tous les gouts sont dans la nature...

                    1. re: fanoffrance

                      As a basic but sophisticated overview of the Paris restaurant scene, we really did find HUNGRY FOR PARIS to be legs better than any other guidebook, and have also recently discovered Alex Lobrano's wonderful blog,
                      Hate to say it, but we tend to agree with him about L'Ambroisie, which is shatteringly expensive and stagnant, and have had some very good meals at L'Epi Dupin.

                      1. re: andaba

                        Interesting! By "stagnant" do you mean lack of innovation rather than a problem with quality?
                        As for l'Epi Dupin, were your meals there strongly flavored? I dined there once; my appetizer tasted all licorice, while the main shouted sweet ginger. I suppose seasoning is a matter of opinion, but most restaurants in France seem more restrained in that area.

                        1. re: fanoffrance

                          I too found the food at L'Epi Dupin nearly inedible from inaccurate seasoning and overuse of licorice and anise flavors. I thought it was just me but tastes seemed very unbalanced.

                        2. re: andaba

                          You illustrate an important point. When choosing a guide book, it is important to find one whose author's tastes parallel one's own. The same is true of following the advice of bloggers or forum contributors. After all, you're the one investing your time and picking up the tab at the end of the evening.

                          If Lobrano fits this description, then he's your man.

                2. I find Pudlo to be a good starting point, as long as you take his reviews with a grain of salt...

                  "Ou Bien Manger Quoi" by Lebey is also a very good reference for a specific type of dish or restaurant style.

                  Adrian Leeds" "Paris Restaurant Guide" is pretty close to the style of Wells.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: menton1

                    Pudlo never actually criticizes a restaurant and is very much part of the Paris gastro mafia, so I hope that's a big grain of salt! Lebey is good for bistros. Adrian Leeds is a real-estate agent by profession, not a food writer, so I'm a bit wary of her suggestions.

                    1. re: andaba

                      He just panned a Yunnan noodle joint - Carnet de Route - that actually is quite good and authentic.