Paris 19th arrondissement and thefork.com
Any suggestions for restaurants or other experiences in or not too far from the 19th arrondissement? My wife and I are going to Paris in March 2012, and as Americans, we are paid in increasingly worthless US dollars. I found a hotel in the 19th that we can stay at using points (allowing more $ for food, although still on a budget) and hopefully will allow us not to be confined to tourist traps. Most tour books largely ignore the 19th. We hope to get around town primarily using velib bikes as well as the metro.
I'm looking for good traditional French food, and other things that we can't get at home. Hope to buy lunch at markets where possible, supplemented with a steady diet of cheese and bread. For dinner, I have an image (stereotype? fantasy?) of the corner Parisian restaurant that families go to once a month, everyone is relaxed, and the food is sublime . I don't need fancy, couldn't care less about celebrity chefs, and want to avoid feeling tourist-trapped. I studied high school level French, so I can converse in simple (slow) conversations if that helps, although it's been quite a while since I've used it.
Also: does anyone have experience using thefork.com, (or groupon, livingsocial, etc.) in Paris, and how are the restaurants generally? Is it the case that they are not that great, and need to use extra marketing like thefork.com to get customers, or are they usually satisfactory? (I have had both experiences at home using restaurant.com.) Do you get treated with equal respect if using a discount? What about tipping - do you need ot add extra if you use the discount? Are there any other similar web sites worth looking at?
And what does "hors menu" mean?
How many Euros total are you looking to spend, for two, per meal? Don't translate your idea of menu prices, but rather the whole bill including tax and tip. Do you all like, or are you open to, Arab food? West African food? Carribean food?
I see you're californian; Paris is in many ways similar to San Francisco: small, dense, good food is easy to get, but bad food is even easier; and filled with tourists. It is also much, much less integrated than SF, but because it's so small, you can get around to different areas pretty easily. Even Porte d'Italie should only be a 30-40 min bike ride from the 19th.
If you're ordering from a fixed-price menu, "hors menu" means "off the menu", ie, something listed on the "carte" ("menu" in American English), but not part of the "menu" ("fixed price menu" in Am En ?).
I used LaFourchette / TheFork to reserve many of the restaurants we went to in Paris ( like I use OpenTable in the US). I chose our restaurants without regard to the discounts. Only one place we went, Le Reminet, which gets positive comments on this board and others, had a promotion. We would have eaten there without the promotion, so it was great to get the discount. I thought we were treated with the same respect as other diners. When the waiter brought the check, he mentioned that he'd applied the discount. (Their promotion states "hors menu" and "hors boisson" which means the promotion discount does not apply to the fixed-price menu or drinks.).
I noticed at one other place where we reserved (but ended up canceling) that the fixed-price menu shown as s promotion on TheFork was simply the usual menu price shown on the restaurant's own website.
I just noticed that one of the restaurants that we really enjoyed, Au Petit Marguery, currently has a promotion on Sunday, Monday and Tuesdays. About a month before your trip, it is definitely worth checking TheFork for discounts.
I use Lefooding.com to look for restaurant idea. The site is in French, but you can search with Google Translate. Cool thing about Lefooding is that they had the bill attached to each review, so you will know exactly how much it'll be. We found many great, reasonable price restaurant through there recommendations.
For me personally, the most happening food scene in Paris is in 10th & 11th, very close to 20th. However, as others said, Paris is really small and very pleasurable to walk around.
As for cuisines, I'm mainly interested in things we can't eat at home. This would include any kind of traditional or regional French, west African, caribbean, or anything else that you might think is worthwhile. We prefer casual, friendly, family neighborhood restaurants to hip or fancy places, and are not really into a social scene.
We also would be interested in restaurants that feature live music, if such a thing exists in Paris, but that is not essential.
Here in Sacramento or nearby we have easy access to good Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Persian, Mexican, Italian, Ethiopian, Ukranian, and of course American restaurants, so I don't feel the need to visit those kinds of places in France. What we have very little of is French food, which is one of the reasons we are going to France. We do have several middle-eastern restaurants here but we may eat it in Paris anyway because we love it and we have heard it is excellent there. Also, California is passing a law prohibiting the cultivation of poultry for foie gras so we will definitely want to get our fill while in France.
To clarify, I'd be willing to spend up to 100 euros total for two people for one great traditional French dinner. That may not sound like much in Paris, but $150 USD is a big splurge for us, considering a usual dinner out at home costs us $35 including tip. Again, it need not be fancy, just delicious and satisfying. We are more concerned about taste, quality, and value than elegant presentation. We could go slightly above this range for a once in a lifetime experience, but one of the EU300-range places is not even a consideration, and we probably wouldn't really like it anyway. We are moderate drinkers, maybe one glass of wine each, although I do have a stereotypically American appetite and will probably feel disappointed if I leave feeling hungry.
The other evenings will need to be quite a bit more modest. From what I can gather, it looks like it will be hard to spend much less than 25 euros per person so I guess we will have to contend with something in that range for the non-splurge nights, although I would prefer to spend less if that is possible. On the plus side, I have 7 months to save my pennies.
We are also planning on a couple days in the pays de Loire where I've heard (and read on these pages) that there is some great food, perhaps at lower cost?
From what I have read here, it sounds like most full-service restaurants require reservations, which I guess means we can't just walk down the street and wander into someplace that looks interesting. Is that generally the case?
We are happy to go beyond the confines of the 19th, but really wouldn't know which direction to go, so any of your thoughts are welcome. The 10th seems to be within walking or bicycling distance so specific suggestions there are welcome. Also if you have any suggestions beyond restaurants (fromageries/markets/etc in 19th) that would be useful.
thanks again for your ideas.
Le Baratin is just over the border in the 20th. You should be able to find some good classic plates and a glass or so of wine within your cost range. It is just a bistrot/wine bar, but is quintessentially Parisian. http://madaboutparis.com/restaurant/l...
The #60 bus that runs through the 19th will take you to one of our favorites, LaTable d'Eugene in the 18th. Slightly modern takes on the classics. Wine by the glass should keep you under your ceiling. http://parisbymouth.com/la-table-deug...
In the same neighborhood is Oxalis. Inexpensive but good plates, adorable service. (The chef kept peeking out of the kitchen to see how we liked the food, and the waitress finally asked us how we ever came to know about the place.) http://www.gillespudlowski.com/11251/...
One suggestion: since you are staying away from the center of town, do go to a ticket agent in the metro and ask for a "grand plan numero 2". This is the bus and metro map that you see posted at the bus shelters. It will let you get anywhere from anywhere with ease. Do not let them hand you the number 1, which is the condensed and useless tourist map. Just quietly insist on the number 2.
Last thought: with your dining parameters, I really wish you would get across town to Les Papilles, just south of Luxembourg Garden. No choice meal is 31€, I believe. A tureen of excellent soup, a copper pot of some kind of braised meat with vegetables and potatoes, a bit of cheese and a scrumptious panna cotta with fruit dessert. Sweet service. Full of well behaved tourists but also locals. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant...
I second Le Baratin and La Table d'Eugène. Great places ! I didn't know about Oxalis, but since it's in the neighborhood, I'll have to give it a try !
I live in the 19th, and still didn't find that little great place that could become my "regular" bistro or restaurant... La Table d'Eugène is the closest to that, but a bit further from my place...