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it's easy to spend $$$$$ where do the common folk of Paris eat?????

Will be spending 3 weeks in Paris in March - need to live "on the economy" - not interested in "imported cuisines" (where did Paris on $5 a day go?????) so more looking for neighborhood restaurants where the food is filling and the price within reach of a semi-retired clinician and a retired teacher - thanks in advance - BTW we will be staying in the 18th with Metro passes and sturdy shoes

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  1. I enjoyed the food and the prices at Domaine de Lintillac. Go for the cassoulet and the confit de canard.


    Other tips:

    Some of the purveyors at the Galleries Lafayette food market have places to sit down and eat. While you're there, splurge on some Bordier butter to enjoy in your hotel room after your morning runs to your neighborhood boulangerie.

    Go to a Breton creperie. There are many throughout Paris.

    And finally, since France includes DOM TOM, a Creole restaurant is technically as French as anything, so no need to cry out 'importation.' Just eat and enjoy.

    Domaine de Lintillac
    10 Rue Saint-Augustin, Paris, Île-de-France 75002, FR

    1. Yes, Paris on $5 a day is ancient history. But we can do a better job of steering you to your best options if you can give us an indication of what you are willing to spend for the main meal of your day. That suggests the question of whether you are willing to eat your important meal at lunch rather than evening.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mangeur

        Do it at lunch. Much better deal. And you can walk lots and enjoy.

      2. Most folks eat in their own kitchens -- eating out every day is just beyond the budget of the majority of people.

        For lunch, a lot of people eat in the company cantine (if the company is big enough to have one) -- or they head out to the nearest cafe, sandwich shop, and yes, McDonald's (by the score) for lunch.

        For dinner, it's usually small neighborhood cafes and restaurants, or they cook or warm something up.

        If you're in an apartment, your options are far better -- shop in the wonderful markets, buy a roast chicken from a butcher or traiteur (they're the best!) - and buy what's in season. The things that are in season are visibly the freshest and the cheapest things in the store more often than not.

        The frozen-food chain Picard also has very good frozen items that don't require a great deal of time or skill in the kitchen (vegetables, soups, full entrees - including stuffed whole salmon, gorgeous desserts)

        4 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          While l find the potatoes perfect with the roast chicken, l have always found the chickens to be overcooked. granted l like my chickens moist, even a bit of dry will put me off, but the rotisserie style produces overcooked, OTOH if these same traiteurs have a lamb shoulder going, they can be great more often.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            ...or paella, or stuffed tomatoes, or bourgignonne, or any of a dozen other "comfort food" dishes that most traiteurs keep on hand.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                yeah, trying to get all those grains of rice onto the skewer just takes so much coordination.

        2. What a lot of people do is take advantage of the lunch "formule", which are widely available fixed price menus. Most will let you choose two or three courses, and depending on where you go and how fancy you want to get, it could range from 9 to 25+ Eur. You can also get a reasonable breakfast "formule" with coffee and pastries for 2 to 5 Eur. If you're like me, the two meals earlier in the day will keep you quite full for the majority of the day, and then if you feel peckish, just pick up a baguette and some paté or cheese at a local store.

          There are a few local places that I think are quite decent for the price. Chez Prosper in the 12th, around Nation, is a good example. The portions are generous, food is of decent quality, and the price is reasonable. This is not gourmet fare, but any stretch, but a very typical Parisien bistro experience. You will still drop around 30 Eur per person for a 2 course meal and a glass of wine each (not sure if that is within your budget). Be prepared for insanely long lines, though. But essentially, you will need to be in some of the less touristy parts for a decent meal at reasonable prices.

          Good luck!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Juniper

            I know it's a steal compared to many (most) of the places discussed on this board, but 30 € for two courses would be a splurge for the "common folk" of Paris. Maybe for mdwardmalp, too… As mangeur said, it'll be hard for us to help if he/she doesn't come back with some more information.

          2. "...not interested in imported cuisines"? For worse, and very often for better, in Paris, if you want to eat "on the economy", you'll be better going for cooking which, like those who prepare and eat it, are "imported".

            1. Oxalys is a simple restaurant in your arrondisement that offers a 3 course dinner for 29€, lunch for 18€50. Well prepared plates and delightful service. If this is in your price range, I highly recommend it.


              1. Here is one list that might be of use to you: http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008...

                The only one I have visited is Chez Germaine, and that some time ago. But we remember the plates being simple and honest, Gremaine a delightful hostess and the evening memorable.

                Perhaps other Chows have experience with the remaining suggestions.

                1. I hope you are interested in helping us help you.
                  Please convert your $$$$$ and your ????? into an actual budget figure.

                  1. Thanks for the suggestions - I'm thinking somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 euros a week each - we have an apartment in Montmartre with a Champion marche across the street - I do well on good bread, butter and pastry during the day - lunch (how late is lunch generally served) - also prix fixe sounds like part of the plan - are these advertised ???? are there any buffet type establishments ????as main meal sounds good to me - we live in G*R*E*A*T AMERICAN FLY-OVER country and have a plethera of ethnic restaurants to choose from - but less than even a dearth of French regional so this is what I would like to focus on - (ate at a Breton crepe restaurant in Quebec City last year {they have ONE!} and loved it so would like to explore more from that region) - not planning to bring a jacket/tie with me and I spend most of my life in jeans (even in the office) - also I like to stuff my napking into my shirt (If Poirot can do it at a formal dinner.......so would like to eat where this wouldn't be out of place most of the time -

                    again, many thanks for making this first trip all that I have dreamed it would be

                    43 Replies
                    1. re: mdwardmalp

                      250 euros a week comes to about 35 euro per person per day. On that budget you will eat and drink ok at home, without much left over. Do you have a separate eating-out budget? I hope so. It is hard to eat out at all on 250 euro/week.

                      Montmartre is big. If you are near rue Lepic or place d'Anvers (Friday afternoon farmers' market), that will be great. The latter is especially good quality and inexpensive.

                      All-you-can-eat style buffet cafeterias exist, especially in freeway stops. There must be some in Paris. They are not known for good-quality food. Since this forum is for food and those who care about it, most of us probably don't have this expertise.
                      Chez Casimir has a buffet on the weekend. Reviews tend t agree that is not as good as the non-buffet meals on week days. The other problem is that the buffet price equals your daily budget.

                      How you want to dress and conduct yourself in restaurants is less of a problem than your communication style, your punctuation or lack off. It makes you difficult to understand.
                      For example, what does this mean? " we live in G*R*E*A*T AMERICAN FLY-OVER country and have a plethera of ethnic restaurants to choose from - but less than even a dearth of French regional so this is what I would like to focus on - "
                      What is G*R*E*A*T AMERICAN FLY-OVER country ?
                      By "French regional", do you mean a cuisine, a restaurant, a market?
                      Plethera I can guess.

                      Lastly, eating non-French would be one way to eat well on a low budget. French exports its cuisine to the world. The world imports its cuisines to France. Win win.

                      "where did Paris on $5 a day go?????"
                      You mean the gimmick book published in the 70s????? You know there have been things like inflation, right?????????

                      1. re: Parigi

                        great american flyover refers to the central part of the country north to south and west of the mississippi which separates the east coast from the west coast - from the perspective of a resident of either coast nothing exists here and there is no reason to stop here -

                        Regional to me is the difference between say Normandy and Bordeaux in cuisine - here, it's hard to find grits in New England and don't even try to get scrod in texas

                        will rethink budget -

                        1. re: mdwardmalp

                          You mean screwed, no? It's easy.

                          My epiphany about French cooking was at Rendezvous des Chaffeurs, nearby, and certainly walkable. I checked recently and it is still going.
                          It was the cheapest place then for a full meal. Go to lunch.

                        2. re: Parigi

                          Having just done our household budget, I disagree with this: "It is hard to eat out at all on 250 euro/week."

                          Preparing your own dinner costs about 2-3 € per person. Buying pre-prepared (or nearly so) things (roast chicken, steak; salad, haricots verts, frozen or canned ratatouille; canned lentilles, pot au feu, fish soup, tripes, etc; frozen parmentier, frozen fish in sauce, etc) is more like 3-5 €. Add 2-6 € for basic wine (depending on the wine and how much you drink), 0,5 € for breakfast, 4 € to buy a sandwich for lunch, and you've come to 8,5-18,5 € per person per day. This leaves you an eating-out budget of 23-31 € for lunch, or 31 € for dinner. Or eat lunch in a restaurant every two days, and you have 60 € per person, which is getting into the realm of lunch specials at fancy restaurants. Or drink better wine at home.

                          There is okay food in the 8-16 € realm (1-2 restaurant tickets), especially couscous, tagines, soupes, etc, but also steaks, salades composés, andouillettes, crêpes, and the like. I cannot imagine having any problem eating in the 18th on your budget. In the parts of the 11th that are near touristy places, I could recommend: Le bar à soupes (r de Charonne); Le Kabylie (r de la roquette at the Bastille); Café de l'Industrie (r Sedaine); Chez Paul (r de Charonne); Menekse (passage de la Main d'Or); even Le Rey (r de la roquette) if you want a place they'll write on your tablecloth.

                          That's not a list that's worth going out of your way for, but if you're near the Bastille and hungry, it's in your budget. Except the Bar à soupes; that place is simple but fantastic for what it is.

                          1. re: tmso

                            "Preparing your own dinner costs about 2-3 € per person. "

                            If you are a vegetarian focusing on cheap vegetables.
                            Two of us usually spend 10 euro on a main course of meat or fish, not including vegetable, cheese, fruit, wine.
                            Since this is chowhound, we are talking about quality food, right?, .

                            1. re: Parigi

                              I don't think anyone here would say that you can eat 4-star food (yes, I know Michelin only gives 3) three meals a day in Paris on 35 euros a day.

                              I don't think anyone here would say that you're stuck with bread and water, either.

                              You can't dine top-shelf on 35E a day -- but you can absolutely combine cooking a few things at your flat (omelets, chicken breasts, fresh veg, etc.) with eating well at decent restaurants.

                              Will it be ethereal and life-changing? No.
                              Will it be tasty, enjoyable, and worthy of memories about how well you ate in Paris?


                              Not every meal can (or even SHOULD) be eye-rolling and life-changing...it's okay to eat average (but good) -- if you only ever ate food that was eye-rolling and life-changing, then THAT would become your average...and how sad that would be, as it wouldn't leave much food that was eye-rolling and life-changing any more.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Since you replied me, you must have read I was not mentioning eye-rolling life-changing home meals.

                                1. re: Parigi

                                  and home meals don't have to be ethereal, either -- for the same reason.

                                  Sometimes a well-prepared omelette and a fresh salad are incredibly satisfying-- even if they wouldn't rank as gourmet.

                                  Just commenting on the undercurrent that seems to suggest that there is no middle ground between tourist crap and eyerolling.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Add some potatoes and onions to that omelette, making it a good spanish tortilla, and 4 persons could eat for about 1 to 2€ each. (and I can assure you that if you taste my girlfriend's tortilla, you would rank it as "gourmet", but not knowing about the OP's cooking skills, that will be up to him...) ;)

                                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                                      Thanks, Yeti -- my point *exactly*.

                              2. re: Parigi

                                """ If you are a vegetarian focusing on cheap vegetables. """


                                We spent 17 € at the market this weekend, and came back with kilos of good fresh vegetables and fruit, plus a litre of moules. The two of us will eat very well on that this week. We'll go to the butcher during the week and buy whatever is on special. That will account for 6 dinners. Soup, roast meat, pasta alla cozze, frittata, lasagne using the leftover meat, and something else not yet decided for Friday. On Saturday we'll have friends over, and that dinner will cost quite a bit more.

                                It's certainly easy to spend more on dinner, but it's perfectly reasonable to spend 2-3 € per person as a basic budget, and choose where to spend the extra money.

                                Note that I put the wine budget seperately. One certainly can drink descent wine for that price (2-6 € per person). I prefer to spend my extra money there.

                                1. re: tmso

                                  Spent 51 euro at the St Quentin market Sunday morning at our poultry guy: a coucou de Rennes, 3 quails, 3 boudins blancs stuffed with trompette de la mort.

                                  1. re: Parigi

                                    Yours is more expensive, but that doesn't mean that what tmso bought is of inferior quality or flavor.

                                    1. re: Parigi

                                      Congratulations for reading the first word or what I wrote. Did you read past that? If you want to eat a coucou de Rennes, that will cost you more than pasta alle cozze. Of course you can spend more. But are you arguing that you can't spend 2 € for a litre of good quality moules?

                                      1. re: tmso

                                        I'm really amazed by this debate, I live in Paris, I eat out a lot, at least once or twice a month in a good restaurant (granted, not always with the fitting bottle of wine, but still), I also like to cook fairly expensive food (just last weekend, I had salmon, wild boar and saint jacques), yet my average daily budget isn't even 30€! (and that isn't even food-only)

                                        Don't worry, you can eat well on 35€ a day in Paris! Just balance restaurants with a sandwich or a plate of pasta some time and you'll be fine.

                                          1. re: Riefi

                                            funny how you consider eating out at a good restaurant once or twice a month to be a lot.
                                            People always ask if I eat out often, and I always say "no, only once or twice a month"...precisely because it's too expensive...and 35/day/person is more than enough if I average out the days I eat out and the ones I don't.

                                        1. re: Parigi

                                          <Spent 51 euro at the St Quentin market Sunday morning at our poultry guy: a coucou de Rennes, 3 quails, 3 boudins blancs stuffed with trompette de la mort>

                                          hahaha.. .now I'm hungry! ;)

                                  2. re: Parigi

                                    "Chez Casimir has a buffet on the weekend. Reviews tend t agree that is not as good as the non-buffet meals on week days. The other problem is that the buffet price equals your daily budget."
                                    I couldn't find another place to pin this, but it's worth noting that CC has a very nice table d'hote aka buffet and when we were turned away from La Pointe de Grouin today because of a private party we did very well there - it's 28 E pp but the food is Thierry Breton quality stuff - fine leek soup, brandade, cucumbers, warm unsalted, unsmoked herring, potato salad, cheese, 8 desserts, wines from 18 E a bottle up, etc etc.

                                  3. re: mdwardmalp

                                    The napkin stuffed into the shirt is unusual/old-fashioned/out of place/funny-looking and otherwise not the normal thing to do in France, although it is not unheard of. In other words, it's pretty much the same situation as in the US. And nobody will give a damn if you do it.

                                    Buffet restaurants are mostly ethnic, so they will not interest you. There are some French places with all-you-can-eat, self-service salads, appetizers, side dishes (probably desserts, although I don't know if I've seen this in Paris), but the main dishes are not unlimited. There are a few places where you can pay a fixed price and then ask to be served as much of a main dish as you want (e.g. tarte flambée, moules, raclette, fondue, crêpes). And then there are some Sunday brunch buffets that tend to be quite pricey.

                                    Prix fixe menus are always advertised. There may be more than one to choose from; the cheapest ones are often only offered at lunchtime. Drinks are usually not included, but you can always just drink tap water.

                                    1. re: mdwardmalp

                                      Where do you live?

                                      "we have a plethora of ethnic restaurants to choose from"

                                      I am willing to bet you don't have a single restaurant réunionnais where you live.

                                      Most restaurants offer a menu. That is the name for a fixed price meal, at least 2 courses. Usually little choice. It's not a secret. (What we call menu in English, the French call a carte.)
                                      Menus are a very good value if you are going to order more than one course. But they are never the cheapest way to eat. It is always less expensive to order just the main dish (plat in French). So if you want to eat cheaply, go to a restaurant and order just one main dish or maybe two starters.

                                      1. re: Steve

                                        One of the best meals that I had in Paris was cheese and bread. Madame Quatrehomme and Eric Kayser and a friend's house. It was sublime. <sigh>

                                        Also, may I dare to suggest eating in Brittany on a daytrip? If you are going to be in Paris for 21 days, it is well worth it to take the TGV (or car or bus or whatever) to Brittany. I would do it for the Kouign Amann alone but there is also amazing caramel, seafood, local crepes, cider, and countless other goodies.

                                        It is a little under 2h on the train so you can go in the morning and have breakfast, lunch and dinner in Rennes and then take an evening train home to your apartment. This may sound crazy but I am sure that you will end up with a smile on your face that would make the trip worthwhile. You can get cheap train tickets via the French version of the railway. If you need to know how, let me know. Do NOT use the yankee site.

                                        1. re: t19103

                                          Brittany is definitely on the list just have to work out the details

                                        2. re: Steve

                                          Hi Steve

                                          we live in Minnesota where they fish through the ice - don't ask how they keep the bait warm

                                          thanks for the tips - we have a very diverse communuity stretching from SE Asia through India to Greece and Latin America - we have a sprinkling of central europe - even Tibetian and Mongolian - strangely we don't have very many Scandinavian restaurants

                                          1. re: mdwardmalp

                                            To answer your question, where do the "common folk" eat?
                                            As has been written above, they eat at home. Most of them cannot afford dining out.

                                            When they do, mostly at lunchbreak, they eat a sandwich from a boulangerie or a main course from a local street brasserie, or a few chicken brochettes on rice from a fake Japanese joint, or they do as we Parisians all do — go to Vietnamese, Chinese or North African restaurants, grab a banh mi from a Vietnamese sandwich shop, or a kebab sandwich from a Turkish café, etc.

                                            And Steve has a point - just because you live in Minnesota does not mean you've seen it all about "ethnic" foods. Also, these foods tend to be prepared differently depending on the country you find them in. In Paris we have good Vietnamese restaurants run by either Vietnamese or Laotian families (which is why Laotian restaurants are often very good), while many Vietnamese restaurants in the US are run by Hmongs and it is not exactly the same thing.

                                            Also I think North African restaurants in Paris are often good - think small neighborhood couscous joints, not fancy affairs with mosaics and belly dancing. Turkish and Kurdish restaurants, as well as Mauritian and Malagasy restaurants, are certainly worth trying. And West African restaurants. Etc.

                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                              Of course common folk eat at home most of the time, but mdwardmalp asked specifically about restaurants. And the "no imported cuisines" condition seems to have rubbed a lot of us the wrong way, but if mdwardmalp is looking forward to coming to France and concentrating on French food for 3 weeks, that's fair enough. I don't think they're necessarily saying that they've seen it all; it's just not what they're looking for on this trip, apparently.

                                              1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                "I don't think they're necessarily saying that they've seen it all;"

                                                "we live in G*R*E*A*T AMERICAN FLY-OVER country and have a plethera of ethnic restaurants to choose from"

                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                  I know we have unlimited space here, but is there some reason this sentence needs to be copied and re-copied so many times? I understood the OP as saying that they get lots of ethnic food at home, but not much French food, so while they're in Paris, they prefer to focus on French food. Is that so hard to understand? We are always telling people on this board to narrow down their requests and tell us what they are looking for. This is so we can help them find what they're looking for, not so we can say "Are you sure you wouldn't rather look for something else?"

                                                  Similarly, the OP has stated what I assume to be their total budget: 250 per person per week. It's obvious that we're not talking about a chowhound's dream vacation in Paris here, but if your opinion is that this is barely enough to eat at home (!) and that they better have some additional budget (that for some strange reason they didn't mention to us) if they want to eat out, then it sounds like you are not going to be able to help this couple.

                                                2. re: DeppityDawg

                                                  OP, if you really mean that you don't want any non-French cuisine that is okay. The best restaurant meal I had in France was Middle Eastern food in Nice and I wouldn't go to France without trying their local immigrant cuisines, but it is your trip so make it what you want. When I do a weekend trip, e.g. to Montreal, I refuse to eat anything that I can get back home so I understand what you mean. Perhaps after the first two weeks, you will start craving some Caribbean food but if not, that is okay.

                                                  Actually, if you are going to eat for 21 days you should take advantage of the opportunity to try more of everything. I can only recommend one or two places for each item but you will be able to sample every famous cheese shop and patisserie and creperie and boulangerie, etc. If you are able to make day trips you should also try regional dishes or look for regional restaurants. French cuisine is very diverse- just like the food in Alabama is different from Boston which is different from New Orleans. You cannot get everything in Paris.

                                                  I am from New York where people think we have everything but when I want good Cuban or Portuguese food I go to New Jersey....

                                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                    It is perfectly normal to expect to eat French food when coming to France and to look forward to it.
                                                    However, the current restaurant situation in France being what it is, I believe i've answered the OP's answer rather accurately. French food restaurants are no longer cheap, except for the local brasseries at lunchtime, crêperies and modest provincial places, and so if you want to go to restaurants and eat French food, most of the time you won't be eating where "common" people go.
                                                    Or indeed you should get out of Paris, where simple, cheap French food is still available in restaurants.

                                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                                      Everyone seems to be telling the OP that they have to change something: consider eating non-French food, consider not eating out at all, consider not staying in Paris, consider not being on such a tight budget… I agree that all of these would make the situation easier, but I don't think it's impossible to do what the OP originally wanted to do. It's just that the food will be mostly unremarkable, not the kind of thing you rush home to post on Chowhound about.

                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                        "not the kind of thing you rush home to post on Chowhound about"

                                                        Across the street from my house is a place called the Cadran du Faubourg, where you can get a steak frites, for I think, 8.50 euros. Eggs mayonaise are probably around 4 euros, chocolate mousse the same. 25 cl of wine will set you back 3 euros, coffee 2....

                                                        You can eat a 3 course meal with coffee and wine at the Cadran du Faubourg for under 20 euros...But the mayonnaise in the egg mayonaise comes out of a jar, the eggs are from batteriy hens, I'd prefer to remain in the dark about the cow who provided the steak, the wine comes out of a poorer type of box-of-wine, the chocolate mousse arrives in the restaurant in powdered form, and the coffee's mistreated robusta...

                                                        It's cheap food, won't kill you (not in the short term anyway) and is unremarkable by it's mediocrity. Is this what you mean when you write "not the kind of thing you rush home to post on Chowhound about?".

                                                        1. re: vielleanglaise

                                                          I am reminded, however, of a visit to the Cote d'Or. I had asked on another food forum for recommendations for the area, specifically places where vineyard workers might eat. I was told that I didn't understand the market and that those were not places we wanted to visit. Instead we were given some excellent and discerningly selected addresses of upscale bourgeouis restaurants, most of which were closed in August.

                                                          While driving from Nuits St. George to Beaune, we saw a zillion trucks and small cars parked at a hotel-restaurant. It was high noon. STOP THE CAR! The place was packed with truckers and local workers. There were three women in the dining room including the waitress and me. There was one booth left. We sat down and were immediately given 50cl of red wine. Then a composed salad with charcuterie. Then steak-frites. Then a plate of several cheeses. Then rhum baba. 15€ each.

                                                          Without doubt what we ate was of ordinary quality product. But it was decently prepared and cheap. That lunch remains one of our indelible memories. I remember grinning throughout it.

                                                          1. re: mangeur

                                                            "places where vineyard workers might eat."

                                                            In contemporary Paris the equivalent of your "vineyard worker" will be an immigrant.
                                                            In my area of the 10th, there are dozens of restaurants who cater for the workers who live in cheap hotels, in rooms without cooking facilties, and who are obliged to "eat out" if they want a hot meal. The restaurants they go to cater to their tastes (African, Turkish, Kurd) and are necessarily cheap.

                                                            Paris has always had a huge population of people living in cheap no-star hotels where they're obliged to eat out (think Sartre, de Beauvoir, Truffaut, the beats...) Like Paris, this population, and the restaurants they eat in, has evolved.

                                                            1. re: vielleanglaise

                                                              And eating at some of the places in the 10th that you are mentioning is no less a Parisian experience than eating at a Paris bistrot with a zinc counter and ceramic tiles. The exotic added value and, yes, the feeling of being in the heart of the "pulsing city" have a chance to be more genuine in the former than in the latter.
                                                              And we could discuss ad vitam aeternam about what is French or not French in terms of food. Couscous is so much part of French life that, although not French in origin, it is now part of our culinary heritage. A banh mi or pho soup (derived from French pot-au-feu with the raw meat being a colonial addition) are perfect examples of French-Asian fusion cooking.

                                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                                I so agree. You can bet your booty that more Parisiens have tasted couscous than cassoulet.

                                                                1. re: Parnassien

                                                                  The Oct 20 edition of Vie Pratique Gourmand (a very popular French cooking magazine) lists the dishes most preferred by the French:

                                                                  #2 is Moules Frites (arguably Belgian)
                                                                  #3 is Couscous (North African)
                                                                  #6 is Steak Frites (again, the frites are arguably Belgian)
                                                                  #17 is spaghetti bolognaise (Italian)
                                                                  #18 is pizza (Italian)
                                                                  #19 is lasagne (Italian)
                                                                  #22 is paella (Spanish)
                                                                  #24 is choucroute (yes, French, but influenced by the Germans)
                                                                  #27 Tagliatelles a la carbonara (Italian)
                                                                  #30 Chicken Curry (south Asia)
                                                                  #31 Tajine of Lamb (north Africa)
                                                                  #33 Sushi (Japan)
                                                                  #38 Hamburger
                                                                  #41 Chili con carne (Mexico)

                                                                  Out of 41 dishes listed -- 14 of them are not Frenchl.

                                                                  While I understand the sentiment of your statement, imported food makes up a huge amount of what's available in France...

                                                        2. re: DeppityDawg

                                                          """ Everyone seems to be telling the OP that they have to change something: consider eating non-French food, consider not eating out at all, consider not staying in Paris, consider not being on such a tight budget ... [ or consider eating unremarkable food ] """

                                                          Yes, exactly. Reshuffle your budget, stay more in the provinces and do your good eating there; eat at home; eat imported cuisine, despite all those great réunionaise, tunisienne, martiniquaise, portugaise, and kurdish cuisine back home; or eat out less often. Or eat mediocre. Pick one.

                                                          My advice: spend more time in the provinces. When you're in Paris, divide your budget. Eat cheaply, at home, some of the time. Go out, spending a little more, when you go out. And: eat North African food in France; eat Turkish and Kurdish food in Germany.

                                                          1. re: tmso

                                                            i think you will find that the ethnic food in paris is much different from the ethnic food in "fly over" country. there is an awful lot of really good ethnic food in paris. much of it a whole lot better than most ethnic food in the US.

                                                            caveat --- don't do mexican in paris.

                                                          2. re: DeppityDawg

                                                            I am sure that there are hidden gems. They might be VERY well hidden, though, even from the folks looking for them.

                                                            I do remember Melac getting a rec from one of the above discerning Chowhounds, so maybe that is another place to look into in addition to the suggestions I made. I'll add Maison de la Lozere (Thursday evening aligot?), which has been mentioned on this board.

                                                            I would like to correct your post about one thing, though. An overseas department of France is still French, and it is a convenient and delicious way of eating French food that the OP does not have access to in Minnesota. In addition, maybe the OP is being a bit narrow-minded in the idea that, through some miracle, they can get a decent couscous royale in Minnesota or most anywhere in the US. In its own way, that's about as Parisian as you get.

                                                            In 3 weeks time, I am surprised that the OP can't find some space in their stomach for some of the best cheap food that Paris has to offer. I fully understand if the OP was staying 3 days, but 3 weeks?

                                                            Every neighborhood in Paris is littered with bistros that can offer a plat du jour within the OP's budget. The question remains, are any of them decent? or is the food nasty enough so you wished you had just stayed home? This has happened to me.

                                                            In the 18th, I have a suggestion, though it is not a personal recommendation: go to the Cave a Jojo. I have not eaten there, but I did drink. They will offer a few plats each evening. Strike out on your own and report back. Who knows, maybe the OP will find that gem in the rough.

                                                      2. re: Ptipois

                                                        North African is definitely on the list - around here most of the restaurants rely on "instant" - when I want cous cous that has been steamed above the simmering stew for hours I have to get out my cous cous pol and do it myself -

                                                        1. re: mdwardmalp

                                                          Excellent imput, mdwardmalp. (You may feel like you've been biffed around on this thread, but the more precisely you can articulate your preferences and targets, the more help you will get from the hounds. Otherwise, we're just shooting golf balls off a cliff.) Do you want to share more of the specifics on your list?

                                                          1. re: mdwardmalp

                                                            Now you're talking.
                                                            Hamadi in the Latin Quarter is a lowdown standby. It is probably your budget.
                                                            A Moroccan cousous joint in the wonderful marché St Quentin has wonderful fine grains. The rest is sort of coarse. The merguez is good and spicy. The soup is spicy. Some people like it that way. It is even cheaper than Hamadi. When I shop at the butchers there, I often get a one-person portion of couscous to go, and that portion always lasts me 2 meals.

                                                            Btw, I have never seen the word "whimsical" used to describe oneself, but there must be a first to everything.

                                                    1. If you take the #85 bus from your neighborhood, terminal Jules Joffren, and get off at Tour d'Auvergne stop, you will be within a couple of blocks of Les Anges Gourmandes at 12, rue Rochechouart. You can eat in at lunch or buy take out for dinner. Large portions of very well prepared classic French home cooking. Good food. This will not be startling food, more like what you might cook at home on a good day when you have the time. But it is French and it is in Paris and it is cheap. Very cheap. Look it up on Trip Advisor.

                                                      For your crepe fix, try Le Pot O'Lait, just south of the Mouffetard market street at 41, rue Censier in the 5th. A crepe complet at under 7€.

                                                      And as to your napkin, I see people in the country tucking in their napkin, as well as stout business men in nice Paris restaurants. And when I find that my food has assumed a life of its own, I do also. So if you choose to do so, wear yours with aplomb.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: mangeur

                                                        the 95 bus runs on the street (Rue Marcadet) where we will be staying and we plan to make the most of our metro passes -Theresa's French is excellent (in Quebec people assume that she is from France until they hear her unaccented English) so getting from here to there won't be too much of a problem

                                                        Aplomb (and panache) are two of my best qualities - I was once asked to describe myself in two words (one of those class exercise things) and whimsicly misanthropic seemed to say it all

                                                        1. re: mdwardmalp

                                                          Take the 95 south to Michel Debre and go to Machon d'Henri at 8, rue Guissarde. Order only a main course each. Agneau a sept heures will bring you Moroccan lamb shank and a mountain of scalloped potatoes. Will take you back about 15€ but you will be stuffed. If you are feeling flush, finish with a split order of griottes in kirsch and you will be stuffed and stoned.

                                                          Rue Guissarde is wall to wall "less expensive" restaurants where if you order "short" you can eat moderately cheaply.

                                                      2. One place that fits your needs/wants is Quedubon. On Rue du Plateau near Buttes Chaumont. They have a weekday lunch formule (14.50 or 16.50 last time I went). Food is very good, lots of variety and French.

                                                        1. You might try a dinner at Juvenile's (47 rue de Richelieu). It's a wine bar, but the food is good and they serve mainly tapas style, so you can put together a tasty feast for not many euros.

                                                          1. For someone who wants to avoid imported cuisines, your apartment is in a pretty immigrant-heavy neighbourhood where ethnic restaurants (mostly Haitien, West African and North African) outnumber French ones by 5 to 1. But decent French is available. Maybe a 10-munute walk away, Au Bon Coin on the the rue des Cloys near the rue Ordener for a 15 € lunch or a 20 to 30 € dinner. Great neighbourhood buzz and probably the sort of bistro foreigners imagine to be typically Parisien. Or 5-minutes away (Paris fast pace), Marguerite at 58 rue de Clignancourt... 15 € for lunch and probably 40 € for a full dinner but you can get away with just a main with veggies for 20 €. If you don't mind an ultra-modern setting and sharing your time and space with a bunch of 20- and 30-somethings, a well-chosen meal at Chéri Bibi on the rue André del Sarte off the rue Clignancourt might get you happily fed for 25 to 30 €. The charmless yet buzzy, very cheap (we're talking 10 € here) and relatively good North African resto Les Trois Frères on the rue Léon between the rue Myrha and the rue Doudeauville is a good bet when your taste buds demand something other than French.

                                                            As others have pointed out, if you make lunch your main meal, it's easy to find an excellent 2- or 3-course prix fixe (without wine) for 15 € or less in almost every quartier. Just a few off the top of my head: Bistrot Victoires off the place des Victoires/ near the Palais Royal in the 1st; Chez Marie Louise on the rue Marie et Louise in the very trendy Canal St Martin quartier in the 10th; Bistro des Oies, also rue Marie et Louise, 10th; Lilane on rue Gracieuse just off the place Monge in the 5th; l'Estaminet at 166 rue Oberkampf in the 11th for a taste of South-West France... but a very hip quartier so best to avoid on Saturdays; Café de l'Industrie (ultra-cheap and quite charming but don't expect great food) near la Bastille in the 11th; Le Sainte Marthe on the ultra-cool place Sainte Marthe in the 10th near Belleville; Chez Maurice on the rue Vinaigriers in the Canal St Martin quartier near the Jardin Villemin; Cartouche Café on the rue de Bercy in the 12th for a taste of (well, sorta) Normandy; the very classic but surprisingly popular with the Haut Marais trendies Chez Nénesse on rue Saintogne/ rue du Poitou in the 3rd; Au Dernier Métro on the boulevard Grenelle across from Dupleix métro station (and easily walkable from the Eiffel Tower) for a taste of the Basque country and prix fixe of only 10 € for lunch ... incredible value!

                                                            For non-ethnic dinner, 30 € to 40 € is the norm but chain restaurants like Hippopatamus (steak et frites or hamburgers) and Léon de Bruxelles (moules et frites) are pretty popular simply because you can fill your tummy for less than 20 €. And if it's your kid's tummy, less than 10€. But the food is just a millimetre over decent. Au Dernier Métro (see above) is an astounding exception and you can get a good and very hearty Basque dinner for maybe 15 € (without wine)... but a warning: it can be very rowdy on Saturday nights, especially during rugby season. Again as others have suggested, the wine bars are a great and relatively cheap alternative to a restaurant or bistro meal. La Patache on the rue Lancry just off the Quai Valmy/ Canal St Martin in the 10th, Le Rubis between the place du Marché St Honoré and the rue St Honoré in the 1st, le Café de la Nouvelle Mairie just off the Panthéon in the 5th/ Latin Quarter, les Pipos on the rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique in the 5th/ Latin Quarter are all excellent value, fun and perfect for a napkin-stuffed-into-his-shirt kind of guy.

                                                            34 Replies
                                                            1. re: Parnassien

                                                              Parnassien - offers good advice. On the €500 a week for two my strategy would be to focus on lunches as they are always far better value. and to eat at home for most dinners. When I worked in Paris I always though I ate like a real resident, maybe a lunch or two out of the office with colleagues at €14, and dinner once or twice a week (and even Picard some days).

                                                              Most of the time we ate at home, or during the day I grabbed a baguette. My strategy for a visitor would be a similar mix, eat at home with the great fresh produce from the market four or five times a week and then head out for one or two decent meals a week - you will still need to carefully select places and go easy on wine but I do think this strategy will allow you to get a good balance (and if you are careful quite a few of the places recommended frequently on the board may work). If you eat out well one day then eat modestly at home for the next few, good wine is easily available at very reasonable prices so you can really feast at home.

                                                              Is it worth trying non-French food in Paris? I tend to take the counter view to many here. Italian is OK but a lot more of the exotic foods - Thai, Vietnamese, Indian Chinese and even quite a lot of North African and Middle Eastern is quite average at best. I usually argue that the French palette tends not too like food that is too spiced (and I don't mean simply hot chilli spice) and thus the food is often not as good as it can be.

                                                              OK this is often the food of the old French colonies and there is a large immigrant population that cooks "authentic" food. But this argument could have been made about Indian food in the UK in the '70's or much of the Mexican food in the US - and I would be surprised if many rushed to defend those two. My arguments will get shouted down by the partisan home team but I was generally disappointed with the variety of food I tried especially when compared against mid-market traditional French food which is usually an order of magnitude better than French food served outside of France. So my advice is stick with traditional French and you will enjoy yourself.

                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                If I was visiting Paris, I would probably try to eat as much "French" food as possible, and I agree with you when you suggest that the cosmopolitan food scene in Paris doesn't have the same vibrance as other global cities - though it's changed a lot since I've been here.

                                                                However, as to the OP's request "where do the common folk of Paris eat?" Very often, almost always, in "foreign" restaurants. Also, "mid-market traditional French food" (45-50 euros a meal?) is out of of the OP's price range.

                                                                1. re: vielleanglaise

                                                                  But the OP qualified there request in the next post stating a preference for French. Agree the budget gets blown at 40 to 50 a night but not when blended with a few nights at "home". That's why I think they can try some recommended places if they are careful.

                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                    and I'm pretty certain that if you were to do a survey amongst Paris residents, you'd find very, very few of them that are spending 35 euros a day per person for food, whether in restaurants or for groceries.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      I agree, 35 €/day would be a very generous food budget for the majority of Parisians. But the OP is going to be on vacation. He/she did not say "We want to spend three weeks living exactly like the common folk of Paris".

                                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                        My point being that if Parisians can eat well on less than 35/day (and most of them do) that it's certainly possible for someone on vacation.

                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                          I got that, but the OP will not necessarily be set up to cook/eat well at home and I had the impression that they were hoping to enjoy more restaurant meals than the typical, non-vacationing Parisian. Not twice a day, every day, but — I could be wrong here — one restaurant every few days is probably not what they have in mind.

                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                        Wow. Temper this with reality -> 70€/$96 a day x 30 = $2880 a month for food for 2! Given our simple at-home cook-from-scratch life-style, I could add weekly dinner parties with that budget. Puts it into perspective.

                                                                        1. re: mangeur

                                                                          Woohoo ! I'd love to have that budget solely for food !!

                                                                  2. re: PhilD

                                                                    Not the case for the creole food I ate at Marché des Enfants Rouges. It was serious stuff.

                                                                    The OP doesn't need generalizations. People come to Chowhound for that one good rec, that needle in the haystack. That's the point. If every regular on this board came up with one decent suggestion then the OP would have plenty of good eating to do.

                                                                    As someone who has eaten couscous, pho, thai, and and caviar d'aubergine in Paris, I can say there are quite a few wonders available if you are selective.

                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                      Steve - there maybe a few wonders but why search for "needles in haystacks" when reliable French food is so much easier to find?

                                                                      Is their really much debate that Paris really doesn't measure upto other world cities for ethnic food? OK to search out a treasure and tolerate the many misses amongst the few hits but a risky strategy on a short visit. I know it's not a risk I will take on my trip in December.

                                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                                        No relationship with the OP's request and I do not wish to contradict your strange belief that non-French restaurants in Paris are of such poor quality (and the good ones are certainly not "needles in haystacks"), but that belief is grossly exaggerated.

                                                                        You are of course entitled to your opinion, but I am concerned that it might be misleading for people visiting Paris. I will even go so far as labeling it misinformation.

                                                                        When it comes to good, cheap food (cheap according to resident Parisians' standard), it is now certainly easier to find it among the "imported" than among the native offering.

                                                                        1. re: Ptipois

                                                                          When I referred to 'needle in the haystack,' I am referring to my belief that a really great rec, in any city, is a rarity. Finding that place where the food - at whatever price point or style- stands out from the crowd.

                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                            Steve, I remember the report you wrote after visiting Paris with your family. You made two (well, at least two, I don't remember every word, :-) ) excellent points.
                                                                            1. Do research. Don't be caught with no research, no backup, about a given day, a given neighborhood.
                                                                            2. Do research. Don't throw money - whatever the budget - at mediocre food.
                                                                            Do I remember correctly? Was it you? Can't find the post.
                                                                            Does this shed a light on your haystack needle concept… :-)

                                                                            1. re: Parigi

                                                                              I don't travel anywhere without Chowhound research. It is has given me infinite pleasure and a sense of discovery over the years. I have used Chowhound as an excuse to visit neighborhoods I wouldn't normally get to see, and go into places I wouldn't normally go.

                                                                              I don't plan out every meal, but I do have in mind the possibilities.

                                                                              Unfortunately, sometimes my best intentions backfired on me in Paris, so I already know how desperate the situation can get. You can spend a lot of money and eat lousy food, that's for sure. When I was at a café for a spot of coffee, I saw into the kitchen where they were opening tubs of pre-made sauce, so I know that you can spend the equivalent of $20 to eat something that is no different than supermarket shelf convenience food. At a heavily touristed location, that cost could double.

                                                                          2. re: Ptipois

                                                                            Ptipois - Misinformation? I would argue it is a judgement based on perspective. I have lived in Sydney, Hong Kong, London and Paris an travel extensively in Asia (writing this from Delhi - my fifth trip ths year) so when I go to Paris I judge the food through that lens. A resident of Paris may well have a differen lens and be happy and satisfied by food that I find mediocre, infact in Paris I often ate mediocre non-French food and enjoyed it because I needed the change.

                                                                            But like the OP I don't go to Paris for "ethnic food" (I so dislike that term) I go to Paris and France for the really great French food which range from a simple baguette to a 3 star meal. This is what no other place comes close in terms of standards for French food - and believe me we eat a lot of bad French food outside of France because we miss France and Paris. In cities like Sydney I choose Thai, and Indian, in London I choose Indian, Turkish and Lebanese, in HK we have great Japanese. And in all these cities these cuisines are hidden away, they are available in big night out mainstream restaurant some which arevy tricky to get into. And that isn't the same as Paris, the few good "ethnic" places are not mainstream and not big night out venues. So no I don't think my point is misinformation at all - it all depends on perspective.

                                                                            And I really do believe on the OP's budget they can eat well for 500 euro a week (for two) by mixing nd matching, eating in the apartment and choosing restaurants widely - and there are lots on this board at 35 euro a head especially at lunch so no need to eat non-French food unless they choose to. To say they can't I mis-information.

                                                                            1. re: PhilD

                                                                              "I have lived in Sydney, Hong Kong, London and travel extensively in Asia (writing this from Delhi - my fifth trip this year)"

                                                                              None of those places would have much in the way creole food. Very little Senegalese, Togolese or Algerian in Asia. Francophone food - can I use such a term? - has its own charms.

                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                Steve - I think you miss my point. In these cities non-local foods are quite mainstream and some of the cuisines are really world class, so Thai in Sydney can easily be as good as Thai in Bangkok, or Indian in London can be as good as Delhi (worth checking out David Leibovitch's blog about his visit to Sydney to see his comments on the relative merits of Thai food in the two cities)

                                                                                In Paris this is not the case. Yes lots of food is a available but traditional French food is dominant and non-French (and the French territories) really isn't that strong. You mention good Creole at one restaurant (or is it a stall at the market) but I don't recall a really strong Creole food movement with a broad variety of restaurants in Paris?

                                                                                And interestingly I believe London's African food scene is moving forward at quite a pace, this is an interesting contrast to Paris, London seems to embrace and champion difference and restaurants thrive in the mainstream, but Paris seem far more comfortable with tradition. Given the standard of average British food I suspect a lack of good local alternatives is the reason for this diffeence rather than any French Xenophonbia.

                                                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                                                  The OP doesn't need a 'food movement.' Just a few good recs.

                                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                                    PhilD: Maybe because in all the other places the "ethnic" restaurants are aimed at a higher socio- economic class?

                                                                                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                      Probably true - but the result remains the same

                                                                                2. re: PhilD

                                                                                  OK, since we're onto perspective, let's do like Japanese warriors who meet for the first time or, more gently, like Asian businessmen exchanging cards and reading them eagerly for a minute: comparing perspectives (where I've been, what I've done, and so on).

                                                                                  It is an evidence that you have to go to France to find the best French food. No one will dispute that. That there is plenty of bad French food outside of France is also a no-brainer. However, this is what you wrote :

                                                                                  "Is their really much debate that Paris really doesn't measure upto other world cities for ethnic food?"

                                                                                  And that is a different idea, which lacks perspective. Well, in fact, yes, there is debate. I think that is simply not true. It all depends on the type of "ethnic" food (I hate the term too).

                                                                                  There are indeed two different perspectives to this question and they should not be confused.

                                                                                  1- "When one comes to France from far away, what one seeks primarily is good French food and one isn't likely to be interested in non-French cuisines."
                                                                                  -----> True, although the statement needs to be tempered a bit, since there are some non-French cuisines that you will find only in Paris, or at their very best in Paris (North African, Laotian and West African, for instance). For that reason, I consider that trying them in France is an experience that should be associated with the "eating good French food in France" experience.

                                                                                  2- "Paris doesn't measure up to other world cities for ethnic food".
                                                                                  ----> Not true, but that is where personal perspective and objective judgement are confused in your discourse. I understand that coming to Paris to eat French food (which is, to you, an "ethnic" cuisine), you're not attracted to eating non-French dishes and that is quite understandable.

                                                                                  But basing yourself on that personal experience/perspective to declare that "ethnic" foods in Paris are globally inferior to other cities' is going too far.
                                                                                  And now we're onto the Japanese warrior thing, which I would not have dared to expose here if you hadn't done so yourself. Indeed it is my job to study non-French cuisines as part of my general study of cuisine, and normally I hate to put that forward in discussion.
                                                                                  I have lived in the United States for three years and my vocation as a cook and a food writer was inspired by NYC's very culinary ethnic diversity.
                                                                                  I have also studied native cuisines in Southeast Asia and Africa (North and West), and I go to China (South and Center) at least twice a year to study the food and teas. Have been doing that for seven years now. I am not including my interest in Indian cuisines because I have never physicaly been there. I go to London quite regularly to update my experience (and with the quickly-changing pace of the food scene in that city, it does need frequent updating). Right now, I am writing from Tasmania, where I am about to study the island's food and products.

                                                                                  And I sincerely declare that Paris has no reason to be ashamed of its non-French cuisine scene, and that some of it is worth appreciating in its own right. I won't go into details about what's good and what's not, for that has been done extensively in other threads and in this one too.

                                                                                  So your perspective is that you can't be interested enough in ethnic eating in Paris because you have other priorities. That is perfectly fine.
                                                                                  But that is not sufficient ground to claim that the Paris "ethnic" food scene is, on a global basis, inferior to others.

                                                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                    You must remember my perspective was formed from living in Paris and that informs my advice to visitors..

                                                                                    Enjoy Tasmania, it is an intriguing concept to study the food there. Hopefully you will enjoy the Pinot, I recommend Stefano Lubiano or Panorama if you are in the Hobart area. And if you transit through Sydney do try the Thai food (Spice I am, Chat Thai, or Longrain which is also in Melbourne) it may help to put my comments in context regarding the relative quality of Thai food in Paris compared to other cities.

                                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                                      "You must remember my perspective was formed from living in Paris and that informs my advice to visitors.."
                                                                                      Well, precisely. That is, in short, the core of my above comment.

                                                                                      It is true that Paris does not do Central Thai well, en revanche it does Laotian very well. Unfortunately I only stopped at Sydney airport for the transfer.

                                                                                      (An intriguing concept indeed, and amazing products. Very interesting wines.)

                                                                              2. re: PhilD

                                                                                "reliable French food is so much easier to find."

                                                                                Well, I did not know that, and from what I've read on this board, I am not sure that would be my conclusion at the OP's price point.

                                                                                Also, I maintain - perhaps I am in error on this - that DOM TOM is still very much a part of France. Not the part many people immediately think of, but to me it is inextricable from French culture and very much a part of the way people actually live as opposed to some kind of tourist's ideal.

                                                                                1. re: Steve

                                                                                  I think you are overstating the importance of the DOM-TOM in the day-to-day life and general consciousness of the typical métro. People may know _a bit_ more about Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion than the average contiguous 48er knows about Hawaii or Alaska, but that's about as far as I'd go. They couldn't name half of the other DOM-TOM, or even recognize the names of some of them, much less tell you anything about their culinary traditions.

                                                                                  However, since the OP has now indicated an interest in North African cuisine, maybe they will also consider "overseas French" food. Do you have any recommendations?

                                                                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                    The only recent rec I have is the creole place I mentioned upthread.

                                                                                    I agree that Parisians are not constantly thinking about France's overseas territiories, but it's probable they have eaten the food.... From a Chowhound perspective, I would say it is a way of exploring a cuisine that is unavailabe in 'flyover' country.

                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                      Exactly. Creole food from the French Carribean is not much talked about but that is misleading for it is very present in the mainstream culture. Even the rosiest-cheeked charcutiers on market stalls will present their version of "boudin créole" and accras de morue, and everybody here knows what a ti-punch is, which is easy, but many also know how to make it, which is more interesting. More stuff that would be hard to come by in flyover country.

                                                                              3. re: Steve

                                                                                True. There's plenty of serious, very serious "non-French" food to be had in Paris and it is by no means a recent trend. Started back in the 1950s at the very latest. You just have to know where to go.

                                                                            2. re: Parnassien

                                                                              Oups... i got your location wrong and assumed you were on the Goutte d'Or side of Montmartre but now I see that you are on the rue Marcadet, probably near the Square Léon Sempollet; a much less cosmopolitain neighbourhood. So please ignore my original recs for local spots. Except for Au Bon Coin on the rue des Cloys.

                                                                              There are lots of other French eateries in your immediate neighbourhood but the best in your budget range (e.g. La Cave Café and La Popote du 18e) cater to a rather young(ish) and very bobo clientele. Not all that much fun for a retired couple from Minnesota.

                                                                              1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                quiite right - we are staying at 170 rue Marcadet - we will have "typical" studio kiitchen - two hotplates and a microwave (which is more than we have when camping on lake superior - so the biggest obstacle will be the logistics involved to eat well at home

                                                                                the plan (a distillation of the collective wisdom y'all have shared {BTW what is the collective noun for a bunch of chowhounds ??????? [a MASTICATION of ch's ????]}) which is still evolving is to eat lunch out (both grazing at markets and prix fixe) most days with maybe one evening meal out per week in the 30 40 euro range -

                                                                                came across an interesting tidbit yesterday - found a blog about the yearly best baguette contest - about five of the winners over the years are within a very short walk of our apt - who could ask for more??????

                                                                                thanks again for all the suggestions/opinions for helping make this trip as special as it can be

                                                                                Michael et Theresa

                                                                                1. re: mdwardmalp

                                                                                  Lots of good stuff in just a 10-minute walking radius of 170 rue Marcadet. As a tourist, you will probably be tempted to head straight up the Butte to the postcard bits of Montmartre but locals are more drawn to the convenience of the less picturesque rue Ordener where there's a few boulangeries (Mauvieux at #156 has especially good classic pastries at very correct prices) , fruit/veg shops etc as well as a street market/ marché volant (but rather ordinary compared to many of Paris's other street markets) on Wed and Sat mornings. The neighbourhood's most interesting and busiest market street/ rue commerçante is probably the rue Poteau off rue Ordener near the Jules Joffrin métro. Fromageries (including a small branch of the very famous Quatrehomme), traiteurs, boulangeries, rotisseries, cafés, etc. Of course the better known market streets -- rue Lepic, rue des Abbesses and rue des Martyrs-- on the Pigalle side of la Butte Montmartre are also in reach but far less convenient (and probably more expensive) for you.

                                                                                  For a less "populaire" bout of shopping, the rue Damrémont around the corner from you has some real gems. The boulangerie Arnaud Delmontel (whose gressins/ breadsticks are especially addictive) has your award-winning baguette. But careful: the pastries and speciality breads are budget-busting so try to limit yourself to the classic baguettes and batons (whose prices are regulated by law). And the same with the fromagerie Chez Virginie, also on rue Damrémont. Great stuff but quality costs. I seem to remember a small fishmongers (maybe soupe de poissons?) and a few traiteurs for take away meals on the same section of rue Damrémont.

                                                                                  And oh, almost forgot. Le Cépage Montmartrois on the rue Caulaincourt. Lovely neighbourhood café-brasserie hangout + an oyster stand (for eating there or take out) in winter. And dirt cheap: lunch for around 11 or 12 € and if you choose well, dinner for 20 to 30 €. Occasionally live jazz on weekends but then the prices are jacked up. Just a 5-minute walk from your studio if you use the "ruelles"/ back streets and the Square Caulaincourt stairway. Yes yes!

                                                                              2. re: Parnassien

                                                                                I don't know the ratio of local to nonlocal but on a Sunday how about lunch at the Baron Rouge in the 11th? Oysters, cheese and meat plates, bread and butter, wine by the glass or by the bottle and lots of local color from the market. It is a scene not to be missed.

                                                                                1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                  i second La Patache -- charming place

                                                                                2. All this back and forth makes it sound like France got conquered long ago.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                                                                    All this back and forth shows France is cosmopolitan and open-minded.
                                                                                    Hoep you live in an similar similar to France in food and mindset.

                                                                                  2. I will toss one more brick into this melee, one that I often lob at acquaintances who are planning a trip abroad on a budget. If your means are already stretched to snap by this trip already, then read no further.

                                                                                    But if you are just trying to put a bookends around expense, think about the total investment: airfare, apartment, intra-France transportation, amusement fees (museums, etc.). If you could stretch your total expenditures by just $350 you could spend 25€ more on a meal every other day! In a couple of years will you remember what you did with that $350 once home?

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: mangeur

                                                                                        "What mangeur says." I've said the same, but less elegantly, to friends in similar circumstances.

                                                                                      2. Many many years ago when I was a student in France, I was taken to Chartier for a cheap meal. It's in a huge noisy space with glass ceiling and art-deco atmosphere. The waiters tally up your bill on your paper tablecloth. It's as cheap a place as you'll find in Paris that still has traditional French food. 7 RUE DU FAUBOURG MONTMARTRE 75009 PARIS

                                                                                        01 47 70 86 29

                                                                                        As I said, it's been decades, it's still there, and I hope it hasn't changed much. Andthey still write on the tablecloths. They do have a website with their menu. Go for the atmosphere, the food is not commendable by French standards, but it is classic. Bon Appetit!

                                                                                        31 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: tintinmilou

                                                                                          if I'm not mistaken, Chartier was the one of the restaurants that were the subject of a big expose on French television France 2 about a year ago -- they opened the trash cans behind the restaurant and found the packaging of a LOT of prepared meals (far too many to have been from staff bringing in their own meals) bought from the supermarket chain Ed -- there was a lot of gasping at the thought that they'd been basically buying pre-prepared meals, nuking them, and plating them as meals cooked on the premises -- microwaved Lean Cuisine at restaurant prices.

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            Yikes, thanx for informing us. Could you provide us a reference to the documentary, a link? I can't find it on the internet.

                                                                                            1. re: Parigi

                                                                                              It was on Envoyé Spécial. Here's a link: http://envoye-special.france2.fr/les-...

                                                                                              Hope it works over there, because it's not working for me, here.

                                                                                              EDIT: Found another link that works for me: http://envoye-special.france2.fr/les-...

                                                                                              1. re: SnackHappy

                                                                                                Well, again, no one goes to Chartier for the culinary experience, aside from indulging in classic French fare such as Tete de veau sauce gribiche.
                                                                                                Even if they were using frozen prepared meals, it's a scandal to the French, but it should be no big deal to a tourist. It's cheap, the atmosphere cannot be found elsewhere.

                                                                                                1. re: tintinmilou

                                                                                                  " it should be no big deal to a tourist."

                                                                                                  It is a big deal to a tourist with taste buds.

                                                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                    "It is a big deal to a tourist with taste buds"

                                                                                                    Exactly the point of these documentaries. And I guess what the OP was trying to avoid.

                                                                                                  2. re: tintinmilou

                                                                                                    why in the world would you pay restaurant prices to be handed a plate of microwaved industrial food?

                                                                                                    Just go to Ed, buy the industrial food, nuke it back at your flat, and apply to money to a proper dinner somewhere decent.

                                                                                                    And thanks, SnackHappy -- the episode I was referring to is your second link, from Nov 2010

                                                                                                  3. re: SnackHappy

                                                                                                    I watched the docu/expose finally - we have same problem here - the economics today are brutal enough in food service so outsourcing has become the only way to control costs (I was at a restaurant show recently and found spagetti and mashed potatoes (both in bags but the mashed potatoes were "guaranteed to be made with
                                                                                                    "real" potatoes not dried flakes!!!!!!) - hard boiled eggs come in a tube so every slice is a "center cut" and whole HB'd eggs come in a pail -

                                                                                                    anyway, during the program there was a reference to a plaque which is "awarded" to restaurants that avoid outsourced nuke and serve products (at least that is what I understood with my less than adequate french) - where are these plaques displayed ?????? are there any references in web sites to this form of branding????

                                                                                                    1. re: mdwardmalp

                                                                                                      Then there's this report, which aired not too long after the Expose piece -- La Conserverie serves nothing *but* preserved food from tins and jars across the country.


                                                                                                      At least they tell you up front...and make it their schtick, although somehow it still doesn't show up on my "places to try" list.

                                                                                                      1. re: mdwardmalp

                                                                                                        Here is a list of restaurants in Paris that have (bothered to apply for and) received the "Maître Restaurateur" label:

                                                                                                        This is not a well-known initiative, which is why there are so few places listed, and why I wouldn't spend too much time and effort seeking out this label. I would also keep in mind that a restaurant can use reheated ready-made food for some menu items and prepare other items fresh from scratch. With some wise judgment on your part, some openness from the restaurant staff, and a bit of luck, you might be able to pick the good things from an otherwise poor menu.

                                                                                                  4. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    There's no way they went to Ed. Can you imagine how expensive and impractical that would be? I'm sure they go to a wholesale restaurant supply store and get large volumes of industrially-prepared food delivered, and they reheat it and mark it up. Like the majority of restaurants do… This is hardly a secret that needs to be exposed and gasped about. Those supply stores are in plain view in every city, and you can only shop there if you run a restaurant, so how can it be a surprise to anyone that all of those prepared foods are being served in restaurants? It doesn't mean the food is automatically bad; in fact, it is better than what you would get if you insisted on everything being made from scratch _for the same price_. (Which is why many of you will immediately answer: "So pay more and eat better!" But not everyone has this option all of the time.)

                                                                                                    Chartier at least has reasonable prices and an interesting look and history. They have no pretentions of being a gastronomic destination. People go there expecting to get more or less the same food as in their staff canteen or resto U at lunchtime. Maybe they are all ignorant philistines, but they seem to get something positive out of the experience nonetheless.

                                                                                                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                      then how do you explain the piles of store-brand microwave meals from Ed in their garbage cans?

                                                                                                      Sorry, but if I'm coughing up cold, hard cash for a restaurant meal, I absolutely refuse to be served microwaved meals from the grocery down the street -- I can get that at home (but I don't eat microwaved grocery meals at home, either).

                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        Sorry, but if we watched the same report, the only things they fished out of the garbage at Chartier were desserts (îles flottantes, crème anglaise, délices au chocolat). And there was no evidence of microwaving at this restaurant, although it probably happens.

                                                                                                        Envoyé Spécial doesn't show brand names, so you'd have to know the Ed products pretty well to recognize the packaging. But like I said, it doesn't make any sense for a restaurant the size of Chartier to do its shopping at the grocery down the street.

                                                                                                        That said, you can probably find the same beef stew in 30kg sacks at Métro and in microwaveable single-serve portions at Ed. But a restaurateur can also choose a higher quality (more expensive) product. I have no illusions about and no problem with the fact that if I'm paying 12-15 euros for a 2 course restaurant meal, some or all of the food was prepared in a factory far far away.

                                                                                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                          I don't know whether the pre-cooked/pre-packaged stuff served at Chartier these days comes from Ed or not. There is nothing surprising there, it might also have come from Dia, Leader Price or Franprix for all we know. Metro would be one notch higher for there is some good stuff to be picked there. Is perfectly possible that a restaurant sources some of its processed foods from the nearest chain supermarket. I've seen mediocre places do that. Add bad time management to poor culinary inspiration and technique, and you've got the commis running to the corner Franprix all the time.

                                                                                                          The important point is that Chartier serves things fresh out of plastic, and since it has been taken over by Gérard Joulie I can't see why things should be different from what they are in other restaurants managed by that group. So yes, in that case, it is even cheaper to get your own store-bought microwave delights and nuke them yourself, unless eating them among Art Nouveau fixtures is really an important part of the deal.

                                                                                                          1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                            If you're saying that some restaurant, somewhere, has at some time had to resort to getting some of its supplies from some neighborhood supermarket, there's no way anyone can possibly disagree with that.

                                                                                                            Chartier serves like 1500 meals a day, so their food is not being sourced to any significant degree from the superette on the corner. You can look down on them for using processed, industrial food (which is neither a surprise nor a scandal), but I don't see any evidence to suggest that they're idiots.

                                                                                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                              Nobody would blink if they had to grab butter, eggs, flour, etc., from the corner grocery.

                                                                                                              But I'm surprised that you somehow really think that serving microwaved pre-prepared meals at not-cheap prices is okay. (we've all had sauces, etc., that were storebought...for better or for worse, but geez -- a microwaved pre-prepared meal is just phoning it in...and it's cheating at best.)

                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                I would certainly blink if a restaurant the size of Chartier had to get its butter, eggs, and flour from the corner grocery to make its own pastries. And the restaurant would probably have closed down before I opened my eyes again.

                                                                                                                Chartier is cheap, that's why it got mentioned in this thread in the first place. But since this term is relative, people can look at today's menu and make up their own minds:
                                                                                                                Maybe it is "not cheap" compared to Flunch or your favorite Afro-Antillais kebab and noodle joint, but it is not expensive enough to expect anything other than reheated pre-prepared food. If pre-prepared food outrages you, then don't go there, or to most other budget and mid-range restaurants. Do you think every grande brasserie has a basement full of homemade choucroute and confit, and a giant wooden box full of live snails? They buy all this stuff ready-made, just like Chartier does, only their prices are 50%-100% higher.

                                                                                                                Chartier is also "not cheap" compared to making the same thing for yourself at home (to the same standard), but that is trivially true for just about anything you get in any restaurant.

                                                                                                                1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                  Not specifically Chartier running to the corner (albeit the conversation was centred more-or-less around them) -- we've all seen lots of restaurants send someone out to pick up some ingredient or another for one reason or another. No biggie. (and not enough to make entire trays of pastries...enough to finish a couple of plates before declaring it "sold out" for the night)

                                                                                                                  And I don't go to Chartier -- because I have yet to read anyone on any website, blog, or forum, who marks them as even a passing value for the buck -- nearly everyone says the decor is nice, but the food utterly forgettable. I don't spend my money on utterly forgettable.

                                                                                                                  I also said that of course I've had a pre-made sauce, side, dessert, etc...but it's not a 1,50 tagliatelles carbonara that I wouldn't even eat at home.

                                                                                                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                    "Maybe it is "not cheap" compared to Flunch or your favorite Afro-Antillais kebab and noodle joint, but it is not expensive enough to expect anything other than reheated pre-prepared food."

                                                                                                                    Excuse me, but that does not make sense.
                                                                                                                    "Modern times" and prices are not an excuse. It is a matter of choice from the management. Either do it cheap and in plastic and here's that-in-your-face, or do it cheap and with real ingredients and respect your customers. Either is perfectly possible with the same budget, all it takes is proper decisions regarding management and budget balance.

                                                                                                                    Naturally we're not talking painstakingly sourced products and AAAAA andouillettes and petits producteurs (though I think that could be possible for not much higher a price), but even run-of-the-mill vegetables, fruit, stewing meats, tripe and organ meats, poulet fermier, low-priced fish species, can turn into a very decent fare on a cheap restaurant's plates.

                                                                                                                    One might argue that nobody does that today, but that does not mean it is not possible. I should think a landmark like Chartier should do a little brain-scratching but then again, don't expect that if Joulie is at the wheel.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                        Preparing food from scratch is more expensive than using pre-prepared food, taking into account the time and cooking skills required. For Chartier to switch to raw ingredients, they would have to make some significant changes, for example by using lower quality ingredients, offering less variety, serving fewer meals, or raising their prices. All of these would change the identity of the place, which is an important consideration for a Parisian landmark like Chartier. I agree that they could choose to do things differently, but I disagree that this is "perfectly possible with the same budget", and I would argue that what they are doing now is giving the customers what they want. A lot of them probably believe that they're getting fresh, homemade food, but that's not the restaurant's fault.

                                                                                                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                          When I go to the cinema I don't expect to watch a TV, when I go to a concert I don't expect a CD Player, when I go to do some sport I don't expect to play the Wii, when I go to a restaurant I don't expect pre-prepared meals...

                                                                                                                          Maybe I have high expectations...

                                                                                                                          1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                                            Your expectations are reasonable, but if you want to avoid disappointment, be informed about the restaurants you choose and realistic about the price you will have to pay for a restaurant to meet your expectations.

                                                                                                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                              When I go to the cinema I don't expect to watch a TV "even if it is a small film festival with a 2€ entrance fee".

                                                                                                                              When I go to a concert I don't expect a CD Player "even if it is a jazz club with free entrance".

                                                                                                                              When I go to do some sport I don't expect to play the Wii "even if I'm doing the first free try-out course".

                                                                                                                              When I go to a restaurant I don't expect pre-prepared meals "even if it is cheap, if the economy is bad, if the restaurant supposedly has no other choice..."

                                                                                                                              Of course I am "informed about the restaurants I choose and realistic about the price I will have to pay for a restaurant to meet my expectations.". We're on Chowhound after all, so we're all (I would think) ready to pay the extra buck for better food... But that isn't the point, the point is that a restaurant should not be a place where you go eat pre-prepared food, because that is not what people expect, it is not what they think is happening, and it is not what a restaurant is.

                                                                                                                              Wikipedia states the following for the word "restaurant" : A restaurant is an establishment which prepares and serves food and drink to customers in return for money.

                                                                                                                              Now we may all have a different definition of what "preparing food" is, but in my book popping a plastic box in a microwave is not preparing food, it's just heating "pre-prepared" (as in "prepared beforehand") food.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                                                McDonald's is also a restaurant (Wikipedia states), so I don't buy the argument that all restaurants _by definition_ have to prepare food from scratch and not just reheat pre-prepared food. Your expectations depend on the category of the restaurant. If someone goes to Chartier expecting all freshly prepared food, it's because they are uninformed/misinformed and just haven't bothered to think for five minutes about what category of restaurant this is. Chartier itself — as far as I know — does not deceive its customers. It is not necessary to go rooting around in their garbage; just ask the servers what's freshly made and what's not. Many other restaurants do not hesitate to claim that their industrial food is "maison", that their ordinary poultry/meat is "fermier", and otherwise put new wine in old bottles. Those are the places that deserve our scorn.

                                                                                                                                1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                                  Sorry, but taking a piece of meat from the freezer, cooking it from raw to cooked, and then placing that piece of meat on buns, with different ingredients that you put together (tomatoes, onions, sauce, salad...), or taking frozen potatoes and frying them up twice, is in no way comparable to putting a pre-prepared meal in the microwave.

                                                                                                                                  I'm not saying cooking at McDonald's requires skills, I'm not saying the food at McDonald's is fresh and local (although they do claim that in France), but it is raw (ok, usually frozen, but still...) food turned into cooked food on the spot for your meal.
                                                                                                                                  A microwave dish is already cooked, seasoned and put together in the package...

                                                                                                                          2. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                            So, if I understand properly:

                                                                                                                            In order to remain a Parisian landmark, old Chartier has no choice but to serve pre-prepared food straight from plastic.


                                                                                                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                              See my previous messages. I don't see any need to repeat the same points over and over again.

                                                                                                                                1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                                  What was the original question that prompted all of this back and forth? "Where do the common folk of Paris eat?" The answer is "Le Bouillon Chartier." You can argue the pros and cons until you're blue in the palate, but there it is.
                                                                                                                                  C'est la destination estudiantine, et le repaire des artistes sans moyens. Voila.

                                                                                                        2. I also think we are losing sight a little bit from the fact that the OP has expressed interest in French regional cooking, so a good Corse, Gascogne, Alsatian, or Auvergnat place would be a welcome suggestion.

                                                                                                          My personal belief is that there is no 'better' cuisine than very humble foods. However, in my admittedly small sample I think that a run of the mill bistro in Paris is a shockingly bad value for an American who may now be used to better, even in 'flyover' country.

                                                                                                          Let me just throw in that I have heard good things about Chez Nenesse. Not a recent rec. I am wondering if they still fry up a ton of bintje on Thursdays....

                                                                                                          Also, as long as we are on the rumor mill, I have heard multiple good things about Auberge Aveyronnaise. I've never been. Maybe ordering a plat there would keep within the OP's budget......

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                            I like Chez Nénesse, it is so much the textbook 1950s Marais bistrot that it looks almost suspicious. The food is correct, cheap, served in perhaps more ungenerous portions that they would have been back in the 50s. But nowadays you can't have cheap, good and generous - unless you're going to an "ethnic" place you have to cross out one of the three. Still, I would recommend it.

                                                                                                            I believe that if they stopped frying the bintjes on Thursday, the building woud probably collapse of something.

                                                                                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                              "I believe that if they stopped frying the bintjes on Thursday, the building would probably collapse of something."

                                                                                                              Ha - it's good to know there are some things in life that are eternal, if only for a few days or so.

                                                                                                          2. Especially if you like wine, and a genuinely French place, go to "Grains Nobles" - It's a wine bar, rue Boutebrie (near Saint Michel - attention, the street right next to it is the Rue de la Harpe, which is where you will find the worst food in Paris in restaurants that are exclusively targeted at tourists). It's open only from wednesday to saturday, from six to eleven pm - it's incredible value for money, you have simple charcuterie and cheese platters from the best producers for below ten euros, the possibility to taste a lot of great wines by the glass for very little money, and because the owner did not get along with his excellent manager and is not a very good communicator, it will almost always be pretty empty (though it's the meeting spot of many wine lovers, especially the wine club members from the neighbouring "Grandes Ecoles")

                                                                                                            1. So, why did this thread pop up on my iPad as I was preparing to retire?
                                                                                                              Ok, I've been away from CH for a coupla years seeking my fortune, but I'm back.
                                                                                                              The op has long since come and gone, but the question exists, where do the common folk eat, and in the 18th?
                                                                                                              It depends on where in the 18th because the common folk on my block eat at crappy places like the Nord-Sud, pizzerias and Reintas.
                                                                                                              But, the kids used to go to the Truc before it closed, but now the cooler adults go to la table de Eugene and the oldies to sens Uniques or the clocher de montmartre where my downstair's neighbor's choral director reigns.

                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                Wow, interesting thread. It has me thinking about my upcoming 10 day visit.
                                                                                                                1. From Minnesota but don't think of our food scene as exactly fly over
                                                                                                                2. Had dismissed Vietnamese/Laotian suggestions due to our own robust community.
                                                                                                                Now I am curious. According to 2000 census, Paris and Minneapolis had roughly the same Laotian populations. According to one poster, yours is not primarily Hmong - ours it. BUT we do have quite a few really good Lao restos.
                                                                                                                So, if I could kindly ask, could I have a couple of recommendations? We are staying in the 3rd, but willing to travel. I don't know if I will get there - I am still skeptical that there will be huge differences (folks grow their own produce here, as well as locally source much of their proteins), but it would be fun to try.
                                                                                                                North African - absolutely.
                                                                                                                Sorry the OP never got back to us. Would have been interesting...
                                                                                                                Thanks, as always.

                                                                                                                1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                                  You're right John, the common folk eat at crappy places...

                                                                                                                  And La Table d'Eugène, although it is pretty cheap by the general standards that fly on this board, and a bargain considering what you can get for the same price in most bistrots, is still considered a "night out" by usual "common folk" who are not used to spending €35+ for a dinner.

                                                                                                                  Most of my friends would rather stay in the 15/25€ range, which a part from a few exceptions means crappy food.

                                                                                                                  (which doesn't mean of course, that spending more will necessarily be better; I recently went to a "birthday dinner" at La Kaskad near the Buttes Chaumont, and the food was a complete disaster and still cost about what La Table d'Eugène would have cost... man was I sad and angry after leaving this place...)

                                                                                                                  1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                                    "You're right John, the common folk eat at crappy places..."

                                                                                                                    This may be true to a degree everywhere.
                                                                                                                    As I said before, visitors to Paris plan back-to-back dining in the kind of places one reserves for a special occasion, like a birthday. It is like scheduling 7-days-a-week birthday dinners every night.
                                                                                                                    And rightly so. Or at least understandable. They are in Paris for a short time. They want every meal to be not just good but virtuoso.
                                                                                                                    And no French friend of mine is willing to reserve months in advance. And every week, sometimes more than once a week, the France board gets posts from hounds who boohoo about calling Frenchie day and night and weeks boohoo boohoo boohoo. This is the splendeur et misère of the traveling diner. He will research, he will reserve, he will obsess.

                                                                                                                    One can imagine a similar situation in San Francisco or New York. Most of the time regular folks are conditioned by their short lunch hour and must eat near their work place. They have their tried-and-true good lunch spot, the hotdog place or the banh mi truck down the street. Those places are great, and one is grateful they are nearby. But are they truly great enough for one to cross town to patronize? Then suddenly one doesn't find them "great" but just "good enough".
                                                                                                                    I suspect this phenomenon is not specific to Paris.

                                                                                                                    Many times out-of-town hounds ask and receive advice about the kind of places where the French eat everyday, as though the French were hording some secret addresses for themselves. As often, the truth may be more commonplace and less conspiracy-crazed.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Parigi


                                                                                                                      Thank you, Parigi. Thank you. So well said.

                                                                                                                      When posed with the question stating that someone wants to come to Paris and live like a local, I offer to let them work for the week at my job, then get them up early on Saturday and Sunday, hand them the dry cleaning, the grocery trolley, and my list of errands, and send them on their merry way.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                        I agree wholeheartedly. At the same time, I reflect on the places that my husband and I drift to for casual food at home and have to say that I think they are quite good: Good Luck dim sum, Little Saigon banh mi, Zapata tacos, our favorite taco truck in Lodi and the list goes on. These are each and every one a small jewel and not crap at all. Each city has its share of these not secret but definitely special places. I think.

                                                                                                                        Destinations? We regularly cross town for tacos and burritos. Should a visitor? It depends on whether or not he is interested in trying a quintessential San Francisco burrito or banh mi or dim sum. For some people, yes, for others, no. Same the world over.

                                                                                                                        1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                          1. You live on Clement for heavens sake. Even for SF, your street gets top price for food fengshui. :-)
                                                                                                                          2. You are not constrained to lunch near a work place not of your choice.
                                                                                                                          3. Lodi? That's crossing a lot of town !

                                                                                                                          And Sunshine: Madame me flatte.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                        Well said indeed, and since you're bringing up banh mi, I finally tried the shop on rue Volta today for lunch... Boy this little lady is packing a ton of energy and she isn't scared to speak her mind to the first white cracker that passes along ! And yes, her banh mi (pork for me, and beef for a friend) was truly the best I had (although I'm definitely not a specialist). Thanks for bringing her to Chowhound fame.

                                                                                                                  2. I used to live there here are a couple of cheaper options:

                                                                                                                    L'as du Falafel - rue de Rossier in the Marais (3eme), I know it's just falafel but it's absolutely delicious and we used to go there every Sunday as things are open in the area as well & then get gelato at Amorino just around the corner
                                                                                                                    Crepe - go to any crepe stand, one can get sweet or salty, good for breakfast, lunch & dinner
                                                                                                                    Julienne bakery - 185 rue Saint Dominique in the 7eme, get the chicken curry sandwich but get there early as it's one of the sandwiches that sell out first or get the baguette, the best of one of the best in Paris
                                                                                                                    Secco bakery - on rue Jean Nicot in the 7eme, fresh croissants all day - good for breakfast