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Any "not fancy" suggestions?

I've used Chowhounds recommendations for trips to Vancouver, London, and Washington DC in the past, finding some really fun places that way.

My husband and I are very excited to finally be going to Paris, which I've been dreaming about for 35 years! There are a lot of great recommendations here, but they may be a bit too fancy/foodie/expensive for us.

My dream experience for France is to go into local shops to purchase bread, cheese and pastries, and I'm most excited about that, but I'm not sure if we should be trying for certain restaurants within the limits of what will make us happy or just stick with lower-end places.

I am allergic to crustaceans. I don't like oatmeal, polenta, or scrambled eggs for their texture. I love to cook, so I'm always trying to figure out what spices and methods chefs use. Darling husband detests mushrooms and everything about sushi. He is happiest with bbq chicken, pizza, and burgers, but also likes meat and potatoes type meals or fish. I love soup; he doesn't. Neither of us like wine or beer. Believe it or not, we do enjoy trying new things. (He even tried Scorpion appetizers at a food tasting event!)

The trip is taking up most of our funds, so I wouldn't want to spend more than about 30E each for more than maybe one special meal.

We'll be staying in the 7th the week of Christmas, and we already have plans for Christmas Day. Je comprend un peu de Francais.

I have Les Cocettes, Cafe Constant, Le Petit Cler, Pizza Positano, L'As du Fallafel, Au Bon Coin, and even Brioche Doree sandwich shop on my list.

I know that our limits bump us out of most of the awesome recommendations that are here, so I hope you'll be gentle with us. :)

L'As du Fallafel
34 Rue des Rosiers, Paris, Île-de-France 75004, FR

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  1. Not fancy, in the 7th, and we've not been for years, but I think it's still there and may be a good fit:

    Restaurant Chez Germaine. This is a tiny and very simple neighborhood restaurant. There are seven tables, and you may have to/get to share yours with others (who, in this area, seem to include a fair number of Americans residing nearby). We remenber roast beef, salmon, kidneys in cream, celery rémoulade, eggs with house-made mayonnaise, salt pork with carrots or lentils, beef tongue in tomato sauce, and a great chocolate cake. 30 rue Pierre-Leroux. Closed Sat. & Sun, as many such neighborhood places are. -- Jake

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jake Dear

      Thanks! I love the idea of sharing a table! More people to meet. :)

    2. None of the bistros we went to this past summer were "fancy," and these included Chez L'Ami Jean, Papillion and Les Regalades. All are pleasant and comfortable place where you'd be fine wearing jeans (if clean and with no holes). However based on your no-likes list, you might be better off avoiding the popular foodie restaurants and bistros altogether and cooking for yourself. You run a real risk having one or both of you being unhappy with a meal at any given place and will be upset at the money spent over a regretted meal.

      You'll have a blast buying from neighborhood supermarkets, cheesemongers and boulangeries and patisseries. It's a great way to eat very well while staying on a budget. You can get baguette sandwiches for cheap lunches. Many supermarkets sell excellent ranges of pates and prepared "gourmet" food for takeaways.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Roland Parker

        Thanks! We plan to do a lot of buying from markets, since that's part of the dream. :)

      2. Unless you're planning to be near Au Bon Coin anyway, I wouldn't go out of my way to get there... It is a great Bar à Vins, with some original and nice wine selections, but the food is just average (not bad if you're in the neighborhood, but nothing special that would make me take the metro for it...).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Rio Yeti

          Thanks! Good to know. I'll take it off my list.

        2. Brioche Doree is not worth your time. There are so many better places in Paris for croissants, brioche, le sandwich, and the like.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChefJune

            Yes, it didn't even occur to me that you meant the "brioche dorée" chain.... please go to a real bakery instead.

            1. re: ChefJune

              Definitely skip Brioche Dorée. If you absolutely can't live without it, there's one in O'Hare, one in John Wayne Airport, and one in CDG 2B. Ask in any shop where to find a good pâtisserie.

            2. Bistro St. Andre.
              36 Rue St André des Arts, 75006 Paris, France
              01 40 51 74 00
              This is an inexpensive neighborhood place. Latif, the chef, is a really nice guy. The place is very unassuming. We go here at least once a week when we are in Paris. In the warmer weather the tables are set outside and it is a nice place to people-watch and dine. The inside, though is cozy and warm. Food is decent and not fancy. Do check it out if you have the time.

              3 Replies
                1. re: colleency

                  Colleency, if you make it to Bistro St. Andre, write if you liked it. I'm interested to see what you think. Also, almost diagnally across the street to the left, is a great little crepe place..I'm pretty sure it is called Le Creperie. It looks very cavernous when you go inside. Very cozy and fun. Decent crepes at an inexpensive price. Crepes and wine. Nice!

                  1. re: jarona

                    I'll try to write about anyplace that I get to that people have recommended.

              1. I urge you to go to 6 rue des Abbesses and get a baguette de tradition. this shop won the 2011 best baguette in Paris award and when you go it the door you will practically faint at the yummy fresh bread smell. Buy a couple of loaves because you will want to start eating one on the spot and have another one for Shen you go to the rue Lepic. it is not far away ( use a map) and as you go down the rue Lepic ,walk down the left hand side and you will soon run into some lovely cheese stores. Buy the kinds you like and don't forget to try the raw butter that cheese stores sell. The butter on the read will be really tasty,especially if you put them all together. don't forget to pack a small knife, find a convenient bench and you can have a great lunch. if you can swing it, the rue Lepic will probably have a store that sells roasted chicken.. Enjoy!

                1 Reply
                1. re: pammi

                  Oh my gosh! That sounds perfect!

                2. Where exactly in the 7th? Arrondissements are rather large administrative districts and don't usually coincide with well defined neighbourhoods. It's always better to indicate the nearest métro station. We can then give you recommendations that are walkable or easy to reach by a direct métro line or bus route.

                  For shopping, the only street market in the 7th is the Marché Saxe Breteuil on the avenue Saxe near the place Breteuil on Thursday and Saturday mornings. Excellent quality (you'll see lots of star chefs here early in the morning) and variety (including a couple of rôtisseurs for roast chicken) and fabulous setting with the Eiffel Tower and the dome of Les Invalides as a backdrop. On the other side of the river in the 16th, the Marché Alma (at least that's what it's popularly known as) on the avenue Président Wilson between the place d'Alma (sorta) and place d'Iéna on Wednesdays and Saturdays might be equally convenient depending on where your apartment is. On Tuesdays and Fridays (and Sundays when it becomes a somewhat overpriced marché bio) you can also try the Marché Raspail on the boulevard Raspail between the rues Cherche-Midi and Rennes in the 6th.

                  BBQ + cheap + not fancy = the highly highly recommendable restaurant-grillade l'Alcôve on the rue Didot at the rue Alésia in the 14th (depending on where in the 7th you're staying, can be reached quickly by métro from Invalides, Varenne etc to Plaisance or Pernety station). The owner is a butcher-turned-chef so the quality of the meat is superb but yet the prices are so pretty that you can get a fab lunch or dinner for 20 € or less. The style is a mixture of French and North African so often people think it's just another couscous/ méchoui joint but it's more than that ... and for grilled meats, the best price/quality ratio in Paris. The Algerian pastries (made by some presumably black-garbed widow in the suburbs) for dessert are also yummy. Not exactly an unknown place because it's gotten raves from both Figaro and Le Fooding. But mercifully very much off the beaten track so no hordes of tourists and suburbanites.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Parnassien

                    Oooh! Thank you!

                    We're staying near Pont de l'Alma, so the"Marché Alma" in the 16th will probably be the closest. I'll add l'Alcôve to my list.

                  2. Not in the 7th, but head for Le Relais Gascon, rue des Abbesses (métro Abbesses). Great southwestern French food—they specialise in absolutely huge salades composées in giant pots, the best of which has bacon and tomatoes, and duck fat-fried potatoes atop. I believe the salads were 11€ each, and come with bread. Add some water and service and you'll be at about 15€ each.

                    Eat your big meals at lunch. Most places have "la formule" which is two or three courses for well less than your 30€ limit. If you don't want to spend money on bottled water, the secret phrase is "un pichet d'eau, s'il vous plaît"—a jug of water, please.

                    And, if the weather is not too brutal (which it may be in December), you can "faire les courses" and get bread, sausage, cheese, fruit and have a picnic. Any street market will have rôtisseurs who will have roasted chickens and a huge flat-top of potatoes over which bacon is slowly rendering its fat. It's not very expensive at all and it's so tender you can eat it with your fingers. If you can find one that sells poulet de Bresse (from an area near Lyon, widely considered the best chicken in France), go for it.

                    One secret that many people don't know: you can order half a baguette in any bakery. It's perfectly normal and it will cost you around 0,65€ (maybe more in a Banette [certified artisanal] bakery). Just say, "Je voudrais une demie-baguette, s'il vous plaît."

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Such great suggestions! Thank you. I can't wait to try the street market food. And the phrases are going to be particularly helpful!

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        **so far** it's been a very mild late autumn -- the last three years, we've had snow on the ground by Thanksgiving, and it was in the 50s (F) today...it *might* be decent enough to sit outside, especially on a heated terrace.

                      2. This is why I specifically suggested the one at 6 rue des Abbesses. It not just a baguette- it is the winner of the 2011 competition and unparalleled in its taste and smell. It is no more expensive than any other baguette, so treat yourself to this particular bakery. The metro stop Abbesses has lots of good food around it. don't forget about the cheese and - not too far away- is a very nice patisseur called Delmontel where you can top off your meal. Looking in the window is like going to the jewelers- everything is so pretty,and tasty too.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pammi

                          Agreed. It used to be you had to go to Montparnasse for good food cheap. Now Abbesses is a great destination.

                        2. Across the other side of Champs des Mars is the 15th arrondissement where restaurants tend to be slightly less expensive than at the 7th. There is at Dupleix Au Dernier Metro, which is a no-frills South-western French bar/restaurant that serves very good and inexpensive fare. On Avenue La Motte Piquet, there are, besides some generic looking cafes (actually Cafe Suffren is pretty good), I like the patisserie à la petite marquise, where I just had an excellent shrimp quiche with a side salad for 8.50E this afternoon. The 3 course lunch set is 14E.
                          Someone wrote about markets, and there is one that stretches between Metro La Motte Piquet and Dupleix every Wednesday and Saturday morning that is quite good and pretty local. If you just walk slightly beyond Dupleix you will also hit the less-visited branch of Poilane on Blvd de Grenelle, always a good address for bread.
                          On your existing list, I like Cafe Constant and Le Petit Cler and am not fond of Les Cocottes (though more for the setting and service v. the food).
                          Enjoy your trip!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: xigua

                            I'll add those to the list. Thank you!

                          2. Try le denier metro for good, simple, well prepared food. It's our first stop. Also, check out Paris by Mouth for more advice.

                            1 Reply
                            1. The best news is that restaurants are required to post their menu (with prices) outside the restaurant, so it's easy to have a look at what's on offer and the price. Then you can decide if it fits your constraints (both culinary and budget) -- and either go in or keep walking.

                              Never shy away from a daily special (if it's something that isn't on your don't-like list) -- it's usually whatever the chef feels is his best offering that day -- and it's usually a good value.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sunshine842

                                I can't wait to try a few daily specials! Thank you!