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May 2, 2012 09:02 AM

Ethnic food in Paris for a visitor from San Francisco.

Hello CH Friends,

I'm visiting Paris for 5 days / 4 nights next week, and had heard that some of the ethnic food in Paris is significantly different from what can be found in San Francisco. I'm wondering first, if this is true, and second, what places are recommended?

I'm assuming north african and middle eastern would be the most different? But maybe some Scandanavian or eastern european? And i'd assume no asian, but please correct me if i'm wrong.

budget isn't a concern, but i'd like places where i can have a fast and light meal, not too terribly far from the "city center" as i'm also having long, heavy french 3-star meals while i'm there. Either lunch or dinner is good.



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  1. Flora Danica and Olsen are in the 8th; good for a light lunch.

    1. Ethnic is always a weird definition. Sounds like you are looking for either North African or Noma influenced modern European. For the latter Saturne is good, for the former search the board for the much discussed topic. If you include ethnic Spanish you could argue Dans Les Landes of Le Chateaubriand could pass (OK Basque is close).

      I tend to dismiss Asian in Paris as I think many other cities are ahead (London's regional Chinese for example) but others are supportive. But I suspect SF is generally better in this regard.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PhilD

        Similarly the word "ethnic" stumps me. Doesn't it means non-French? There are more than 200 countries recognized by the UN. Ethnic encompasses an enormity. It is in fact much more vague than to say you want to eat French. :-)
        In my limited experience in France, I have had luck with the cuisine of countries with historic ties and extensive exchanges with France: Indochinese and North-African.
        It may help us help the OP if he could specify further the cuisines that interest him, instead of requesting info on all things non-French. Any tastes, herbs, seasonings, spices, cooking styles of a given region, a given culture?

        1. re: Parigi

          Parigi - I always think the opposite I.e. the ethnic food of France is French food but I assume i am just a simple pedant.

      2. Plenty of North African food -- but do keep in mind the large colonial holdings of France that included a good portion of Southeast Asia -- so there's *plenty* of Asian to be had...I like the Asian food in Paris, but it can be hit or miss -- there's some pretty awful, flavorless greasy mess, and there are places that are pretty good.

        1. Sorry I was unclear with my use of the term "Ethnic" -- I mean this:

          >> the cuisine of countries with historic ties and extensive exchanges with France:
          >> Indochinese and North-African.

          Or another population (I don't know which ones -- I'd guess maybe Eastern European or Scandinavian, but that is only a guess) that has a much better developed community in Paris than in San Francisco -- and it shows through some of the foods you can get.

          I am not just asking for good food -- i'm asking for good food for which something similar can't be found in San Francisco. Which makes this question hard, because San Francisco (at least in my view) has very good food from pretty much everywhere.

          I'm only interested in traditional food, not something particularly modern or Noma-influenced.

          I was hoping someone on this board was familiar with the offerings of both cities, and could point me to something quick and easy (some form of street food would be great) in Paris that would be way, way different from what i'd find in sf.

          Thanks again.

          1. Dustin, I haven't made my trip yet, but I'm born and raised in SF (returning frequently) and in deep research for my trip to Paris. The ethnic food I am most looking forward to can mostly be found in SF, but I believe because of the colonial ties and current immigration patterns, will be different in Paris.

            The one I am most curious to try is Vietnamese. I love La Vie in SF, and here in Austin and Houston we have some excellent places as well. Since so much French influence is apparent in Vietnamese food (bahn xeo crepes, baguettes and pate in bahn mi), I'm interested to see what Vietnamese is like in France. Here is the thread I have been following:


            Throughout Europe, I have noticed significant Turkish influence. SF has some Turkish places, but there are high recommendations in Paris for a Turkish/Kurdish sandwich shop called Urfa Dürüm. It looks great, and I plan to have my second meal in Paris there after shopping up and down the street on which it is located - rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis in the 10th.

            North African is another one I am targeting. I passed up a merguez sandwich at a festival in the countryside a few years ago, and have been dreaming about it since. Couscous with merguez is on my list to find at Chez Hamadi, Gepetto, or at one of the market vendors.

            Hope that helps, please do report back!

            2 Replies
            1. re: saticoy

              thanks saticoy. those sound like great recommendations. i'll look into these:

              Urfa Dürüm
              Couscous with merguez from a market vendor (any idea which market?)

              and do some more CH research into vietnamese places.

              1. re: Dustin_E

                Urfa Dürüm is great.

                For market couscous, I like Le Marakesh in the wondeful marché St Quentin (not that far from Urfa Dürüm).