Solo Dining in Paris?
I'll be spending a bit over a week in Paris in October. I'm a gay dude, traveling on my own and staying just north of Marais. Since I've visited Paris before, I'm hoping to explore a few parts of the city that are bit off the well-beaten tourist path - in other words, I'm happy to seek out restos outside my neighborhood.
I don't have any qualms about solo dining. That being said, given a choice, I prefer places where I can eat at a counter or bar (is this even something typical in Paris?). It tends to be a more convivial setting for the single diner. But it's only a preference - I'm happy to sit at a two-top.
Would be nice to keep meals somewhere in the €50-60 (including wine) range, but I certainly plan to splurge at least a few of times. And I'll be seeking out great French food, of course, but I'm looking forward to trying local takes on ethnic cuisine as well.
I hope this isn't too vague a request. I'm already making a list, thanks to the boards, but I'm particularly interested in any feedback on places that offer great food along with a welcoming atmosphere for a single guy.
Bistro Volnay and Albion are two places that come to mind where you can eat at the bar and both are in your price range. Frenchie and Verjus wine bars have communal/counter dining. I've noticed more casual restaurants offering bar dining so it's not that unusual.
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I've often seen solo diners eating at L'Epi Dupin. We always enjoy the food there and I think there may be a few seats at a bar, but I was facing the other direction!
Usually tables are so close together that you have as much enforced camaraderie in the dining room as you would at a bar. Solo dining is also much more common in France than in the USA. I suppose we just have less baggage from some trauma in the school cafeteria when we were 13. But I agree... bar seating is fun.
A handful of possibilities out of many with bar seating: Jaja on the rue Sainte Croix Bretonnerie in the 4th, a love-it-or-hate-it place so I'd only go at lunch when prices are more reasonable and therefore worth the risk (and I only recommend it because it's in the Marais and has a gay-ish clientele); Pamela Popo on the rue François Miron in the 4th, just a few places at the bar, very design-y and trendy; l'Agrume on the rue Fossés Saint-Marcel in the 5th, one of my neighbourhood faves, a little sweaty sitting at the bar in front of -- or rather practically in-- the kitchen but quite a show, and usually quite superior nosh at great prices, but you must book and be lucky to get one of the comptoir places; Terroir Parisien on the rue Saint-Victor off the rue Monge/ rue des Ecoles in the 5th, very "in" at the moment, very design-y and modern (successfully so), and foodwise an excellent re-statement of Parisien classics; Dans les Landes on the rue Monge in the 5th, a real fave of this board, always interesting basque tapas, and flirty waiters (or at least most clients wish they were); Aux Deux Amis on the rue Oberkampf in the 11th, a very popular temple of "branchitude"/ hipness with surprisingly good French-Spanish tapas fare, a few bar places but the terrace is where the real action is; Le Dauphin on the avenue Parmentier just off the rue du Faubourg du Temple, another hip small-plates resto bar, owned by the nearby Chateaubriand's celeb chef whose inventiveness has some thrilling but sometimes dire results. More? Saturne in the 2nd, Zinc Caius in the 17th, Charbon Rouge in the 8th; Les Cocottes in the 7th.
A quick search of this board will give you lots of other possibilities for restaurants in and around the Marais. But most of the Marais/ 4th is prime tourist territory flooded with visitors and suburbanites. Even the gay zone seems sadly reduced. The quartier between the rue de Rivoli/ rue St-Antoine and the river tends to be a little less touristy. And here, on the rue de Jouy, one of my current faves, Métropolitain (recent review on Chowhound). Second choice when I'm in a less fussy and less foodie mood, Bistro des Compères on the rue Charlemagne.
You will find much more local flavour in the Haut-Marais/ 3rd where the rue de Bretagne is the main rue commerçante and hangout area. Marché des Enfants Rouges, Café Chabrol, the very trendy Café le Progrès, Chez Omar (for couscous), and Le Sancerre are all quite fine for quick bites or ethnic food. The little triangle behind the place République is also worthy of a browse: Café Crème on the rue Dupetit-Thouars, L'Aller-Retour on the rue Charles-François-Dupuis for great steaks and its satellite oyster bar L'Ilot around the corner on the rue Corderie for simple seafood and well selected white wines that don't require a second mortgage, the excellent but tiny Thai épicerie à manger Ya Lamai on the rue Dupetit-Thouars. Further down into the 3rd, I'm a big big fan of Chez Nénesse on the rue Saintonge/ rue Poitou for very trad French cuisine shared with, for instance, designer Christian Lacroix at the table to the left or a pair of workman at the table to the right. And incredible value for lunch! And of course Café des Musées. Even though touted in every guide book in every language, it's a place that deserves the hype.
That's it? Well, I suppose it's better than nothing...
I kid, of course. I really appreciate your detailed response and taking into account my specific question. The apartment I'm letting is on Rue de Corderie, so I'm not quite in the thick of all the madness of the Marais - a good thing, I think. And I've just discovered I'm a short walk from Jacques Genin...
Now I only need to figure out how to eat at 30+ restos in 9 days. Eh, a good problem to have. Cheers!