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Apr 8, 2013 09:41 AM

First time in Paris - where to eat?

I will be visiting Paris at the end of April for the first time. What are the best bets / must eats?

Husband and I are adventurous eaters and are game for cheap and delicious as well as expensive and fancy. We are willing to go out of our way for something wonderful.


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  1. I'd say, start by looking at recent threads...

    You want small bistrots ? starred restaurants ? classic french cuisine ? new modern ?

    11 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      I did scan through the recent and not so recent boards and was frankly a little overwhelmed and lost. We will be in the city for a little over a week, I think it might be helpful if I break it down like this:

      Recommendations for:
      1 or 2 starred restaurants
      1 or 2 classic French / classic Parisian restaurants
      1 or 2 ethnic cuisine
      Best cheese shop
      Best market to visit and oggle the produce
      Best place to have a glass of wine and people watch

      This thread has taken care of all the pastries that I will need to consume while I'm there.

      1. re: Flaxen_Vixen

        Which ethnic? Any geographic barriers? Lunch or dinners?

        1. re: John Talbott

          I am game for pretty much any kind of ethnic food - we live in Washington DC so Vietnamese, Ethiopian and Korean are pretty well represented around here and something else would be appreciated.

          As for geographic barriers, dear husband is doing all hotel the planning, all I know is that the hotel is near the opera house.

          Lunch, dinner, snacks!

          1. re: Flaxen_Vixen

            Well for a couple of years the really exciting ethnic food has been coming from Japanese chefs cooking French, fusion or Japanese fare. High on my list are Clandestino, Abri and the Table d'Aki.
            There's a cool Chinese place in the 12th - Shan Gout.
            I happen to think the best value/starred place which serves Asian-influenced food is Ze Kitchen Galerie but I'll leave others to argue for their favorites in your other categories.
            I'm on strike about answering "best" anything in Paris, it's impossible to say.

              1. re: John Talbott

                Sorry to contradict my dear John, but these Japanese chefs in Paris are not doing "ethnic" food by any means. Their palette goes from French-Japanese fusion to just French with more or less of a Japanese twist, but now that quite a few French chefs do precisely the same thing, it has become a bit difficult to figure out what is what.

                On the other hand, there are Japanese restaurants in Paris but as a rule they do not compare with their equivalents in, say, New York City.

                And Shan Gout would be my last recommendation for a Chinese restaurant in Paris. Meal structure (first course, second course, dessert!), cooking, portions, tea service, quality of service, explanations given when discussing the flaws — everything is wrong about this place. An utter betrayal of Chinese food culture. Even any neighborhood "chinois-vietnamien" around the corner would be preferable.

                If our OP fancies Chinese food in Paris, there are plenty of places to try before that one (in a bunch: Likafo, Carnet de Route, L'Orient d'Or, l'Ambassade de Pékin, Cheng Soleil d'Est, among many).

                Ze Kitchen Galerie is more French food with Asian ingredients than Asian-influenced food (but that might be understood as playing on words - however there is a distinct difference between the two concepts).

                1. re: Ptipois

                  Next you'll be telling me chop suey and California rolls aren't indigenous.

                2. re: John Talbott

                  I don't know if Laurent Dubois has "the best" cheese shop in Place Maubert, but I know it hits MY sweet spot just fine! We brought home lots of goodies last fall. Both 3-year and 2-year Comte (my favorite) and amazing Camembert. WOW!

                  Likewise Oteiza, the Basque charcutier on Blvd St. Michel, and Patrick Roger, the chocolatier on Blvd St. Germain.

                  My favorite traditional French/Parisian is Josephine, Chez Dumonet, and I love La Cagouille for fish. Great marche for looking and shopping? We loved the Marche Aligre. and sorry, but I'm not allowed to mention my favorit ewine bar. Hopefully someone else will do it for me...

          2. re: Maximilien

            In addition to all the wonderful suggestions you will get, the food section at Galleries Lafayette is a great place to snack, buy some bordier butter for your baguettes, and you will find some excellent patisseries there as well. I adore the green tea dome at Aoki, terrific macarons as well. Other top pastry stands are in the fashion section (!)

            And while we are on the subject of domes, as long as you'll be visiting the dome inside GL (and you should), you might as well grab something to eat.

            1. re: Steve

              I suspect I will need some nourishment to fuel my shopping spree. Thanks!

          3. David Lebowitz and "Paris by Mouth" both have great listings. Personally, I don't think you have to go to the "best" cheese shop. During our first trip to Paris my wife and I stumbled upon a cheese shop right next to an open air food market [not far from Notre Dame, on the left bank], and we were blown away by the selection and quality of the cheeses . . . and I'm guessing this shop wouldn't even make the top 20 in Paris. Nevertheless, it so far surpassed anything we had ever seen in the States, we went back a few days later. Don't get caught up having to visit "the best" -- it's really hard to wrong food-wise.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bauskern

              From your description, bauskern, I think you stumbled across the Laurent Dubois fromagerie, just across from the Maubert Mutualité Métro stop -- there's an open air food market there 3 times a week. His Comté is often called the best in Paris, and his other cheeses aren't too shabby either. Definitely one of the top 20!

              1. re: alohatoall

                I looked up the metro on a map, and you may be right; that is definitely the general area. The open air market was great -- there was a young man selling [canned] foie gras; one day we bought some excellent raviolis and had them for dinner; beautiful vegetables. The cheese shop was very small, and the young man who worked there spoke no english. The cheeses were great! There may have been a bakery next door as well. It was one of those fortuitous "finds" that we stumbled upon.