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Recommendations on bars that serve food?

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For my upcoming trip to Paris, me and my husband are planning to have one heavy meal, be it lunch or dinner, and then head to a nice bar with food for the other meal. So far we are definitely going to Le Mary Celeste. Any other bars we shdn't miss? Vivant Cave vs Septime Cave for example? Not really on our list but Le Dauphin worth the trouble?

I understand too that most of these places do not take reservations. How 'bad' can the crowd get on weekdays vs weekends?

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  1. I might add Jacques Melac, not frou-frou but very well established.
    It is a wine bar in the 11th on Rue Leon Frot, has about thirty wines by the glass and an assortment of dishes from the Aubrac region that range from light to hearty.
    The owner and all staff are a delight and it is a lovely place to put yourself in Paris in the 50's.
    Can be crowded on weekends, usually late. Get there for an American early say 7:30 and you will do fine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

      Sweet address. http://bistrot-melac.fr/

    2. In the area around Mary Celeste, I like Aux Deux Amis (small plates in the evening, some with a Spanish/ Italian tilt), l'Ilot (oysters and other cold seafood), le Barav (tartines, quiches and a couple of daily hot plats) and cave de l'Insolite (ham and cheese, and I think a recently-introduced bigger menu). Au Passage is also in the area and popular.

      These are all good for a bite which stops short of a standard 3 courses although they are not bars in the sense of Mary Celeste (big cocktail menu). The only ones which might need reservations are Aux Deux Amis and Au Passage - the others I might call while already on the way over. And if we can't find an open table after a bit of wandering, there are a couple of cafés in the area which serve reliable standards till late (Charlot, Barometre).

      1. If it's good then it will be busy weekdays i.e. Avant Comptoir or Frenchies wine bar. At Semilla they have a bar and you can snack there.

        1. All the places you cited are really restaurants. A place like Vivant is not necessarily un-heavy.
          None of them are the cold-cuts and/or chees kind of place.
          They are not so much bars with food as restaurants with a wine focus.
          Which is fine with me. But you may need to bear that in mind if you are planning light meals to counter the big meal of the day.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Parigi

            "really restaurants"
            Well, the creep from bar a vin to cave a manger to bistrot a vin etc is a fact of life, but I think La Crèmerie, 9, rue des Quatre-Vents in the 6th, still holds to the wine plus charcuterie/cheese simplicity the OP is looking for.
            O Divin, 35, rue des Annelets in the 19th just went from a bar a vin to a fine neobistro and is very special.

            1. re: John Talbott

              I have no problem with this nomenclature. I just wanted to make certain that the OP knows that the bars à viins he/she shortlisted are actual restaurants, since they are supposed to be the alternative meal to the heavy meal of the day.

            2. re: Parigi

              Not sure that I consider charcuterie and cheese light, but if that is the criteria Baron Rouge exactly fits the bill.

            3. Septime Cave serves small "snacks". Not much room inside though.

              1. So as Le Figaro says, not to be forgotten are:
                Frenchie's Wine Bar (COI)
                L'Avant Comptoir (gotcha)
                Les Caves Legrand Filles et Fils (most upscale)
                Les Papilles (creeping over the border to a bistrot that has wines on the wall)
                Le Cave (not been yet, I.A.'s latest expansion).

                1. Thanks to all for weighing in. Many many great recs there thank you.Yes, we were looking for anything light, be it charcuterie n cheese or small plates - not wanting to be confined to the standard course items.

                  A convivial fun atmosphere with good wine and not too filling food ... Er perhaps something like a San Sebastián pintxo bar( except they usu only have basic wines)?Won't say no to a good charcuterie board Would love to try natural wines for the first time as well

                  I must say I'm not too sure of the exact differences in what Parisians define as bars with food. So noob question say something like dans les landes be defined as...

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: grovina

                    Dan les landes is a restaurant/bistro in my mind not a bar. Is there anything like San Sebastiáns bar culture - not really - nowhere to my knowledge has the counters growning and the weight of tapas. Lots will do charcuterie or cheese to order like Avant Comptoir but it's tiny with no seats.

                    1. re: grovina

                      Dans les Landes is fun and convivial but I think it would be harder to have a light bite if there are just the 2 of you sharing. The menu is long and tempting, the portions generous (not pintxo-sized) and much of the food deep-fried, porky or both.

                      But I've thought of another place that may fit your bill - Braisenville in the 9th. Nice modern cooking in a small-plates format (I think they were actually calling them 'raciones'), dim groovy ambience not dissimilar to Mary Celeste except fewer Americans.

                      1. re: shakti2

                        "Braisenville"
                        Wonderful place not much mentioned here. A rarity in Paris, uniting both good food and branchitude (hipness).

                        1. re: Parigi

                          "Braisenville"
                          Wonderful place not much mentioned here. A rarity in Paris, uniting both good food and branchitude (hipness)...

                          And the only place I have found with authentically tart key lime pie.

                        2. re: shakti2

                          Okay wow Braisenville looks like a place we will like. Did a rough scan on the internet and the small plates look serious yum. Any must haves there? yeah , how come no one ever talks about it?

                          1. re: grovina

                            John Talbott does!

                            1. re: Laidback

                              Thank you L.
                              But the question ("how come no one ever talks about it?") is a good one and my answer would be that people using CH are looking for "the hot places" of the moment. I've often thought that a graduate student could run a textual analysis of the past 50 threads and 6-8 or maybe 10 places in Paris would dominate the list as if the other 2000 meritorious restaurants in town didn't exist.
                              One reason I love reading Parnassien's posts is that he has a comprehensive understanding and memory of areas of town, food types and restaurant types and doesn't reflexly regurgitate the same old laundry list.
                              And too, I enjoy folks like Laidback who are out there trying places that are not (yet) "hot."

                          2. re: shakti2

                            "small-plates format"
                            If you want to go that route and not "bars that serve food" why not try the Grandaddy of this approach in Paris - Les Petits Plats 39 rue des Plantes in the 14th, 01.45.42.50.52 where everything comes in half or full portions

                            1. re: John Talbott

                              Heartily second Les Petits Plats. Half servings are ample. Pieds et Paquets, if on the chalkboard, are the best I've encountered anywhere. Sweet service.

                        3. There are so many choices that I'd narrow it down to quartier. If I'm looking for a light meal (often), I don't "sillonner"/ crisscross Paris in search of it but focus on a specific neighbourhood that is convenient, sparkles with life, has a cluster of options, or satisfies my flâneur tendencies. I have a car so the convenience factor at weekends is not necessarily a criterion for me but, if going straight after work during the week, I'll choose a place that's walkable, on a direct bus route from my office, or a quick taxi ride... not a fan of the métro, I will only take it if the line goes directly with no "correspondance"/ line change to where I want to go. Almost always, the bar à vin, café, etc that I choose is not a destination in itself but a stop over before or after the cinema, théâtre, art gallery, or just hanging out with friends. And often sandwiched between one place for an apéro and another for a coffee/ digestif. I know that most tourists have a different dynamic and tend to focus only on the meal itself and the resto/ bar à vins as a one-stop refuge... but some will greatly enjoy the more parisien pattern preferred by us locals.

                          But using the more usual shotgun and, for me, unnatural approach more standard on Chowhound, here's a few volleys:
                          Shakti's recs in the 3rd and 11th are very close to my own... very vibrant non-touristy area... I'd also reinforce Shakti's point that trad cafés like Le Charlot and trendy Le Progès (both on the rue Bretagne in the Haut-Marais) are perfect for peoplewatching and decent light meals)... not every bite of food has to be mindblowing but sometimes the overall experience is;
                          Fish Club on the rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 1st... the menu is heavy on Peruvian small plates but the vibe is totally parisen... very "in" and one of my current faves du moment;
                          Coinstant Vino in the passage des Panoramas off the rue St Marc/ rue Vivienne in the 9th... usually a plat du jour but also lots of tapas-style options... occasional jazz or flamenco music at night and culinary theme nights now and then... very civilized and a nice way to escape the suburban/ tourist swarms on a Saturday night... lovely setting;
                          La Cloche des Halles on the rue Coquillière in Les Halles/ 1st... one of the few vestiges of café-brasserie authenticity left in the Les Halles... great selection of wine and great charcuterie and cheese platters... but idiosyncratic hours so be warned;
                          Les Caves Populaire on the rue des Lévis (one of my favourite market streets) in the 17th... great platters of cheese and charcuterie to go along with tasting great well-priced wines;
                          Le Boudoir on the rue du Colisée in the 8th... my oasis of sanity and good taste in the horrible Champs Elysées area;
                          La Cantine de la Cigale on the boulevard de Rochechouart in the 18th... a very flexible menu so you can eat as much or as little as you want... very new and very "in" so getting a table might be troublesome unless you go very late or very early.

                          If you can give me a better target/ quartier, I can be more helpful.

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: Parnassien

                            "Coinstant Vino..[&]....La Cantine de la Cigale"
                            Good suggestions as usual Parnassien. Fully endorsed, but because both have not been discovered by the NYT, still bookable.

                            1. re: John Talbott

                              I somehow remember you panned Coinstant Vino once. I pass by it often, as it is near chez moi. It is archi-full every night.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                "panned"
                                Not really; I gave it a 5/10 (thus average) and said to go "for the wine and oysters,...; for the plats, I'm not so sure."

                            2. re: Parnassien

                              "I know that most tourists have a different dynamic and tend to focus only on the meal itself and the resto/ bar à vins as a one-stop refuge... but some will greatly enjoy the more parisien pattern preferred by us locals."

                              Such a true statement - our best bar experience in Paris was a tour of bars one evening with a snack or two at each. Its a great way to meander through the streets and get fit into the vibe of the city. And the most successful tours result in more and more erratic meanderings .

                              1. re: PhilD

                                Yes. The chance to try a variety of dishes. I think for a tourist it will make even more sense since our time in Paris is limited. However if the bars are all popular then it may be hard to get in easily. Which brings us back to square one, the tourist quest to find the very 'best''

                                That said, I definitely find it exciting to find places like la cantine de la cigale and Braisenville being found on this board. I think we need to eat at such places!

                              2. re: Parnassien

                                This is a general reply, but I would love some suggestions for light fare. Charcuterie and cheese are, to me, heavy even in small quantities.

                                What else and where else can we find light and scintillating small plates for a light evening meal. We've tried several of this board's favorite small plate houses but find much of their offerings heavy, fried. We don't want salads but isn't there something in between?

                                1. re: mangeur

                                  At my one and only visit to Frenchie's wine bar I thought their food was light and was interesting. I know its one of the usual suspects but still none the worse for that.

                                  Agree with Dans Le Landes, wonderful food, but impossible to order a sensible number of dishes....I had to have a second round which nearly finished me off!

                                2. re: Parnassien

                                  Lol, Thanks in advance parnassien. Looked at my itinerary and it is likely I need to find a place after being in the area of:
                                  1) 7th Eiffel
                                  2) 18th Montmartre
                                  3) lastly, gonna be in the 12th after my visit to musee art forain (note this will be a Sunday).

                                  I don't mind traveling on the metro to get to good food. So don't need to be confined to the 7th/18th/12th. So long as it is in the direction back to my apartment, not away fr it will b ideal. anywhere near my apartment at the ile St. Louis is cool too

                                  1. re: grovina

                                    Around the Tour Eiffel, the deadening effect of mass tourism and high real estates prices seems to have created less than fertile ground for bars à vins/ good quality light fare. Personally I'd walk across the bridge to Trocadéro in the 16th and grab a bite at Carrette, nominally a pâtisserie/ salon de thé but open from 7am to 11pm and a relatively good menu for light meals. If you insist on the 7th, maybe Le Sancerre on the ave Rapp for an omelette or le Petit Cler on the rue Cler for whatever catches your fancy... neither are very memorable foodwise but decent enough and convenient for Eiffel Tower tourists. Not sure if it's all that suitable for tourists but the Café de l'Alma, a watering hole for the 7th's rather old and snooty haute-bourgeoisie, does have superior and relatively light café grub served on the heated terrace... continuous hours and, for me, better outside of normal meal hours... very expensive but, at the right times, the peoplewatching makes it almost worth it... warning: Dominique Strauss-Kahn (the sex addict former head of the IMF and almost presidential candidate) is a regular.

                                    Montmartre. Perso, Sacré Coeur and the place du Tertre make my skin crawl. There are, however, some places of respite: Au Clocher de Montmartre on the rue Larmarck (just down the steps on the eastern side of Sacré Coeur) is a neo-bistro with some snacking/ light meal options ... sometimes it veers into the predictable but, considering most other options in the immediate area, it's an oasis in the desert. Depending on the time of day and weather, I also like the ultra-charming and trad Chez Plumeau on the place du Calvaire near the Espace Dali... continuous hours so quite useful for a late lunch or early dinner or snack... its hidden location saves it from being mobbed by tourists but not insulated from the pickpocketing and bag snatching that plagues this part of Montmartre so, if on the terrace, street smarts required. In the more pleasing Amélie bits of Montmartre, Jeanne B on the rue Lepic is a great Chowhound favourite (deservedly so)... an épicerie/bar à vins/ bistro combo so easy enough to eat as much or as little as you like.... and open 7/7. For a hip bar à vins with cheese/ charcuterie nosh, La Cave des Abbesses on the rue des Abbesses. For bar food or a platter of fruit de mer/ oysters, the front bar (but you might have to endure a singalong or two) or the seafood annex of La Mascotte on the rue des Abbesses. For a neighbourhood hangout, trendy Le Sancerre on the rue des Abbesses or (better food and a "banc d'huîtres"/ oyster stall in season) Le Cépage Montmartrois on the rue Caulaincourt @ Square Caulaincourt or (best food) the evenings-only tapas bar La Guêpe on the rue des Trois Frères. If going to or from Anvers or Pigalle métro stations for Sacré Coeur, la Cantine de la Cigale on the boulevard Rochechouart @ rue des Martyrs is fab and has a very flexible menu.

                                    The hardest nut is Sunday in Bercy... if you are into shopping-mall type of places, I'm sure the Cour d'Emilion will have some possibilities. Many fab options elsewhere in the 12th especially in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine/quartier Aligre/ Faidherbe-Chaligny but they dwindle to very few on Sunday. If before 4pm, very popular Le Baron Rouge wine bar on the rue de Cotte (magical foodie street) for oysters, nibbles and bonhomie (and lots of other tourists). There are a few other restos on the rue de Cotte open on Sunday but except for Vilia (Italian bar à vins/ bistro) I'm not sure if any are suitable for a light meal. Or for a not too ambitious snack, the cutesy continuous-hours Le Square Trousseau on the rue Antoine Vollon. If Sunday morning, browsing the Marché d'Aligre (especially the covered market) and shops on the adjoining streets is much recommended for munching on the go. It might also be worth a detour to the other side of the river to check out Les Docks complex/ Cité de la Mode et du Design on the quai d'Austerliz... its Wanderlust resto is open on Sunday and has enough options for a light meal as well as lots of bonus points on the hip/ artsy/ foodie scale... but 2 kms from the Musée des Arts Forains so I'd hop into a taxi because the walk is not exactly inspiring... there's a station de taxis on the rue des Pirogues @ rue Libourne just around the corner from the Musée des Arts Forains.

                                    1. re: Parnassien

                                      "Sacré Coeur and the the place du Tertre makes my skin crawl."
                                      Mine too.
                                      "There are, however, some places of respite: Au Clocher de Montmartre"
                                      Did not have good meal there. Would not go back.
                                      My recent fave wine bar in the Abbesses area is La Bascule, with a lovely laidback hip Sausalito-Barcelona feel, which has taken over the old Doudingue bar.

                                      1. re: Parigi

                                        I certainly agree that Au Clocher de Montmartre is not my (and your) type of place but, for tourists, it's a rare island of sanity in the Sacré Coeur jungle.

                                        And yes yes yes YES to La Bascule. I'm red with embarrassment (fetchingly so, of course... evil grin) that I omitted it. Good call, Cixi!!

                                        1. re: Parnassien

                                          Off with your head.

                                          1. re: Parnassien

                                            I was ready to like Au Clocher de Montmartre but the food I had there I could only describe as weird. And why bother with weird food when you have magical Le Grand 8 right next door?

                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                              Le Grand 8 is indeed superior but, except for Sunday brunch, is open only for dinner... the OP is looking for snacks/ light meals.

                                              1. re: Parnassien

                                                I know. Sorry. I just wanted to slip it in.
                                                (What, Sunday brunch?!!!)

                                              2. re: Ptipois

                                                "I was ready to like Au Clocher de Montmartre but the food I had there I could only describe as weird. And why bother with weird food when you have magical Le Grand 8 right next door?"
                                                Oh Pti we'll have to agree to disagree once more. I started off liking Au Clocher but they went downhill after three meals and the Big 8 has never pleased me much as different people every 6 months recommend it to me after "finding it".
                                                Jeanne B., Table d'Eugene and Sens Unique exhaust Montmartre for good food.

                                          2. re: Parnassien

                                            Hmm..agree I may steer clear from Eiffel area and head elsewhere more interesting.

                                            Ok this may be an extreme but I am thinking of doing a bar hop thingey between Braisenville, La Guepe and la Cantine de la Cigale (or juz 2 out of 3) I checked google maps and seems they are 15 min apart. I want to sample one or two things and move on. It will also be on a Saturday night. Is this crazy/feasible?

                                            About Bercy on Sundays, juz read JT's blog on Lazare and hmmm, Im thinking of travelling there after Bercy for an early-ish dinner since I only plan to have pastries at Jacque Genin and other pastries for my 'other' meal after 7 days of eating. And it seems like they have a wide enough menu, not to mention fun lookig one, to cater to whatever I'm feeling that day/time. What do you guys think.

                                      2. Le Petit Fer a Cheval, rue Vieille du Temple, 4th.

                                        Fabulous historic Zinc bar, great great atmosphere, and very nice food. A don't miss for your category!

                                        My favorites here are the Andouillette and Steack Tartare, but they have a lovely menu of Sandwichs, Plats chauds, and salades.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: lemarais

                                          Thanks lemarais for the recc. Now you mention steak tartare. My husband is hell bent on finding the "best" while in paris. So far I am wholly in charge of our paris menu (haha) so if you know where is the best, I may juz swop one of our restaurant choices for the best steak tartare. Does hugo desnoyer serve it in any case?

                                          1. re: grovina

                                            Desnoyer indeed has it two ways. Will be there next week to finally try the place.
                                            Of the 15 or so l have tried in Paris, my fav is Chez denise, no surprise there, and Josephine Dumonet is quite good also.

                                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                              oh goodie. we plan on going to Hugo Desnoyer already - so if tartare is worth it there, he can order it then. please let us know about yr trip there if possible. thank you in advance.

                                        2. go to the two Buvettes, the first one in the 11th from Camille, former sommelier at Le Dauphin and the second, the Buvette Gastrotheque, in South Pigalle (nothing to do with the first) for excellent Anglo style comfort food made with French products, with good evening cocktails and some nice wines

                                          1. Thanks to everyone for your wonderful recs - it has been great hearing everyone's favourites. I will report back on my food trip in paris as soon as i can :)