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Oct 17, 2013 11:46 AM

Looking for reasonable non-touristy places in the 11th/20th? My report:

I just returned from a week in Paris that was a birthday treat for my niece. And since I was treating, this trip was somewhat on a budget (except for my solo treat to myself in the form of the orgasmic lunch at Chez L'ami Jean, see Parigi for details). We enjoyed a nice birthday lunch with friends at the always fun for a crowd Dans Les Landes, otherwise we stayed pretty close to home in Menilmontant/Oberkampf.

If you're looking for a really cheap, really good fun time look no farther than Les Fabricants on rue Jean Pierre Timbaud. We stumbled upon it after being turned away by Jeanne A (I mistakenly thought that Jeanne A didn't take reservations...not true). Oh no! There I was, in the worst position ever for a chowhound, hungry on a Saturday night and no reservation and no plan B! I have to hand it to my sister, who said, as we walked by Les Fabricants: "this place looks good, it's crowded and that table of guys cleaned their plates". I was not convinced, especially when I looked at the prices...around 9-13 e for plats. hmm. But we were hungry and I was tired so we went in. And I was glad! We had a lovely bottle of Madiran, we split a plate of hot and delicious escargots (perfect balance of garlic, parsley and olive oil), my sister and I both had the steak in green peppercorn sauce...that sauce was SO good. The steak was a bit chewy (see the chewy steak thread), but it was flavorful, and the sauce tasted homemade and we sauce-ed every last drop. My niece had some kind of chipiron stew, again it tasted fresh and homeade. We had a prefectly acceptable creme caramel and a chocolate mousse and the bill for 3 was around 60 e. I googled it later and I think it might be owned/managed or in some other way have a connection to Chez Gladines in the 13th. Same big salads and southwest focused menu at reasonable prices. Anyway, I thought it was a fun and tasty bargain.

I returned as I always do to L'Estaminet. It's my go-to first night bistro, of course not worth trekking all over Paris for, but I crave the Salade L'Estaminet and that's what I get and I know that I will love it and I always do.

I also went to the restaurant that's part of a music venue called La Maroquinerie (right next to the performance space la Bellevilloise.) My Parisian friend had heard that they had a new chef who was good so we tried it out. We only had the plat...I needed a break from my multi-course overindulgence. We both had the seiche, which I had to look up in my Patrica Wells - cuttlefish. It was in a very garlicky sauce provencal that we again sopped up with our bread. It was good, and I also discovered one can order a bottle of wine and only pay for the glasses consumed. I forget the term in French...I usually ALWAYS finish the whole bottle so I guess that's why I never learned the term...anyway, it was a nice space, good service and no tourists except me...

We also had a nice meal at Les Quilles on Blvd Menilmontant. Again, I don't know that I would say that it is a destination place, but it was a great neighborhood choice. I had the foie gras to start and it was enough for 4. I had the veal and my sister had beef...we switched plates because she found it too rare but I loved it. We had a lovely house red from the Loire, and my niece had a really nice "fried chicken" (poulard croustillant). I forget what my niece had for dessert but she loved it. Really warm service, menu if I recall 27e for 2 courses and 31-33 for 3.

So, there you go, some not-so-known names for those of you on the hunt for some new neighborhood haunts. And now I feel very depressed that I am no longer in Paris!

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  1. Menilmontant/Oberkampf is an opportune neighborhood to be stranded in nowadays. Thanks for the report.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mangeur

      I had read somewhere that the Menilmontant neighborhood could be "sketchy" at times? What does that mean? We were thinking of doing an afternoon of exploring the neighborhood and enjoying the view from Parc Belleville.

      1. re: bauskern

        I have enjoyed exploring this neighborhood in the daytime and felt safe traveling there for dinner. Transportation is excellent. The neighborhood is diverse, and increasingly a mix of historic and gentrification.

        1. re: bauskern

          I've been out alone late at night and have never had anything happen to me. The area around Parc Bellevllle is really nice, and it offers a wonderful view over Paris.

      2. I love reports about restaurants I've never heard of!

        And I'm happy to hear your no-reservation/no plan B night worked out. Nice to know that's still possible (although I really don't want to test it myself, ha ha).

        Sounds like a great trip, thanks for reporting back.

        1 Reply
        1. re: VaPaula

          Yes, I wouldn't recommend the no res/no plan B for a Saturday night. We were lucky that it didn't end in disaster, with me criss-crossing Paris, my dining companions in tow, looking through the windows and at cartes with growing panic...:)