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1 night in paris - where to eat?

We are going to be in Paris for one night (May 21st to be exact) and am trying to decide where to eat. It's overwhelming quite frankly. Staying in the 6th arrondissement not too far from the Luxembourg garden so we'd be able to get around to most places by subway, foot, taxi, etc. Probably max about 200 Euro for both of us on the meal.

We are adventurous eaters and always interested in what the locals love. Also, any suggestions for the next day in terms of breakfast, lunch, pâtisserie, wine bars, etc as our train doesn't leave till 7 pm (alas, not allowing us to have dinner).

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    1. Without knowing your style and budget, it's impossible to recommend just one place for dinner. Is setting also important ? And since locals are very poorly represented in the restaurant universe in the tourist zones, are you prepared to go to the hip and/ or "populaires" quartiers in the not always well polished outer arrondissements ?

      If only in Paris for 24-hours, I'd emphasize the Paris-ness of your choices. I love the very modern David Toutain for the excellent and very adventurous cuisine but I'm not sure it's a type of restaurant that can't be found in London, New York, Sydney, etc. So what about the restaurant at la Maison de l'Amérique Latine on the boulevard Saint Germain near métro Solferino ?... despite the name, impressively French in setting and cuisine. A lunch-only place from end-Sept to beg-May, it will be open on 21 May for dinner. Although a crap-shoot to reserve and dependent on the weather, a meal in the garden will-- I guarantee-- be a precious memory... but the dining room ain't bad either.

      For breakfast, try Bread & Roses on the rue Madame/ rue Fleurus, Cafe Fleurus on the rue Fleurus, Au Petit Suisse on the rue Vaugirard/ rue Médicis, Le Comptoir Tournon on the rue Tournon, Le Rostand on the place Edmond Rostand/ rue Médicis, or Dalloyau (from 9am) on the place Edmond Rostand-- all just off the Luxembourg. But Paris is not an early-morning city so don't expect to find much before 8am.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Parnassien

        Parnassien, I just have to say that your thoughtful & helpful comments make this board a fabulous resource for those of us from other lands who must plan our Paris vacations at a distance.

        1. re: bauskern

          Baus, you make me blush.

          I am of course way too undeserving of such compliments. But more, more ! :)

        2. re: Parnassien

          Thank you! This was the sort of recommendation I was hoping for. Yes, we are prepared to go outside of where we are, as long as we can access it via public transportation or if needed, taxi. As far as budget go, for dinner, we can do up to about 200-300 Euro total for 2 people (but don't have to go that high).

          Definitely into dining somewhere that is uniquely Paris; we've dined in fine-dining establishments and casual settings alike, enjoying them equally in many places around the world. Setting should be comfortable and not rushed, and perhaps a place that can be patient with my miniscule French (and I am embarrassed about that).

          Modern takes on classics are fine, traditional is fine, casual is fine, and definitely a need for French, especially unique to Paris.

          To find something that is not in the guidebooks, where the locals go, is our goal. I will check out La Maison de l'Amérique Latine, but if you also have a few others I can fall back upon, that would be much appreciated.

          Thank you also for the recommendations for breakfast; if you have lunch ideas (for Thursday, May 22), please let me know. Your information is so valuable to us over here :-)

          1. re: bostongallovesfood

            I'd abandon your locals-only criterion. Paris is a city with only 2.5 million residents but visited by 30 million tourists a year. I'd hazard a guess that almost all good restaurant in and outside the tourist zones are already listed in some guide book or other. Probably the only places that qualify as "hidden gems" are too new to have been included in the last print-run of this or that guide book. But, given the importance of food in French culture, even these are not unknown in the French and English-language foodie blogosphere. What I'm trying to say is that there are no secrets in Paris when it comes to food. Oftentimes the only places that are without tourists are so far out of the way that most visitors don't want the hassle of getting there and back.

            But, even in central Paris, there are places favoured by Paris' chattering classes where the usual swarms of tourists are not obvious. The Maison de l'Amérique Latine is one. Le Poulpry on the rue de Poitiers in the 7th is another and much patronized by politicians. For old-school style, Le Stella on the avenue Victor Hugo @ rue de la Pompe in the 16th delivers honest and rather good but hardly life-changing classic cuisine without too many pesky tourists marring the experience.

            If it's a cutesy mom & pop bistro in a tourist-less quartier that you're looking for, Les Zygomates on the rue de Capri in the 12th... but quite a trek for you. For a more modern neo-bistro with fab cuisine and more patronized by locals than tourists, l'Antre Amis on the rue Bouchut near the Place Breteuil on the borders of the 7th and 15th. For soufflés, a lovely terrace and a clientele of "ladies who lunch" for lunch and politicians with mistresses for dinner (but also some tourists), La Cigale-Récamier on the rue Récamier off the rue de Sèvres in the 7th. For "hidden" in the middle of touristy Saint-Germain des Prés, the Bistrot de l'Alycastre on the rue Clément @ rue de Seine. For neighbourhood gems (not necessarily tourist-free thanks to Chowhound), Au Bon Coin on the rue Collégiale in the 5th, Ober-Salé on the rue Oberkampf in the 11th, and Cornichon on the rue Gassendi in the 14th. If you want a fun and buzzy real-life neighbourhood, head for the Haut Marais and use the Chowhound search function to find a huge lists of recommended restaurants in the 'hood. All of the above restos are perfectly fine for dinner or lunch.

            Lunch tends to be more French simply because of the large numbers of French office and other workers in the central arrondissements. For places near some of the major tourist sites, Les Climats on the rue de Lille in the 7th... very close to the Orsay but still not yet on the tourist circuit... very good food + lovely courtyard garden or conservatory or very comfortable dining room. For the Louvre, anywhere around the Palais Royal in the 1st... i.e Le Lulli in the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal on the rue Valois is relatively undiscovered (except by John Talbott... see his blog) and has superb cooking in sleek surroundings or for a more trad meal, Bistro le Valois on the place Valois (both le Lulli and Le Valois are heavily patronized by civil servants from the nearby Ministry of Culture). The place du Marché Saint-Honoré is also a buzzy lunchtime area... my fave du moment is Café des Abattoirs on the rue Gomboust... and save some room for pastries/ chocolates from Hugo & Victor across the street.

            And oh, if possible, try to make a detour on your one and only night in Paris for an apéro or a digestif at the Piano Bar of the Closerie des Lilas on the boulevard Montparnasse. Magic !

            1. re: Parnassien

              Wow! Fantastic! What a list! My biggest fear tends to be if I become a victim of a tourist trap as I had in my youth when traveling, and you've put me more at ease. Our 24 hours in Paris is a detour that was not part of our original plan, and regrettably it is short, so I guess we are going to have to come back again :-) And now you've gotten me even more excited! Your guidebook is the best. Thank you again.

              1. re: bostongallovesfood

                A big thumbs up for your return visit to Paris... she deserves more than 24 hours. But I must admit the typical tourist Paris is very different from the real Paris... so plan well to avoid the many tourist traps that line the tourist trail. With hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of excellent restaurants, it's not difficult.

                As a local, I'm constantly amazed how Paris manages to be Paris despite 30 million tourists a year. Of course, the Champs Elysées and the immediate neighbourhoods of Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, and the Centre Pompidou are now pretty horrible but there is so much more that remains to inspire and to be enjoyed.

                1. re: Parnassien

                  Yes, I know she deserves more than one day; this trip is actually a little bit of a whim, so we couldn't resist!

                  And now I have a shameful dilemma; as I was waiting for a response to my original post, I did shoot off emails to David Toutain and Spring to see if I can get a reservation; I will admit that I did it without any hope and was very surprised to see that I can secure reservations at both. Do I pick one or the other, or forgo both? I will also post a different thread on here. And hopefully you are not rolling your eyes at me! And we will have breakfast and lunch the next day as possibilities as we don't leave till the late evening.

                  1. re: bostongallovesfood

                    They are both memorable. As long as you reserve in only one of them and not do a multiple reservation, everyone in Paris bows to you in gratitude.

                    1. re: Parigi

                      Awesome :-) I never make multiple reservations; I don't think that is a good thing to do. I was very surprised at my luck, and we will have to make a decision soon.

        3. there is a movie called 1 night in paris ...maybe you can find it on the internet for inspiration

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