By Meg Zimbeck & Catherine Down
In case you missed his much-discussed lament in the New York Times, Thomas Chatterton Williams is upset that Hipsters Ruined Paris. More specifically, he’s annoyed by the proliferation of “burrata salad” at the expense of hostess bars in South Pigalle. He warns us against the anesthetizing effects of steel-cut oats and worries that there isn’t room for both kale and human trafficking in the neighborhood to which he moved two years ago. From Brooklyn, of course.
His article provoked plenty of mockery in social media (see our compilation below). In us, it provoked hunger, reminding us that there are a lot of great things to eat and drink right now in Pigalle. Unfortunately, his withering references to gourmet hot dogs, kale frittata and good coffee lacked the concrete details necessary to procure these delicious items, so we decided to compile our own guide. And who better to ask for recommendations than the very people who Chatterton Williams holds responsible for ruining Paris?
Josh Fontaine & Carina Soto Velasquez Tsou
Destroyer Credentials: These are the NYU grads, along with Adam Tsou, who were fingered by Chatterton Williams for bringing the first good taco to Paris (see also: hot dogs, Mezcal, craft beer and other crimes against the status quo). Creators of Candelaria, Glass and Le Mary Celeste.
Pigalle Picks: From Josh – “I like going to A La Cloche d’Or (3 rue Mansart) and ordering cassoulet and Cahors, legendary place that’s been around for decades and open all night. The food’s OK but the ambiance and service are top-notch.” From Carina – “One of my favorites spots is the Colombian empanadas from Las Diabluras del Rey (5 rue Duperré). They’re actually great! And there’s no NYU grad who opened it – it’s a Colombian like me. In southern Pigalle in the 9th: Artisan (14 rue Bochart de Saron), Le Condor C. (25 rue Condorcet), Dirty Dick (10 rue Frochot), Braisenville (36 rue Condorcet). And I love the Bio C’Bon (9 place de Pigalle) and Causses (55 rue Notre-Dame de Lorette)! On the north side in the 18th: Rock and roll circus. And around 100 more place in the 18th – it’s the neighborhood were I live and I love!”
Omid Tavallai & Alannah McPherson Tavallai
Destroyer Credentials: Quietly seeding this city with superior granola, cookies, hot dog buns and brunch options under the guise of Emperor Norton. In cahoots with the New Coffee Conspiracy (Télescope, Fondation Café, Fragments, Loustic).
Pigalle Picks: “The Bio C’Bon (9 place de Pigalle) actually has kale right now. So you can pop out of the metro, pick up some kale & organic oatmeal, mosey down to Glass (7 rue Frochot) for hot dogs and artisanal pickles washed down with craft cocktails, cross over to Dirty Dick (10 rue Frochot) for flaming volcanos and then go home and cackle maniacally about the wanton destruction you caused. Also: Pizza by weight from Pizza Di Loretta (62 rue Rodier) and Taiwanese bento & bubble tea at Le 37M2 (68 rue Rodier). Bubble teas come with a booze option. Best boba ever!”
Pigalle Pick: “I love the salade des legumes and the macaroni & cheese (minus bacon) at Hôtel Amour (8 rue de Navarin). They’re open all day, and late, and they’re always friendly.”
Destroyer Credentials: One of the founders of Le Bal Café, Ten Belles and the Belleville Brûlerie. A driving force behind the proliferation of scones in Paris. A major player in the New Coffee Conspiracy.
Pigalle Pick: “Go to Glass (7 rue Frochot) – great drinks great late night hot dog, great music, friendly staff – and order a Brooklyn IPA.”
Destroyer Credentials: Designed several of those Pinterest-perfect restaurants and bars that have annihilated the neighborhood with their beautiful branding and curated interiors.
Pigalle Picks: “I never really went to Pigalle much other than for work/to destroy it… That said, I’ve had a good time at Ito (2, rue Pierre Fontaine) both times I’ve been there. Go with a date and share. A burger and beer at Le Dépanneur (27 rue Pierre Fontaine) is nice if you’re in the mood/neighborhood (the interior isn’t bad either). La Cacahuete at Square Montholon (1 rue Pierre Semard) “has the best afternoon sun (when it exists).”
Destroyer Credentials: Edits a blog called Hipsters in Paris (which just posted a response to Chatterton Williams’ article). Publishes neighborhood guides that aid in the discovery/decimation of Ménilmontant and other eastern Paris ‘hoods.
Pigalle Picks: “Pigalle is one of the few places in Paris where you can go out and have a million different nightlife options within walking distance at your disposal, which isn’t overrun with stag-do-tourists (read: Bastille). It also doesn’t feel as contrived as the bars in Le Marais, which tend to be full of English-speakers who work in fashion. I would start with a beer at Le Mansart or Le Sans Souci. Wander up to Glass (7 rue Frochot) for a Negroni, or Dirty Dick (10 rue Frochot) for a Mai Tai, then finish up dancing to rock’n’roll at Le Carmen (34 rue Duperré) or Bus Palladium (6 rue Pierre Fontaine).”
Destroyer Credentials: Cooks, churns butter, bakes bread and cures meat at Bones, a restaurant that is dramatically altering the ratio of hipsters: homeless around Voltaire (Pigalle is not our only target for destruction).
Pigalle Picks: “To be honest, I’ve probably eaten more disgusting kebabs after big nights than anything else in Pigalle. It’s not really in Pigalle, but Paris would be a far darker place for me without Le Bal Café (6 impasse de la Défense). Maybe it’s close enough to count?”
Pigalle Pick: “Dirty Dick (10 rue Frochot) for Bottled Rogue beers in a cool ambiance for the same price it would cost me to buy in a shop.”
Pigalle Picks:“The poulet fermier Landais at Chez Plume (6 rue des Martyrs). Chez Plume is not as picturesque as the other rotisserie right beside it. But Chez Plume, despite dopey modern décor, contains vastly superior product. Proprietor Alexandre Girault runs a one-stop-shop for France’s greatest and simplest food pairing: succulent, well-sourced roast chicken and brilliant natural Beaujolais.”
Destroyer Credentials: Rides a Vespa. Serves the best fried chicken in Paris (among other things) at the Verjus wine bar.
Pigalle Picks: “I’d vote for Le Bal Café (6 impasse de la Défense) for their silly good and affordable wine selection such as a Chignin Bergeron from Berlioz, and probably have a Guinness beef pot pie or some scones with butter and jam.”
Destroyer Credentials: Turns forgotten spaces into beautiful restaurants (La Crèmerie, Racines, Vivant), attracting hipsters to formerly run-down streets (passage des Panoramas, rue des Petits Ecuries). One of the strongest advocates for natural wine in Paris.
Pigalle Pick: “I lived in Pigalle from 1989-1992 and it has changed a lot! I love Sébastien Gaudard‘s pastry, even though it’s not quite Pigalle (22 rue des Martyrs).”
Destroyer Credentials: Promotes the use of homemade bitters and other artisanal evils on her cocktail blog 52 Martinis. Writes about concept coffee shops selling “unique works from SoPi-based artisans” for HiP Paris.
Pigalle Pick: “I love Pigalle’s izakaya restaurant, Ito (2 rue Pierre Fontaine). If I can manage to get a few people to come with me I order everything on the menu of ten small plates or so. Why? Because they’re small enough to try several and beautifully presented, but mainly because they are so well done & I’m always surprised that my favorite of the night isn’t what I would have expected given the choices.”
Destroyer Credentials: Produces hand-crafted furniture (and lighted floor panels) for several key engines of destruction: Glass, Candelaria, Bones and Vivant. Writes an award-winning gastro travelogue with his wife Danielle (their destruction is not confined to Paris). Occasionally wears a moustache.
Pigalle Pick: “Go ahead and judge me, but I like getting a Caesar salad and fries at Hôtel Amour (8 rue de Navarin) from time to time. Especially when Pedro Winter, Kanye West, and Justice are doing the same thing one table over. True story.”
Destroyer Credentials: Promotes the consumption and appreciation of foreign wines and saké in her role at LMDW Fine Spirits. Invites people into her home for food and wine tastings, speeding the destruction (it may take a while) of the Goutte d’Or neighborhood.
Pigalle Pick: “My favourite place in Pigalle is Kooka Boora Café (62 rue des Martyrs) because the coffee is great, the people friendly and I love sitting outside in the sunshine. I was introduced to a very under-played bar called Orphée (7 rue Pierre Fontaine) a while back, which I love for its history, the sensuality (it’s very erotic) and the feeling of exclusivity if you’ve been allowed to come in. Finally, a newcomer – the cocktail bar Gocce, which is situated at the back of the Professore restaurant (7 rue Choron). It’s a speakeasy with really imaginative cocktail list (Negroni with an artichoke leaf…?).”
Destroyer Credentials: Wantonly mixes foreign ingredients as the chef at Le Mary Celeste. A dish of Bosquet apples, fennel, Manchego and Shiso? That’s like destroying three cultures at once.
Pigalle Pick: “I like the Korean place Sambuja by Metro St Georges (65 rue du Faubourg Montmartre). Go there with at least four people. Order the big pork bone soup for sharing and then get steadily more tipsy by shooting soju all night!”
Destroyer Credentials: Penned a set of articles about dining in eastern Paris for Gourmet back in 1998, opening the door for other magazines to write about and destroy neighborhoods outside of the center. Continues to review restaurants despite the fact that he’s unraveling the social fabric of Paris.
Pigalle Pick: “I may not be a hipster, but I played a personal part in the gentrification of the 9th just by moving here thirteen years ago from the Left Bank. When I first showed up, the only really good restaurant in the neighborhood was the lamentably now-gone Casa Olympe, but during the last few years, this patch of Paris has really shined up its gastronomic credentials with some seriously good bistros, notably Le Pantruche (3 rue Victor Massé) and their just-opened annex Caillebotte (8 rue Hippolyte-Lebas). So the changes in the neighborhood are more solid than just a couple of trendy bars. The food shopping has also improved hugely with bakeries like Maison Landemaine (56 rue de Clichy and 26 rue des Martyrs) and grocers like Causses (55 rue Notre-Dame de Lorette).”
Pigalle Picks: Any of Cat Beurnier’s cupcakes at Sugar Daze Cupcakes (20 rue Henry Monnier). “Nostalgic, perfectly iced, suitable for all occasions. Brioche and tarte au citron from Sebastian Gaudard (22 rue des Martyrs). Service may be surly but you can’t fault the product (and it’s always good). The dish of the day (whatever that may be) at Le Pantruche (3 rue Victor Massé). “It’s quality French fare in an environment that is warm and welcoming every time.”
Destroyer Credentials: Celebrated the Paris proliferation of fish & chips in the Wall Street Journal. Edits this website, which holds the homogenization of Paris as a long-term goal.
Pigalle Picks: “A plate of Buffala mozzeralla washed down by a Rosemary’s Baby cocktail at Artisan (14 rue Bochart de Saron) is pretty evil, but it’s not nearly as destructive as one of the small plates (Brussels sprout salad?) selected from the twee menu at Buvette (28 Rue Henri Monnier). I also love to type on my MacBook while drinking a flat white at Kooka Boora Café (62 rue des Martyrs). If the playlist is good, I’ll even stay for carrot cake (the devil’s pastry).”
Pigalle Pick: “Bergamot marshmallows and a Bernachon Kalouga chocolate bar from A L’Etoile d’Or (30 rue Pierre Fontaine). Denise Acabo is the original hipster. Old timey candies? Costumey get ups? Braids? Check. The excellent sweets are obsessively preservative-free, hard to come by, and wrapped in comic book paper. Plus, Acabo’s enthusiasm is infectious.”
Additional Reading & Responses to How Hipsters Ruined Paris
- “Hipsters Ruined Paris, Says Former Brooklyn Hipster” by Kristin Iversen in Brooklyn Magazine
- “For Whom the Kale Tolls” by Rosie Sparks in The Magazine on Medium. “Here’s a radical idea: let’s talk about gentrification, without saying the word hipster.”
- Lindsay Tramuta-Morel’s custom Twitter timeline capturing responses to the “Hipsters in Paris” conversation. “Alternative headline: “Why Thomas Chatterton Williams Should Move to East Cleveland” @Naparstek
- “Why Hipsters Haven’t Ruined Paris” by Sophie Doran on her website Hipsters in Paris. “The only thing hipsters in Paris are trying to do is forge a new path through archaic hospitality practices and answer global demand.”
- Vivian Song’s podcast for World Radio Paris capturing the reaction to this article.