Who's open on the important days, plus the vacation schedules of our favorite Paris restaurants.
This sweet little restaurant is a sparkling addition to the already glutted east Paris gastronomic scene. It has everything I want in a neighborhood joint – a warm welcome, reasonable prices and, for the moment, relative ease of snagging a reservation. But beneath the casual appearance, this is actually a very serious restaurant.
Where to eat? Here is our short list of 35 favorite Paris restaurants, which we’ve ranked based on anonymous and repeat visits. We never accept press invitations or freebies, so you can trust that our opinion is still independent, after nearly a decade of reviewing Paris restaurants.
La Poule au Pot is a looker. It's wonderful to walk in and witness the vintage wallpaper, the globe lighting, and the silver-plated serving chariot wheeling between Pepto-Bismol colored tables. It is at once a little elegant and also a touch cheesy. One can almost picture the 80s pop stars who used to slouch into these red banquettes, the mirrored pillars reflecting their manliner and sprayed hair. Today's Poule au Pot, having been recently rebooted by star chef Jean-François Piège, reflects something different - a desire for traditional cuisine bourgeouise and also the willingness (by some) to pay for it.
French food magazine Fulgurances opened L’Adresse in 2015 as a culinary incubator featuring a rotating cast of guest chefs. In 2016, we were blown away by the food of Israeli chef Tamir Nahmias. More recently, we returned for Mariana Villegas, a young Mexican chef who previously passed through Cosme and Union Square Café in New York. Her cooking is bright and inventive. Here's an update on what's happening at Fulgurances.
I waited a long time before giving Robert a try. This restaurant from the team behind Martin (Loïc Martin & Edouard Bergeon) opened in February 2018, but early word-of-mouth reviews were very mixed. A common refrain was "it's expensive for what it is."
Le 6 Paul Bert had a brief closure followed by several different chefs and menu makeovers. We’re not sure what’s going on over there right now, but will update this description after another visit. Here’s what we wrote about the first incarnation:
Le Rigmarole opened in October 2017 and delighted me more than any other restaurant that year. A recent return visit confirmed my feeling that Le Rigmarole is honest, inexpensive and delicious. It's casual and a bit chaotic, and it deserves to be packed every night.
This dining room near the Bourse (the former stock exchange) is compact and cozy, complete with all the markers of a comforting old bistro. It’s largely filled with Americans, especially now that chef Daniel Rose has become the toast of Manhattan with his French restaurant Le Coucou. The latter is delicious but difficult to book and easily five times the price of La Bourse et la Vie. Rose’s primary restaurant in Paris (now that Spring has closed) feels like a steal if your reference point is French food in New York.
When comparing it to other Paris bistros, this place feels lavish and expensive. On the surface, La Bourse et la Vie appears to have much in common with a neighborhood bistro serving classic dishes like poireaux vinaigrette, steak-frites and pot au feu. But look more closely and you’ll learn that the leeks are dotted with hazelnuts from Piemonte and the steak is 30-day aged Simmental beef.
Rose, who is obsessed with old recipes, continues to resurrect and refine vintage dishes that modern-day travelers are rarely able to encounter. His version of pot au feu is deeply delicious and evokes the classic dish that was bubbling a century ago on stoves all over the nearby market neighborhood of Les Halles. However, it’s radically different and probably more delicious than the original because it marries perfectly cooked (not boiled to death) cuts of veal and lightly cooked vegetables with the sort of profound bouillon (broth) that has become Rose’s signature. It’s also served with a side dish of tête de veau with a sauce ravigotée. More “authentic” Paris bistros are not making food like this anymore.
All of this specialness doesn’t come cheap, of course. That delicious steak-frites is priced at 39€, and dinner for two is likely to be 120€ before wine. However, most new restaurants that have opened in the years since Rose took over La Bourse et la Vie are offering much less for a similar price. Paris is becoming very expensive. At La Bourse et la Vie, it’s both expensive and very good.
La Bourse et la Vie in pictures
Nicolas isn’t the only star charcutier in town (Gilles Verot has a well-deserved following), but he’s the first to build a restaurant around his creations. This could be terrible – I cynically anticipated great charcuterie followed by mediocre mains and forgettable dessert. I was instead delighted by the best Quenelles de Brochet with sauce Nantua that I’ve ever tasted (yes, even in Lyon). The Baba au Rhum is also as good as all the other reviews (see below) say it is. As for the charcuterie, there’s a whole page of options to be taken as starters, ranging from elegant (Pâté en croûte with quail, pear and pistachio) to down-and-dirty (La Couronne de Cochon with all parts of the pig). The wine list is short but includes some very good Beaujolais, which is what you want to be drinking here. The connected shop selling for takeaway is a great source for picnics on the nearby Champ de Mars, and it provides a way to share his creations with my friends who never, ever leave eastern Paris.
- Charcuterie starters, including different versions of Pâté en croûte
- Quenelles de Brochet
- Baba au Rhum for dessert
Arnaud Nicolas in pictures
What people are saying
Torchon? Mi-cuit? Here's the low-down on the fatty lobe that's featured on so many holiday tables.
I became a fan of chef Edward Delling-Williams when he was cooking at Au Passage, and so I was thrilled when he opened Le Grand Bain on one of the grungiest / coolest streets in Paris. Like at Au Passage, there’s an ever-changing chalkboard menu of small plates, many of them vegetable driven (if not always vegetarian). You’ll also find massive hunks of protein to share. On a recent night, my friend and I competed for the last bite of a beautiful (entire) sole for only 30€, while vowing to return for the whole lamb shoulder that had us drooling on the neighboring table. This delicious drama played out while sitting outside on a street that’s a destination for graffiti tourists. Le Grand Bain is a great place to eat well and to drink natural wine while surrounded by the joyful cacophony of Belleville.
Simply one of the most beautiful (and expensive) fromageries in Paris.
Chef Philippe Damas is showcasing the season's best ingredients (porcinis, partridges) at this this bistro near the Canal Saint-Martin.
The many fans of Café Oberkampf will rejoice at the opening of a sister restaurant with longer hours and online reservations. With its light and airy interior, friendly staff, and an addictive breakfast roll, Café Méricourt is currently our #1 favorite place for breakfast or brunch in Paris.
What used to be a friendly wine bar run by the inimitable Tim Johnston is now a friendly wine bistro run by Tim’s daughter Margaux and her boyfriend Romain. The fresh market cooking from Romain (formerly at Le Comptoir and La Régalade Saint-Honore) goes well beyond the satisfying sausage & mash of the old carte and Margaux’s service and wine selections make this the sort of place where you’ll want to become a regular. Desserts are delicious, but their selection of British cheeses with recommended wine pairings is my favorite way to finish. On your way out, buy a bottle from the shelves to bring home.
Address: 114 rue Amelot, 75011
Nearest transport: Filles du Calvaire (8), Oberkampf (5, 9)
Hours: Closed Monday & Tuesday; Open Wednesday-Sunday for lunch & dinner
Reservations: Book a few weeks in advance
Telephone: 01 43 55 87 35
Clown Bar in photos
What people are saying
Eater (2017) Alexander Lobrano includes this in his roundup of 38 Essential Paris Restaurants, saying that “the menu changes according to the season and the chef’s inspiration, but you have to order anything with Banka trout and the veal sweetbreads, if they’re on the menu. One way or another, it’s consistently a stand-out showcase of the best casual contemporary French cooking in town.”
Eater (2016) Ryan Sutton calls this “the most thrilling restaurant in Paris” and recommends ordering the veal brain.” You won’t find anything more exciting, innovative, fun, or (literally) cerebral.”
Le Fooding (2015) says that “Sota Atsumi (ex-Vivant Table) does double duty as a contortionist in the marionette-sized kitchen to the delight of curious diners. The evening of our visit: a striking meager ceviche with cilantro and bottarga; shredded tourteau crab with feta in a tomato gazpacho bath; foie gras with smoked eel and button mushrooms. And for game lovers, an incredible pigeon from Mesquer with smoked herbs and sautéed potatoes, or a juicy and rare duck and foie gras pithiviers sweetened by a date jam.”
TimeOut (2014) says “The short, seasonal menu doesn’t do descriptions, just lists ingredients in that contemporary style, so if you’re unsure or queasy about some of the more adventurous parts of French cuisine, get the staff to help you out. Another thing to note before ordering is that the portions – including the opening ‘snacks’ – are extremely generous.” They add that “Clown Bar isn’t a cheap and cheerful bistro, but it is something rather special – original cooking in a historic location from a powerhouse team – and it’s open on Sundays.”
The Financial Times (2014) says “this listed 1902 clown-themed wonder, with its ornate glass ceiling, painted wall tiles and original zinc bar, transports you to a different era… The staff are warm, welcoming and knowledgeable and the list is perfectly curated, including bottles specially created for the group such as a delicious pétillant naturel from Le Petit Domaine de Gimios.”
John Talbott (2014) calls this “A great resuscitation of a grand old lady.”
Alexander Lobrano (2014) says that the “turbot with razor-shell clams, white asparagus and rhubarb in salted butter was one of the most satisfying dishes I’ve had for a long time, since the product was impeccable and the constellation of tastes made sense on the palate but was pushed just off-center enough by the rhubarb to be unexpected.”