Le Poule au Pot is a real 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.
Here’s our annual calendar of what’s open during the summer holiday, based on information that we’ve confirmed directly with Paris restaurants. We’ve organized the findings by arrondissement, so you can scroll to see the schedule of your favorite restaurant, and we’ve added color and descriptions to to let you know more about these restaurants at a glance.
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:
Breizh Café is by far our favorite crêperie in Paris Traditionalists like me, who always order a complète (ham, cheese, egg), appreciate the higher quality organic ingredients and the crispy lacy edges of their buckwheat galettes. More adventurous hunters can look to the daily and seasonal specials to top their galettes with upgrades like sea scallops and smoked duck breast. Dessert crêpes offer a few Japanese touches like ginger and yuzu alongside classic constructions with apples and ice cream. You can begin with ultra-fresh oysters or langoustines, sip artisanal ciders throughout the meal, and still escape for less than 20€ per person. There are now three locations in Paris, which takes some heat off the original Marais location, but you should still book in advance. They’ve added online reservations to make that easy, and are now open every day at each location.
There’s a boisterous, fun vibe at this Oberkampf dive, where you’ll find a compelling selection of natural wine, outstanding charcuterie, and a short list of small plates that varies in quality depending on who’ve they’ve got working in the kitchen (it changes a lot). Expect loud music and great people watching. Don’t expect to snag a table. A great place to begin or end an evening, belly pressed against the bar, sharing snacks and bottles. Note: they used to do a great lunch service, but as of August 2018 they’re only open at night, serving cold tapas from 4:30pm until the kitchen opens from 7:30-11pm.
La Bourse et la Vie is one of our favorite Classic Bistros in Paris. It’s a place where you come to celebrate, to bring a date, and to devour one of the best steak-frites in Paris.
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.
Here is our short list of 35 favorite restaurants, based on anonymous and repeat visits.
Did you know that at least half of Paris restaurants are closed on Sunday? We’ve put together this list to help you find a great meal on this very tricky day of rest.
Le Rigmarole opened in October 2017 and has delighted me more than any other restaurant this year. The menu is an improbable collection of dishes inspired by French-American chef Robert Compagnon’s clear obsession with Japan and his skill with yakitori, but in addition to skewers you’ll also find meatballs with paratha flatbread (9€), handmade pastas (9€), and charred vegetable sides (6€). When Compagnon asked us to name our least favorite dish, it was a struggle to find much to criticize among the fifteen dishes we had devoured. The chargrilled chicken hearts were profoundly delicious. The fanciulle pasta with pigeon and liver ragout was funky and fantastic. Tempura fried butternut squash was so delicate it seemed to dissolve before I could swallow. And an off-menu order of grilled chicken neck made us blush with gratitude for all the work that went into retrieving (and not wasting) the edible meat. Adventurous eaters who are willing to try anything might be presented with a grilled aorta, but less daring diners will also find plenty to enjoy here. Co-owner Jessica Yang, a Taiwanese-American pastry chef who was previously at Rebelle and Per Se (NYC) and Guy Savoy (Paris), delivers a stunning finish with desserts like chocolate fondant with praline and buckwheat ice cream. On top of everything else, the warm welcome and well-appointed wine list provided by Crislaine Medina are setting this place apart from the sometimes surly competition. Le Rigmarole is honest, inexpensive and delicious. It’s casual and a bit chaotic, and it’s very soon going to be packed.
At the impossibly young age of 24, Arnaud Nicolas achieved one of the highest honors in gastronomy – the title Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) – for his talent in charcuterie. Fourteen years later, he opened an ambitious shop and restaurant near the Eiffel Tower with the explicit goal of returning charcuterie to a place of honor on the French table. In the same way that prize-winning artisans have reshaped traditional baguette-making and pâtisserie, Nicolas wants to reintroduce charcuterie to palates that have become used to mediocre industrialized examples. So is it really that different? Yes. It’s like tasting chocolate from Patrick Roger when you’ve only ever known Hershey’s, or switching from Kraft singles to raw milk cheese sold by Laurent Dubois.
Planning to be in Paris during the holidays? Here's a schedule of who's open between December 20-January 5, and what they're serving for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
Torchon? Mi-cuit? Here's the low-down on the fatty lobe that's featured on so many holiday tables.
Le Villaret is one of our favorite Classic Bistros in Paris. Sometimes in life we chase after the ones who play hard-to-get and we ignore the nice, stable options who just want to treat us right. Le Villaret is the homely neighborhood bistro that I never appreciated until I stopped looking for love at Le Baratin and Le Repaire de Cartouche. Le Villaret boasts a wine list every bit as interesting, especially if you’re looking for a balanced mix of natural and conventional wines, and bottles are served without the side dish or distain that you’re likely to receive from those popular boys. Wine is definitely the attraction here, so decide first what you want to drink and then find something on the lengthy food menu to pair with your choice. On a recent visit, I pounced on a 2011 Chablis 1er Cru from Raveneau (80€) and enjoyed some lovely if not life-changing monkfish medallions in lobster sauce (30€). There’s also a three-course menu for only 35€, and plenty of moderately priced wines. For people who love wine and want to enjoy a special bottle (or four) and some classic bistro food, Le Villaret is currently one of most reliable options in town.
Le Grand Bain currently holds the #2 spot in our list of favorite restaurants for small sharable plates.
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.
Food and wine pilgrims, particularly those who read the New York Times or watch Anthony Bourdain, are willing to climb the hill for this Belleville institution. Raquel Carena tends the fire, offering her own personal brand of bistro cooking – sometimes delicate, sometimes hearty, always heartfelt. In stark contrast to the loving kitchen, the dining room is cold as ice, thanks to the joyless leadership of Carena’s husband Philippe. After more than a decade of hopeful visits, I haven’t yet received a smile or any helpful wine guidance from the patron. His cellar is reputed to be one of the best in the city, with an emphasis on independent producers and natural wines. However, he is an unwilling ambassador for these wines and a significant drag on the overall experience. I love Carena’s cooking, but I won’t hurry back because I fear that, once again, I’ll be treated with glaring disinterest by Philippe and the dining room staff who mirror his attitude. For those who really want to try their luck, go at lunch. The dining room, which is harshly over-lit at night, reveals itself beautifully in the sunlight, and the lunch menu for 19 euros remains an incredible deal.
Tomy & Co. currently holds the #1 ranking in our list of favorite Modern & Creative Restaurants in Paris. I loved chef Tomy Gousset’s cooking when he was at Pirouette, but this signature restaurant has just blown me away. The room is comfortable and a little plain, which is to say it fits nicely in the 7th arrondissement, but Gousset’s cuisine is thrillingly modern. He is a master of using herbs, acidity and texture to elevate sometimes humble ingredients like beef tongue or tête de veau. His compositions are intricate and colorful, making them a dream for Instagrammers, but flavor and balance are not sacrificed to beauty. Those who like to try different wines will love their list with a rotating cast of 20 selections by the glass. Service is on point and supports, rather than detracts from the brilliance of the kitchen. The menu changes regularly enough to warrant repeat visits, and I for one can’t wait to go back.
Chef Philippe Damas is showcasing the season's best ingredients (porcinis, partridges) at this this bistro near the Canal Saint-Martin.
This simple bistro has for years been a favorite among wine lovers, who arrive hoping to plumb the depths of Rodolphe Paquin’s cellar. Whether you taste something from the carte, or persuade Paquin to share an off-list treasure from his cave, wine is undoubtedly the highlight of any experience here. Paquin’s terrines are also extraordinary. He’s written a book about the subject and sells them whole in ceramic crocks to go. In autumn and winter, this is the place to go for wild game. Everything else here is pretty average, except for the service, which is atrocious. Two different tables stormed out during my most recent visit. What saves the experience for some is the joyful welcome from Paquin, the affable host (some ladies might say too affable) who greats regulars like long lost friends. Since I’ve been coming for years, I get a squeeze and a smile but still suffer through the terrible service… no one is safe. Visitors to Paris who can’t cite a winemaker connection or who haven’t yet been introduced will most likely be ignored and wondering why we’ve included this on our site. We’ve included it to reclassify Le Repaire de Cartouche as a great place to sit at the bar without reservations, order wine with a slab of terrine, and wait for your table to open up at Au Passage. It’s still great fun as a wine bar, even if it can no longer deliver as a restaurant.
Le Chateaubriand currently holds the #4 ranking in our list of our favorite Tasting Menus under 100€. You can only reserve for the first seating at Le Chateaubriand. After that, you’ll have to wait in line from 9pm for a stab at Iñaki Aizpitarte’s no-choice tasting menu, a parade of provocative flavor pairings that has landed the restaurant on San Pellegrino’s 50 Best list for several years running. Whether you love or hate this restaurant may depend on your affinity for natural wine and improvisational cooking. We have had brilliant meals here, where every delicious dish taught us something new. We have been outraged, and we have been indifferent. You never quite know what to expect here, and that’s part of the fun. Just be sure to go with omnivorous friends who share that outlook.
With its worn wooden tables, intricately painted ceilings, and charcuterie slicer propped on the marble counter, L’Assiette has the precise look of a dream Paris bistro. It also serves many of the classic dishes, like escargots and cassoulet, which have mostly disappeared from the city’s restaurants. The far-flung location in the 14th arrondissement, near the catacombs but far from the center, has probably helped L’Assiette to stay off the tourist radar. Chef David Rathgeber and his team are friendly with visitors but don’t cater to them. The customers who come to indulge in this hearty fare are mostly local, which makes this a great option for tourists looking to avoid their own countrymen.
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.
Chez la Vieille is a fun place to drink but a confusing place to eat.
Juveniles currently holds the #2 ranking in our list of favorite Classic Bistros 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.
Clown Bar currently holds the #5 spot in our list of favorite restaurants for small sharable plates. The team from Saturne has taken over the historic bar near Cirque d’Hiver. The beautiful Belle Epoque space remains (tastefully) decorated with clowns, but the menu has been seriously revived by Sota Atsumi’s intriguing small plates. Wines are heavily natural, with good options by the glass as well as the bottle. Don’t expect to get a table without calling a couple of weeks in advance.
The Bistrot Paul Bert currently holds the #4 ranking in our list of favorite Classic Bistros in Paris. The Bistrot Paul Bert boasts of the most charming dining rooms and patrons in town, appearing to first-time visitors like the Paris bistro of their dreams. Their menu is torn straight out of the classic bistro playbook, with options like steak frites, andouillette, soufflé and tarte Tatin. Compared to many other bistros, Paul Bert shines bright because of superb ingredient souring and careful cooking. Owner Bertrand Auboyneau is a real wine lover and supporter of vignerons, and his list is a joy to drink from. Overall, while many long-time fans will admit that it’s not quite at the level it once was, Le Bistrot Paul Bert remains a top recommendation for anyone wanting to experience a classic bistro in Paris.
Where can you find a great baguette in Paris? Below we’ve listed and mapped the bakeries who have placed among the top ten winners in the city’s annual competition to determine Le Meilleur Baguette de Paris. Look for the bakery that’s nearest to you, or focus your efforts on those who have finished first – we’ve indicated the Grand Prix winners with a heart.