[Updated for 2023 ] For those times when you simply have more style than money, here are some Parisian restaurants that prove you can have taste without the compromise. Well, not too much, anyways…
Side note: we have excluded boulangeries because while the fresh, hot quiche eaten in a nearby park is a nice option that works in any neighborhood, we’re focusing on the real Parisian sit-down restaurant experience. Sometimes that means a sidewalk café, but that’s a good thing, right?
MOOD » A chic friend’s place
PLACE » Small, kinda rustic, 100% Parisian
MENU »unpredictable fusion of lick-the-plate good meals
TIP »try their cookies. Don’t ask. Just do. Order them at the beginning, too, to avoid disappointment.
Abandon all expectations, you who enter here — Mokonuts is ~something else~. A warm and welcoming little breakfast/ lunch (only) cafe that offers a changing variety of tartines, sandwiches, and sides with a Mediterranean flair, made with carefully-sourced ingredients by a charming married couple that somehow gets along despite working together.
MOOD » like we are pretending to go to a fancy resto and getting away with something
PLACE» simple + understated elegance
MENU»depends on what the kids are learning in school but generally French classics are ever present
TIP» French haute-cuisine without pretense
Ferrandi is something more than a restaurant — it’s actually a school. A French School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management to be exact, where hundreds of students learn how to become *something* in the French culinary sphere. Obviously, where there’s smoke, there’s also a lot of food that is served to the guests of their two restaurants (Le Premier and Le 28), fully staffed by students. The menu changes daily, and the availability depends on the class that is working today (so you can have a french dinner, medieval dinner, dessert menu, wine pairing menu, you get it). Be sure to reserve in advance!
What’s nearby? Jardin du Luxembourg (arguably the most beautiful one in Paris) and great-views-providing Tour Montparnasse.
DEETS: culinary school, chic but cheap, dinner, tea time
INSTAGRAM: @ferrandiparis (where sometimes they share their favourite recipes, so if you’re feeling up for a challenge, you can try to make some yourself)
MOOD »la buvette — an open-air communal picnic
PLACE»industrial hipster commune
MENU»A United Nations’ worth of street food — Syrian, burgers, Breton crepes, Japanese, Korean, Latin American, We Are The World
TIP» When you and your posse can’t agree on what to eat, well, eat everything in one place.
This is one of those places in Paris, where you can literally spend the whole day. Partially food-court, partially cultural space, it currently holds the title of the largest food hall in Europe (for like 20 minutes, I guess, but hey, we’re milking it while we can). Brunch? check. Mini markets with local arts and crafts or clothing swap? Check. Dance floor with DJs and drag queen shows? Check. Waiters and barmaids juggling bottles of wine or riding on a unicycles? Check. All that on top of 15 different restaurants with food from all over the world. Oh, and it’s also child friendly. All in all, you just can’t miss with this one.
What’s nearby? Who cares, you won’t want to leave anyway.
Apparently, in Old French, the word vantre meant « a place of enjoyment » (although none of us has actually studied that hard in school so it’s hard to confirm or deny); but the restaurant bearing this name definitely is worth checking out. Vantre combines classy with meat‑y (and French‑y on top of that). In this little place, just a few steps from Canal St. Martin you can enjoy modern version of traditional French haute cuisine that you will have difficulty to find anywhere else (We’re talking game meat here), prepared by their Japanese-French chef. There’s also a great selection of fish dishes, and more than 2 000 types of wine to choose from.
What’s nearby? Canal St. Martin, where you can walk stroll and enjoy the city lights (or grab a drink in one of the bars if all that wine somehow wasn’t enough).
MENU»Singaporean gems like Laksas (spicy noodle dishes), fried chicken, sweet potato noodles, and sauteed eggplant. Coffee-shop vibe earlier in the day
TIP» It’s easy to order everything on the menu here, but make room for the green pandan cake…
Part Brooklyn coffee house, part Asian canteen, all style and cheap AF for the quality, The Hood doesn’t scream “Hipster”; it is more like a soft strum on its guitar. You don’t go to France for an Asian coffee shop experience, but just go with the flow. The Hood’s coffee game is sweet — high quality brew from a local brûlerie, then on to the food: delicious Asian street food (courtesy of an in-house French-Vietnamese chef) as well as a junkyard-chic decor of old signs, instruments asking to be played… Do we have to go on? In terms of food, it has appetizers like Vietnamese fried chicken and kimchi and portable entrees like bahn-mis, not to mention house-made condiments and unique weekly specials. Don’t miss your slice of delicious green sponge cake called Pandan — You deserve it. And depending on where you’re from, you most likely will not find most of this at home.
PLACE»vintage deco and elegance not normally accessible to the masses
MENU»French classics like roast chicken, celery remoulade, excargots, and leeks
TIP» they excel in the heavy classics, like duck confit and choucroute Alsatienne
Founded in 1896, the Grands Boulevards location of the Bouillon Chartier restaurant resides in a preserved 19th century railway station. Ambiance at the Bouillon Chartier is critical. With its globe lights and gilded coat racks, the place simmers with a vintage vibe. The food, though inexpensive and unmistakably French, pales in comparison to the experience of the brutally efficient wait staff, the boisterous, crowded dining room and the conversations with strangers you will inevitably share a table with. Oui, here you can cross ‘les escargots’ off your list here — (six for €8) if you’re seeking the feeling of what you think French people eat (note: not really).
If you happen to be in the Montparnasse neighborhood, be sure to check out the much newer Chartier location, founded just the other day in 1903.
What’s nearby? The Passage Jouffroy; one of Paris’ most charming covered passages from the 1800s is near the Grands Boulevards location.
The Bouillon Pigalle, founded in 2017, gets its name from, and dutifully represents, a classic, if not slightly bygone form of French dining called, you guessed it, bouillon – a mix of copious French classics like foie gras and beef bourguignon, a communal, jovial atmosphere and a comfortably small addition (check). Bouillon Pigalle is a successful revamp; slinging up chow as good as it is supernaturally inexpensive, paper placemats that clash beautifully with the suited-up waitstaff and a chic upstairs open-air terrace. Be sure to check out the aforementioned beef bourguignon or the oeufsmayonnaise.
DEETS: lunch, dinner, open daily, classic French, old school cool, more style than money, stop in if nearby, outdoor seating
Trois Fois Plus de Piment
MOOD » provocative Chinese drawing a crowd
PLACE»neighborhood joint with wood slab tables and close proximity to your fellow noodle adventurers
MENU»the noodles are the big draw
TIP» get the noodles with soup over the dry version of noodles and ask for 0.5 out of 5 if it’s your first time. Spicy is ~SPICY~ here.
Translated quite literally as “Three Times the Pepper,” this Sichuan Chinese restaurant is a bright, spicy and possibly dangerous gem amongst the sea of delicious (sometimes bland) Parisian food offerings. There’s nothing wrong with regular French food (quite the opposite, as the world knows), but if you’re craving the unique experience of food that physically hurts but is too delicious to stop eating, this is the place to be. Known for its flavorful pork dumplings and noodle soup (with handmade noodles), Trois Fois plus de Piment lets you choose your own pain by selecting a spice level from zero to five. With five locations, including sister restaurants Deux Fois and Cinq Fois de Piment, and easy online ordering, it’s worth checking out no matter where you are. For the record, I love spice but still can never go above 0.5—a mere one level above no spice,—without pain. You have been warned.
What’s nearby? The oldest residential building in Paris, the Nicolas Flamel house at 49 Rue de Monmorency, which dates back to the 1600s.
TIP» sit at the bar to watch the chefs in action — the best seats in the house.
Sapporo is a hip Japanese noodle bar located less than a block away from the Tuileries. Known for its fresh ingredients and large portions, it’s a little island of cheap in a sea of Dior and Chanel. Ramen dishes averaging at less than €12 each are the main draw, and if you snag a bar seat (which I recommend), you can watch the Japanese chefs prepare it right in front of you through the open kitchen. Be sure to also check out Sapporo 2 on rue Sainte-Anne in the heart of a Japanese restaurant hub.
What’s nearby? The Louvre, Place Vendôme and Palais Royal.
DEETS: lunch, dinner, open daily, Asian, Japanese, more style than money, outdoor dining, worth the line
MOOD » street food but proudly glowed-up
PLACE»a simple type of chic, like you are in-the-know but won’t be instagramming the decor
MENU» real Brittany-style crepes made with buckwheat flour, as they should be, plus some unexpected Japanese influence
TIP» trust them and go beyond the ham and egg into something more adventurous like saucisse (sausage crepe) all rolled up
If you visit Paris you have to have crêpes, and if you are looking for good, inexpensive ones, you should probably stop by Breizh Café. Not only does their high quality, organic ingredients set them apart from the ever encroaching pack, but the chef’s Breton background and Japanese influence infuse the menu with an intriguing, cross-culture variety. Breizh Café features classic sweet crêpes, savory buckwheat crêpes called galettes, oysters, some maki (to shake things up) and artisan sparkling ciders. While the Marais Breizh Cafe is the original and busiest location, there are few other locations scattered across Paris including a cave-like cider bar in the Montorgueil neighborhood.
The walls of the art nouveau treasure known as the Bouillon Julien are a bright seafoam green, and yet they somehow match everything. From stained glass ceilings to delicate murals on the walls, mahogany wood paneling to the mosaic tiled floor, the Bouillon Julien is dripping with class, and it’s not lightly considered one of the prettiest restaurants in Paris. On top of all that, they also manage to serve good, cheap French food with pretty much every kind of meat imaginable, including duck leg confit, calf’s head, pork muzzle and snails. There is also an extensive dessert list and a short but sweet cheese menu called “the last salty touch.”
What’s nearby? So many sidewalk bars absolutely stacked with 20 to 30-something Parisians that it will become evident there really are about 10 million members of humanity living in Paris and its suburbs.
ADDRESS: 16 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis (10th arr.)
MÉTRO: Strasbourg-Saint-Denis (lines 4, 8, 9) or Château d’Eau (line 4)
La Résidence is a restaurant-food truck combo inside the Ground Control complex. Ground Control is a former train station repurposed as a resto-bar park whose mission is to provide work for refugee chefs as part of the Refugee Food Festival, an organization that matches refugee cooks with careers. La Résidence is just one of several similar restaurants acting as a springboard into the French culinary world and it currently features West African cuisine from a Mauritanian head chef. The restaurant menu features dishes like roasted eggplant and chicken yassa, while the food truck outside offers Middle Eastern cuisine like falafel and shawarma.
What’s nearby? La Petite Ceinture, Paris’s own High Line-style former-train-tracks-turned-park, and, of course, Ground Control itself, which is worth a visit.
There are three Miznon locations in Paris with the original one located in the Marais (and the original original located in Tel Aviv). What differentiates Miznon from its surrounding Middle Eastern restaurants (including the cult favorite L’As du Falafel) is its focus on pita sandwiches rather than falafel and its strikingly vegetarian menu, which includes the popular roasted cauliflower alongside more traditional meat offerings of beef and lamb. Miznon is a bit pricier than its competitors, but it’s made up in quality of food and ambiance that is slightly more chic than your normal fast food joint. The menu is a giant chalkboard sign, the food is made right in front of you and the seating is usually scarce among the large crowds, so take what you can get, or take it to go.
What’s nearby? The charming Rue des Rosiers shopping + food district is near the 4th arrondissment location, the charming Canal St. Martin near the 10th arr location…
Chez Alain Miam Miam is the Subway of Paris if Subway made custom crêpes in addition to sandwiches, and if each one were filled to the brim, handcrafted by a well-known, retired chef. Chef Alain Roussel’s creations look monstrous, but are actually very simple: choose your meat (or no meat), choose your vegetables, choose your cheese, choose whether you want it all in a sandwich or a crêpe, and prepare to be blown away. Tucked inside the Marché des Enfants Rouges, a covered food market in the Marais dating back to the 1600s, Chez Alain Miam Miam frequently has a long (but worth it) line which you can skip by arriving early or ordering ahead online or by phone.
La Cantine Bretonne, as the name suggests, is a crêperie dedicated to the cuisine of Brittany (Bretagne in French), a region in the upper-northwest of France. Home to cities like Nantes and a rich cultural history, Brittany is also known for its dark brown sarrasin (buckwheat) crêpes. La Cantine Bretonne takes this tradition very seriously, earning its reputation of authenticity and serving “the recipes of our grandmothers”: organic, savory buckwheat crêpes and their sweet counterparts as well as several Breton entrées. In addition to their calming pink and blue aesthetic, and their seasonally changing menu, La Cantine Bretonne also offers pear and apple ciders, an in-house store of Breton foodstuffs and a dessert menu worth indulging in even after the sweet crêpes.
The Café du Coin (coin as in the French word for corner, no matter how tempting it is to think otherwise) has two obvious attractions: the whimsical cartoon duck that presides over the restaurant’s door and the reasonably priced €19 lunchformules (prix-fixe menus are popular at French cafés) that people flock to in droves. More subtly, Café du Coin also offers inexpensive natural wine and an airy, terrace-like ambiance that few can replicate. The lunch formule at the Café du Coin includes an appetizer (usually a pizzetta), an entrée, most likely a visually pleasing and inventive combo of meat and bitter greens, and a homemade dessert. Though open for dinner, Café du Coin reverts into a wine bar in the evenings with only its signature pizzettas available to eat.
DEETS: lunch, open daily, neo-bistro, restobar, more style than money, where the cool kids hang, worth the line
Urfa Dürüm is a no-frills Kurdish sandwich shop that gets its name from dürüm, a flat bread cooked over a fire that the restaurant owner makes fresh at the front of the store. When we say no frills, we mean it. Your choice of meat (chicken, beef or lamb) is grilled, then placed in the dürüm with some sparse vegetables, then nicely rolled up and bam!, there’s your sandwich, have a nice day. No sauces, no fries and no need for them either. Urfa Dürüm has been tucked away in a small, wood-paneled storefront for over 15 years, and with sandwiches ringing in at around €6 each, it’s easy to see why. Save this spot for good weather as the seating is outside on wooden benches along the sidewalk next to a roiling crowd of young locals in one of the most hopping, up-and-coming (or up-and-already here, depending on your view) micro neighborhoods, the Petites-écuries hood. After your dürüm wrap, blow the cash you saved at any of the also inexpensive and packed bars around the corner, hidden away on Cour des Petit Ecuries.
ADDRESS: 58 Rue de Faubourg Saint-Denis (10th arr.)
Le Pantruche is a relatively new and hopping French bistro with a homey yet chicfeel and an era-hopping classic aesthetic that manages to be simultaneously fancy and understated. The fancy comes from the chef’s prestigious background. The results being really cool food like oyster tartare with bright green cream of lettuce soup, handmade foie gras served with a layer of fat, nutmeg scented creams, delicious sauces and other not-so-commonly found foods. The understated comes from the price: a prix-fixe menu where a starter + entree or entree + dessert costs €19 at lunch, and all three cost €38 at dinner. Le Pantruche is a favorite among French locals and a pretty good reason for the rest of us to envy said locals, as if simply living in Paris wasn’t reason enough.
If you’ve ever picked up a guide book to Paris, which you probably have if you’re reading this, you might recognize the name Petit Palais. It’s an art museum on the Champs-Élysées, and while that’s all well and good for another time, the café inside the (free, BTW) museum is where it’s at. The food does not matter, nor does the interior restaurant part of the café. What matters is the tropical garden paradise that serves as the café’s courtyard terrace. But just to be clear, the food is quite good. It’s a plastic tray affair, but it’s good.
Tiny café tables are interspersed with palm trees, bushes, floral garlands and the stone columns upholding the walls of the palace. It’squite a view, even by art museum standards, and worth the hefty ticket price to get in (again, free). Stop in for lunch as it closes early for private events, or go to enjoy an afternoon tea.
Blend sounds like a cliche name for a coffee shop, right? Surprise! It’s a burger joint! A popular gourmet burger joint actually, with five locations across Paris notorious for their veal and beef patties and their toppings-heavy burger concoctions, which can include everything from caramelized onion compote to 18-month aged artisan cheddar. They even have homemade buns and fries, and a special limited edition chicken sandwich. What’s truly special, however, is the declaration on their menu that everything has a deliciously comparable vegetarian version and, hold your breath, a baconless version too (truly a rare gem for us sans pork Parisians).
The Brooklyn Pizzeria, self-proclaimed the “cheapest pizzeria in Paris,” with their €6 Margherita pizza, is a textbook example of a functioning identity crisis. They’re a Parisian restaurant serving organic Neapolitan pizza with names like “Cheesus Christ” and “Hot Like F*ck” in a venue that combines a breathtaking ivy-covered terrace with a borderline nightmarishly kitschy American interior, and somehow it all works beautifully. The life-sized yellow taxi cab and the trilingual blender of a menu only sell the bit that much more successfully. Plus, there’s a prix-fixe brunch menu on the weekends (your two options are a “healthy” brunch and an “American” brunch, we see you). So, whether you’re a homesick tourist or just really, really curious about the taxi cab, it’s worth stopping by any time of the day.
Pierre Sang – the restaurants — get their name from Pierre Sang the chef, a cool guy and minor celebrity (verified on Instagram) due to his appearance on Top Chef. The restaurants occupy a range of affordable (Oberkampf and On Gambey have lunches starting at a €23) and to onwards and upwards (the dinner menus and the Signature Restaurant are a bit higher, like €44-€54+), but all with a small plates-style meld of Korean and French cuisine, living up to the blue-check hype. Pierre Sang’s lunches are one of the most affordable mentioned in the Michelin guide. For about €23-€39 (depending on how much wine you order), you can get a three course meal of fusion dishes like tempura zucchini with eggplant sauce, beef cheek with kimchi sauce or raclette with coconut sauce. There’s a theme and that theme is ‘delicious’. Pierre Sang has fast-food locations as well, but that’s not what we are talking about here. several locations all over Paris, but plan ahead no matter which one you choose. Each day the place is usually packed.
What’s nearby? Le Marché des Enfants Rouges and L’Atelier des Lumières .
Astair is a classy, shiny, upscale take on the old Paris brasserie with a wickedly timeless aesthetic. Located in the Passage des Panoramas, the oldest covered passageway in Paris, Astair takes advantage of its beautiful glass ceilings and marble walls by offering some chic “outdoor” dining. Inside, the restaurant is a salmon explosion of ’50s and ’60s-era inspired booths and barstools, and a show-stopping circular bar, all with an elegant, jazzy feel. In terms of food, Astair offers their reasonably priced, delightful takes on French classics, like octopus sauté à la provencale (i.e. with some combination of garlic, tomatoes and olive oil), “snail style” grilled sausage with aged mustard and warm goat cheese salad.
What’s nearby? Passage des Panoramas, Opéra Garnier and Grands Boulevards.
Tucked away in the Passage des Panoramas, a beautiful and exciting covered passageway, Canard & Champagne is blunt in its mission—the French love duck and champagne, so why not just sell that? Their menu consists of duck confit, duck breast, (no, just a burger), a daily special, some sides and a surprisingly substantial dessert list. It’s simple, eclectic, inexpensive, delicious and in a great location.
What’s nearby? Museé Grevin, Palais Garnier and Galeries Lafayette.
Le Valentin Jouffroy is a family-owned bakery and sandwich shop located in a covered passageway near the Grands Boulevards that specializes in Alsatian pastries. Grab an individual classic or inventive pastry (depending on what their mood is, the menu changes ) to satisfy your sweets calling or have a whole meal of croque monsieur or quiche. Still need a big, carb-fueled, American breakfast? Split a coffret petit déjeuner consisting of house-made jam, butter, two drinks, bread, bread and more bread with a friend. It may be the best €19 you’ll ever spend.