There are those places that have that je ne sais quoi. They aren’t in guidebooks and just like in your hometown, touristy things usually aren’t the best. These are the spots that Parisians are trying to keep all to themselves (so shhh, don’t tell them we told).
This place is the embodiment of one of our favorite trends in Parisian food scene (maybe except fleur de oranger everything) — farm-to-table, which means all the ingredients come from friendly farmers and agriculturalist in the close proximity to the capital. This results in an ephemeral menu, consisting French dishes made from seasonal ingredients, cooked and served in a way that is just oh-good-heavens delicious. From the escargots to their delicious ~spicy~ deserts, this place is sure to deliver.
DEETS: farm-to-table, closed on the weekends, French, price for value, photogenic as heck
Abandon all expectations, you who enter here — Mokonuts is ~something else~. On everyday basis they are a chill, daytime cafe with an almost Nordic-vibe and wood decor but the kitchen, manned (womanned?) by a wife-husband team is cranking out real magic — Lebanese-inspired lunches and light breakfasts made with thoughtfully-sourced ingredients…And then there are the cookies — considered by top chefs around the globe (not exaggerating) to be among the best desserts in Paris– be sure to order yours before with your savory course as they will likely have flown out the door by the time your do the scarpetta with your labneh. (For dinner, check out their experimental concept resto nearby– Mokoloco. )
If you’re a culture-vore, you’ll find here way more than just great food (although it’s here as well, of course). First created for humble student of Beaux-Arts de Paris, this little brasserie is (literally and figuratively) a historical place. Surrounded by numerous art galleries, antique shops and bookstores it naturally became a popular spot for artists in those more ~bohemian~ times. Their menu is indisputably French, as you can get here everything, from a croque monsieur to caviar with champagne. There’s also a big terrace with a view to the stunning Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, famously occupied by Ernest Hemigway as well as Julia Roberts and a tiny bar room, which Jim Morrison always called his favourite and where Taylor Swift recorded a video to one of her songs. There’s just something that in four walls filled with known artist’ artwork, who used to pay their debts with paintings that no storytelling can pass on to you… Just come and see (and eat) for yourself.
DEETS: lunch, dinner, open daily, hidden gem, artsy, low-key an art gallery
This is this laid-back friendly neighborhood bar you know from back home, but ~make it French~. Sport channel, cheap beer, fries and burgers (or more like red wine and fried steak, to keep it more authentic) and a bunch of locals, just living their life. Want to leave something special behind? Bring your ID photo and some tape and stick it to the their famous photo wall — now no one can try to tell you’re not one of us.
DEETS: French, café, late night, open daily, breakfast, lunch, dinner, le Marais, cheapest pint in town
Le Verre Volé
Just in front of the trendy hangout spot, le Canal St. Martin, hidden behind a completely random, nondescript (and frankly, somewhat charmless) storefront of mostly glass block, is some of the best new French food one can find in Paris: Le Verre Volé. Add its quite reasonable price point and it’s a must-visit. Our advice: let them recommend wine by the glass for each course as they are wine virtuosi, and don’t skip dessert. Their talents will take you all the way to the finish line. Another insider scoop: this is one of the few restos in Paris where we advise to skip the outdoor seating. It’s too close to idling traffic to be pleasant. Afterwards, take a bottle of wine to go and join the cool kids sitting by the Canal. Public drinking is prohibited in France, but that stops absolutely no one.
DEETS: lunch, dinner, open daily, where the cool kids hang, more style than money, the Paris20 best of, hidden gem, new French, wine for days
Le Repaire de Cartouche
Do you like french food and are brave enough to try it no matter what? If the answer is yes, this is the spot for you. A family-run establishment, it feels like a secret known only to the locals. You may have to struggle with a typical Parisian service and hold back the urge to check the ingredients of their famous pâtés and terrines, but if you persuade the waiter to give you a taste of one of the hidden in their cellar bottles of wine, you’ll never be the same afterwards.
ADDRESS: 8 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire (11th arr.)
Late night bar and kitchen in Le Marais? Yes, please! This centrally located spot is definitely on your route. For a plush and chic French dinner with nothing old-school about it, book a table at Pamela Popo. The cocktails really steal the show so why not take dessert at the bar? (Betcha can’t drink just one…) OR –sit outside and get some of that je-ne-sais-quoi but in the people-watching department as, just a few heavy breaths-length across the little medieval alleyway, is the newly refurbished swingers’ club. Watch the comings and going as you order a third round of their inventive and stylishly-presented cocktails. This is truly one of Paris’ hidden gems nestled in the historic district of Le Marais. Thanks to the uniquely charming and energetic team running the front of the house, we always leave with a smile. And a buzz.
Freddy’s is hard to categorize. It’s contemporary French with an Asian touch and a laidback vibe. The quality of the food (which punches WAYYY above its price point) makes me think the chill vibes do not extend to the kitchen where they must be working pretty hard to make such deliciousness happen. Creamy grilled eggplant, mascarpone with fried onions, a green bean salad with apricots… now that I write it, none of this sounds as good as it actually is. Trust us here and get in line (no reservations taken). Use their expertise and let them pick the wine by the glass to go with each small plate. Non, you didn’t come to Paris for Chicken Teriyaki but you can’t pass this one up. (You just might ask for a refill…) Freddy’s is the type of place where you end up reordering your entire meal, but don’t you dare skip dessert. When you’ve finally had enough, hit the streets to bask in the chic St. Germain des Pres district while you the glow from the inside out from all that clever wine.
This Parisian café and late night eatery has been open for more than 100 years and has reigning popularity. From first glance, Au Petit Fer à Cheval is the size of a shoe box with a smattering of outdoor seating, but fear of small spaces shouldn’t stop you from ponying up to one of France’s smallest bars. Once inside, the stylishly shabby atmosphere will engulf any qualms. Plus, the affordable snacking, lunch, and more substantial plate options will have you claiming a table to stay awhile.
DEETS: French bistro, late night, breakfast, lunch, dinner, 4th arrondissement
Open daily and for late night (but don’t try going between 3pm-7pm because that’s nap time people), this diamond in the rough is perfect for post-bar stumbling eats or as next day hearty hangover grub. While graffiti on the outside might feel off-putting, that’s no ordinary teenage attempt at self-expression — what you have here is the now, unfortunately rare, privilege of laying eyes upon is a little something from THE OG of Paris street art –the irreplaceable Miss.Tic. (Why line up for the Mona Lisa when you can see the real deal? ) (RIP a Paris street-art legend…) and inside, the red and white tablecloth-clad tables feel as if your grandma is taking you on a picnic of South West cuisine.
Ever wish you had a French grandma, tucked away in the countryside somewhere charming, eager to show her love through cooking rustic country food for hours and hours? Sorry you are so foreign and not a lucky Frenchie with a « Mamie » in a stone cottage, rocking the copper pots, but this is your chance to pretend. Warning for the lactose intolerant: either prepare for the inevitable or do what every other lactose intolerant person does and do oat milk in your coffee on this day, ya know, for ~balance~. Le Plomb du Cantal is known for its dairy-rich recipes. But for all you blessed regular folks, this bistro is here to transport you to the Auvergne countryside through dining and wine-ing. Think rustic, think heavy, think delicious and truly French. Also not a touristy location, this is where actual Parisians go when they want to feel like they are visiting Mamie.
There must be something in the water, and by water I mean red and white checkered table clothes because this classic Aveyron bistro is mmm-mmm delicious. Along with the warm atmosphere, you’ll get a kick out of the medieval decor; coats of armor, tapestries, the works. Their menu is hearty and everything is a good as if Mamie was cooking it up herself in the kitchen. Here is where you can try Aligot, the French country potatoes and cheese (it’s always CHEESE, isn’t it???) specialty which we rec pairing with a ‘saucisse’ or steamed sausage. (Put some ‘moutarde’ on that like a proper Frenchie…) It’s all kindly topped off with very nice-to-your budget prices.
DEETS: French (aveyron), lunch, dinner, closed Sundays, mid-day closure (4–6pm)
Désirée is a café/florist hybrid (stop me if you’ve heard this before) that serves drinks and lunch on one hand, and provides stunning floral arrangements for weddings and parties on the other. Their café offers homemade baked goods, sandwiches, and a rotating list of daily savory specials in addition to their short but curated drink list. And of course, the simple, white café that specializes in edible plants is decorated with the most darling floral arrangements, resulting in a charming, warm aesthetic.
DEETS: flower shop, breakfast, brunch, closed Mondays, 11th arrondissement
Let’s be honest, many of us choose where to eat based off the um, drink selections, rather than the food. Welcome to Vivant 2. They have a robust wine menu and full bar (yay!), and for those coming in hungry-hungry, a couple large plates curated by Mexican-American chef Rob Mendoza. What chef has cooking up is not to be missed, so sharable plates are a must to snack on. Sadly, they’re only open for dinner, but you can hope to grab a table up until 11pm (although we do recommend a reservation because this restaurant is quiiiite narrow and therefore lacks ample seating).
One of the late-nightest late night places, Café Charlot is open until 2am, so there’s no need to worry about scrambling out of the club early to eat. But if 1am food shoveling is not your scene, they are open for all the other meals too (including brunch!). The menu is pretty classic for a café; offering burgers, salads, and tasty salty snacks. Plus, most of the wines on the menu are available by the carafe. There’s no need for clubbing when you could be wine-tipsy and gathered with your friends. An unexpected see-and-be-seen scene (or, in the case of your dear Editor-in-Mischief, stood up here on my first ever Tinder date…?) is afoot here, but with burgers and brunch…
DEETS: French, café, late night, open daily, breakfast, lunch, dinner, le Marais
Any restaurant can kill it with friendly service and a quaint atmosphere, but chef Maximilian Wollek’s imaginative approach to entrées and desserts makes this restaurant special (as does its spot on the Michelin guide). It’s recommended to make a reservation as they fill up well in advance despite having two stories available for dining (yes, it’s that good).
The restaurant inside the charming boutique hotel offers an all day café and bar that’s equal parts cozy and vintage. Le Pigalle Restaurant has a tapas-style menu and an ample cocktail menu for a relaxed dining experience. So whether you’re a hotel guest looking for an easy breakfast before you hit up the hilariously tacky sex shops of Pigalle like the ‘Sexodrome’ or just passing by as you make your way to a date with alcohol, (this is a majot nightlife hood…) Le Pigalle is an excellent decision.
This Parisian « bistrosteria » is under the direction and ownership of chef Simone Tondo where he continues to enrich his grandmother’s recipes and incorporate new techniques for the public to taste. From casseroles to soups, everything about this experience feels like home, if home was a Michelin star restaurant, that is. You can sit ‘outside’ in the covered passage or ‘inside’ in the former printer’s workshop-turned-dining room.