Deciding where to eat in Paris is, in all honesty, a potentially “traumatic” experience. There are just so many great choices.
Isn’t it fabulous!
Paris is the perfect hunting ground for the true foodie and dedicated gastronome. You’ll always find your prey. It’s one of those divine cities where exceptional culinary experiences shine.
Of course, there’s no where better than Paris to discover the best in Michelin-starred dining.
And naturally, it’s the place to learn “hands on” about the long and distinguished history of French cuisine, including the latest trends like the Parisian bistronomie movement.
But, like any big city, there are always disappointments. There is the risk you’ll stumble upon a mismatch. There are “let downs”, those enticing and “much talked about” venues that just don’t deliver on promises.
For the traveler, it’s never easy to know what to avoid and where to go. But you do always have the locals to guide you.
When it comes to choosing where to eat in Paris, like anywhere, ask the locals. They’re in-the-know.
… and with this post, we’ve made “asking the locals” a little easier. We’ve started compiling a list of popular choices by local Parisians to help you decide where to eat in Paris next time you visit.
Let’s get started with 4 fun dining picks.
Where to eat in Paris to be snapped back in time
Dining out in Paris isn’t only about great food. Atmosphere, ambiance and authenticity is important, too. This first pick will deliver that in abundance.
Have you seen Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris? It’s wonderful. Well worth your time. There’s a wonderful scene in the movie where Gil meets with Hemingway for a heady conversation about literature, art and life. That scene takes place in one of our favorite dining spots in Paris, Le Polidor.
Le Polidor is a very pleasant old wine bar and restaurant in Paris’ 6th arrondissement, the mythic Parisian Latin Quarter. Its location is perfect for a diner date after a day of sightseeing. Go there after strolling through the “must visit” Jardin du Luxembourg. It’s just a stones throw away.
Allen’s film did not make Le Polidor famous. Far from it. Famous people have been dining there since 1854. Victor Hugo, Ernest Hemingway, Paul Valerie and Arthur Rimbaud were all, in their day, regular customers.
Thankfully, it’s kept it’s authentic décor intact. So too it’s good reputation for serving quality traditional French cuisine.
At Le Polidor, you’ll find the classics of French cuisine on the menu, like egg mayo, snails, ribeye or sirloin steak. Veal blanquette, salted pork with lentils, flank of steak with shallots and, of course, the famous streak tartar are also regulars.
Like all quality restaurants, the chef gives attention to sourcing high grade local produce. Le Polidor prides itself on serving 100% French meats sourced from renowned suppliers in Normandy, Limousin and Acquitaine.
The wine cellar will please, too. There’s an impressive list of French wines to choose from. Take your pick from a vast selection from the top wine producing regions, appellations and domains (Bordeaux, Burgandy, Rhone Valley, Loire, Alsace, Ardeche, Province and more).
There are wines for all tastes and budgets, starting at 6 euros a glass. For the more discerning, you can find your pleasure by exploring the upper range of the most prestigious wines. The restaurant boasts a listing of some 20,000 bottles in reserve.
Eat at Le Polidor
Address: 41 rue Monsieur le Prince, 75006 PARIS
Telephone: +33 1 43 26 95 34
Travel to the South of France in the center of Paris
To experience Southern French food in Paris, try Chez Janou. You’ll find it in Paris’ 3rd arrondissement, on a quiet corner behind the Places de Vosges. That’s quiet a prime piece of real estate!
Chez Janou is one of those lively and convivial places. It’s fabulous. The tables are so close together you’ll feel like you’re sharing table with your neighbor. Conversations will flow, inevitably.
It’s decorated very randomly, yet charmingly. Old posters, paintings and southern French nostalgia line the walls.
While you wait for your table, head to the bar for a Kir (a popular French cocktail made with a measure of crème de cassis topped up with white wine). Sip away and revel in the buzz of this busy spot.
The cuisine at Chez Janou is as close as you’ll get to Provençal in Paris. Try dishes like warm goats cheese with rosemary, fried smelts, grilled lamb, rouget with tapenade and entrecôte with fries. Taste the ratatouille or tapenade and anchovy spreads served chilled on toast. Perhaps the gratinéed mussels served in their shells and heavily seasoned will tempt you. Or maybe you’ll go for another southern classic, like “Brandale de morue”, a salted cod with mashed potatoes. Finish off with a lavender-scented crème brulée.
And don’t forget to check out the “Pastis” (an anise-flavored spirit and apéritif particularly popular in Southern France). Chez Janou offers an impressive selection of 80 different types.
Eat (at) Chez Janou
Address: 2 Rue Roger Verlomme, 75003 PARIS
Telephone: +33 1 42 72 28 41
Have some fun eating in Saint-Germain des Prés
Try Le Petula in Saint-Germain des Prés in the 6th arrondissement. It’s quaintly tucked away down a small side street.
Le Petula is a fun café / restaurant with a modern décor and relaxed atmosphere. Having said that, it’s also almost always full. Locals love it for the casual and authentically French dining experience in what’s usually a tourist flooded area.
The menu at Le Petula is quite extensive. You’ll find a great selection of traditional French cuisine. Try one of their two or three course meals for lunch or dinner.
Starters include a créme brûlée of frois gras with spicy honey bread and salad or the smoked salmon paté with ricotta and crushed tomatoes.
Mains include dishes like honey chicken tagine with prunes and coriander or parmentier of confit de canard served with mashed potatoes and salad.
For a sweet finish, there’s half-cooked chocolate cake and vanilla cream or the crisp fried banana, caramelized and served with vanilla ice cream.
Eat at Le Petula
Address: 6 rue des Ciseaux, 75006 PARIS
Telephone: +33 1 44 41 01 09
Go casual for cocktails and local conversations
When you’re away and taking in the sites all day, every day, there comes a time when you simply want to keep it simple and go casual.
Take a break and relax at The Red House. It’s a perfect choice for that. This is where Parisian bartenders choose to go after work.
“It’s the rare Paris establishment where you can enjoy a classy cocktail while wearing chucks and ripped jeans, and still feel totally at home.”
It’s the perfect bar to hang out in to meet the locals. The staff are friendly and the quality of the drinks and music is excellent.
Now the Red House is very well known as a bar and cocktail joint. You won’t be disappointed in that department. But upstairs, there is also a full restaurant. It, too, is excellent. The menu changes with the seasons, so you’re sure to get something fresh and inspired.
Dining at the bar, too, is a fabulous option. Join the locals who line up to fill their bellies on taco nights! And don’t miss the fried chicken. It’s legendary.
Eat at The Red House
Address: 1 bis, rue de la Forge Royale, 75011 PARIS
Telephone: +33 1 43 67 06 43
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Also check out these exceptional fine dining experiences in Paris with unique and inspiring locals.