Heather, one of our talented Interior Designers at Huff Harrington Design, is heading to Paris with her husband for a “big” birthday. (We’re so happy this wasn’t a surprise, so we can help her plan the trip! ) Of course her first questions have been centered around our favorite restaurants, and as we rattled off the list to her, we realized it would be much more useful to update a blog that we publish every couple of years for her benefit and for others as well.
Keep in mind that our life in Paris is somewhat seven-centric, meaning that we almost always stay in apartments in the 7th Arrondissement. This area suits us perfectly because while it is convenient to everything we love in Paris, it has retained a pleasant neighborhood feel, with lots of small shops, quaint restaurants and pedestrian friendly streets. So the restaurants on this list, unless otherwise noted, tend to all be within walking distance of the Paris Perfect apartments, where we like to stay.
Here are our favorites, in descending order of price, in the 7th Arrondissement:
Le Violon d’Ingres: 01 45 55 15 05, 135, rue Saint-Dominique. A real culinary treat by the well-known chef, Christian Constant, who owns several excellent restaurants in the neighborhood.
Restaurant David Toutain, 29, rue Surcouf, 75007 Paris 01 45 50 11 10. It seems like everybody’s talking about this restaurant opened by the chef who left a couple of big names to start his eponymous restaurant in our hood. The food here is top notch creative for the discerning tastes. Don’t bother to come unless you’re a foodie! Everything on the menu is extremely creative, although a tad serious for our liking.
L’Ami Jean, 01.47.05.86.89: Rue Malar. On the opposite extreme of serious is the almost laughable l’Ami Jean which is as unpretentious, boisterous, crowded and friendly (depending on the mood of the chef) as they come. Fabulous restaurant if you’re in the mood for hearty southwestern food. Atmosphere is funky, the service is efficient but fun, and the food is to die for. Need to have their rice pudding for dessert. (We’ve written a whole blog on it!)
Les Fables de la Fontaine, 01 44 18 37 55, 131, rue St-Dominique. A Christian Constant protégé, David Bottreau, is the chef of this diminutive but elegant restaurant, that specializes in seafood and has some of the most original and spectacular dishes around. Very small and very good.
Le Bon Accueil, 47.05.46.11, 14 rue de Monttessuy. Lovely food and ambiance. Killer view of the Eiffel Tower if you can sit outside, on the sidewalk. Laurent, the head waiter is very accommodating. Tell him we sent you!
Fontaine de Mars, 129 Rue Saint-Dominique 01 47 05 46 44. The quasi typical Parisian bistrot if there ever was one. Very traditional red and white checked tablecloth kind of place (with gorgeous linens, by the way). Quite famous for its limited and very traditional menu. There are often a lot of Americans there – and it was made even more famous, several years ago, when President Obama chose to eat there. Rumor has it that he ordered a hamburger. We’re sure it was delish!
Cafe de l’Alma – A trendy restaurant opened by the owners of the Fontaine de Mars. The food is a mix of fad and fusion, the portions can be a tad small nd the pricesa tad high for what’s on the plate. But it’s still a fun “See and Be Scene” and it’s open on Sunday evenings (although not a great night for the “scene.”) 5 ave Rapp (7th), 01.45.51.56.74.
Pottoka – A haven for gourmets, with a semi-celebrity chef, Stephane Grave whose specialty Basque dishes have garnered quite a following. We’ve liked it so much that we wrote a whole blog about it as one of our top 3 restaurants in Paris: https://blog.huffharrington.com/top-3-paris-restaurants/ 4, RUE DE L’EXPOSITION 75007 PARIS 01 45 51 88 38
L’Excoffier, 18 , rue de l’Exposistion, 45.51.78.08. He used to be the chef at the American Embassy. Intimate and elegant, and medium priced.
- Le P’tit Troquet, 28 rue de l’Exposition. Quaint, charming, traditional and very authentic little bistrot. Nice back room for larger groups.
Auberge Bressane, 16 av de la Motte Picquet, 01 47 05 98 37. Just down the street from the Ecole Militaire metro. A cozy, old fashioned restaurant that serves yummy traditional food.
Les Cocottes, 135 Rue St dominique, 75007. Another Christian Constant restaurant that is modern and casual. Food is excellent but you’re squeezed together like sardines at a counter. Great for lunch. Try their raviolis with lobster sauce and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. No reservations.
Café Constant. 139, rue Saint-Dominique, You guessed it. Christian Constant’s affordably priced bistrot. We think the name should be changed to "Constantly Yummy." Tables are crammed together upstairs but the food is simple and delish. We’ve never ever had a bad meal here. It’s worth the wait and crowds! No reservations.
La Terrasse, Corner of Bosquet and La Motte Piquet, 2 Place de l’Ecole Militaire, 01-45-55-00-02 for the best people watching in the hood. The food is quite good for a bustling bistrot (hint, try their French fries – some of the best we’ve ever tasted!), and it’s an easy place to go and sit outside and watch the world go by. Oh, and ask Meg or Linda about the waiters. That’s a whole other chapter. Let’s just say that they were picked from central casting!
Le Petit Cler, 29 rue Cler, 01-45-50-17-50. We love this bustling and cozy little restaurant, owned by the same folks as the Fontaine de Mars, but on a much simpler and smaller scale. You can’t go wrong here for a light lunch or dinner and the people watching from the terrace is such fun. You will be squeezed with your neighbors, but in Paris, that’s something to get used to!
Le Café du Marché, rue Cler, 38 rue Cler, 01-47-05-51-27. For the best deal in town, and pretty darn good food. The local neighborhood “cantina” where you can’t go too wrong …. But if you’re only in town for a few days, skip this one and head to something a little more special.
- The best “ladies lunch” restaurant: Les Deux Abeilles, run by a mother daughter team, at 189, rue de l’Université , close to the Eiffel Tower. 01-45-55-64-04. It’s a comfortable and quaint little place that is a cross between an English tea shop and visiting your long lost Parisian aunt, who just happened to be a fabulous cook and exquisite pastry chef. A real kiss kiss Parisian ladies’ scene … but don't go there for dinner.
- And for absolutely delicious Italian food: Il Geramondo, on the corner of rue de Grenelle and avenue Bosquet. We like it for takeout, but there is a quaint little quiet restaurant downstairs, if you want something intimate with not a lot of atmosphere. The food is king here. But watch out, the tab for takeout adds up fast (well worth it, though).
- We also love Gloria, on the rue St. Dominique, which has wonderful Italian food and is open on Sunday evenings (which is another plus in a town where most good restaurants close down tight).
Also, dying to try some time:
- Les Ombres, 27 quai Branly, Paris, France 75007 located in the Musée du Quai Branly +33 1 4753 6800. Apparently the view from this unusual rooftop restaurant is to die for, and everything I’ve read alludes to its being a very unique only-in-Paris experience, whatever that means!
- Thoumieux, 79 rue Saint-Dominique, Paris, France 75007 +33 1 47057900 From everything I’ve read, the jury is still out on this restaurant that was recently bought by the Costes brothers (of fancy hotel fame) who brought in a big name chef and redid the decor of what was once the favorite neighborhood bistrot. I’ve heard everything from sensational to overpriced. Will report on it someday!
- Reed, 11 bis rue Amelie. This one has our name written all over it, so I’m sorry we haven’t tried it yet. It’s a cooking school during the day and a restaurant some evenings (check the schedule because it varies) and from everything we’ve heard, it’s fabulous. One chef, Catherine Reed, does it all. It’s on our list but if you beat us to it, let us know what you think!
And finally, our own favorite little specialty restaurants that are not in the 7th (yes, we do venture out from time to time!):
- For the best steak frites in town (and that’s all they serve so your decision will only be rare or well done): Le Relais de l’Entrecote. We like the original one at 15,rue Marbeuf +33 1 49 52 07 17 but it does get very crowded and the one on the Avenue de Montparnasse is easier to get in to. They open at 7 (a rarity for French restaurants) so if you are craving steak frites, plan to be there to line up in front by 6:40 at the latest.
- For the best souffles in town : Le Souffle, 36 rue Mont Thabor 75001 Tel: 01 42 60 27 19; that’s right, that’s all they do, appetizer, main course and dessert. But boy are they good!
- For one of the smallest restaurants we’ve ever been in , but delicious just the same, try “Le Timbre” on the rue du 3, rue st Beuve (6th). David Lebovitz says about this restaurant, “Every time I eat at Le Timbre, I wonder why I don’t eat at this petit restaurant more often. It’s very small (hence the name, which means “the stamp”) and features very fresh food. Last time I ate there, a French gastronomy club had taken over the restaurant for lunch and were enjoying themselves immensely. And so was I.”
- For the prettiest interior of a quintessential French Brasserie, try Le Grand Colbert — which is also known for starring in the movie Something’s Gotta Give. We love taking our ladies there on our trips because it’s so Parisian and pretty – and because the Maitre D’ has a gentle crush on Linda so the service is always top notch! 2 rue Vivienne, Paris 75002. 01-42-86-87-88.
- For the best, fast, in-and-out no frills kind of lunch place, try the Cuisine de Bar at 8 rue du Cherche-Midi, +33 (0) 1 45 48 42 59. They offer a great variety of open sandwiches made with delicious Poilane bread (the bakery is next door) and the prix fixe menu of sandwich, salad, wine and coffee for 14 euros cannot be beaten. Plus, for once in your life in a Paris restaurant, you’ll be able to eat quickly!
And our ab-fab best restaurants – for which you will need several weeks’ notice for a reservation:
Verjus: 52 rue de Richelieu, 75001, 01 42 97 54 40: We were first introduced to this restaurant by a client whose daughter was a childhood friend of the Chef’s wife. I didn’t know what to expect but suffice it to say, was completely blown away by the surprising tasting menu that is their standard offering. We’ve been there a number of times since, and each time, the menu is fresh, fun and interesting, and has never disappointed. Verjus has a huge following – among American tourists (who tend to be there in the 7’s) and Parisians, who arrive for the 9 pm shift – so be sure to reserve well in advance.
- We were so sad to hear that thie talented chef Daniel Rose (who also has two other restaurants in Paris and has opened, with Stephen Starr, the very chic and fancy “Le Coucou” in NYC), has closed our long-time favorite restaurant in Paris, Spring. Luckily for Daniel Rose fans, there is a small tapas restaurant that is La Bourse et La vie, 12 Rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris. We’ve had great meals at this charming little restaurant that is an American chef’s spin on French classics, like steak frites, foie gras, and pot au feu. Located in the hip and fun restaurant row of the 2nd Arrondissement.
- Not far from La Bourse et La Vie is still our number one choice (with an unfortunate reservation system that makes it almost impossible to book), Frenchie, 5 Rue du Nil, 75002, 01 40 39 96 19. We have been lucky enough to get through on the reservation line on numerous occasions and to sit at the “Table du Chef” which means share a counter that overlooks the careful food prep area. If you want to spend your meal mesmerized by the intricate detailing that goes in to creating delicious and beautiful food, book that table! It’s a real treat.
- And finally, the next restaurant we are dying to try: Baieta, 5 rue de Pontoise, Paris 75005. 01-42-02-59-19. The brainchild of one of the youngest Michelin starred chefs in France, Julia Sedefdjian, 24, who left one of our other faves (Fables de la Fontaine) to create the kind of restaurant where she and her two associates said they’d be most comfortable, with an emphasis on food rather than décor or hype. We’re hoping to try it out on our next buying trip in June but it may be tough to get a reservation given the rave review it received in the NYT, May 5th. We’ll let you know!
So this is just a taste of our favorite tried and true restaurants in Paris. We of course welcome suggestions so that we can expand our repertoire (not to mention our waist lines!), so please let us know what we’re missing! Here are a few recommendations we’ve received from readers:
- “Willi’s Wine Bar – 13 Rue des Petits Champs – iconic posters, recently written up in one of the many food magazines we receive as a place to go
- La Cordonnerie – 20 rue Saint Roch Phone: 01 42 60 17 42
Owner & Chef – Hugo, Wife – Valerie, Dog – Bliss. Near the Louvre. Serve lunch & for dinner. Call ahead. Very small. Sit in one of the booths across from the kitchen. It’s fun to watch Hugo cook. Was previously his father’s restaurant.
- Le Tastevin – Î Île Saint Louis – 46 rue St Louis en l’ile 75004 Paris 01 43 54 17 31 Not expensive (by Paris standards). Window table for two is awesome. We take a taxi ride home afterwards asking the driver to take us by the Arc de Triumphe and get a great view of all the Paris sites by night. (We just heard from a reader that unfortunately this restaurant has closed ... but there are others on the Ile St. Louis and it's still worth the visit to this little island of XVIIth century gorgeousness!)
- Restaurant Kei. Japanese French. The chef is going for his third Michelin star and I have no doubt he will earn it! We had the petit tasting menu and I could not imagine any more food than what was served. Excellent service, amazing meal though the lights could be a bit more dim to create a more romantic style restaurant. Great place to bring a few girlfriends!
- Also go to the top of the Peninsula Hotel for a drink during good weather. It’s a remarkable place to meet interesting people and the views can’t be beat.”
Thank you for your suggestions!
If you have any other suggestions for Heather or for us … let us know! And if this list doesn’t suffice, you may want to read more in-depth reviews in our favorite restaurant blog, Paris by Mouth. David Lebovitz and his team do a fabulous job of reviewing in depth some of the restaurants on our list … and will give you suggestions for many many more, as well.
Bon appétit – et bon voyage!
P.S. We still have a few openings for our Buying Trip to Paris in March 2020, and we promise we'll take you to a few our favorites on this list if you join us!