Postcard from Paris: A Handful of Our Favorite Neighborhood Spots

Postcard from Paris: A Handful of Our Favorite Neighborhood Spots

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We hear it so often lately from all of you, our clients, friends and family: "we're headed to Paris - where should we eat?!"

With Ann now running Huff Harrington Paris at 14 Rue Augereau and living almost full-time in the 7th arrondisement, we feel like our list of local restaurants, cafes and bistros is pretty spot-on, with local being the magic word.  Like all the arrondissements, the 7th feels like a little village, with its own personality and vibe. You get to know the shopkeepers, the dry cleaner, the cafe owner across the street and the cheesemonger. And yes, there are plenty of tourists around  because the Eiffel Tower is right there. This part of the 7th feels a little like the Upper East Side of New York City: a little quiet but tres chic, very beautiful and very livable.  

When Huffingtons are arriving in Paree from this side of the pond, here are a handful of restaurants we make a beeline for:

Rue Cler: a delightful, pedestrian street tucked off of Rue de Grenelle. It's touristy but also you'll see neighbors doing their daily shopping or cute French moms and dads riding their bikes to work or walking their kids to the elementary school that's right there. There are literally dozens of restaurants and brasseries, not to mention fruit and cheese shops, fish mongers, florists, chocolatiers and ice cream spots.  Top faves for lunch, dinner or an apero: 

Le Petit Cler: it's petit, indeed but there's a little outside terrace and the traditional French menu is always dependable with daily specials.

Cafe Central: there are several cafes along Rue Cler but for some reason, we always gravitate to Cafe Central. It's got a great vibe and is a perfect spot for people-watching. PS: we love the goat cheese salad.

Rue Cler is also a great place to pick ingredients for an impromtu picnic next to the Eiffel Tower.

Five seconds away at Ecole Militaire is La Terrasse, a bustling brasserie that is a little touristy, but who cares?! It's fun, busy and the food is dependable.  And the waitstaff all look like they model in their spare time. Try to sit outside for great people watching or in the lovely downstairs restaurant. 

Off Rue St. Dominique on Rue Malar is L'Ami Jean, a jam-packed, noisy establishment that pays homage to the cuisine of southwestern France.  The food is heavenly and don't leave without having the rice pudding, seriously! Reservations necessary - way in advance if possible.

Also on Rue St. Dominique is the venerable La Fontaine de Mars, also focusing on southwestern French cuisine.  With its charming red and white checked tablecloths and lively atmosphere, it's one of our faves. Reservations necessary.

Au Bon Accueil, at 14 rue de Monttessuy, has been around for a long time and is now is possession of a Bib Gourmand award from the Michelin Guide.  It focuses on fresh, daily menus.  We find it best for a date night or a quiet dinner.

A tried and true favorite with newcomers to Paris and French cuisine is the snug,  sweet P'tit Troquet on rue de l'Exposition. 

Right across the street from Huff Harrington on rue Augereau is the darling little Cafe de Mars - we've become good friends with them (they sometimes pour the bubbles for us at Huff Harrington when we're having a gathering) and their menu is all about fresh, healthy and tasty. Plus they are sooo friendly!


If Italian or pizza sounds good, there are plenty of options around the 7th, including several small and reliable Italian restaurants on rue de Grenelle and rue St. Dominique (we like Gloria).

Does something a little more refined appeal to you? Here's a shout out to the famous Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower and something that Ann has raved about:  an over-the-top meal on the Don Juan II or the Ducasse Sur Seine. Dinner is served aboard a river boat so you cruise up and down the Seine while you dine. What could possibly be better?

There are literally hundreds of restaurants in this 'hood and we're barely scratching the surface.  But we love to support all the neighborhoods spots and hope you'll enjoy them, too.

 Finally, a few tips for dining in France:

Breakfast: usually from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.  You'll find everything from croissants to a tartine (a slice of baguette smothered in the best butter and jam) to yogurt, fruit, eggs, avocado toast and an assortment of slices of salami and charcuterie-style cured meats. But don't expect eggs for the typical French breakfast.

Lunch: usually between noon and 2 p.m.  We love that the French take a real break for lunch to enjoy a full meal, complete with a little glass of wine and an espresso to finish.

Dinner: unless you're at a brasserie, which are usually all-day, full-service, most restaurants won't even dream of seating you before 7 p.m.

You will never be rushed from your table and, unlike here in the U.S., you may have to flag your server down for "l'addition" (the bill).  French restaurant workers are salaried so tipping is at your discretion, somewhere around 10% is great - unless you're with a big group and the service has been over the top.  You can add the tip to the check but we always try to leave cash. And by the way, please address your waiter as "monsieur" and your waitress as "madame".  There will be no "hi, I'm Guillaume and I'll be serving you today" banter - waiters and waitresses are all business and very professional. 

The French (and Europeans in general) speak so much more softly in public places than Americans do, so just do a volume check if you're noticing eyerolls from your neighbors. We say that from experience!

Order the daily specials and experiment with something you've never tried before.  Enjoy the delicious wines and beverages of France and sample their dozens of mineral waters.  Coke and Coca Lite are pretty much offered everywhere but iced tea might get you a raised eyebrow. And remember that ice is still a special commodity in France, so don't be surprised if you're "Coca" arrives with only one little cherished ice cube!

What little gems have you uncovered on your trips to Paris? We'd love to be in the know.  Bon appetit! 


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