Perfectly Parisian: Where to Eat in the Capital of France

by Catherine Down


Originally published on The Food Network

Discover the best spots for fluffy souffles, buttery crepes, steak frites, croque monsieur and other enchanting eats in the City of Love.

 

Captivating Classics

Paris’ nickname, The City of Light, does not refer to its cuisine. But croque monsieur, escargots and steak frites — the hearty classic dishes that travelers dream of trying on native soil — can often be quite challenging to find done well in Paris. Classic French food has fallen out of favor with younger Parisians, who relish the novelty of foreign foods like bagels and barbecue. Thankfully, there's a crop of young chefs (and veterans) that continues to revive old-fashioned dishes for a modern audience. If you’re craving the kind of cooking that your imaginary French grandmother would make, this guide has you covered.

Vegetarian

Fresh vegetables are used as decor at the Parisian branch of Israeli fast-casual restaurant Miznon: tomatoes in the window, cauliflower stacked above the stove and crates of broccoli next to your feet. Although the menu is not specifically vegetarian — it features spicy lamb meatballs, baked potatoes stuffed with chicken salad, and a boeuf bourguignon pita, among other carnivorous dishes — there are plenty of excellent options for vegetarians and vegans. Popular items include the whole roasted head of caramelized cauliflower with tahini and the ratatouille-stuffed pita topped with chopped green chiles and a hard-boiled egg. Lines are long, but these sandwiches are worth the wait.

Outdoor Dining

Tucked off Rue du Temple is a beautiful cobbled courtyard that houses both a dance studio and the lovely Grand Coeur restaurant. Be sure to sit outside on the large terrace, where diners hear strains of music and see the dancers in action; there are heat lamps in inclement weather. Grand Coeur, meaning “Big Heart,” is fine dining without any pretension but with, yes, plenty of heart. The seasonally driven menu, designed by Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco of the Michelin-starred restaurant Mirazur in Menton, is a well-executed mix of classic dishes and more unusual pairings like seared foie gras served with a corn pancake and candied citrus, or a classic cod gratin enlivened by the unlikely addition of chayote.

Outdoor Dining

Tucked off Rue du Temple is a beautiful cobbled courtyard that houses both a dance studio and the lovely Grand Coeur restaurant. Be sure to sit outside on the large terrace, where diners hear strains of music and see the dancers in action; there are heat lamps in inclement weather. Grand Coeur, meaning “Big Heart,” is fine dining without any pretension but with, yes, plenty of heart. The seasonally driven menu, designed by Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco of the Michelin-starred restaurant Mirazur in Menton, is a well-executed mix of classic dishes and more unusual pairings like seared foie gras served with a corn pancake and candied citrus, or a classic cod gratin enlivened by the unlikely addition of chayote.

Bakery

Baker Benjamin Turquier wins prizes both for his pastries (first place in the Best Butter Croissant competition in 2015) and for his baguettes, which have landed in the top 10 in the Best Baguette in Paris competition three times. He owns two locations of Tout Autour du Pain just around the corner from one another, so if one happens to be closed, head down the street to the other. You’d be remiss not to get one of his award-winning croissants, but all the classic French offerings are superlative, including the chocolate eclairs and caramelized white chocolate bread. The sandwiches and salads also make for an easy and ideal picnic lunch.

For more, check out the full guide