I spent a lot of time deciding on the perfect three restaurants for our Paris dinners. I casually asked my oldest friend Rosie where she ate in Paris last summer, and she sent me all of her research – 22 pages of research! Thank you, Rosie!! That lady knows how to eat well. I poured through Rosie's research, and also found these sources helpful:
Heidi's list of places she loves at 101 Cookbooks
May 2012 issue of Bon Appétit, many of the articles are online here
I hate a wasted meal. I hate eating something that I don't love. For me, this is not only incredibly disappointing, but I feel as though I've been cheated out of a good experience. I've missed out on something. There is so much good food out there, and I don't have time to waste on the bad or mediocre. The thing I've found about Paris is that there are a lot of disappointing (and expensive) meals to be had there. I've always just eaten at places that look good or that are conveniently located near my hotel, and I've been mostly disappointed. Not this trip - I did a ton of research - and it paid off. We loved everything we ate, and the food was the highlight of the trip for me.
With only three dinners, this was a hard choice (our Google map had 30 restaurants on it and we could only pick three!), but here are our three dinner picks. I called ahead about a week in advance for all of these to make reservations.
Le Jardin d’en Face – this is in Montmarte, near the Abbesses metro stop on rue des trois frères. They have typical French food. I started with a Roquefort terrine with pears, and then I had lamb and Andrew had a steak frîtes. I went here for the first time several years ago when I was in Paris visiting Rosie. We went with my (now) brother-in-law, who I had just met a few hours earlier and his friend who was studying there. Her French boyfriend had turned her onto this place. It is tiny and intimate and very charming. It has a special place in my heart. This place is really good and it is very cheap for Paris – our whole dinner including apéritifs, a bottle of wine, entrées and main dishes was only about 70 euros. I think it is in some European guidebooks now, but it is still charming and off the beaten path for Americans. It is very small – only about 10 tables so reservations are a must. People were still being turned away at 11pm on a Tuesday night! After dinner we strolled around Montmarte and Sacré Coeur, and there were lots of options of cute bars to stop into for a night cap.
29 Rue des 3 Frères 75018 Paris, France
+33 1 53 28 00 75
|The best steak frîtes of my life! At Bistro Paul Bert.|
Le Bistro Paul Bert – also a charming, classic French experience. They have a 36 euro fixed price menu or you can order à la carte, but I think most everyone goes for the prix fixe. I started with white asparagus and Andrew had scallops and then we both had the steak frîtes. According to the blogosphere, this place is supposed to have the best steak frîtes in Paris, and I believe it. It was certainly the best I’ve ever had. Sooooo good! They serve it with a béarnaise sauce, but it is on the side. For dessert we had the epic cheese plate with lots of really tasty cheese - I don't know exactly what any of them were, but that was part of the fun. They are known for one of their desserts – Paris Brest – and I saw a lot of people order that, but we couldn’t resist the cheese. This place serves bread from Eric Kayser, also known on the blogosphere as the best baguette in Paris. The bread truly was amazing, and we partly ordered the cheese plate to have more of it. All around a perfect French meal. I loved it here and will be going back. I think there are other really great restaurants on this street too – 6 Paul Bert for one, but that looked a little more fancy. I’d recommend a reservation here to be safe.
18 Rue Paul Bert 75011 Paris, France
+33 1 43 72 24 01
Breizh – Amazing! I could tell Andrew was a little reluctant when I told him we were spending one of our precious meals in Paris eating crêpes - he was worried that he would go away hungry - but he was not disappointed. They serve buckwheat crepes in the Bretagne style. They also have oysters, which were a fun treat and pretty good, and lots of choices of cidre. A bonus of ordering an appetizer is that they will bring you bread and Bordier butter, which is melt.in.your.mouth pure amazing! This place is also very affordable for Paris. This place is in the Marais, and it is pretty small so reservations are a must.
109 Rue Vieille du Temple 75003 Paris, France
+33 1 42 72 13 77
Other places I researched but just didn’t have time for:
Aux Lyonnais – I really wanted to go here for quenelles, but we just didn’t have time. It’s in a 1890 bistro so I’m sure it’s very charming.
Verjus – this place was opened by a couple from Seattle. They have a wine bar upstairs or a formal resto downstairs. I would like to go the wine bar for dinner on my next visit because French food is so heavy, and I thought it would be a nice change to have French food cooked with a Seattle spin.
Le Verre Volé – another wine bar that is supposed to be good. I don’t think they have much food here, just charcuterie.
L’Ami Jean – this place is highly recommended by Bon Appétit and it seems to be more suited for a late night dinner.