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Pierre Monetta Courtesy of Restaurant Champeaux

The 38 Essential Paris Restaurants

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Over the last 10 years, Paris has boldly reclaimed its title as the best food city in Europe. The French capital is bustling with a brilliant constellation of new restaurants by talented young chefs from all over the world, plus an inventive and diverse array of casual dining options. There's also been a renaissance of its long-established gastronomic landscape, including traditional bistros, brasseries, and stylish restaurants serving classic French cooking made famous by Escoffier, including dishes like blanquette de veau (veal in cream sauce) and pistachio soufflés.

Prices per person, excluding alcohol:
$ = Less than €10 (USD 11)
$$ = €10 - €35 (USD 11 - 40)
$$$ = €35 - €75 (USD 40 - 83)
$$$$ = More than €75 (USD 83)

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Steak at La Table d'Hotes de Hugo Desnoyer

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According to star butcher Hugo Desnoyer, who supplies many of Paris’s Michelin starred chefs with their meat, the world’s best steak is a sirloin of Limousin beef. “It has the perfect texture and an intense mineral-rich and herbaceous flavor that echoes the pastures where the cattle is raised,” says Desnoyer. Flash-seared and sprinkled with fleur de sel, it’s served medium-rare at his two restaurants, since the French think well-done meat is a sacrilege. [$$$]

Paris–Brest at Chez Michel

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This famous French dessert was created in 1891 in honor of a bicycle race between the two namesake cities, and Brittany-born chef Thierry Breton serves up the best version in either city. At his superb bistro near the Gare du Nord, the Paris–Brest comes to table as a split choux pastry filled with a sublime praline mousse and garnished with caramelized nuts. [$$]

Pork Katsu Sandwich at Abri

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Japanese chef Katsuaki Okiyama used to work at Taillevent and Joel Robuchon, a pedigree that shows through in his superb and affordable lunch menu (€26), which may feature dishes like raw mackerel with an arugula jus, slivered almonds, herbs, and flowers, or cod with a celery-root purée and black-olive emulsion. But the pork katsu sandwich is reason you’ll find lines in the street here on Mondays and Saturdays. The large, juicy breaded pork sandwich comes with a drink and a slice of cake, and makes for a seriously good lunch. (Bonus: Abri has recently opened a superb soba shop nearby at 10 rue Saulnier, 9th Arrondissement.) [$]

Couscous at Zerda Cafe

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Opened in 1946, this excellent North African restaurant serving Algerian Berber cooking is the place to discover why couscous has become one of France’s favorite dishes. The featherweight semolina grains are garnished with your choice of mechoui (lamb marinated in butter and honey), merguez (grilled lamb sausages) or vegetables. A great weekend dining choice, too, since they’re open daily. (Frustratingly, many Paris restaurants are closed on weekends.) [$$]

Cassoulet at Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes

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Chef Daniel Constantin’s version of this exquisitely ruddy stew of beans, fatback, preserved duck, and sausage will be one of the best things you’ve ever eaten. Wash it down with Madiran wine like they do in the cassoulet belt in southwestern France, and don’t be too surprised to spot French president François Hollande dining behind a phalanx of bodyguards — he loves this place. [$$]

Clown Bar

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The reason the beautiful Art Nouveau tiled interior of this extremely popular little restaurant with a strategic location between the Marais and the 11th Arrondissement (where many of the city’s best young chefs are cooking) has a clown theme is it’s right next door to the Cirque d’Hiver (Winter Circus), the charming 1852 vintage theater where circuses once performed. This bolt-hole was built for circus performers and clowns to grab a drink or a quick meal, and if they’re still a few clowns in the crowd there today, it’s mostly mobbed by fans of Japanese chef Atsumi Sota’s brilliant contemporary French small plate menu. The menu changes according to the season and the chef’s inspiration, but you have to order anything with Banka trout and the veal sweetbreads, if they’re on the menu. One way or another, it’s consistently a stand-out showcase of the best casual contemporary French cooking in town.

Le Servan

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Chef Tatiana Levha’s market-driven cosmopolitan French cooking reflects both her French-Russian-Filipino background and her training at two of the most exalted temples of haute cuisine in Paris, Arpège and L’Astrance. Occupying an old cafe with wedding-cake molding on the ceiling, Le Servan pulls an arty young crowd from one of the last authentically bohemian neighborhoods in Paris. A perfect example of her cooking is the steamed baby clams in a chile-spiked, coriander-brightened fish sauce, which is usually on the menu here. But don’t sweat it if they’re not, since everything she cooks is fresh, vivid, and generously served. [$$]

Jambon-Beurre (Ham Sandwich on Baguette) at Chez Aline

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Head for this fab fifties-retro restaurant for the best sandwiches in Paris, including the ultimate French lunch of jambon-beurre — ham on a buttered baguette. If jambon-beurre doesn’t strike your fancy, maybe the baguette stuffed with pot-au-feu meat and veg, or a bread veal cutlet with sauce gribiche, will make you go weak in the knees. [$]

À la Biche au Bois

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There may be a lot of young chefs arranging micro-greens with tweezers and smearing commas of sweet potato puree on plates in Paris these days, but the true gastronomic glory of Gaul is always waiting if you know where to find it. For example, this bistro is the place to eat coq au vin — rooster stewed in red wine — one of the greatest barnyard dishes ever created. It also doubles as the best place in Paris to eat game in season. [$$]

Chocolate Mousse at L’Amarante

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At his Edward Hopper-like bistro near the Bastille, chef Christophe Philippe serves the best chocolate mousse in Paris. It’s made from the sublime chocolate produced by Italian Claudio Corallo on the tiny African islands of Sao Tome et Principe. Unctuous, funky, deep, this dark fluff will leave you with a craving you’ll never, ever escape. [$$]

Onion Soup at Les Philosophes

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Because Hollywood loves expedient visual shorthand, a steaming mink brown bowl of onion soup — rich beef broth loaded with a soft sweet hash of sautéed onions under a cap of melted cheese floating on a crouton buoy — is one of those dishes the whole world thinks of as quintessentially Parisian. Despite its icon status, few restaurants have an eternal stockpot going anymore. That’s why the soup served at this Marais café is such a treat, and it’s only nine Euros to boot. [$]

Crêpes at Breizh Café

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Brittany-born Bertrand Larcher’s brilliant creperies are found everywhere from Cancale to Tokyo. In Paris, Larcher’s kitchen stars first-rate Breton produce, and his outpost in the Marais is a terrific choice for a meal of galettes and crêpes. Go with a smoked-herring-and-potato-filled galette, then tuck into a matcha-and-white-chocolate-mousse-filled crêpe garnished with strawberries. [$]

Aligot at Ambassade d'Auvergne

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Leave it to the French to make mashed potatoes indulgent by whipping them with tomme de l’Aubrac cheese curds and garlic. At this funky old-time tavern, aligot is served as a side dish with grilled sausage, roasted duck breast or confit de canard. If you’re feeling flush, you can get yours with black truffles. [$$]

Jiaozi at Raviolis Chinois Nord-Est

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It’s a hole in the wall, with only 18 places and rudimentary service, but the homemade jiaozi — small Beijing-style dumplings — are probably best meal in Paris you’ll find for a fiver. Served grilled or boiled by the tens, they're stuffed with your choice of pork and green cabbage; mushrooms, beef, and celery; egg, chives, and shrimp; or tofu, mushrooms, and green cabbage. [$]

Soufflé at Restaurant Champeaux

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The dish not to miss at chef Alain Ducasse’s glamorous new brasserie in Les Halles is the superb pistachio soufflé with salted butter caramel sauce. It’s a great buy at €12, and the sweet Sicilian nuts marry beautifully with the rich sauce. The chocolate and Cointreau and orange versions are excellent, too. [$$]

Pierre Monetta Courtesy of Restaurant Champeaux

La Tour Montlhéry - Chez Denise

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This long-running bistro is a sepia-toned Edouard Boubat photo of pre-war Paris come deliciously to life. The bawdy atmosphere and fast wise-cracking service pairs perfectly with a kitchen open until 5 a.m. Also good if you’re feeling offal — the menu offers tripe, kidneys, tete de veau, and pig’s feet. [$$]

Terrine de Campagne at La Régalade Saint-Honoré

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The best part of a meal at any of chef Bruno Doucet’s three reliably good bistros is the unctuous terrine de campagne that’s plunked down on the table with bread and cornichons as a help-yourself hors d’oeuvre. With a crusted top, the luscious loaf of chicken livers and pork spiked with Cognac won’t be there for long, so dig in while you can. [$$]

Tentation de Saint-Antoine at Au Pied de Cochon

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Channel your inner Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern by ordering the Tentation de Saint-Antoine (the Temptation of Saint Anthony), served at this famous brasserie in Les Halles that’s been open nonstop — 24/7 — since it opened in 1947. Saint Anthony is the patron saint of charcutiers, and this plate includes a muzzle, ears, breaded pig’s foot, and a tail with lashings of Béarnaise sauce. [$$]

Ellsworth

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Even in Paris, you don’t always want to make a fuss about where you’re going to eat. When this happens, head for Ellsworth, American chef Braden Perkins’s small plates restaurant, where you can sit at the bar and tuck into some great nibbles without the hassle of making a reservation. Go early and don’t miss the buttermilk fried chicken; the quality of French fowl hits this comfort-food classic out of the park. [$$]

Le Grand Véfour

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The most romantic restaurant in Paris? Le Grand Vefour, the stunningly beautiful and intimate little table in the Palais Royal. The dish to order is this luscious de-boned pigeon, which is stuffed with foie gras, black truffles, and veal forcemeat. [$$$$]

Courtesy of Le Grand Vefour

La Bourse et la Vie

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Chef Daniel Rose’s second Paris restaurant has become one of Paris’s best bistros, because he delivers superb versions of the rock-of-ages French dishes that people yearn to eat. His superb foie gras de canard comes to the table perched on a fresh artichoke heart with a dribble of aspic-like shallot vinaigrette on the side, a brilliant detail. Don’t miss the collier d’agneau provencal (braised lamb neck provencal style either). [$$]

Taloa at A. Noste

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Chef Julien Duboue serves big, juicy, savory taloa — floppy Basque-style sandwiches that are stuffed with confit de canard, hot chorizo, or pork belly. They also serve a terrific menu of Basque tapas, and the upstairs prix-fixe dining room offers outstanding southwestern French farm food that’s been artfully dressed up for Parisians. [$]

Pot-au-Feu at Drouant

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A great pot-au-feu — beef simmered in its own bouillon with root vegetables and marrow bones — is just as existentially satisfying on a summer night as it is during the winter. One of Gaul’s greatest dishes is also the perfect remedy for a hangover or sightseeing exhaustion. The best in Paris is served during Saturday lunch only at Drouant; if you miss it, head for Le Roi du Pot au Feu, but avoid the terrible house wine. [$$-$$$]

Sausage with Potato Puree at Lazare Paris

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Grilled sausage and potato puree just might be the ultimate French comfort-food combo. At his brasserie Lazare, three-Michelin-star chef Eric Frechon serves the best one in town: a sublime grilled saucisse de Toulouse with a butter-rich potato puree made from two different types of potato — ratte de Touquet and agria — sauced with roast chicken jus. The catch? It’s only available on Saturdays. If you’re craving the dish during the rest of the week, head for Les Arlots, a terrific new bistro in the 10th Arrondissement, where the sausage is made in house. [$$]

Valery Guedes from LAZARE, Editions Solar

Veal Sweetbreads at Le Grand Restaurant

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The French have a genius for offal cooking, especially for veal sweetbreads. Maybe you love them already, but if not, there’s no better souvenir to take home from Paris than a newly discovered favorite dish. The place to make this happen is Jean-François Piège’s Le Grand Restaurant: He cooks the sweetbreads on walnut shells in a hot box and serves them with walnut mousseline and morels. [$$$$]

L'Astrance

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The one haute-cuisine restaurant in Paris that’s really, truly worth it? L’Astrance. Chef Pascal Barbot has the most elegantly lyrical gastronomic imagination of any chef working in Paris today, and it’s expressed by dishes that are often spectacularly simple, like his buttermilk and burnt toast crumb soup. The dish is not always on the menu, but if you tell them you’re desperate for it when you make your reservation, Barbot and maître d’hotel Christophe Rohat are such nice guys, they might make it for you. Otherwise, you should beg for the milles-feuille of white mushrooms, apple, and foie gras. [$$$$]

Restaurant David Toutain

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After working with Alain Passard and Marc Veyrat, Toutain first wowed Paris at Agapé Substance, a hole-in-the-wall in Saint-Germain. Now he has his own place, and his constantly changing tasting menus (€55 at lunch, €80 or €110 at dinner) deliver the boldest and most interesting food in Paris. Think dishes like seared foie gras in baked potato bouillon with black truffles; a monochromatic white composition of cuttlefish with yuba; and nearly translucent Parmesan gnocchi, seasoned with the juice extracted from cooking the cheese at very low temperatures for hours. [$$$]

Vegetarian Tasting Menu at Arpege

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Okay, it costs a freaking fortune (€145), but the vegetarian tasting menu by three-Michelin-star-chef Alain Passard is as close to nirvana as Paris can deliver for vegetarians. It’s so good that accompanying non-vegetarians will forget they came as a somewhat selfless gesture, too. Passard’s vegetables come from his own organic farm, and what you’ll get depends on what's available at the time. A sample of Passard’s talent with the bounty of the garden includes dishes like cep mushrooms with lemon and a vol au vent (puff pastry case) filled with baby peas, turnips, and snow peas in a sauce spiked with Cote du Jura wine. [$$$$]

Guy Savoy

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Paris haute cuisine is a nerve-wracking tightrope walk: What if you spend all that money and the meal doesn’t make your brain explode? There are ways to play it safe. Everyday at lunch, Restaurant Guy Savoy reserves one table for guests who want to make a splash without completely destroying the bank. For €110 a head, you choose a starter, main course and dessert from the a la carte menu, then the sommelier will propose several wines by the glass for €10 a piece. The reservation has to be made online, and is only available at noon. Order the artichoke-and-black-truffle soup as your first course and it it will immediately become one of the best things you’ve ever eaten. What happens next is up to you. [$$$$]

Oysters at l'Huîtrerie Régis

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This miniscule, white-painted no-reservations raw bar in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Pres is a pearl, and it serves the best bivalves in Paris. The owner gets them shipped daily from the Marennes d’Oleron region on France’s Atlantic coast. Every customer is required to order at least a dozen oysters, which come with really good bread and excellent salted butter. [$$]

Roast Chicken at Nossa Churrasqueira

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The big wigs claim that the roast chicken at L’Ami Louis is the best in Paris, but most pleebs find its €80 price indigestible, even if the bird serves two. Head for this likable Portuguese rotisserie instead. Located in the Latin Quarter, the beautifully roasted bird is served with garlicky baby potatoes, rice, or green beans, to eat in (€8.5 for a half chicken) or take away (whole bird for €16.50). [$]

Croque Monsieur at Café Trama

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Head for this stylish and easy going Left Bank neighborhood café for the best croque monsieur in town. What makes this grilled ham and aged Comte cheese sandwich transcendental? It’s made with bread from the excellent Poujauran bakery and spiked with a pinch of truffled salt. With a pickle, green salad, and chips on the side, it’s a great deal for €15. [$$]

Joséphine Chez Dumonet

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With its lace curtains, cut-glass room dividers, and bentwood chairs, this century-old bistro is why you put up with all those terrible hours in economy class to get to Paris. The boeuf bourguignon, which is a testament to the Gallic genius of creating a flavor-rich sauce from the juices created by slowly simmering meat, is the best in the city. You must book in advance, and don’t miss the Grand Marnier soufflé for dessert either. [$$$]

Sole Meunière at Le Duc

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Dredged in seasoned flour and sautéed in good butter until it’s golden, the French classic is done to perfection at Le Duc. The pricey seafood restaurant on the Left Bank caters to a power crowd, and the sole meunière is €60 — but if you really love sole, this one will make you dance. [$$$]

Choucroute Garni at Au Bretzel

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Choucroute garni is the ultimate soul food of Alsace, France’s Rhine Valley province on its eastern border with Germany. Warm, salted, fermented cabbage, a staple of the central European diet since the Middle Ages, comes to the table garnished with pork in a variety of declensions, including sausage and smoked loin. The acidic cabbage tempers the fatty richness of the meat, making this dish both delicious and digestible. [$$]

Le Severo

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William Bernet used to be a butcher, so he knows his meat. His steaks are superb, but his pride and joy is the steak tartare he hand chops from premium French beef and then seasons with a light hand. It comes to the table with an avalanche of some of the city’s best frites, too. [$$]

Phở Tài

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The 13th Arrondissement is the largest of Paris’s Asian neighborhoods, with a mixed population originating from China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Head to Pho Tai for an excellent bon-bun composed of freshly made nem (deep-fried spring rolls) and sautéed beef on a bed of rice noodles with an umami-rich sauce. The namesake pho is very good, too. [$]

au Petit Tonneau

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Of course you want to discover a fabulous little bistro in Paris none of your friends have ever heard of. This is the place, and the blanquette de veau — a homey classic of veal in cream sauce with mushrooms, onions, and carrots — is the reason you'll never forget it. At €22, it's a great buy, too. [$$]

Steak at La Table d'Hotes de Hugo Desnoyer

According to star butcher Hugo Desnoyer, who supplies many of Paris’s Michelin starred chefs with their meat, the world’s best steak is a sirloin of Limousin beef. “It has the perfect texture and an intense mineral-rich and herbaceous flavor that echoes the pastures where the cattle is raised,” says Desnoyer. Flash-seared and sprinkled with fleur de sel, it’s served medium-rare at his two restaurants, since the French think well-done meat is a sacrilege. [$$$]

Paris–Brest at Chez Michel

This famous French dessert was created in 1891 in honor of a bicycle race between the two namesake cities, and Brittany-born chef Thierry Breton serves up the best version in either city. At his superb bistro near the Gare du Nord, the Paris–Brest comes to table as a split choux pastry filled with a sublime praline mousse and garnished with caramelized nuts. [$$]

Pork Katsu Sandwich at Abri

Japanese chef Katsuaki Okiyama used to work at Taillevent and Joel Robuchon, a pedigree that shows through in his superb and affordable lunch menu (€26), which may feature dishes like raw mackerel with an arugula jus, slivered almonds, herbs, and flowers, or cod with a celery-root purée and black-olive emulsion. But the pork katsu sandwich is reason you’ll find lines in the street here on Mondays and Saturdays. The large, juicy breaded pork sandwich comes with a drink and a slice of cake, and makes for a seriously good lunch. (Bonus: Abri has recently opened a superb soba shop nearby at 10 rue Saulnier, 9th Arrondissement.) [$]

Couscous at Zerda Cafe

Opened in 1946, this excellent North African restaurant serving Algerian Berber cooking is the place to discover why couscous has become one of France’s favorite dishes. The featherweight semolina grains are garnished with your choice of mechoui (lamb marinated in butter and honey), merguez (grilled lamb sausages) or vegetables. A great weekend dining choice, too, since they’re open daily. (Frustratingly, many Paris restaurants are closed on weekends.) [$$]

Cassoulet at Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes

Chef Daniel Constantin’s version of this exquisitely ruddy stew of beans, fatback, preserved duck, and sausage will be one of the best things you’ve ever eaten. Wash it down with Madiran wine like they do in the cassoulet belt in southwestern France, and don’t be too surprised to spot French president François Hollande dining behind a phalanx of bodyguards — he loves this place. [$$]