The number one question I get asked by people visiting Paris is also the question I used to have the hardest time answering: Can you recommend some great restaurants?
This question always stumped me, in part because I haven’t even made a dent in the vast restaurant culture of Paris, but also because I am not what anyone would consider a “foodie.” I’m more like a “it tastes good and it’s here -ie.”
Between living on the tight budget of an au pair and being admittedly very easily impressed by everything I eat in France (because let’s be real, the food here is amazing), I hadn’t really given thought to which restaurants and foods were absolute must-do’s. But everyone kept asking and I realized I was doing myself (and all of you!) a real injustice by not discovering the best eats in Paris!
So I got to thinking, and eating, and put together my list of Non-Cliché Foods You Must Eat in Paris. This list is going to take you beyond the typical baguette and escargot posts that exist in the world, and instead lead you to discover restaurants favored by locals. And beyond just listing the restaurant, I will describe the item you should order. 🙂
I hope you find this helpful – let me know if you try any of them!
CROISSANT, DES GÂTEAUX ET DU PAIN – €1.50
I know, I know. I said this wasn’t a cliché list yet item numéro un is a croissant… do I even know the meaning of the word “cliché?” Hear me out! This isn’t just any croissant. And you must try it when in Paris. It’s non-negotiable.
Take everything you know about boulangeries and throw it out the window. Des Gâteaux et Du Pain is like the Rolls Royce of patisseries in Paris, featuring a black interior and a pastry display case that rivals a jewelry store. You walk in and instantly forget you are in Paris as it is unlike any other bakery around.
Of all the exquisite desserts, it is their croissant that they are best known for – and rightfully so! The croissants from Des Gâteaux et du Pain are truly the perfect croissant: light and flakey on the outside with a crunchy shell, soft and warm in the middle, with a buttery taste.
MARGHERITA PIZZA DOP, PIZZERIA POPOLARE – €5
My favorite restaurant in Paris! Pizzeria Popolare is owned by one of the most famous restaurant groups in Paris, Big Mama, who are notorious for their incredible Italian food. I was introduced to Popolare by my good friend Colleen during my first few weeks in Paris and I have returned at least once a week ever since.
All of their ingredients are imported directly from Italy and everyone who works in the restaurant is 100% authentic Italian. If that wasn’t enough to interest you, get this: their full size margherita pizza is just 5 euros! Talk about an au pair’s dream!
They notoriously also do not accept reservations, which means if you want in, you have to wait in the queue. Luckily their window displays are pretty enough to keep you entertained for a bit. The longest I’ve ever waited was 1.5 hours – and it was worth it!
Also worth noting, I had the tiramisu for the first time last week and have been dreaming about it ever since. It’s made fresh daily and when they serve it, they come out with a ceramic casserole dish and scoop your portion right onto your plate. There’s a 75% chance I go to Pizzeria Popolare tonight just for some tiramisu.
STEAK AU POIVRE, BISTROT PAUL BERT – €36
Steak au poivre is a traditional french dish involving a tender cut of beef swimming in a pool of a creamy pepper sauce. As simple as it is, it’s not an easy task to perfect the dish.
My second time coming to Paris before I moved here I wanted to treat myself to a fancy dinner so I started researching around all the travel forums to find the truly special dining experiences in Paris and I kept being directed to Bistrot Paul Bert. After about the 10th raving review I was sold, and can now join in on singing their praises!
An unsuspecting normal looking cafe located in the 11th arrondissement, the cuisine at Bistrot Paul Bert is truly special. The steak au poivre is unfortunately not included on their prixe fixe menu but since that was what I came for, I shelled out the 36 euro for it anyway.
Listen to me when I tell you this is the best dish I have ever had in my life. The steak was cooked to perfection. It was literally drenched in a pool of au poivre sauce, exactly the way I like it. The seasoning was perfect, the steak was tender and buttery. I couldn’t recommend this dish more!
BEIGNET CRÈME, BOULANGERIE JULIEN – €2
Donuts aren’t really a thing here in Paris… I mean they exist, and you can definitely find them, but the donut craze that’s taken the U.S. by storm isn’t present in France. The French have perfected bread and simple pastries like croissants or pain au chocolate, so overly sugary items aren’t super popular here. But you can find beignets in patisseries, which is like a french styled donut.
A few weeks ago I was in the mood for something rich and sweet and I googled “the best beignet in Paris” et voilà, I ended up at Boulangerie Julien. Located just down the street from The Louvre, Boulangerie Julien is typical Parisian bakery nestled among other cafés and shops. Despite being so known for their beignets, they had a very small selection and I actually had to look at the display for several minutes before finding them… I told you they weren’t super popular here!
I went with the beignet crème, but they have Nutella and fraise (strawberry) options also. This beignet was to DIE FOR. The dough was soft and sweet, coated in a light dusting of sugar, and filled with the yummiest cream I’ve ever tasted. I’m not sure if it’s because it had been so long since I’ve had a donut or if I’m not used to so much sugar at once, but I was in heaven eating this bad boy. I couldn’t finish it so I recommend splitting it with a friend!
UDON NOODLES, SANUKIYA – €11-15
Admittedly, I am brand new to udon noodles. And I’m actually pretty darn upset that it took me 27 years to finally get on the noodle train. I mean all the ingredients for a perfect Amanda dish are there…. Veggies? Check. Warm? Check. Soup, aka my favorite food? Check. Big fat noodles that are easy to eat with chop sticks so you don’t look dumb? Check. Protein source? Check. Affordable? Check. Trendy and cool to instagram? Check.
But I digress…
I discovered udon noodles via my best friend and boyfriend, who are like udon gurus. The two of them came to visit Paris in October and while they were here, being the udon noodle experts that they are, they managed to find the best udon restaurant in Paris. Like, on their first try.
Cue Sanukiya. Following the theme of the other restaurants listed on this post, Sanukiya is an unremarkable building that you’d probably pass by on the street. The inside is lined with benches and shoulder-to-shoulder seating facing a counter, which doesn’t make for a super romantic atmosphere. The menu is one single laminated sheet and the ambiance is that of a quick-eats sandwich shop. If you didn’t know what you were about to experience you would probably be very unimpressed with Sanukiya.
But their udon noodles make it all worth it. Their wheat noodles are made on site, and come full to the brim with vegetables, proteins, and a flavorful broth. There are no pictures on the menu so I ordered blind (I got the Niku Udon and it was delicious) but I wish I had thought to google their noodles instead so I could see pictures, because some of them look MAGICAL.
I can’t wait to return for my second udon noodle experience in Paris!
So there you have it, my favorite foods to eat in Paris. I hope you give some of these a try while visiting!
What are your favorite restaurants in Paris?