8 Places to Eat like a Local in the City of Light
While crepes coated with butter and sugar, and flaky croissants peeled away one laminated layer at a time are essential parts of the French culinary experience, the city’s vibrant dining scene contains a multitude of options for Parisian foodies looking to dig into diverse and modern fare—if you know where to look.
While many tourists are drawn to the overpriced traditional bistros that line every busy street and avenue, promising their visitors an authentic French experience, for the true culinary gems of the City of Light, dining obsessives must get off the Champs-Élysées and seek out these eight spots, which are all beloved by the locals.
Down a quiet alleyway in the Bastille neighborhood of Paris lies this cozy, modern French spot, which has become the place where chefs congregate on Monday nights, when most restaurants are closed. Snag a seat at the bar and dig into house-made bread and butter, a glass of natural wine and inventive, veggie-forward dishes. The small chalkboard menu, which changes frequently to ebb and flow with the seasons, is sure to bear all of the best ingredients of the moment.
A mini empire composed of three adjacent diverse operations including the wine bar and namesake higher-end restaurant, Frenchie caters to all kinds of crowds and occasions on the Rue du Nil. But the real standout for those seeking a quick and comforting meal is Frenchie to Go, the Parisian equivalent of a smokehouse that dishes playful takes on favorites like pastrami on rye, pulled pork sandwiches and all-beef smoked hot dogs with homemade sauerkraut.
Located across the street from L’As du Fallafel, the popular (and tourist-heavy) falafel spot, the Parisian outpost of this Israeli chain serves the likes of heavenly lamb kebabs with fresh mint and whole charred cauliflower heads tucked into pitas and drizzled with tahini sauce. While snagging a seat can be difficult in the small space, the creative pitas are perfectly portable, made to be carried out into the charmant streets of Le Marais.
As the sun sinks below the cobblestoned horizon, prepare to be bathed in the golden glow of this romantic, set-menu pasta spot, where chef Michele Farnesi rotates his unique dishes frequently, from ravioli with prawns and leeks, to linguini with mackerel and herbs, to rigatoni with pigeon offal.
Next door to Septime, one of the city’s most buzzed-about (and impossible-to-get-into) eateries, is the owners’ more casual, no-reservations seafood spot, where platters of oysters and a few glasses of perfectly curated natural wines preface heartier dishes of fried cod fitters, whole grilled fish, and an upscale take on a classic filet o’ fish sandwich.
At Marche des Enfants Rouges, Paris’s oldest covered market in the 3rd Arrondissement, gourmands have their pick from dozens of stands and eateries. The standout? Chez Alain Miam Miam, a gritty one-man show offering some of the best crepes and sandwiches in the city. Though chef Alain—a loud and lumbering man—is a far cry from the buttoned-up chefs of the classic French kitchen, his handheld meals can’t be beat, and the long line of locals serve as proof.
Though Paris is not exactly known for their cheap eats, at this casual, low-cost Turkish eatery, customers huddle on street-side stools to eat simple wraps filled with chicken and lamb, plus Lahmacun, a baked flatbread topped with crumbled meat and fresh vegetables, rolled up for prime portability and costing less than 3 Euro.
At this tiny, standing room–only wine bar, locals are used to packing in close, nursing glasses of vin and snacking on hot bread with thick slabs of Bordier butter before ordering upscale bar snacks. The menu cards dangling overhead feature the likes of fried pig feet and blood sausage macarons with pepper jam. Craving seafood? Head next door to its fish-friendly sibling, L’avant Comptoir De La Mer.
Gillie Houston is Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor currently traveling the world in hunt of good stories and great tacos. Follow her culinary wanderlusting on Instagram.
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