During my trip to Paris, I knew I wanted to eat well. I came armed with lists of recommendations from friends and dozens of stars on my Google Map. But, like New York, there is no way to experience everything Paris has to offer in just 5 days. And since we were visiting during the New Year holiday, a few places were sure to be closed. I did enough planning and strategizing for our trip that we ate very well, got to see most of the sights, and feel like we got to experience the best Paris had to offer. I also was fortunate to uncover a few tricks to dining at some of Paris’s favorite restaurants so we wouldn’t spend all our time waiting in line to eat (something I know all too well as a New Yorker).
By far, my favorite meal was at Frenchie Wine Bar. Thanks to the folks behind Taste of Prague (who also love Paris) and The Infatuation, I knew the secret for getting a table and not having a long wait was to arrive approximately 20 minutes before opening (6:30p). My mom and I, fresh off some museum sightseeing, walked up to the restaurant at 6:15. There was just one (very large) group in front of us. Americans, naturally. When the doors opened, we were swiftly taken to a table next to the kitchen where we would sit for four hours watching the chefs prepare dishes. I am convinced that the tables with this view order more food than other tables – seeing these dishes prepared made us want to try them all!
The wine bar offers mostly smaller plates which is great for tasting, and a fantastic wine list. The service was very friendly and we felt quite at home in our little corner table. The vibe in this bar is cozy, crowded, loud, and fun. People are here to eat and drink well – these are my kind of people! The music was on point all night (hip hop, R&B). We managed to order a second bottle of the wine we had, which they let us cork when we left since we had just a bit left. By the time my mom and I left around 10:30, the restaurant was packed, especially in the bar area. The tables around us had turned over multiple times. We were full. We were happy. We were possibly a little drunk. We walked home, hoping to feel a little less full by the time we reached our hotel.
We also managed to eat very well at breakfast. In fact, the morning after our incredible meal at Frenchie Wine Bar, we found ourselves digging into the pancakes at Holybelly. Another trick – arrive before 10am and avoid the wait! We were quite charmed with this restaurant and its delicious pancakes, eggs, and sides (order the Savoury Stack and the side of mushrooms!). Free refills of brewed coffee! (This is always the thing I miss when in Europe).
We liked Holybelly so much that we came back the next morning, January 1st, because it was one of the few places open. And we happened to be seated next to…the same guy we sat next to the previous morning. We were fast feeling like locals in Paris, at least in one restaurant.
One other memorable meal of the trip was at Breizh Cafe, famous for its Breton-style crepes. The trick here is to make a reservation, which can be done on the website. Without a reservation, you will find yourself standing in quite the line…which is where my mom and I found ourselves after we were 30 minutes late for our reservation (I blame the crowds at the Louvre). Since we were late, we were stuck standing outside with all of the other suckers, in the rain, while we gazed through the windows at the people inside enjoying their crepes and cider in the cozy restaurant.
When we finally did sit down, we ordered two savory crepes, the cider, and then a sweet crepe to share. We were the only table around us to NOT order two crepes per person. I guess all that waiting is only worth it if you can try as many crepes as possible. This place is definitely touristy, but it’s also really good and in a cute pocket of Le Marais (visit the Picasso Museum after your meal).
Of course, we also had a few mediocre meals in restaurants chosen due to location (proximity to hunger). This is likely to happen on any trip and, while disappointing, is offset by the fantastic dining experiences we had in Paris. And I still have so many restaurants left to try on my next visit!
A few other reminders for eating well (or at least having fun while eating) in Paris:
- Instead of sitting down to breakfast, grab a pastry or two from a boulangerie and enjoy outside
- Eat all the cheese. In fact, you can even order a cheese plate for dinner if you so choose
- Grab a table at a cafe, order something, and people watch. Consider taking up smoking at this minute, if only to look like a Parisian 😉