Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Ultimate Foodie Guide For Paris
Ahh, Paris! where foodies and fashionistas flock. I’ll be honest I did a lot of research on Paris foods and what to expect, but nothing can really prepare you except experiencing it first hand. Despite what I was hearing from all the people I talked too or read about Paris food. I didn’t have one bad meal. Some of your best memories in Paris will come from eating and rest assured, you will burn it off with all the walking around the city you’ll be doing!
Need To Know
You can have the best French food in a back alleyway…ok, so I may be exaggerating, but honestly, step away from the main tourist sites, find a small restaurant with only a few tables and a menu in French. I think the biggest surprise to me was having to ask for ice. With my experience, most of the water or bottled water I ordered came out chilled which is how I prefer my water but on a few occasions, it was room temperature. They are happy to give you ice but I wouldn’t bother if it’s not a necessity because the French waiters and waitresses don’t come to your table often. Which brings me to my next point.
Dining in Paris is an experience it’s not rushed, it’s relaxing not to mention I observed more people having conversations versus being on their phone. It was very noticeable. My friend and I were greeted when we first entered a brassiere and then seated. Service would give us a few minutes to look over the menu (slightly longer for us since we had to use google translate- we were limited with our French words but tried.) Then, once we ordered, service would bring our drinks give us bread or anything that came with the meal and once we received our meal we would not see our host until our plates were finished. In the US waiters and waitresses are continuingly coming to your table asking if you need anything, which is nice too, but I like the way Paris thinks. It is very different they feel that it is rude to interrupt while you’re enjoying a meal and having conversations and respectfully so. If you need something you have to ask is the rule of thumb in Paris and that sometimes includes the bill.
Upon arriving in Paris we were told not to tip and if we did, to tip no more than 5%. Now, this was very tricky for us because in the US tipping is made to be a big deal and we are so wired to do so. If I am being honest it was a nice change of pace not having to tip all the time. The difference though is that Parisians in the service industry get paid a fair wage that the tip is already included in their pay and if you feel so inclined to tip at the end for them going above and beyond then that’s your prerogative. (or so it's been said). That lasted maybe three to four restaurants in before we started tipping again. It was definitely strange to get used too.
It’s A Good different
The food is a good different here are the places I indulged and my reviews
Restaurant De La Tour Eiffel - The very first restaurant to hit when I arrived in Paris. Located on the second floor of the Eiffel tower. It’s more of a quick cafe than a true restaurant but you still can purchase an array of items including a glass of champagne to toast out on the edge of the Eiffel Tower or you can take it to the summit. (The highest point on the Eiffel tower). To start I simply went with the fries and to my dismay Anytime you order fries in Paris it will come with not just catch it but mayonnaise too. I only thought this was an American thing-silly me.
Located inside our first hotel The Pullman Paris. This is where my friend and I indulged in our first true Parisian meal. Funny enough their design and food have a California flair and they pride themselves on setting that tone. They have an open kitchen, full bar, and a terrace with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Can’t beat that! Everything that we ordered was so good however the dish I recommend the most is the Orecchiette Mac in cheese- it’s a dish on its own can’t be beaten.
"It’s good because we care.” That's Holybelly's motto and I will have to disagree. It’s not good it’s amazing! Be prepared to wait in line, because this Parisian coffee bar serves one of the best brunches in town. (Webwithdunn tip- go right when it opens 9 am). Holybelly is popular among both foreign tourists and local regulars. The atmosphere is light and airy and gives off the hipster earthy vibe. Not to mention they have the best pancakes in town as well as hearty egg dishes and much more. Did I mention they have the best pancakes in town? Don’t take my word for it run don’t walk to Holybelly!
Remember when I said I was three hours late to a reservation? This was the place. The first Parisian restaurant we experienced in the Paris neighborhoods where no one spoke English and the menu was completely French. I’m not sure what made us pick this place, to begin with, but I saw pasta and ran with it! (First, it is a busy place but food comes quickly once you order). It’s nestled within the old Auteuil train station and it is the perfect spot for a change of scenery and delicious Italian cuisine. We muddled our way through the menu hoping what we ordered in French was actually what we wanted. The food was delicious, that we ordered a three-cheese pizza with white sauce after our initial pasta dishes. We thought it was coming with red sauce but didn’t make a fuss since it was all delicious.
Another Parisian experience where the full menu was French but alas they took pity or kindness on us and gave us an English menu. Open 22 hours out of 24. Café Mabillon is a lounge bar in the heart of Saint-Germain (I would live in this neighborhood if I lived in Paris). It’s bustling with locals that you can tell are a little bit more posh and shopping is being done in every corner with plenty of cafes to choose from. Le Mabillon was my favorite dinner meal I had in Paris. The food menu isn’t huge but it concentrates on classic French brasserie dishes.
George V Cafe
The spur of the moment pick. It was a long rainy day and we just wanted something we could walk too. The only restaurant that we tried in a touristy area and it was just ok. Don’t get it confused with the one George V in the four seasons I’m sure that’s completely different. This Cafe was located in the Champ Elysees area it’s a cozy cafe with indoor/outdoor seating and screen TVs which is a rare sighting in Paris. It was an underwhelming experience for my Paris food experience, I would give it a 3 out of 5 stars. But, this comes to be true when you pick tourist places to eat in Paris.
We stepped into the future with McDonald’s in Paris. Interactive ordering, menu items that are not available in the US (i.e wedge fries) and of course Parisian desserts and pastries. The process was easy and painless and pretty fast service. The fries or frites came with a mayo-dill like fry sauce I was not a fan of so I stuck with the traditional barbecue sauce, sweet and sour and yes the ketchup. Going to Paris? Mcdonald's is a must-stop for the fun of it!
Breakfast In America
It’s funny, right? Should we be insulted? Nah- not a chance. It’s good to look from the outside in what the French think Americans love or the stereotypes of American breakfast. I have to say this place was pretty spot on. Besides the tight close space in this very tiny diner, understand that when you eat at cafes and restaurants in Paris you often sit very close to other customers with very little personal space between your neighboring customers, however, I thought it was breakfast in America not breakfast in France? (I digress though our French neighbors were friendly in conversation and it was no problem for me). Everything felt like a step back into time in America if you will. What's funny is the fact that anytime there is anything American in Paris it always seems to go back to the 90s. (Who can blame them it was a good time). With the American 70's retro diner feel, the big plates, 90’s background music, glass bottle coca-cola, burgers and milkshakes and serving breakfast and lunch- sounds every bit of American to me! If you are looking to get away from a traditional Paris breakfast (very continental) visit Breakfast in America.
The Paris version of McDonald’s without it being McDonald’s. A quick bite with all the trimmings. They use 100% pure beef (two small patties) on a tasty roll which had a nice texture. There are two kinds of cheeses with creamy smoky sauce. Compared to McDonald’s burgers I like Quik burger the best. Though this was not on our list of places to try we had to taste what’s considered fast food in Paris.
Best views! Best views! This place requires reservations. We saw multiple people get turned away for just showing up and not having a reservation. Luck was on our side when we entered the restaurant 10 minutes after opening right after our photoshoot (we looked fancy). I’m glad too because we walked in our heels from our photoshoot spot to the restaurant which was about a 20-minute walk and if you’ve ever walked in Paris in heels it’s not an easy task. It was meant to be since it was our last fancy meal in Paris. Perched on the roof terrace, the Les Ombres restaurant offers a unique panoramic view over Paris, in the shadow of its neighbor, the Eiffel Tower, which during the day projects its metallic lace onto the tablecloths and in the evening and golden hour lights up the room. With contemporary cuisine and refined staff, Les Ombres couldn’t be more perfect. To add the cherry on top the restaurant also opens up to a panoramic ariel Terence where they have lounge seating and picture-perfect Instagram worthy shots. This place was my favorite because of the views but with views like this also comes with a higher price tag. With a selected menu and lots of wine to choose from and the bread that never stops coming, you’ll be sure to get all your money’s worth.
It’s a staple in Paris! Macarons, the pastries, the pretty green mint and pink color scheme that’s welcoming with chandeliers dangling and sparkling. It is beautiful. With love Ladurée being known for its dessert it’s also a restaurant. If we had more time I would probably try to find another dessert local pastry place that’s just as popular to compare. Don’t hold out your Euros going into this place get all the treats you can!
Street Crepes and Neighborhood Bakeries
A must when in Paris, fresh bread daily and fruit that tastes right off the farm. Depending on where you are located in Paris you can find street crepes everywhere you turn, sweet and savory both options. The local markets are friendly and take euros and a few take debit or credit cards. When in Paris these places are a must. Have a baguette or warm croissant and sit by the Eiffel and take in the views.
Time Changes Everything
Going to Paris we were reading that reservations were best when it came to eating especially for places that were popular, but this wasn’t really the case for us-we got lucky. We had a reservation but we missed it by three hours and yet still were seated. And everything else that we chose to eat was a walk-up or we made sure to arrive when the cafe opened. Due to the time change and staying up late, my friend and I wouldn’t leave our rooms until 11- noon. Luckily, most restaurants are still serving breakfast because of things opening LATE. It’s not your typical 8 AM opening. It’s more of 9 AM/10 AM for most places and then they close for lunch, for it to open back up from 7 pm until 11 pm and sometimes even 1 am.
All I can say to this is go with the flow. It worked out for us because we would be busy around lunchtime so a quick baguette sandwich was fine to hold us over until dinner. We would be so mind blown sitting down eating at 8:30 pm and the sun still up and shining bright. (Sunset isn’t until 9 pm) I’m pretty sure every single day we laughed and asked ourselves “where are we?” If you’ve ever been to New York you know it’s the city that never sleeps. Well, it felt like that in Paris because we wouldn’t be finished with our food until close to ten at night sometimes eleven and yet all these places are filled with people. With traffic and streets, the same like it’s daytime. There are plenty of amazing brasseries and cafes in Paris that we just couldn’t get to everything on our “want to go” list.
Here are a few suggestions that came highly recommended or I found that just didn’t work in our timeline
Les Papilles- Strictly reservation and there is no menu it’s whatever the chef makes that evening 5-course meal.
Refuge Des Fondues- Two option fondues and your wine comes to you in a baby bottle. (Seen on social media)
Mama Jackson’s- Soul Food Parisian Style
Daroco- Pizza in Paris
Choco Factory- Everything Chocolate
Angelina’s Tea House- a French place to feel slightly posh and yet comfortable and laid back enough to bring your kids too.