Let us begin by saying that this guide to the best Paris restaurants is obviously in no way meant to be an exhaustive list. There is no such thing. There is so much food to experience in this city that no single collection of opinions can possibly cover it all.
That said, we know this city well, and what we've come up with is a representation of the things that we think are worth your time. Go forth and develop an extremely high tolerance for wine.
Septime80 rue de Charonne
Thanks to its status as the hottest/best restaurant in Paris for several years now, Septime is damn near impossible to get into. That means calling for a reservation well in advance of your trip is essential. But once you do get a table, you’ll be blown away by the quality of the food and the excellent wine list. The people here are nice too, so feel free to try out a few of those French words you’ve just added to your vocabulary. Actually, don’t.
Clamato80 rue de Charonne
Yes, one of the best restaurants in Paris is named after a tomato-clam juice mix that is sold at WalMart. Which makes sense, as it’s probably America’s greatest export. Owned and operated by the very same people behind Septime, Clamato is another must-have restaurant experience. The menu is almost entirely made up of food from the sea, and every dish is a perfect example of simplicity and creativity coming together to make an impression you won’t forget. It’s a great spot for dinner, but we also like it for lunch on a day in which you have few other plans. Get a bottle of something sparkling (and natural of course) and start with a dozen oysters and whatever else looks fresh.
Verjus52 Rue de Richelieu, 75001
Verjus, a restaurant run by two Americans in Paris, started out as a regular "underground" dinner that they hosted in their apartment called Hidden Kitchen. After a ton of press and attention, they eventually opened up this restaurant, which has since become one of Paris' best - a seasonal tasting menu that takes all the French-run restaurants in town to task.
This has become one of our favorite restaurants in this city full of favorite restaurants, simply because the food is consistently excellent. Is it strange to go all the way to Paris to get fed by some Americans? When they feed us this good, not a bit. You shouldn't think so either. Make sure to book ahead, and note that Verjus is closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Clown Bar114 rue Amelot
We had to be sold on Clown Bar. Not because we doubted the food would be good at this restaurant housed in a historic space from the early 1900s, but because the name sounds like the theme from a sweaty nightmare. A room full of clowns and alcohol? Hard pass.
Then again, we did have to be sold on the idea of yet another restaurant in Paris serving small plates of modern French food and natural wines, because after a while, how do you even tell them apart? But Clown Bar is better than almost any other restaurant serving this kind of food in town. And despite the presence of those smiling evil jesters on the tiles of the restaurant, it's a fun and lively space worthy of your time.
Passage 5353 passage des Panoramas
Passage 53 is a two-star Michelin restaurant in Paris, and we honestly don't eat at many places in Paris with that many stars. Too often the food is too rich, too expensive, and takes up too much of your precious time that you could otherwise spend stuffing croissants in your mouth.
But if you are looking for a high end experience without all the stuffiness, this is the place for it. Passage 53 is in one of those ridiculously cute covered passages that Paris has. The food is excellent and not as heavy as you might expect from a place like this, and it's worth a special occasion splurge.
Le Servan32 rue Saint-Maur
One of our favorite little bistros in all of Paris, and we’re not alone in that sentiment. Opened in 2013 on a residential street in the 11th (that’s where all the cool food is), Le Servan is a neighborhood spot that’s also a must visit on your next trip. The food is rooted in classic Frenchiness, but you’ll often find unexpected flavors like Thai chili in your dish of mussels or cuttlefish with green mango. Hit this for lunch and you’ll be happy.
Ellsworth34 rue de Richelieu
Brought to you by the folks behind Verjus, Ellsworth is a more casual restaurant, and one of our favorites in Paris. If you're looking for brunch, this would be the place to do it, but Ellsworth is also great any time of day, and day of the week. It's not exactly modern Parisian cooking like you might expect from some of the other hot spots in town, but instead has a very vegetable heavy menu that also happens to feature an incredible fried chicken. Get it on your Paris Hit list.
Bistrot Paul Bert18 rue Paul-Bert
Paul Bert is one of the most famous and popular bistros in all of Paris. This place has the feel of a restaurant that's been around for a century, but it actually opened at the turn of this century (2000). The Côte de Boeuf for two with frites is a bold (and smart) move.
Pas de Loup108 rue Amelot
Pas De Loup is an excellent neighborhood cocktail bar in Oberkampf that also serves very good food. Sit at the bar and eat whatever is being served, which is probably a family recipe and definitely delicious.
Merci111 boulevard Beaumarchais
If you want to get a vibe on what it’s like to be young and cool in Paris, Merci is the place to do it. This is a coffee shop, restaurant, clothing store, bookstore hybrid, and it’s basically filled with good-looking people and good-looking French dogs. It’s the perfect spot to hang on a laid back afternoon and people watch with a bottle of wine. You might even get to touch a dog. Don't touch any people.
Frenchie Bar A Vins6 Rue du Nil
Most anyone you ask will have Frenchie on their list of best restaurants in Paris. That usually means that reservations are impossible to secure, and it also often means that by the time you actually get a seat, you’re so hyped up on the place that it will inevitably let you down a little bit. In our opinion, there are too many great restaurants in this town to get stressed out over a reservation at Frenchie. That’s why their wine bar is such a beautiful thing. At Frenchie Bar à Vins, the food is just as good as it is at the main spot across the street, but they do not take reservations. So you can just stroll up, order a bottle of wine from their incredible selection, and dive into a few excellent things to eat.
Frenchie to Go9 rue du Nil
Looking for a sandwich to eat on the Seine? Or in your hotel room? Or standing on the street somewhere? Hit Frenchie To Go. You won’t be eating anything particularly Parisian, but you will have your choice of an excellent pastrami sandwich, or a giant hot dog. You want both.
Le Temps des Cerises31 rue de la Cerisaie
One of our good friends who lives in Paris described Le Temps de Ceries as his "Oh, you're a touriste in france and want an authentic French meal that hasn't been defrosted?" spot. The food here is simple, excellent, and truly Parisian. That means you’re eating escargot and steak tartare, but also make sure to order the risotto.
Aux Deux Amis45 rue Oberkampf
An excellent late night spot in Oberkampf, which is where you'll probably end up if you're out late in Paris. Aux Deux Amis is a classic French bistro, but the location and hours of operation make it one that's always lively and full of young Parisians. The plates are small and shareable and the prices are reasonable. Just know that it will be packed. Always.
La Tour d'Argent17 quai de la Tournelle
According to a good friend and wine expert - a real one, not just a person who drinks a lot of wine - La Tour d’Argent has the best wine cellar in the world. As in almost 500,000 bottles. They’re also famous for their pressed duck, which comes with a certificate if you buy it, like a vintage watch, or a house. This certainly won’t be a cheap meal in Paris, but if you want to go big and drink some incredible wines for the money, there’s no better place to do it.
L'As du Fallafel34 rue des Rosiers
Here’s your move: spend the day cruising around Le Marais, and then hit L’As du Fallafel for some grub. This little spot turns out some incredible falafel, but it is admittedly a full blown tourist trap. It’s still worth your time if you need a break from butter and red wine. Then again, why would anyone want that?
Miznon22 rue des Ecouffes
Not looking to fight the crowds for a falafel? Hit Miznon, for a pita sandwich. This casual restaurant comes to Paris from a famous Israeli chef, who opened the original Miznon in Tel Aviv. The menu changes frequently, but the lamb and cauliflower are our favorite versions of these excellent sandwiches. Miznon is also open Sunday and Monday, which is good to know since so much else in Paris is closed on those days.
Le Comptoir du Relais9 carrefour de l'Odéon
This well known spot in Saint-Germain should be on your radar if only for the fact that you’ll probably end up in Saint-Germain at some point and you’re going to end up hungry. Le Comptoir is a good spot for a quick late afternoon lunch and a little bit of uniquely Paris bistro vibe. Also note, it’s smaller than the smallest studio apartment.
Restaurant Astier44 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
Restaurant Astier is exactly the kind of restaurant that we imagine we’d frequent all the time if we lived in Paris. And we imagine that a lot. This French bistro serves excellent classic French cuisine, but the real star of the show is the all you can eat, massive cheese plate. Order the 39€ special menu, and that thing will eventually get dropped off at your table with a couple of knives. You eat what you want, and then do your best not to pass out. We recommend hitting Astier for lunch, and then taking a long, fromage-fueled walk down to Le Marais.
Le Chateaubriand129 avenue Parmentier
Le Chateaubriand is by now an essential Paris restaurant, and it’s one that you need to make time for while you’re there. The environment is casual and the reasonably-priced tasting menu is seasonal and distinctly French, but also very interesting. The term some use for such a thing is “bistronomy,” but we can’t really say that out loud. You probably shouldn’t either, especially while you’re in Paris.
Le Dauphin131 avenue Parmentier
Much like Frenchie Bar à Vins, Le Dauphin is the wine bar counterpart to a famous French restaurant. Le Chateaubriand is next door, and this place is meant to be a sort of casual little brother with food from the same famous chef. It’s a cool, all marble space, and it’s always filled with cool French people (so…French people), many of whom are waiting for their table next door. A visit to Le Dauphin is definitely not the same experience as eating at Le Chateaubriand, so don’t think that the two are interchangeable. But we do like this place for a glass of wine and a few bites before you head out to your next destination for the night.
Le Baratin3 rue Jouye-Rouve
We’re not big on the whole “go to this place just because Anthony Bourdain did” thing, but it is true that Anthony Bourdain visited Le Baratin during one of his episodes of The Layover. But the more important point to be made is that Le Baratin is a place where Parisian chefs eat. Owner Raquel Corina is a bit of a legend in the local restaurant community, and her food is simple and homey and exactly what you want to eat when you’re in Paris. It’s a bit of a trek up to the 20th from the center of the city, but it’s 100% worth the trip.
Le Stella133 avenue Victor Hugo
Finding a decent meal on a Sunday night in Paris can be a real pain in the ass, as most everything is closed. Our move every time is to hit up Le Stella. This classic bistro is a true local hang, especially for the old money types who live in the area. You’ll definitely see at least one lady in a fur coat holding a tiny dog at the table, and probably a few grey haired French guys in tweed jackets. The menu is super-traditional, featuring things like escargots, tête de cochon, steak au poivre, and an incredible beef tartare. Le Stella is also known for its fresh seafood – specifically oysters. They’re best consumed from one of the giant towers you can order, along with some other delicious ocean dwelling creatures. That’s how you do Sunday night in this town.
Café Charlot38 rue de Bretagne
Café Charlot is the place you want to be on a spring afternoon with a glass of wine, some moules frites, and a cigarette. What's that? You don't smoke? Just hold it. It'll feel right.