PARGuide

Where to Eat In Paris Right Now

19 of the most fun, exciting, and buzzy restaurants around town.
Spread of Israeli dishes with glasses of red and white wine at Kapara

photo credit: Caspar Miskin

Rebienvenue à Paris! Whether it’s your second visit or your seventh, you’ve probably already been to some of the classic bistros, bakeries, wine bars, and fancy starred joints in our first-timer’s guide. So if you’re looking for something beyond those, you’ve come to the right place.

Nearly all of the restaurants on this guide have opened over the past few years and built up plenty of buzz among restaurant-obsessed locals, especially those that are experimenting with less-French flavor profiles. And since the Hemingway Hangouts of today are mostly on the Right Bank, almost all of these spots are on that side of the Seine and further from the tourist sites. Consider these destinations a palette cleanser for when you’ve had your fill of foie gras and escargot or just can’t eat another steak frites. We promise your bouche will still be amused.

THE SPOTS

Greek

11th Arr.

$$$$Perfect For:Small PlatesEating At The BarWalk-Ins
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White doilies hang over light fixtures, the steel tables feel sleek thanks to thin single candlesticks, and there are brightly colored finger paintings on the walls in the bathroom. Basically, this place is anything but ancient Greece. The whipped feta and ricotta tyrokafteri dip full of spices and herbs comes dressed with toppings like marinated peppers and cashews, and the tzatziki gets a glow-up from some zucchini. Come with a group and spread out at the communal tables upstairs, and arrive hungry, because you’re likely going to want to order the whole menu.

This inconspicuous, multi-room restaurant is located on a narrow side street in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. In other words, you’d walk right by it if you didn’t know to stop. Inside, two things are happening here that you won’t often find at other nice-but-casual restaurants around town: servers will refill your water glass and fold your napkin when you’re in the bathroom, and there’s the option to pick between an a la carte or full tasting menu. If you’ve got the time, go for the tasting to sample the best of the chef’s seasonal hits, like an onion soup topped with Jerusalem artichoke or the excellent butternut squash ice cream with chestnut cream for dessert.

photo credit: Caspar Miskin

Before it closed in 2022, it was impossible to get a reservation at Balagan before 10pm. Which, as long as you didn’t mind eating hummus-soaked challah so late, was the most fun time to go anyway. (Shots! DJs!) But now, the team who also run Tékès, Shabour, and Boubalé are back in the same location with the same vibe. What has changed, beyond the name, is the chef—now, the menu infuses Iraqi and Moroccan takes on Israeli cuisine: smoked baba ganoush comes with a bruléed top, and a creamy, carbonara-like “risotto” is made with couscous instead of rice. But the must order is the sabich sandwich, which swaps pita for flaky boreka and comes topped with egg. It’s the ultimate hangover cure, only it’s served while you’re likely still drinking.

photo credit: Caspar Miskin

If you can’t get into Septime—which, unless you know someone, is almost certainly the case—then book a table at this new tasting menu spot instead. It’s in a different part of the same restaurant-packed 11th arrondissement, but has a similar look and feel: there’s exposed stone, wooden wingback chairs, and hip-hop playing overhead. The ground floor tables look down into the wine cave, but if you come during the day, the best place to sit is upstairs under the skylights. Fish is the focus for the 5-course, €79 lunch and 8-course, €109 dinner, where you’ll find things like Normandy scallops fermented in tomato sauce, smoked eel with spinach and sage, and a red mullet in a bouillabaisse dressing. Pace yourself, because if the simple-sounding chocolate mousse is still on the menu for dessert, it’s anything but.

In general, it’s rare to find traditional NYC-style pizza in Paris. But that’s exactly what you’ll stumble upon at Vecchio, an Italian-American spot in the 11th. Order one of those before moving onto the pastas, like fusilli alla vodka or the lemony bucatini dish with shaved bottarga and a dusting of parmesan. The mini tiramisu might be tempting, but save any remaining stomach space for their take on a rum baba that’s made with limoncello-soaked brioche. Vecchio may move from their current location on the rooftop of Le Perchoir come April, so check their Instagram to confirm where they set up next—hopefully, they bring the throwback ‘90s playlist and their lively, raucous vibe with them.

While you may be tempted to walk in singing the Ritchie Valens slow jam of the same name, brace yourself for a much more vibrant scene at Donna—at least as the night progresses and the Japanese chef running the central bar-slash-open kitchen hangs up his apron and the DJ takes over. Come to socialize and sip on natural wines like the “Hobo” red blend from Languedoc-Roussillon that at least one of the young and eager sommeliers in matching tees may suggest. Pair it with some tuna tartare topped with simple herbs and berries, or a heaping bowl of spaghetti with clams slathered in a tart grapefruit sauce.

If you need proof that Parisians crave more than wine and cheese, you’ll find it on a quiet corner of the 11th arrondissement. Join the crowds of young locals congregating outside and book a table at this Indian hotspot, where a filling meal probably won’t cost more than €20 per person. The menu is divided by portion size, and while you could easily stick with the chaats like dahi puri smothered in spicy yogurt and chutney, you’d be missing out on larger plates like creamy chicken korma and spicy lamb. Whatever you do, don’t skip the cardamom soft serve. The cocktail menu also includes booze-free drinks, like the Mai Lassi Tai with pineapple juice and a hint of lime.

Resist the smell of buckwheat crepes wafting from Briezh down the block—you’re here to eat pasta at Localino, an Italian restaurant in Saint-Germain-des-Prés that functions as a one-way ticket to Rome by way of metro lines 4 and 10. Plop into one of the plush chairs at the countertop facing the open kitchen for heaping bowls of veal ragout macaroni or fusilloni in a simple red sauce, and save some room for the tiramisu. If you come during lunch, take advantage of the three-course prix fixe that’s just €28. 

Cheval d’Or has been around since 1987, and the facade hasn’t changed since. What is different, though, is who’s running it. New owners and chefs have taken over this former Chinese restaurant in Belleville and turned it into a fusion spot where fashion folk and their friends chow down on whole roast duck, croque madame stuffed with lobster and topped with chili oil, or their take on barbajuan: friend wontons wrapped in swiss chard. There’s French flair at dessert, too, thanks to an île flottante with hints of black tea and spoonfuls of tapioca, which makes for a soupy, soft, and chewy final bite.  

Technically, they’re calling this new spot from the popular Chambre Noire group a taqueria. But we’re still in France, so expect a heavy focus on natural wines in addition to tequila. If the floor-to-ceiling windows that open to the street and the Manu Chao songs playing from the sound system don’t lure you in, the scent of slow-roasted pork and fresh-pressed corn tortillas definitely will. Choose from six tacos (three are vegetarian) and your preferred €7 glass or €35-40 bottle of wine—most of them are from Europe, like a refreshing pet-nat from Germany with notes of green apple. Plan to linger outside with the rest of the crowd that’s spilled onto the sidewalk to drink and smoke.

The table next to you at this buzzy bistro near Jardin du Luxembourg might be full of politicians from the nearby French Senate, or twenty-somethings from a skate park. It’s a real mixed crowd, and just one of the reasons Right Bank residents are willing to cross the river to eat here. The menu is French but inspired by the chef’s time traveling in Thailand, which translates to things like tender beef served with a lemongrass jus and shrimp tartare topped with a crispy tamarind cracker that’s almost like deconstructed pad thai. 

Come by this cafe on a quiet side street between Bastille and Nation for fluffy almond pancakes with whipped mascarpone and fig leaf syrup. For the savory among us, the beyond-basic deviled eggs are topped with bacon, cheese, and jalapeño, while the Turkish egg and feta toast with pickled purple onions will finally allow avocado toast to RIP. There are plenty of reasons to stick around for lunch, and not just because they’re open continuously until 4pm. The grilled caesar salad trades romaine for cabbage, the polenta fries are thick and crispy, and there’s soft serve for dessert—recent flavors have included carrot cake and Calvados, an apple brandy from Normandy.

One half of the partnership behind this modern bistro on Square Trousseau formerly worked at Septime, which means there was some built-in buzz when it opened. Stroll through the nearby Marché d’Aligre before making your way here for a leisurely, €30 three-course lunch. They also have an a la carte menu with appetizers like green curry mussels and smoked trout in a sesame and peanut sauce, and mains like a hefty hanger steak with marshmallow-sized fried gnocchi in a light, Frenchified BBQ sauce. The beautiful, high-ceilinged room, with brass sconces and distressed leather seats, is nice and inviting, and the service is, as the French say, top.

From the team behind Kapara, Tekés, and Shabour comes (another) equally fun and lively spot inside the new Grand Mazarin Hotel in the Marais. The Eastern European menu isn’t Jewish per se—would your bubby put prawns in her matzah ball soup?—but it’ll definitely evoke a sense of nostalgia for those who are. Like most restaurants in Paris, there are only two seatings (and the second doesn't start until 10pm), so book ahead if you’re worried about falling asleep at the table after going to town on brisket paired with gnocchi. When it comes time for dessert, make sure you order the plump chocolate babka topped with a big scoop of ganache and drizzled in olive oil.

The shared plates trend in Paris reached a fever pitch pre-pandemic, though dining has since returned to a more traditional order of entreé, plat, and dessert. But Fugazi is sticking with the idea that everything’s better small and split across the table. The menu at this friendly, bric-a-brac-filled spot changes every couple of weeks—in September, that meant the last of the tomatoes dressed with a fennel crumble and the first of the king trumpet mushrooms, sautéed and topped with crispy onion and bacon. Choose a few dishes from the chalkboard, and expect them to come out whenever they’re ready. The rock-meets-heavy-metal soundtrack is a bit questionable, but this is the kind of place that’s lively enough to drown it out.

It’s unclear why more restaurants haven’t thought to pair oysters with a margarita shooter, but it’s definitely the best way to begin a meal at this restaurant near Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Tourists rarely come up this far, so expect to find fashionable locals gathering on the later side for a dinner of predominantly sea-based small plates. Service is friendly and attentive, and the food ranges from simple things like bulots with mayonnaise to more creative dishes, like whole mackerel doused in tandoori sauce and served with a broccoli puree and sliced kumquats. With a throwback soundtrack featuring “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Dancing in the Dark,” eating here is as much about the fun, feel-good ambiance as the food itself.

You won’t find tacos at this sunlit, all-white canteen that opened a block from Gare du Nord station in November. But you will find Mexican dishes like encacahuatadas (theirs features mushrooms smothered in a creamy mole sauce with peanuts and smoked pepper), and huarache, a plate of corn tortillas topped with shredded pork, black beans, and a tower of fresh herbs. Comer is only open for dinner on Thursday and Friday nights, but we prefer lunch Tuesday through Friday anyway. Grab one of the cushion-less stools and settle in for the three-course prix fixe that’s just €28. (You can order à la carte, too.) Whatever you do, don’t skip the rice pudding with toasted coconut and citrus.

Just like The Bangles, this 22-seat restaurant knows there’s nothing sexier than an eternal flame—they have a projection of one against a stone wall, single burning candles on tables set for two to four, and a small working fireplace. The romantic space is very grandma’s attic-meets-17th-century palace, with mismatched velour chairs, twinkling crystal chandeliers, and old sewing machine stands that double as tables. Unexpected flavor pairings on the four-course tasting menu might include a creamy brocciu cheese mille feuille topped with a lone capucine leaf or a kiwi pavlova featuring bits of extra crunch thanks to teeny-tiny pieces of celery.

It’s not easy to execute a menu for three distinct meal times, but this spot in the 11th arrondissement nails it. Come by on a weekend morning for a filter coffee (that’s French for a real American drip, not an Americano) and a bowl of their homemade granola. For lunch, the heartier menu, which changes daily, might include a sandwich, stuffed cabbage, or rice soup with shitake mushrooms. They also do small plates for dinner, like beef meatballs and a French favorite: deviled eggs. There are plenty of tables and a terrace for when the weather’s warm, but inside’s where you may hear a throwback playlist of Eurythmics, Culture Club, and more from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Sing along while sampling something from the sweets selection displayed on the bar, like a slice from a glazed lemon loaf or a sea salt chocolate chip cookie.

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