Best Paris Restaurants for Food Lovers
These are restaurants for people who love to eat. They are places that should be reserved for those who will happily eat anything and everything, who are going to most appreciate what is offered, and who are willing to trust the magic of these chefs. That might include raw veal or an organ of some type – not always, but certainly not rare. These are the recommendations I give to those who I know are really looking to eat well and are not afraid to eat adventurously.
In order to make a reservation at Dersou, you have to reserve for the 5 or 7 course no-choice tasting menu with cocktail pairings, starting at 85€.
Otherwise, it’s first come, first serve for any unreserved tables, and then you can order a la carte, which is very reasonable.
Chef Taku Sekine offers a range of dishes including Taipei style bo yu noodles, soy glazed pork ribs, an incredibly fresh and herbal salad with maybe tuna tartare or escargots, scallops with shavings of frozen fromage blanc, seared duck breast, or seafood bouillon with traditional hand made noodles. Some items, like the bo yu, are staples, but the menu is always changing.
Saturday lunch is a la carte, and a bit more casual, but with an equally intriguing menu that changes each week.
Taku works some serious magic with his culinary know-how, creative mind, and incredible product. And that tableware. Praise hands emoji.
21, rue Saint-Nicolas
+33 9 81 01 12 73
Open Tue-Sat 7:30pm-12:30am
Saturday lunch & Sunday brunch 12-3:30pm
Reservations only accepted for no-choice tasting menu; walk-ups for à la carte
90 euros for 5 courses + 5 cocktail pairings; 130 euros for 7 courses + 7 pairings; 15-20 euros per dish à la carte
Septime has been one of the most talked about restaurants in Paris over the past few years. You’ll get innovative combinations of market-centric dishes in a no-choice set menu format. Outstanding quality, creative combinations, always changing, and beautifully presented.
They accept reservations exactly 3 weeks in advance, and you basically have to call at exactly 10am Paris time 3 weeks out on whichever day you want in order get a table here. Or maybe try the same day and see if they had any cancellations.
80 rue de Charonne, 75011
Metro: Charonne (9)
01 43 67 38 29
Mon-Fri 12:15-2pm, 7:30-10pm
Closed Saturday & Sunday
Chez l’Ami Jean
This is my all time favorite Paris restaurant for the whole package: food, atmosphere, service. L’ami Jean has a bit of a cult following with its hustle and bustle, neighborhood feel, and something special in its energy and the people who fill its seats. Every other time I go, I end up making friends with my neighbors, and that’s pretty rare in Paris.
It’s an unassuming bustling bistro that delivers on the hearty portions, managing to fuse creativity with classic cooking. The restaurant is always packed in the evening, with chef Stephane Jego, at the helm for over ten years, clapping and yelling to servers from the open kitchen at the back.
I love when he starts to sound angry in his pursuit of perfection. It sometimes makes the atmosphere what it is, alongside his generous portions and ever-evolving menu. I stopped looking at the menu long ago, always preferring to accept whatever Jego wants to send out.
L’Ami Jean is not for the faint of heart, nor for the timid, either in disposition or in appetite. Super chef David Chang agrees in this profane but hilarious article on Lucky Peach about Chez l’Ami Jean, saying, “you feel like you’re slowly turning into a sweetbread drenched in butter for the duration of the meal,” which might be the most accurate description of eating the carte blanche tasting menu that I’ve ever heard.
You can order a la carte or go for the tasting menu, but do not, whatever you do, miss his famous riz au lait, his grandmother’s rice pudding.
I know you’re thinking, rice pudding? Really? I would normally never go for this kind of dessert. But the Chez l’Ami Jean riz au lait is one of my all time favorite desserts, and all other rice puddings are a disgrace by comparison. No matter how much you’re hurting at the end of your meal – and you will be hurting if you do it right – you look forward to the rice pudding as if it’s the only reason you came.
David Chang agrees, saying “…and somehow, no matter how gross you feel because you just ate like two meals’ worth of food, you manage to put away not just one serving, but two. It is the best rice pudding ever.”
To me, there is nothing better than walking into L’Ami Jean on a cold winter’s evening from the quiet neighborhood street of Rue Malar, into what feels like a culinary speakeasy. You open the door at 9pm, and it is busting at the seams with people, food, wine, laughter, warmth, and a frenzy of activity emanating from the kitchen alongside sizzles and smells and Jego yelling and clapping when a dish is ready, the small family of servers squeezing between chairs to deliver the next treasure.
Who will I meet tonight? What amazingly delicious thing will I eat? How uncomfortably full will I feel at 1am as my meal is coming to a close, and why did I touch any food at all today? Chez l’Ami Jean is the essence of the French word “convivialité”.
If you’re a food lover, and you have an appetite, and you’re not afraid to be elbow to elbow with your neighbor amongst hustle and bustle, go to dinner at Chez l’Ami Jean. If this all sounds a bit intimidating, then go at lunch, when it’s much calmer. Whatever you do, make a reservation, 2 weeks in advance just to be safe. The best time to call is just before unch or dinner service starts, when things aren’t too crazy yet but they’ll be answering phones.
If you can get a seat on the terrace on a beautiful day or night, all the better. Clown Bar is located next to the Cirque d’Hiver, and this location has original ceilings with circus images dating back to its days where the circus performers had their staff dinner.
The dishes are unique, super fresh, and delicious.
They can be a bit on the pricey side, but that’s due to the quality of the products.
They’re big on natural wines as well, so this is a place where you can expect to be satiated with top notch food and fun, unexpected wines.
Great Article from Eater: Clown Bar is the Most Thrilling Restaurant in Paris
If you can swing the 95€ tasting menu, then swing it. Chef Atsushi Tanaka is obsessed with the most quality ingredients, and it shows with every bite.
There is such a level of purity, freshness, and harmony in his dishes that you almost fall silent out of reverence for the dish. There are sometimes things you eat that are at this level where your vocabulary is suddenly restricted to the repetition of the word “wow”, and I’ve experienced that with some of Atsushi’s creations.
You can get the full tasting menu upstairs, or if it’s out of your budget range, get a few small plates downstairs in the wine bar (evenings only). Small plates at the bar range between 16-19€/plate. Keep in mind, this is not a place where you come to overeat, this is a place where you come for refinement and quality.
The man is an artist. I mean look at that thing. Hang it on my wall.
The upstairs ambiance is a little more reserved with the feel of a special night out. Downstairs is their small, laid back, wine bar with a serious thing for natural wine.
Lunch menu: 55€
Dinner tasting menu: 95€
Wine Pairing (5 wines): 55€
Wine Pairing (7 wines): 75€
Bar à Vin AT
The wine bar isn’t obvious, and you will feel like you’re walking into a nice restaurant without reservations, but then you’ll be the in-the-know wine lover who heads downstairs. When you walk into the restaurant, half-way to the kitchen, you’ll see a small staircase on the left. Feel free to ask if the wine bar is open. Go downstairs to get to the quaint hidden wine bar, and order yourself some delicious funky natural wine and as many small plates as your budget will agree to. Chances are if you are there early, it may be a bit empty, but the wine bar tends to get crowded late at night when other chefs, somms, and wine lovers get off work.
Open Wed-Sun night: 7pm-2am
Le Chateaubriand offers a no-choice tasting menu typically composed of 5-6 dishes. The infamous chef Iñaki Aizpitarte has been making waves in the kitchen and out to his edgy hipster-filled restaurant for ten years now. He certainly pushes the envelope with his cooking, delighting and surprising those who are up for anything.
Mattias Kroon, of the instagram account “out to lunch” (@mattias.kroon) says about the duck hearts dish above, “Blinding purity and slight madness. It may not look like it, but to arrive at this delicious and mature simplicity, is actually quite complicated.” He compares Iñaki to Keith Richards, calling him “The originator, the unsung hero of zero-star bistronomie, the effortless cool, miles ahead of them all.” (Apparently Iñaki was offered a Michelin star but turned it down).
The Wall Street Journal reflects on the legacy Le Chateaubriand has left and the path it has forged over the past ten years in this article.
It’s a fun atmosphere filled with great people-watching. Reserve for an early service or start lining up outside around 9pm to wait for when tables become available for walk-ups near 10pm.
Tasting menu: 70€
Reservations open 3 weeks in advance. Call between 3-7:30pm.
This is far from an exhaustive list; Just some of my go-to recommendations for people who I know are looking for some of the best of the best in Paris restaurants. And specifically, restaurants that I would only recommend to adventurous eaters.
Other Paris Restaurant Favorites
My other favorites for food lovers, which don’t require you to be an I’ll-eat-anything-and-everything type person can be found below. These restaurants and wine bars focus primarily on market-driven small plates and natural wines.
Paris Restaurants for Everyone
I’ve also created a list for everyone, including slightly less adventurous eaters who still want to eat well in Paris.