Paris: In Celebration of Culinary Favorites, Old and New

When I plan a trip to Paris, I don’t start with sightseeing. Nope, food comes first: what new restaurants am I dying to try? What restaurants have I been wanting to check out for a while now but have never quite had time to visit on previous trips? And what old favorites do I need to return to? Once I have that figured out, then I fill in sightseeing here or there. You’ve got to have your priorities, right? This is all to say that, in advance of my trip to Paris last spring, I spent a lot of time plotting my culinary itinerary. Luckily for me, all that planning paid off, as I enjoyed some truly great meals.

I started things off at one of my mainstays, Holybelly, by ordering the thing I nearly always order there, the savory stack. It’s pancakes with bacon, and it is truly wonderful and far superior to your run-of-the-mill stack of pancakes.

At Maison Aleph, I found Middle Eastern pastry heaven. While there were a variety of tantalizing goodies to choose from, I went straight for the nids pâtisseries, or pastry nests. They were tasty and oh-so-cute.

I ended my first day with dinner at La Bourse et La Vie, which is perhaps my very favorite restaurant in Paris (though who can ever really choose). I had oysters on toast to start and steak frites for my main. I would also like to state for the record that the fries they serve with the steak are PERFECTION. I’m not generally a french fry person, but these are so good.

On day two I began with breakfast at Café Méricourt where I ordered the “green eggs and feta,” which was essentially feta, spinach, pesto, and eggs. I also added a side of (incredible) bacon and a flat white, all of which are elements of a perfect breakfast.

One restaurant I have always wanted to visit but somehow never quite gotten around to is Breizh Cafe, which people often call the best crêperie in Paris. For my main, I tried a crêpe with goat cheese, honey, and onion; for dessert, a salted caramel crêpe. Both were excellent.

When I read a review of Choco au Carre that noted that their peanut caramel chocolate was “like an artisanal Reese’s cup,” I immediately bookmarked the place for my next trip. And, I’m here to tell you that it was like an artisanal Reese’s. They make excellent chocolate, and I regretted that I didn’t buy a bar to bring home after my trip.

When I was researching where to eat in Paris last spring, the restaurant that seemed to be the one everyone was talking about was Le Rigmarole. Even though I didn’t love every single dish I was served, I loved many of them, and for all of them I appreciated how inventive and thoughtful they were. Some standouts: fried spring onions (salty perfection), a grilled oyster with black garlic oil (never met an oyster I didn’t love), and a dessert of almond, pistachio, and chocolate (like a classed-up version of the indulgent chocolate peanut butter bars we always used to make growing up).

While the service at Pink Mamma was dubious at best on the day I visited, the food was worth it. In particular, I enjoyed my pasta, named “From Rome with Love” and made with guanciale (pork cheek), pecorino, leek, cabbage, and mint. Rich (but not too rich), salty, and delish, this was a fab plate.

Balagan is located near the Louvre, an area that isn’t exactly teeming with good, non-touristy restaurants. Luckily, though, Balagan is a gem! I ordered bread to start (it came out hot and smelling divine, sprinkled with salt and with a tahini-like dipping sauce on the side), a sort of deconstructed kebab for my main (corn, chickpeas, and lamb all came in separate bowls and you were encouraged to mix and match), and Jerusalem cheesecake for dessert. The cheesecake in particular was incredible: it came in a little hipster jar, had a nice tasty crumble at the bottom, and featured THE most divine, silky cheesecake.

One of my favorite pastries in Paris is l’escargot chocolate pistache at Du Pain et Des Idées. I grabbed one and then sat outside at a well-covered table, munching on my snail-shaped treat as a light drizzle fell around me. It all felt very French.

I grabbed a lunch at the then newly-opened Loca La Table, an Argentinian restaurant in Montmartre. Though the restaurant was very quiet when I visited (just me and one other couple!), the food was lovely. I enjoyed a tasty burrata with strawberries and tomatoes to start and a nice grilled octopus for my main.

When I saw pictures of the caramel-drenched cookies at the aptly named Karamel, I knew I had to get in on the action. After a stroll through the 7th, I scooped up a cookie with caramel, pistachios, and chocolate chips. Oh so delicious! I mean, would you look at that caramel.

La Bourse et La Vie is, as mentioned, one of my absolute Paris faves. So it was something of an oversight that I had never been to Chez la Vieille, another Daniel Rose restaurant. Predictably, I really enjoyed it! To start, I had a celery remoulade with crab, radishes, and grapefruit (an odd sounding but nonetheless satisfying combo). For my main, I tried the Bouillon Ajumma, which is a sort of soup with chicken, foie gras, sugarsnap peas, egg, and wontons. I also loved the atmosphere here: there are these huge, floor-to-ceiling windows, and they were opened wide to let in a lovely summer evening breeze.

On my last day in Paris, I grabbed breakfast at Mokonuts, and I’m so glad I squeezed this in. I had the Jerusalem toast, which might not look like anything particularly fancy, but in my journal, I noted that these were “tiny little flavor explosions,” an assessment I stand by. I would come here a lot if I lived in Paris, I think.

I ended my time in Paris with a lunch at Grand Coeur, another old favorite. The weather was quite lovely that day, so I enjoyed my lamb al fresco. I always get this dish and, honestly, I would not have it any other way.

When I look back at posts I’ve written about Paris restaurants over the years, it hits me that I have been to a lot of restaurants there. Yet, somehow, my list of restaurants to visit in the city seems just as long as ever. Until the next French culinary adventure…


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