Dining in Paris
Dinner at a Paris bistro. (Photo by Tim Holmes)

The best restaurants, food tours, cooking classes, and dishes in the world culinary capital of Paris

Favorite restaurants in Paris
★★★ Taillevent (Classic/Haute) [€€€€€]
★★★ Au Bascou (Basque) [€€–€€€]
★★ L'Epi Dupin (Baby Bistro) [€–€€€]
★★ Auberge Etchegorry (Basque) [€–€€€]
Les Bouquinistes (Baby Bistro) [€€-€€€]
Perraudin (Classic Bistro) [€–€€]
Chantairelle (Auvergne) [€€–€€€]
Brasserie Bofinger (Brasserie) [€–€€]
Restaurant du Palais Royal (Classic/Modern) [€€€]
Brasserie Balzar (Brasserie) [€–€€]
Auberge de Jarente (Basque) [€€]
Brasserie Lipp (Brasserie) [€–€€]
Paris is perhaps the world capital of dining.

For the French, food is close to a religion, and they gladly worship at the altars of their award-winning celebrity chefs.

Keep in kind that you don't have to eat in a restaurant every meal (though some of my faves are listed to the right).

You can just as easily grab a quick crèpe, have a few pastries at a café, or put together a picnic fit for Louis XVI, to be enjoyed in a park, on a bench, or back in your hotel room.

This will also help save you money.

The costs of dining in Paris

Dinner in Paris is also easier on your wallet than it used to be—though still not cheap.

A full meal will run you €25–€50 per person in most bistros and moderately priced restaurants.

The sky's the limit on the bill in fancy joints run by celebrity chefs. If you insist on a meal liberally sprinkled with Michelin stars, try going at lunch when prices are marginally lower (for example, an a la carte dinner at Taillevent will run you €120–€140; the lunch menu is a "bargain" €82).

There are more tips for shaving a bit of the cost of Parisian dining in the "Dining tips" section below.

France's economic crisis in the 1990s forced many restaurants to lower their traditionally astronomical prices (followed by another welcome lowering correction caused by the Euro slump and worldwide economic crises of 2008–11).

Also, in the 1990s many top chefs opened up annexes dubbed "baby bistros," (like Les Bouquinistes) where they serve up ther name-brand culinary creations at (relatively) low prices.

French cuisine and wines

There's a whole page devoted to the basics of Parisian cuisine: The classic dishes of haute cuisine, nouvelle cuisine and cuisine minceur, regional specialties, and French wines. » more

Useful French phrases for dining

Restaurant un restaurant (uhn ray- stah-rahn)
casual restaurant un bistro(uhn bee-stro) or une brasserie (oon bra-sair-rhee)
table for two un table pour deux (uhn tah-bluh pour douh)
I would like Je voudrais (zhuh vou-dray)
...some (of) un peu (de) (uhn puh (duh))
...this/that ce (suh)/?a (sah)
and et (ay)
...a glass of une verre de (oun vair duh)
...fizzy/ still water eau gazeuse (oh gah-zuhz)/ non gazeuse (no gah-zuhz)
...red/white wine vin rouge (vah roozhuh)/blanc (blahn)
...beer bière (bee-yair)
Check, please La conte, s'il vous plaît (lah kohnt seel-vou-play)
Is service included? Le service est-il compris? (luh sair-vees eh-teal coam-pree)

 

Dining tips

Vacation calories don't count

Remember this. Eat up. Enjoy. You'll be walking alot anyway.

Have fun

Some people may be intimidated by the idea of sitting down to what many—certainly the French themselves—consider the most refined food on the planet.

Don't sweat it. The only people with a need to impress anyone are the chef and kitchen staff.

Have your waiter suggest some dishes, and let the sommelier pick out a wine; then just sit back and enjoy the flavors.

Prix-fixé menus

Fixed-price meals are a fixture of Paris.

You usually get a limited choice for each course—starter, main, dessert—but spend far less than ordering from the full a la carte menu (usually €20 to €35).

The best bargains in this department are on menu déjuener (lunch menus).

Six money-saving tips
  1. Prix-fixe menus, described above.
  2. Try brasseries, somewhere between a cafe and a restaurant, where it's OK to order just a simple, one-plate meal. (I'm partial to choucroute, a platter of sauerkraut and meats, often with cheese.) A few classic Parisian brasseries: Bofinger, Balzar, Lipp.
  3. Patronize baby bistros: less fancy, less formal, and—above all—less expensive outposts operated by the top chefs in Paris, like Guy Savoy's Les Bouquinistes.
  4. Visit fancy restaurants at lunch, when the à la carte prices are often lower and special menu déjeuner (set-price lunch menu) can make a meal at even the fanciest Parisian kitchen a little less of a shock to your wallet.
  5. Try street food from sidwealk stands, like savory crèpes filled with ham and cheese, or simple sandwiches of brie and meat on crusty bread. Bonus, you can eat them on the go or at a park bench and save a ton of precious sightseeing time at lunch. (Always save the leisurely meals for dinner.) » more
  6. Picnic. Two of my most memorable meals in Paris have been assembled on the cheap from local little shops—bread, cheeses, salami, pâté, fruit, wine, water, and pastries—and eaten on a bench or back in my hotel room. It didn't cost much, but I ate like a king (I dunno, I guess one of the Louis). » more
Culinary tours
Cooking classes
Wine tours of Paris
Dinner cruises
Special meal tours
Dinner and a show

 

 

 

 



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Paris bistro at night
A Paris Bistro with sidewalk tables. (Photo by La Citta Vita)