With 40,000 restaurants and 70 that are Michelin-starred, choosing where to eat in Paris is a wild ride that can be overwhelming. We’ve narrowed down to 5 Parisian brasseries and 5 Michelin-starred restaurants. Bon appétit!
TOP 5 BRASSERIES:
1. Le Repaire de Cartouche
$$$$ 8 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, 75011 Paris, France (map)
11th arrondissement, Metro: Saint-Sébastien – Froissart
Only a handful of restaurants in Paris serves hare à la royale stuffed with foie gras, so if you’re here to taste a good rabbit, Le Repaire de Cartouche is a must. If rabbits aren’t your likings, then a slow-cooked wild boar stew with red wine might just do it! Chef Rodolphe Paquin prepares each dish with patience, traditions and harmonizes his flavors according to each season. We think you should start your meal with a plate of rillettes d’oie, it might be the best you’ll have in France. Moist and well seasoned. End the meal right with the chef’s choice of desserts. Le Repaire de Cartouche is surely an unforgettable dining experience. PS. Stop by “Pop In” afterwards for an indie pop rock session on 105 rue Amelot.
6th arrondissement, Metro: Vavin
You simply can’t be in Paris without touching upon Earnest Hemingway’s footprints. The Nobel Prize winning writer lived in Paris during the Roaring Twenties. His favorite cafes, restaurants are still popular today, filled with tourists. One that isn’t combusted with tourists but sophisticated local Parisians instead is La Closerie des Lilas. Allegedly, Hemingway wrote most of his famous novel, The Sun Also Rises, here in the restaurant which is divided into three parts: restaurant, brasserie and piano bar. The desserts here are divine, while our favorite dish is the duck.
11th arrondissement, Metro: Parmentier
On a quiet street in the 11th arrondissement, Le Villaret is the mecca of Parisian bistro not for its decor but for the spirit of the kitchen. The dinner menu is pricey but flavorful as it changes every season. Red meats, fish, fresh vegetables straight from the market are all there. Expect lots of creams and rich sauces that go so well with your wine choices as the selections are extensive from French vineyards. We highly recommend the Burgundies!
6th arrondissement, Metro: Odéon
Le Comptoir de Relais is a beautiful inspiration of the Basque country. Located in the gorgeous and bustling St. Germain district, Hôtel Le Relais Saint-Germain houses one of Paris’ most successful and delectable restaurants run by Yves Camdeborde. From 12pm – 6pm everyday and on weekend nights, its serves fantastic brasserie dishes. On weekday evenings, it transforms the menu into a prix fixe five-course excellence. We think you’ll love the Basque ravioli, the lamb main dish. But dinner is often booked up so you might have a better chance to line up for lunch or to devour in its tapas at the L’Avant Comptoir (tapas bar next door).
5. Le Marsangy
$$$$ 73 Avenue Parmentier, 75011 Paris, France (map)
11th arrondissement, Metro: Parmentier
Take the leek terrine with foie gras and take it without hesitation, it’s the ultimate killer dish! You want to be off the beaten path and not be surrounded by tourists? La Marsangy will give you just that, and it’s REALY good! It’s an intimate and traditional bistro that serves delicious yet unpretentious food. The wine list has 200-plus selections and you must try these: kidney carpaccio, pork ear terrine, duck feet, veal tongue if you’re not a picky eater.
TOP 5 MICHELIN-STARRED RESTAURANTS:
1. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée (3 Stars) – Glamorous Opulance
8th arrondissement, Metro: Alma – Marceau
The ultimate haute cuisine, Alain Ducasse is practically a walking God in France. No, really he is. Ducasse is one of two chefs in the world who holds 21 Michelin stars, not to mention he has a number of restaurants around the world. Out of them, Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée is the most glamorous and is the classically Ducasse experience. With 10,000 crystals draped throughout its jaw-dropping dining room, the use of local and sustainable produce is only the base of the kitchen here. Drool over: Iranian caviars, Breton lobster, coconut curry scallops, and pigeon fillets in a shallot-mustard sauce. Don’t leave without trying Ducasse’s iconic Rum Baba dessert (vanilla syrup-poached pear with ice cream and streusel.)
With a wine list which shifts three times a year, this is the absolute opulence!
Please note: This restaurant has closed for renovation since August 2013 and set to reopen in Spring 2014.
2. L’Arpège (3 Stars) – Veggie Powerhouse
7th arrondissement, Metro: Rue du Bac
Chef Alain Passard does not mess around. L’Arpège, the vegetable focused progressive French restaurant, has been hailed as one of the best restaurants in the world and continues to hold its top standings in Michelin guides. The restaurant offers an a la carte menu, a 9-course ‘Menu Cuisine Choisie’ for € 360 and a 9-course ‘l’Éveil des jardins’ lunch menu for € 130. Don’t leave without trying Alain Passard’s signature dish he created in 1980s: Chaud-froid d’oeuf fermier, sirop d’érable’ (hot and cold egg with maple sirup). The restaurant focuses on fruits and vegetables from its own biodynamic gardens with its own terrroir in Fillé-sur-Sarthe, Buis-sur-Damville and one in a bay opposite Mont Saint-Michel.
Simplicity with depth, this is a devout vegetarian’s Michelin treat.
3. Pierre Gagnaire (3 Stars) – Iconoclastic Fusion Cuisine
8th arrondissement, Metro: Charles de Gaulle – Étoile
As one of the most legendary chefs in today’s culinary world, Pierre Gagnaire is known to introduce creative juxtapositions of flavors, tastes, textures, and ingredients. His famous mantra is written on his website: “facing tomorrow but respectful of yesterday” (“tourné vers demain mais soucieux d’hier”). His restaurant is contemporary and chic. If you’d like to truly understand modern French cuisine, don’t leave his restaurant without tasting: fondant de poularde de Bresse et de foie gras d’oie marbré de figue sèche à l’amontillado, rouget de roche, livèche et bulagna, jus de rhubarbe au curcuma.
4. Akrame (2 Stars) – Daring Innovations
16th arrondissement, Metro: Kléber
For a guy who has learned the best chops from Ferran Adria and Pierre Gagnaire, chef Akrame Benallal has made his own restaurant one of the shiniest stars on the Michelin guide. Located just a few minutes from l’Arc de Tromphe, Akrame decor is modern and stylish.
Akrame seats 20 foodies, with no menu as it changes everyday. You are to choose between a 3-course, 4-course or a 6-course menu. Expect a bit of Ferran Adria’s style of thinking outside of the box and everything prepared in perfection. Just a few of many dishes that he presents in awe-inspiring skills: canneloni framboise, lieu jaune fish, vinegary carrot spaghetti and polenta gnocchi…and more!
5. La Tour d’Argent (1 Star) – Historic Jewel
5th arrondissement, Metro: Maubert – Mutualité
Besides being the inspiration for 2007 Pixar movie Ratatouille, La Tour d’Argent is an institution in Paris all on its own. Established in 1582, Henri IV allegedly dined often at the restaurant. It is owned by the Terrail family of Paris, and operated by Claude Terrail until he passed away in 2006, then passed down the restaurant to his son André.
Prior to 1996, the restaurant was a no-brainer three-star Michelin gem, until it was downgraded to 2 stars and since 2006, it has been awarded with only one. We still put La Tour L’Argent on this list because of its famous pressed duck (canard à la presse) its most notable dish with ducks raised in the restaurant’s own farm. The dish has been served over 1 million times and each comes with a postcard that has the duck’s serial number on it. The location of the restaurant is wildly beautiful, with the view of Notre Dame and Le Seine. Besides the food, every traveler should come here for the history and the unbeatable view.