1st & 2nd Arrondissement Restaurants
14 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1st Arrondissement
Claus is one of those spots where you'll want to have your way with every dish on the menu (all-breakfast, all the time). There are granolas and toasts and eggs in every conceivable incarnation, and good god, so much pastry. Get a small window table upstairs, grab a newspaper, and take your time. There’s also granola: Claus will have you hooked one crunchy, subtly sweet, almost smoky bite in. And the tiny grocery store across the street that sells the stuff by the bag is the final piece of the master plan. There's also tea, coffee, and a dozen or so flavors of house-made jam. You'll buy all the jars you can carry with the best intentions of handing them out to friends back home. But even the best intentions…
5 Rue de la Paix, 1st Arrondissement
There's a certain sexiness to hotel restaurants, and Michelin-starred Pur at the Park Hyatt oozes it. Chef Jean-François Rouquette has put together a menu of flawless interpretations of classic French dishes. Gently roasted scallops, Plouguerneau abalones, and truly excellent steak are all served in the refined, many-columned dining room. For a blow-out, completely seasonal meal in Paris, Pur delivers—drink your wine at the table and save a post-dinner digestif for the elegant Park Hyatt bar.
1 Rue du Mail, 2nd
Chez George is hyper traditional, a little overpriced, and exactly the kind of place where one wants to eat dinner in Paris. A classic bistro in every sense, down to the mirrored walls and too-small tables. As can be expected, steak frites and boeuf bourguignon is the way to go. Unlike some of the other old-world bistros in Paris, the food here is legitimately very good and the atmosphere delivers every time.
107 rue de Rivoli, 1er
Loulou is what you get when you cross classic Italian food with French sensibility and arguably the most famous location in the world. Chef Diego Compagno to the first, chef Benoit Dargère to the second, and as for that location: "Loulou" is a cheeky play on "Louvre." The menu changes often but highlights include simple and perfect dishes like, raw purple artichokes with parmesan and olive oil or beef tagliata with black pepper infusion, arugula, and parmesan. Every course is simple and restrained and somehow light-but in a setting so regal, so historic, and so likely to make you feel like you deserve a noble rank, you'll hardly care.
Dim Sum Cantine
85 Rue Montmartre, 2nd
Much like the Cantonese-style dumplings that are its claim to fame, this restaurant is compact but mighty. The house-made dim sum (mushroom, shrimp, lacquered pork, and more) is steamed and then immediately served by the basket and accompanied by salad and rice. Lest you forget you’re still in Paris, the steamed brioche buns make for the perfect dessert. Since this restaurant is always packed, you can also check out their second location in the 9th arrondissement.
Joseph & Lucien
43 Rue des Petits Carreaux, 2nd
Blackboard menus in Paris are always a good omen as they’re a sure sign the chef is creating new dishes based on market ingredients each day. At this buzzing little nouveau-bistro tucked away in Sentiers, the self-trained Argentinian chef turns out exactly that, with fantastic, meaty dishes on the menu paired with a small selection of great value wines. Venture here in late August, as they’re closed through the 22nd.
Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie
34 Rue Montmartre, 1st
This quaint little restaurant serves excellent French food—cassoulet, steak tartare, and chocolate cake—in an unstuffy Art Nouveau dining room. The adjoining shop, complete with ham hocks hanging from the rafters, has a killer selection of French wines, cheeses, and other specialty items.
Le Grand Véfour
17 Rue du Beaujolais, 1st
This historic restaurant—it’s the oldest in Paris, actually—has been taking up the same spot in the Palais-Royal since 1784. While it’s been thoroughly modernized, the majority of beautiful neoclassical embellishments are intact, and the tables are still marked with the names of literary legends (Victor Hugo, John Paul-Sartre, Voltaire) who frequented the spot way back when. With Chef Guy Martin at the helm, the food offering—duck, the finest cheeses—is on par with its rich history. Keep in mind that prices are astronomical and reflect the two-Michelin star ranking, so making a reservation for lunch rather than a grand dinner is a good compromise.
32 Rue Saint Marc, 2nd
Alain Ducasse’s Aux Lyonnais is one of those traditional French dining experiences that manages to deftly skirt stuffiness. The old-world façade still has the original sign from the restaurant’s 1914 debút, and the belle époque interior (mirrored walls, intricate tile floors, and an original wooden staircase) feels straight out of central casting. The menu changes seasonally—they offer a prix fixe as well as a la carte.
9 Rue du Mont-Thabor, 1st
After a week in Paris, when it’s time to lay off the butter and goose fat, we head here. It’s not the sort of restaurant that’s going to change your life, but their seaweed salad and sashimi is solidly decent. And with two sleek and spacious floors, there’s room enough for everyone. At night, when the lights get dimmer and the music louder, it can get a bit scene-y.
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