You'd walk right by this nondescript sliver of a restaurant if you didn't know it was there. A smattering of oversize gold candlesticks, artfully dilapidated tile walls, perfectly gilded mirrors, slabs of marble, and rickety chairs will make you feel like you're eating in someone's wonderfully loved kitchen. And this kitchen just happens to serve Argentinian steaks accompanied by creamy guacamole, beans and rice, and heaping amounts of side salad.
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.
This cozy spot in the 6th is open through the entire month of August, and we’re grateful for that because their dishes are a perfect showcase of France’s summer garden bounty. Their burrata starter comes with fresh cherry tomatoes and a pistachio pesto, and their brunch dishes (yes, that means French toast and crêpes) revolve around around summer raspberries and strawberries.
Bistro aux Vieux Chene
If Bistro Paul Bert is too busy (which is often the case), grab a seat at the zinc bar here. It’s friendlier, much less hyped, and specializes in reliably wonderful bistro classics at always reasonable prices.
At lunch, Bob’s is overrun with health-conscious Parisians who sidle up to the communal tables for salads, veggie stews, and cold-pressed juice.
If you've overindulged on steak frites and can't handle the thought of another buttery sole meunière, eschew the delicious but heavy bistro classics for some Mediterranean at Bonhomie. A café-meets-cocktail-bar-meets-restaurant near the chic Le Marais district, sitting on a royal blue leather stool in the beautiful, modern, white, and gold interior feels like a breath of fresh air. The menu leans on Moroccan influences with a former Frenchie chef at the helm, dishes like minty chickpeas and labneh and harissa lamb with tabbouleh take center stage. If you happen to pass by at an odd afternoon hour, a coup de champagne at the long marble bar is the way to go.
Bouillon Pigalle is a restaurant of the proletariat. Though it would be more accurate to call it a restaurant of the proletariat of Paris who favor watercress salad, escargot, boeuf bourguignon, frites, and a menu that is as true to a bistro menu as it can be. Historically, in French restaurant vernacular, a "bouillon" is a restaurant that served bouillon-which is to say good, afforable food, that appealed to the working class. And Bouillon Pigalle is the 2018 version-300 seats, a festive, bustling vibe, and a crowd willing to wait the better part of an hour for table. No matter. The profiteroles are that good.
It takes nerve (and talent) for an American to take a French concept and recreate it for a famously hard-to-please Parisian audience. In chef Jody William’s case, her French-inspired wine bar, Buvette, has been adopted with open arms. She tested the concept in New York first—there is a much-loved West Village outpost—and exported her “gastrotheque” back to Paris in 2013, to rave reception. In this romantic, perfectly Parisian little wine bar, you can expect a wonderful cocktail and wine list, and a petite menu of small versions of dishes like Coq Au Vin and Moules and Tartines. They also serve several local, seasonal salads—good ones are still a hard to find in many traditional French restos.
This bustling bistro is particularly great for late dinners and brunch: The menu is nice and succinct, offering the classics you want after a few glasses of wine. You’ll find steak au cheval, steak tartare, a selection of burgers, and a sampling of salads, plus a small wine list mostly offered by the carafe. This is one of the few places open on Sunday.
Café de Flore
This classic Parisian Art Deco café on the corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain has played host to everyone from Sartre to Picasso. They came for the coffee and the people-watching, as should you: When the weather’s nice, find a spot on the outdoor patio and get a big café au lait and an omelette.
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