Where the Locals Eat in Paris

French cuisine inspires the world, and Parisians still consider eating out in Paris a special experience. But where do locals eat in the City of Light? The best restaurants in Paris entice locals to cross the city to savor their delicacies—and you should be willing to travel, too. Reserve in advance and prepare to be enchanted.

52 Rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris, France
A boon to taco-starved expats when it opened five years ago, this taqueria-meets-cocktail lounge has been consistently good since day one. Tuck into tacos, tostadas and deliciously chunky guacamole in the narrow taqueria, then head past the unmarked door at the back of the kitchen for prohibition-style cocktails and great music. Tight quarters—one large communal wood table and a handful of bar seats—demand early arrival. Upside: stop by anytime during the day for a quick bite if claustrophobic dining doesn’t suit you. Why opt for Mexican fare on a trip to Paris, you may be wondering? It’s one of the best spots to mingle with locals and offers a true glimpse into the modern Parisian hangout.
54 Rue de Seine
You’d think that having a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (a prestigious crafstman title) at the helm of a restaurant would imply steep prices, but at Semilla, you’re in for both a great meal and a great deal. The international influence is strong here, where Ferrandi-trained chefs serve up modern interpretations of classic French dishes from an open kitchen. The crowd is mixed, the service is smooth and attentive, and the bread, an important element to any meal in France, is rustic and hearty—baked fresh in the adjacent sandwich shop run by the same owners. But the most unique aspect to the menu at Semilla is the option of half-portions on a selection of dishes. The menu changes daily with meat, fish and veggie options available for every kind of eater. Open seven days a week but be sure to call ahead for a reservation.
34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, France
Situated a block from the Canal St-Martin in the 10th arrondissement, Du Pain et des Idées is your favorite corner bakery—only better. The owner, Christophe Vasseur, was named best boulanger in Paris in 2008, and for good reason. From hearth breads to viennoiseries, everything is crafted to perfection. If you’re discerning about your bread, don’t leave without a slab of the signature loaf, the pain des amis—masterfully crusted on the outside and airy and fluffy on the inside, just waiting to be buttered. But Vasseur’s masterpiece is the chocolate-pistachio escargot pastry, a snail-shaped treat with pistachio paste slathered in between layers of puff pastry and punctuated with dark chocolate chips. This isn’t an optional stop along your Paris visit—it’s a must. But be aware: The shop is open only Monday to Friday.
55 Rue Oberkampf, 75011 Paris, France
He loves to work with French produce, but Pierre Sang has also introduced French people to flavors they aren’t used to. He was born in Korea and adopted by a French family when he was seven. In his cooking, he incorporates some of his heritage—kimchee-like foods come up a lot. There’s no written menu: You pay a set rate for a six- to eight–course dinner, and you get whatever the chefs have concocted.
52 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris, France
With their Paris supper club Hidden Kitchen, Americans Laura Adrian and Braden Perkins regaled guests with a sensational 10-course meal with wine pairings around a communal table in their apartment. The food was nothing short of transcendental; inventive in taste and elegant in form. With such staggering success in relatively short order, it’s no wonder the desire emerged to share their talents with a wider audience.

Their first brick and mortar restaurant and wine bar in Paris opened its doors to immediate praise and the crowds haven’t slowed. Braden and his team apply the same technique, heart and originality to each dish that made Hidden Kitchen a resounding favorite. And even if the prix-fixe dinner in the upstairs dining room exceeds your budget, the ample selection of wines and mini plates in the bar will keep you drinking and nibbling all evening (particular attention goes to the buttermilk fried chicken and celeriac dumplings). And in a recent development, the culinary duo has begun serving American-inspired sandwiches like the Bakesale Betty and Midnight Cuban in the wine bar at lunchtime, Tuesday-Friday. Not to be missed.
5 Rue du Nil, 75002 Paris, France
Frenchie (the restaurant) is nearly impossible to get into, but the wine bar across the street provides a taste of chef Gregory Marchand’s housemade charcuterie and pasta, as well as small plates such as homemade smoked trout and burrata cheese with pickled pear. And the prices are wallet-friendly too.
25 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris, France
Most locals point to Breizh Café in the Marais for the city’s best crêpes but my loyalties lie with Chez Imogène, a tiny, no-frills restaurant in the 11th arrondissement. Traditional buckwheat galettes and sweet dessert crêpes take pride of place at this convivial, local favorite and shouldn’t be consumed without a glass (or several) of Breton cider. While this signature meal can and should be consumed anytime of year (I find that most galettes are light enough even in those rare but insufferable bouts of heat and humidity), they are at their most festive on February 2nd for La Chandeleur- the Catholic holiday which commemorates the presentation of baby Jesus at the Temple but best known in France as crêpe day. You might even consider it the French version of Groundhog’s Day as consuming crêpes on this day is meant to symbolize the approaching spring.
44 Boulevard Richard Lenoir, 75011 Paris, France
Flora Mikula, one of France’s rare female top chefs, has given up her gastronomic restaurant Les Saveurs de Flora to open her dream Paris place, a small urban auberge in the 11th arrondissement where travelers can mingle with les citoyens over delicious, affordable French-Mediterranean food. In the hotel, Paris designer Sebastien d’Evry uses vivid patterns and rich colors as a backdrop to rooms with street views. The rooms showcase vintage phones and objects from Mikula’s travels in Morocco and India. Individually decorated, they are categorized as Bohemian, Gardener, and Nature—themes inspired by the chef’s eclectic passions.
20 Rue des Martyrs, 75009 Paris, France
Paris is known for many things but until recently, ethnic fare wasn’t one of them. In the hip neighborhood south of Pigalle, YOOM is my go-to spot for wildly delicious dim sum in an environment that is both cozy and contemporary - not the dive we all tend to imagine for good Asian bites. It’s a mix of New York style and Hong Kong spirit but universally delicious.
27 Rue Malar, 75007 Paris, France
The oldest Basque restaurant in the city, L’Ami Jean has been helmed by Brittany-born chef Stéphane Jego since 2002. Known for his passionate temperament—which is reflected in his cooking—Jego has taken the flavors of his childhood and brought them to the table with an enlightening modern twist. Jego finds the best purveyors of the finest, freshest ingredients of the season to create his memorable dishes: a deconstructed onion soup, a seafood consommé with crunch. You can order the tasting menu or à la carte. There is a comprehensive wine list with something for every budget. End your meal with his famous rice pudding with caramel au beurre salé and caramelized pecans—then prepare to roll home.
109 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris, France
If you can’t make it to the Brittany region of France, Breizh Café is a wonderful consolation prize. Don’t leave without first trying the complimentary bread (complete with amazing salted lemon-butter), the insanely meaty oysters, and one of their buckwheat crêpes. I personally recommend a savory flavor; the smoked salmon and crème fraîche one is a particularly good combo.
7 Rue Pache, 75011 Paris, France
From New York to Tokyo, the world’s food scene is heavily informed by outside influences. In Paris, this translates to cuisine that isn’t narrowly French but rather brimming with ethnic flavors. That includes the unequivocally popular and omnipresent tastes from Italy, though they tend to vary drastically in price and quality. When I learned about Come A Casa (literally, like at home), which is located just off of the Place Léon Blum near Voltaire in the 11th, I knew I needed to see whether it ranked among the city’s few worthy Italian joints. This 15-cover jewel box of a restaurant fits the bill perfectly. The menu is compact, dominated largely by fresh antipasti and a lasagna and pasta dish that changes daily. The wines are Italian and should absolutely be paired with the meal. But what’s on the plate is only part of the charm of this Tuscan trattoria. Owner Flavia Federici is not only credited with turning out flavorful dishes capable of transporting each diner straight to Tuscany but as the mastermind behind the standout design. Trained as an architect, Flavia left no detail unconsidered when laying out the small space. The elevated, open kitchen lords over the tiny dining room, appointed with vintage furnishings (including school desks), serving dishes and shelving to house wine, pasta, sauces and other goods that guests can purchase to take home. Come A Casa is warm, welcoming and guaranteed to delight. Just don’t forget to order the stracciatella.
13 Rue de Mézières, 75006 Paris, France
Owned by Julien Cohen, son of Marie-France Cohen, founder of iconic upscale shops Bonpoint, Merci and Bonton, Pizza Chic oozes cool minimalism: large accordion windows that give the impression of a terrace in the warmer months, black and white tiled floors, polished silverware, dangling bulbs, tall water glasses, tin ceiling tiles along the bar and an open kitchen with a view of the wood-burning oven. It’s a little bit New York-hipster-meets-Parisian bobo without the pomp and circumstance. Not to mention the Italian servers who take your order with zeal and a wide smile. As the name indicates, the menu is dominated by pizzas ranging from the classic (margherita or vegetarian) to the more original (artichoke, parmesan and arugula), with gargantuan desserts you’ll want to save room for. Finish off the meal with a strong, Italian coffee and pocket the praline chocolate for later - you’ll be glad to have a remnant of the experience before you can return again.
Rue Intérieure, 75008 Paris, France
For Michelin-starred chef Eric Frechon, opening a 110-seat restaurant in the heart of Paris‘s busiest train station (Gare St.-Lazare) was effectively a way to reconnect with his democratic, bistro past. The Bristol Hotel chef is an avowed proponent of no-fuss, simple food executed to perfection. He jumped at the chance to dedicate a space to his special brand of cooking when he was approached by the SNCF transport company to create a restaurant worthy of the station’s newly renovated image—a destination for transients and locals alike, open morning, noon, and night. Frechon stepped in to offer a wildly accessible, haute casual menu of French comfort classics in a gorgeous, lofty space that is equal parts café-bar and swish restaurant. In addition to the full menu, expect daily specials, a robust wine selection, and a standout dessert that will have you returning time and again: the Paris-Deauville, a sweet homage to Normandy, his birthplace, in the form of a caramelized, cold soufflé. The classic brasserie has experienced considerable decline in recent years, but with Lazare, Frechon revives the iconic lieu de vie with deft style.
44 Rue d'Argout, 75002 Paris, France
Launched by a twenty-something business school grad and entrepreneur who was inspired by the flavor combinations available in America, Blend is unique on the undeniably oversaturated burger scene in Paris. Both locations, one in the 2nd behind rue Montorgueil and the other conveniently (or dangerously) located a few doors down from concept-store MERCI, are diminutive in stature, like the burgers - perfect for tamer appetites. The meat is sourced from esteemed Paris butcher Yves-Marie le Bourdonnec and blended with cheese and other ingredients prior to cooking, making modifications almost always impossible. Fortunately, they have two veggie options with equally veggie buns (spinach or tofu) for those aiming for ultra-lite. I also highly recommend the grilled chicken burger to switch things up. Keeping with the homemade ethos, the fries - regular or sweet potato- are hand cut and lightly salted; a necessary component to the meal. Not everyone sees the merits of a Blend burger but in my experience, these are the people who are expecting a greasy stomach bomb - in other words, an authentically American burger. These are decidedly tidier and more refined and absolutely worth a special visit.
129 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris, France
With the precipitous rise of gourmet street food and market-fresh neo-bistrots, it’s not surprising that Boris Leclercq’s eponymous steak joint ‘Chez Boris’ opened near the Champs-Elysées last year with little fanfare. The conceit of this steakhouse, however, deserves attention particularly for its unique, revivalist approach to steak-frites dining. Boris and his wife Leticia raise grass-fed Aubrac cows on their own farm in the Hérault region, follow a 21-day maturation process in a cold chamber within their own cutting plant (where they employ 2 dedicated butchers), and serve both traditionally superior cuts (filet, sirloin, etc.) and those most often neglected or typically reserved for tartares or hamburgers (flank or spider), accentuating their flavor as a result of their maturation technique and grilling process. What’s more, they won’t begin preparing cuts from another cow until those from the previous one have been entirely used and served. Each steak is served with a simple green salad and crispy fries cooked in beef fat, not in oil. This ‘home made’ from farm to plate approach is, effectively, all in an effort to control the provenance of the meat they serve and ensure quality at all times - crucial as the horse-meat controversy and trend in French restaurants toward using industrial ingredients had the public hyper-aware and concerned about what they’re consuming. Delicious and sustainable - more than enough reason to book lunch or dinner at Chez Boris.
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