Paris is a vibrant and diverse city, representing a cosmopolitan hub and one of Europe's largest cities. As one of the most visited cities globally, it can be challenging to maneuver the crowds, the traffic, and the tourist traps. However, if you do your research and learn about the city and its people, you can have a truly incredible experience. Paris has something for everyone, from the most niche art galleries to jazz clubs, rock concerts, opera, museums of all kinds, thrift shopping to high-end designers, and more. When it comes to food, Paris offers not just the cuisines and street foods of France, but the entire world.
While there is ample opportunity to find good food in Paris, the sheer volume of restaurants can make it difficult to know where to start. According to Fodor's, Paris is estimated to have more than 44,000 restaurants. This monster food scene makes it nearly impossible to make meaningful "best restaurant" lists, but the ones listed below are a great way to dip your feet in. To get the real Parisian experience, try both the classic French dishes that Paris is known for and the international cuisine that has come to define the city. You don't have to spend an exorbitant amount or eat at a Michelin-star restaurant to do so. As a food writer in France, I've traveled the country immersing myself in the food culture wherever I go. Here are some of the best dishes to order in Paris and where to try them.
Steak Frites At Bistrot Paul Bert
Steak frites, meaning steak and fries, may sound like a simple dish, but it's one of the most loved meals in Paris, and a bistro staple. While French cuisine is meat-heavy, this dish is not eaten every day and is considered an indulgence, as it contains an entire piece of steak. This means it's usually given extra attention and cooked with care, getting the seasoning and level of cooking correct, something that French chefs pride themselves on. Then, of course, the accompaniment of fries has to be thinly cut, and fried until golden and crisp, while still fluffy inside.
You can find steak frites at almost any Parisian bistro, but we love the one at Bistrot Paul Pert. This modern meats classic restaurant brings you straight to the heart of Parisian culture, with a dash of cozy elegance. It also made Ina Garten's 14 favorite spots to eat in Paris, so you can rest assured it's a great place to dine. The menu is often changing, but you'll always find their succulent steak frites, which are served with their specialty pepper sauce. It's so good that you'll want to lick the plate.
Boeuf Bourgignon At Au Bourguignon Du Marais
Boeuf bourguignon, pronounced buhf borg-in-yon (try not to pronounce the last "n") is the ultimate comfort food, especially in colder months, and you can find many excellent versions of this dish in Paris. This hearty beef stew comes from the Burgandy (Bourgogne in French) region in France, which is famous for its wine production. Wine is the key ingredient to boeuf bourguignon, as beef is slow-cooked in it, creating a deep and rich sauce that coats your mouth as you eat it. Your beef stew should be tender and the sauce should be generous, with a combination of vegetables and herbs like carrots, mushrooms, onion, and thyme.
One of the best places to try this dish is at Au Bourguignon du Marais, a recent addition to the trendy and bustling Marais district. This family-run restaurant has "bourguignon" in its name because it serves a selection of traditional Burgundian cuisine. So it's a no-brainer that it's a great place to try an authentic boeuf bourguignon, which is their specialty. Served in a little cast-iron casserole, you won't need a knife when eating the meat -- it's melt-in-your-mouth soft.
Onion Soup At Bistrot Richelieu
French onion soup is famous all around the world for being extremely savory, with an intense caramelized onion flavor and a crispy cheese crouton baked on top. What makes onion soup different from French onion soup comes down to the type of onions and stock used, as well as the method of caramelization. Onion soup -- or soupe à l'oignon in French -- is a delicious and affordable way to warm up in a cozy Parisian bistro. Keep in mind that even though you may know it as "French onion soup," leave out the "French" in the name when ordering in France because you might get a giggle from your waiter, or a snarky comment like, "Of course it's French, you're in France!"
One of the best places to try onion soup in Paris is Bistrot Richelieu, a place that's loved by tourists and locals alike. Located in the center of Paris in Rue de Richelieu, this modern Parisian bistro serves traditional French dishes made with organic ingredients, at reasonable prices They stick to the classics but do them well, which is what you want when trying onion soup, a dish that's so delicious and comforting, it needs no reinvention.
Couscous At Petit Zerda Cafe
French colonial history in parts of the Caribbean, South Asia, and West and North Africa, can be understood through the immigrant communities that live in France. While these communities still face forms of marginalization in the country, many have preserved their cultures, or found ways to intertwine it into the fabric of French society. Food is one of the avenues that one can see this. The large North African community in France has enriched the French food scene with an abundance of delicious foods and flavors. Foods from countries like Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria have proliferated in all sorts of ways, the biggest of which is couscous. Couscous is a dish that's become so loved in France that eating Moroccan or Algerian couscous couldn't be more Parisian.
With the many magnificent North African restaurants that serve this couscous, it's not hard to come by an excellent one. The cuisines of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and other North African countries are incredibly diverse, but couscous is a special dish because it connects them all. It's considered to be a celebratory food in North Africa, often eaten on Fridays and at weddings. You'll find all sorts of delicious, authentic, and inspired versions of it in Parisian restaurants. We love the homey yet stylish Petit Zerda Cafe, where you can find traditional couscous with a variety of meats, vegetables, and styles to choose from. There might be a queue, but the aromas will be enough to entice you into waiting.
Steak Tartare At Les Philosophes
This is a raw meat dish, so if the thought of that puts you off, it might not be your best choice. However, if you've never tried it and have an open mind, it just may convert you. Steak tartare, a French classic with a unique history, is one of the traditional foods that's actually eaten by locals regularly, making it a ubiquitous plate in many restaurants. With different variations and innovations on this traditional dish, it's essentially raw ground beef made from the best cuts of meat, seasoned with ingredients like onions, gherkins, capers, Worcestershire sauce, and raw egg yolk.
If you're afraid of the safety of eating raw meat and egg yolk, rest assured that it's a dish that's treated with great care and safety standards. In truth, there's nothing to worry about, and you can order it at even the most casual places. Our consistent favorite for ordering steak tartare is Les Philosophes. This cozy bistro in the Le Marais district is usually always packed, and for good reason. They prepare all the favorites of traditional French cuisine with consistently good quality. They take no reservations but don't be put off by a long queue -- it moves surprisingly fast.
Coquillettes à La Truffe At Brasserie Rosie
This may be a lesser-known dish for visitors, but many French kids grew up eating this French mac and cheese dish. Coquillettes, the French term for "cute little shells" is the name for this beloved macaroni, often served with a cheesy sauce and ham. It's a nostalgic favorite for many, but it's made quite an emergence onto the Paris food scene recently as restaurants and famous chefs like Alain Ducasse have elevated it with the addition of luxurious ingredients like truffles. Since then, the idea has taken off into fast food franchises like Coquillettes, where you can order all kinds of customizable toppings and fillings.
Some find it ridiculous to go out to a fancy restaurant to eat their childhood mac and cheese dish. For those who've tried it at Brasserie Rosie, one of the go-to spots in Paris that champions this dish, it's hard to deny that it's a decadent delight. Made with fine ingredients, the perfect amount of gooeyness and subtle truffle flavor, it's indulgent without being too heavy.
Accras De Morou (Cod Fritters) At Caffé Créole
Accras de morou is a popular fritter that's served as an appetizer all over Paris, thanks to the influence of the West Indian community. Fried until crispy, with a fluffy and spicy cod filling, this satisfying snack is the perfect bite to start a meal or have on the go. You can usually find an accras stall at the numerous fresh food markets around Paris, and it's become so beloved that there's even an annual Festival des Accras, where you can find the most creative ways to enjoy these golden fritters.
If you're not a fish fan, don't worry -- you can find all kinds of accras, from chicken to pumpkin, zucchini, and more. For a traditional accras de morou, visit the inviting Caffé Créole in the heart of Paris. Located in the 11th district, this vibrant restaurant will take you on a journey with the flavors of the West Indies, and their accras are perfectly seasoned and crisp. They're an appetizer for a reason because their flavor will make you salivate for more.
Kurdish Kebab At Riha Durum
Anyone who's been to a European country knows how popular kebab sandwiches have become. The style of Turkish kebabs that grew out of Berlin over the past 50 years has spread all over France and almost every neighborhood has a kebab joint. It's the lunch or dinner choice for many working people around the city who want a warm, tasty, and affordable meal. Among this tough competition, a relatively new chain of Kurdish kebab stores has opened up in Paris, actively competing to become the new street food sensation. Not using the common upright rotisserie technique, the meats are individually skewered and cooked on a wood-fired grill, giving them an incredible smoky taste.
There are several places to try an authentic Kurdish kebab, but one of our favorites is the tiny but mighty Riha Durum in Rue des Petits Carreaux. Everything is prepared in front of your eyes, including the flatbreads which are baked on the same wood-fired grill. The warm fresh bread with a slight char makes the perfect packaging for the filling of your choice. It's then neatly rolled up, making it easy to eat without much mess. There's no wonder there are constant queues outside, but the quick service won't leave you waiting long.
Ris De Veau At Parcelles
French cuisine wholeheartedly embraces eating nose to tail, and while in Paris, it's a chance to explore how these under-utilized parts are prepared. If you're not accustomed to eating offal, ris de veau, (pronounced ree-de-vo) or sweetbreads, is a good place to start, because of their soft texture and subtle taste. In truth, it's one of the most delicious of the delicacies of French cuisine, and finding it on the menu is a sign that you're in a good restaurant. Ris de veau (beef) or ris d'agneau (lamb) is the pancreas or thymus gland, and is an extremely delicate part to cook, needing care and attention to preserve its tenderness.
In Paris, one of the best places to try ris de veau is Parcelles, a restaurant that prides itself on serving this dish since its inception. It's one of their signature dishes and you'll understand why once you try it. Served with capers and crunchy fried sage leaves on a bed of pillowy mashed potatoes, the sweetbreads are lightly crisped on the outside and buttery soft on the inside. Getting a table at Parcelles is by reservation only and you should book in advance because this elegant bistro is always full.
Brik Or Bourek At Majouja
Brik is the Tunisian deep-fried egg pastry that reminds us of samosas. The filo pastry is shaped into a pocket, filled with fragrant, spiced, fillings, and then fried until crispy. This snack is popular all over North Africa, going by the name of brik or bourek depending on the country, (brik in Tunisia, bourek in Algeria) but is understood even when used interchangeably. The fillings change from place to place, but they most commonly include tuna, egg, potato, parsley, harissa, and more. One of the most satisfying things about biting into an egg brik, is when the yolk is still soft and oozes out.
In Paris, you can find it in many "snack" stores, the casual corner store eateries that make a variety of comfort foods. It can also be found at any of the numerous North African fusion restaurants. We love ordering bourek at Majouja, a restaurant that specializes in Algerian cuisine, because although the Algerian community is one of the largest North African communities in France, Algerian cuisine is often underrepresented. Majouja aims to change that, offering a range of exciting dishes, including different types of bourek that are seriously flavorful and crispy.
Cassoulet At L'Assiette
The French countryside is responsible for many of France's most tasty dishes. The rustic French origins of cassoulet show how people invent the most genius dishes when coming together in times of struggle. Time and time again, the creativity that comes out from cooks making something special with the limited available ingredients is shown in most cultural cuisines, and cassoulet is no different. This stew from the southwest of France is sure to lift your spirits, and offer comfort, especially on days when Paris is its usual gray self. Made from a variety of ingredients like beans, pork, tomatoes, chicken, or goose, this meal is as hearty as it comes.
The homey but sophisticated L'Assiette restaurant is a neighborhood treasure in the 14th district. It's known for cooking all the French country classics, and cassoulet is their signature dish. This is one of the best places to try a distinctive cassoulet, cooked with all the trimmings in an elegant setting. Made for sharing, it's a generous serving and should be approached with a big appetite.
Bo Bun At Asia Bò Bún
Eating French cuisine can at times be extremely heavy and rich, and sometimes your body will crave some veggies, salad, or a lighter meal. This is where the beauty of bo bun comes in and why it offers such a respite in France. This Vietnamese staple is a cross between a noodle dish and a salad, mixing warm with cold, and enough freshness to bring you back to life after eating carb, dairy, and meat-heavy foods in Paris. Its lightness and flavor have made it a favorite lunch or dinner for Paris locals, and the numerous Vietnamese restaurants around the city offer different toppings, dressings, and tastes.
You can easily find bo bun anywhere in Paris, but you can't go wrong at Asia bò bún. Centrally located in the Bastille area in Paris, this restaurant is one of the rare places that's open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. It has a large menu of Vietnamese dishes, and its selection of bo bun is varied and excellent, including both vegan and meat options. It gets busy quickly, so going early is your best bet.
Escargot At L'Escargot
It might seem cliche to eat escargot in Paris, but it would also be a shame to waste the opportunity. There are endless places to eat exquisite escargot, and it's not as "bourgeois" a dish as you might think. True, French people are not eating snails every day, but it's an "accessible indulgence" for those who love it. Many French cafes and restaurants serve escargot at a reasonable price as an appetizer and it's a great dish to order to share for the table. They're customarily served in their shells and everyone receives little tongs for picking out the meat from its beautiful packaging.
This traditional dish hails from the Burgandy region in France, but it has ancient origins in parts of the world outside of France too. To try a consistently good plate of escargot, go to its namesake restaurant called L'Escargot in the bustling Rue Montorgeuil. This family-run place prides itself on its homemade butter and the authentic Burgundian recipe for escargot.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.