On the corner of Faubourg St.-Honoré and Avenue Matignon in Le Bristol Paris (between the hotel’s three-star Michelin gourmet restaurant and its famous Bar Bristol), 114 Faubourg occupies two floors linked by an enormous spiral staircase adorned with gilt leaves. The orange walls glow with giant photographs of pink and white dahlias (one of owner Maja Oetker’s favorite flowers); banquettes are embellished with brocade trim; and a violet carpet adds to the warmth of the room. The chef, presiding over an open kitchen, stresses seasonal simplicity, and diners can choose from a variety of meats and fish preparations—grilled, steamed or sautéed—and garnishes. The comfortable chic atmosphere and personalized service have made 114 Faubourg a favorite among fashionable residents.
À L'Épi d'Or
Just steps away from the imposing Bourse de Commerce, À L'Épi d'Or sits nestled away among the bustling streets—you might miss it if you’re not looking for it. But behind the weathered doors, you’re transported into what feels like 1920s Paris, with dark wooden tables, eclectic and unassuming decor and soft, cinematic lighting. It’s the type of place you can’t help but wonder what notable names have dined at these tables. Expect unpretentious but delicious classic French bistro cuisine. A perfect spot for lunch after a busy morning among the hustle and bustle of Paris; you’ll feel like a local here.
In the space that was formerly the bustling Left Bank canteen of Conran Restaurants from London, Alcazar is now a popular eatery by decorator Laura Gonzalez. The designer has filled the space with an interior garden that evokes summer all year round. There are cozy tables and a lively bar on two levels, and chef Guillaume Lutard focuses on French country classics like roast chicken with trendier additions like ceviche with grapefruit.
The two narrow dining rooms at this old-fashioned bistro in St.-Germain des Près look like a Robert Doisneau photograph of prewar Paris. The menu follows suit, with heaping portions of delicious, unapologetically cholesterol-rich Gallic grub.
At this beloved institution, generations of families have come for sweets and countless grandmothers have tested their descendants’ table manners in its dining room (which was completely overhauled in 2009 and has rediscovered its former grandeur). It’s Paris’ most famous tea salon and a great place for a light lunch or indulgent snack; some consider it to have the best hot chocolate in the world. There are three additional outposts:
This one-star Michelin restaurant has one of the most romantic settings in Paris. Located on the ground floor of a gorgeous 19th century townhouse on the Right Bank near the Champs Élysées, Apicius has been a favorite spot for grand gestures like a proposal or an anniversary since it opened. The food highlights sophisticated classics like fennel langoustines and black truffle pastry with foie gras. In warm weather, tables are set in the beautiful garden.
The minimalist-modern dining room, designed with warm colors of red and chocolate, serves as the perfect backdrop of chef Alain Passard’s mostly vegetable-focused menu. The chef is passionate about fresh veggies (many of them grown on Passard’s organic farm outside Paris), though shellfish and poultry also make appearances (carnivores will be disappointed, though). The restaurant has three Michelin stars. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
The astonishingly inventive cooking of chef Pascal Barbot—as well as a third Michelin-star—have made this this a hot spot for foodies. Barbot cooks for some twenty-five diners in a gracious, modern duplex dining room not far from the Trocadéro. There’s no à la carte menu, only two prix-fixes. Dishes like his avocado ravioli filled with crab and drizzled with almond oil and turbot with a coulis of lemon and ginger are simply amazing. Reserve two months in advance for dinner.
Au Bon Acceuil
Au Bon Acceuil is a favorite bistro of food writer Patricia Wells and it's a great choice for lunch or dinner if you're touring the Eiffel Tower. After a delectable meal, you'll come out and see the tour all lit up. Talk about a spectacular dessert. Closed Saturdays and Sundays.
For a casual bite after a morning of shopping at Le Bon Marché, and some of the best people-watching in Paris, make your way to Au Sauvignon, an unassuming brasserie just off Rue de Sèvres. The wine bar, which has been owned and operated by the same family since 1954 (full disclosure: this writer has been paying an annual visit for the last 25 years), serves simple Poilâne open-faced sandwiches with regional cheeses, saucisson d’Auvergne, goose rillettes and other artery-clogging delights. Topping out at about 15 options, the excellent wine list is short and to-the-point — much like the service, which can be a tad austere (but don’t take it personally). The decor stems back to the 1950s with an original zinc bar, antique ceramic tiles and faded postcards sent from friends abroad; as a whole, the experience utterly charming and authentic, which is why you’ll find yourself squeezed in among a primarily local crowd. Order up a tartine and a crisp glass of Quincy, sit back on the covered terrace and watch the beau monde stroll by.
Chef Gaël Orieux recently received a first Michelin star for this, his first restaurant, which comes highly recommended by Yannick Alléno, the former star chef at Le Meurice, under who Orieux used to work. It's very close to the Musée Rodin, so makes a good spot for lunch when touring the museum. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
Alain Ducasse took over this century-old Art Nouveau bistro near the old Bourse (stock market) in 2002 and shrewdly updated the menu, which runs to modernized versions of traditional Lyonnaise dishes. Try the brochet aux écrevisses (airy pike perch dumplings in crayfish sauce), frogs’ legs and Grand Marnier soufflé. Great value prix-fixe lunch. Closed Monday, Tuesday and Sunday dinner.
Alain Ducasse deserves the gratitude of all bistro lovers not only for saving one of the most-loved bistros in Paris—Benoit, founded in 1912—but for making it even better. Don’t miss such hard-to-find cuisine bourgeoise classics as langue Lucullus (layered mousse of foie gras and smoked tongue) and sole à la Dieppoise in a velvety sauce made with fish fumet, butter, mussels and tiny gray shrimp from the North Sea. Best of all, it's open daily.
The fabled Parisian ice cream shop still lives up to its reputation for making the city’s most delicious sweet treats. The flavorful ice cream (and sorbet), ranging from classics like pistachio to more adventurous concoctions, like licorice and salted caramel, is sold at other venues on the Ile St.-Louis and around town, but it’s worth making the pilgrimage to the original branch.
With its zinc bar, heated terrace, exposed brick walls and cozy leather booths, Le Valois is a great place to relax and refuel after a morning spent touring the Louvre or shopping along Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The menu emphasizes hearty traditional French fare like house-made terrine, andouillette sausage, boeuf Bourguignon, and plenty of foie gras.
There’s a lot of debate about Paris’ best crêperie, and this fun Marais spot tops the list of many. A funky, mod dining room serves as the backdrop for innovative sweet crêpes and savory galettes that originally hail from Bretagne, the abbreviation of which (BZH) served as the inspiration of the café’s name. Reservations are recommended, especially on Saturday. Open daily.
This French-ish bistro run by American chef (and lifelong Francophile) Jody Williams has become a veritable canteen for SoPi (South Pigalle) hipsters since opening in 2013. Those familiar with Buvette in New York’s West Village will recognize the stylish vintage aesthetic—tin ceilings, exposed brick, marble bar, and mismatched bistro chairs—as well as William’s traditional French menu featuring cheesy tartines, succulent coq au vin, and saffron and fennel-infused mussels.
Café de Flore
Café de Flore is a terrific spot for a coffee or a Cognac after dinner, because despite its popularity with tourists, this historic St.-Germain café still attracts an intriguing crowd of locals, including French celebrities. Open daily.