As you may know from Instagram, I just came back from Paris with my girlfriends! I was there for nearly a week and here are all the food spots we hit up - not one was a bust~ So I thought I'd share them with you! I will definitely be going to back to all these places if I'm lucky, and I hope you get to try them too. Special thanks to my friends Grace, Nancy, Jen, Hyunmin, Carol, and Carin (and even their friends) for the recommendations :)
La Cuisine de Philippe
Restaurant, 25 Rue Servandoni
Hands down - I had to start with this gem that we fortunately discovered on yelp about an hour before we sat down for dinner. I find myself often calling places a "gem", but when I do I really mean it. The space is quite small and the chef, the sweetest old man, came out with a big smile and greeted every table which made the dinner more special. He must have known what he was doing because I felt like I experienced "made with love" for the first time from an establishment the way you would at someone's home. Once you take the first spoonful of the soufflé you will know what I mean even if you don't catch him. Just writing this makes my heart ache for one right now. I felt like I've never had a proper soufflé until now. Both the savory and sweet were the dreamiest things that ever touched my lips. The "salted caramel" I ordered for the sweet one may sound rich, but is light and elegantly not too sweet at all. The soufflés felt like eating a warm cloud that could cure anything. I would probably hop off the plane and go straight here next time. I also really loved looking at all the authentic posters on the walls.
Restaurant, 11 Rue Grégoire de Tours
This is the spot my friend Hyunmin would "sing praises" about 5 times a day. She's been here before and I feel so lucky she brought me back with her for brunch! Gosh, writing this post is more difficult than I expected it to be as my mouth is drooling onto the keyboard. They got that perfect crunchy texture down and paired with a refreshing cider. I'm pretty sure I'll order cider from now on whenever I can with my crepes. We tried the egg and tomatoes - look at that presentation! Best part is, it tastes better than it looks. I'm pretty sure this is the epitome of the art of the crepe.
Tea House, 226 Rue de Rivoli
Our hotel was on the same street as this cafe so we came every morning for a croissant, coffee, or a midday pastry to go. My personal favorite is the chestnut flavored, super smooth mont blanc pastry (though I'm biased since I haven't tried them all). On our last day we were about to have breakfast next door at Hotel Le Meurice (where the president of Korea was currently staying!) but once we got there, didn't feel that the menu or venue (though absolutely stunning and screams "Paris") justified the breakfast price. So we dashed to our now familiar cafe and were happy we did in the seated area. The fruit salad came with a perky sauce that I loved, the only flavor I could pinpoint was the lime zest which I detected with my eyes first. Please get this to share, it's so fresh and I would love to try to recreate it if I could for a picnic. The truffle eggs could have been amazing but I couldn't really taste the truffle, so you might as well just order the normal eggs and save the extra euros. The smoked salmon came in a croissant cut as a sandwich which I haven't really seen in NY (going to recreate this delicious idea as well!) They are known for their "famous" hot chocolate - apparently I tried it in their other location (just across the street from La Cuisine de Philippe - a more modern interior with beautiful gray chairs) last time, but to be honest I don't remember what it tasted like.
Restaurant, 5 Rue Mondétour
Grace kept thanking us for coming with her here because she wanted to try it, but hello? We are the thankful ones for her finding it for us to try! Hopefully you will too! The ambience is all wood with large wine shelves which has a nice feel but casual at the same time. The price point reflects this at 40 euros for 3 courses. If you are a New Yorker like myself, this is amazing because the plates are equivalent, if not more interesting than the fine dining here such as Jean Georges. "On the bistro side for its prices and friendliness, while clearly gastronomic for its top level cookery." Worth every penny!
Pastry Shop, 4 Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre
This is a quintessential girls brunch spot right by the Eiffel Tower. Most of us will order the fluffy eggs again every time (make that extra chives) with juice and coffee. The salads here are a hearty portion and the presentation will wow you. I am a huge fan of their lovely plates and when you visit, do notice the sweet flower tiles on the entrance floor! I am reading other reviews online that the pastries are yummier at some of the other shops mentioned in this blog post - so go for lunch, pop over to the Tour Eiffel, and then get dessert at the next spot!
Chocolate and Pastry Shop, 35 Rue de Vaugirard
This is the ultimate gift stop for friends, family and coworkers back home. I'm not particularly a chocolate lover except when it comes to this place! The texture is so smooth and really feels luxurious. I love that these chocolates have "flavors" besides the obvious chocolate flavor. I'm such a big fan of the yuzu that I got a package of just yuzu ones for us to snack on. Another stand out piece is their wasabi flavored chocolate which is surprisingly delectable, not too strong yet not too subtle! Their sesame pastry was a stand out for me and I have a new bucket list to try next time: the sesame noir macaron and green tea croissant. They have locations in Tokyo but there are items on their menu exclusive to Paris.
Le Clown Bar
Modern European Restaurant, 114 Rue Amelot
When my friend Carol, who has been a chef for literally the world's best restaurants, suggested this charmingly small and whimsical restaurant for dinner I knew we would be in for a treat! Sure enough, it's one of those special meals I will never forget in my life, which considering my memory is saying a lot. During our meal I was made aware that it is run by Japanese chefs cooking French cuisine and won "Best Bistro of 2015 in all of France" which is pretty remarkable. Having known that, I could see the Japanese undertones which they worked beautifully into their dishes. Back home I am not the most adventurous eater but something happens to me when I travel and become more open minded, especially for local dishes. For instance, I figured as long as the cow brain was not served looking like one, it would be alright? Nope! It was presented looking exactly the way you would picture a brain - a whole cranium. There, sitting in a clear broth. You know what? Once I got passed that it objectively tasted very pleasant - perfect for the rainy night that it was (and we were sitting outside under heat lamps). After that, the pigeon dish (a dark meat bird) didn't seem very foreign at all and the claw didn't phase me as much as it otherwise would have. I believe that is one of their star dishes. We ordered many dishes to share and paired the meal with an orange wine (a type of rosé) which happened to be a live wine! (I just wrote about the first live wine I tried a couple blog posts ago in the South of France). It was fun to experience new things with friends and learn so much in one unforgettable dinner. We ended the meal with a few desserts where the plating was thoughtfully done until the end. The fresh strawberries were garnished with dainty local white flowers. The attention to detail all around is probably why they are so successful.
Café de Flore
Cafe, 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain
Café de Flore is simply iconic and a full Parisian experience with big names associated with it. Apparently Karl Largerfeld is a frequent diner - check out Chanel Fall 2015's collection and you will see the inspiration everywhere right down to the green and red chairs as the texture of their boy bag. I even ran into Maya of 'Jack's wife Freda' (a charming restaurant in NY) in the bathroom stall last time I was here! It seems everyone comes here to be inspired! Food wise I found myself reordering the green beans and french onion soup, and shared what felt like everything on the menu as a table. The outdoor area is first come first serve - I wish you luck on a beautiful sunny day!
Store, 213 Rue Saint Honoré
Under the "cool" (for lack of a better word) store, great for hip nice gifts, is a restaurant with very satisfying tasty food! The truffle risotto played a big role in that opinion. Anything bursting with truffle flavor is pretty much automatically amazing in my books, but the texture, temperature and marrying with the crunchy fresh lettuce was really excellent. I also loved that their salad was overflowing with fresh ingredients. Citron pressé (simply lemon juice where you add the sweetener and water as you please to make lemonade) is served in France, and I really savored it because the batch was extra sour and the portion was larger than I'm used to. Cute random note: the bathroom here is labeled "Pipi room" :)
Les Marquis de Ladurée
Chocolate Shop, 14 Rue de Castiglione
Though I didn't buy anything this time around (last time I got a cat box for my Laduree box collection since it's cheaper here as a local shop than in the US), it's a stop I just need to make and pop in ever since I saw in on my friend Carin's Instragram page (@ParisinFourMonths). Though its another small space, the decor is SO MY JAM! The difference from the Laduree we are all familiar with is that this one specializes in chocolates and macarons.
L’Eclair de Génie
Pastry Shop, 32 Rue Notre Dame des Victoires
Also one I spotted from @ParisinFourMonths' instagram feed - I must be a sucker for yuzu flavors because I keep getting that one even though some of the others are more beautifully decorated. I always think I wont be able to eat an entire eclair and then am surprised how quickly they disappear into my tummy without making me feel a thing - it must be because the pastry is airy and not too sweet. They are perfectly portioned delicious treats!
Restaurant, 2 Rue des Francs Bourgeois
We popped into a different location across the street from Café de Flore, but that one was darker and moodier so I tagged this location for you guys. Though it's in a department store and not quite a sit down cafe I prefer that it's much more charming and over the top fabulous. I regret not trying the rose shaped pastry pictured above - I always admired it's beautiful craftsmanship, I wonder how it tastes!
Relais de l'Entrecôte Saint-Germain
French Steakhouse Restaurant, 20 Rue Saint-Benoît
It seems like everyone already knew about this place for its steak frites. There was a long line - probably the only line we waited on even considering the rain. There's only one thing on the menu. I absolutely love places like that (Korea has a bunch of those joints whereas I can barely think of in NY). You KNOW it's going to be good. I licked my plate. If I had a photo of my plate - it was white after. Their dessert menu was much more extensive which was fun. The atmosphere is similar to an American diner, but obviously French. I loved the experience, probably more than the food. If I had eaten it elsewhere I wouldn't have thought it was something extraordinary. Who am I kidding though - like I said, I licked my plate clean! (There's a location in NY but I don't think it's as popular here).
Japanese Restaurant, 5 Rue Villedo
I remember Grace ate here multiple times and I did not want to leave Paris without trying it. It seems the Japenese really know how to do it well in Paris. The udon noodles had that perfectly chewy texture. The decor was creative for such a small space with the large kites (?) running across both sides hanging from the ceiling. Decor can have a tremendous impact because the ambience would have been ordinary without them. (The photo above does it any justice - it's much more vibrant in person). Maybe it's because I'm Asian, but I can have Asian cuisine anytime anywhere. The broth and beer was equivalent to a spa treatment - soothing and relaxing, especially on a rainy day. (It rained pretty much the entire time I was there, but it was romantic)
Chocolate Shop, 201 Rue Saint Honoré
Jen and I were scurrying down the street when we halted in front of the window display. The adorable miniature baguettes caught our attention when we immediately realized they were chocolates! I was so distracted by the chocolates disguised as baguettes and sardines that I didn't bother to look around the rest of the shop. This is a really cute place to grab some gifts as well - Nancy had left Paris by then and regretted not being able to buy some after seeing our finds. Well! Great thing I am writing this post because while researching, I found out that NYC has it's very own - baguettes, sardines and all! On 199 Madison Ave 35th street! Pst - you can just buy some here and pretend it was from Paris if there were any gifts you forgot. ;)
Paris is one of those cities you can keep going back to and not have enough days to eat (and see) everything. Please feel free to add more recommendations in the comments below!
Photos are both my own as well as found images from the internet