Be Part of a World-Famous Dining Culture
Paris is almost synonymous with fine cuisine, wine, and dining, boasting a gastronomic scene that is renowned world-wide. It's a city where you will find more than a handful of three-Michelin-starred restaurants, forward-thinking establishments, hotel eateries that were favored by Oscar Wilde, and more trendy bistros than you could possibly work through in a lifetime, in addition to thousands of charming cafes and an ever-diversifying array of street food.
The rich culinary offerings of Pairs have been abundant for hundreds of years, thanks to the city being a melting pot of residents and visitors from all over France, each of whom brought their regional cuisines from across the country to this main hub. These days, the city is home to people from all over the globe, meaning there are now influences from an ever-increasing amount of gastronomical cultures.
So, what are the best restaurants in Pairs? Well, with what seems like an infinite amount of eateries on offer, and due to the fact that the food scene in the city is always changing, shifting, and evolving with modern trends, finding the best restaurants in Paris is no easy feat. Maybe the critics' favorite bistro from last month is now gone and a new one has opened up in its place, or the chef of a Michelin-Starred eatery has just blown the minds of his eaters with a game-changing concept, making reservations impossible. Or perhaps restauranteurs realize that the heavy French classics are out of fashion and start cooking up a lighter fare for a more health-conscious generation.
The ever-changing nature of Parisian dining makes it hard to form a fixed ranking of the best restaurants in Paris. Sticking to the Michelin-starred joints, historically significant eateries, and the many great hotel restaurants is a surefire way to get a memorable and distinctly Parisian dining experience - as is being open to exploring what's on offer.
If this all sounds a bit daunting, don't panic. A more straightforward way to ensure a good meal is to peruse the quieter side-streets of the city and find somewhere that's bustling with guests. Some of the best restaurants in Paris are hidden in its calmer back-alley spots, and if they're full, this is proof that the quality of the food was enough to lure people away from the beaten track. By being willing to look around and try out a few places, you are sure to find your personal best restaurants in Paris, no matter what.
What is Authentic French Cuisine?
France is without a doubt one of the major contributors to the worldwide gastronomic scene, which is partly why it's so exciting to eat in the best restaurants in Paris, the capital. While staying in the city, you will likely want to try something authentically French. The thing is, France is a reasonably large country made up of 13 metropolitan regions, and each of these has its own unique culinary offerings. Which is to say, a resident of Hats-de-France may have a very different idea of what French food is that a resident of Occitanie. The exciting thing about Paris is that its food scene is famous for having a bit of everything - cuisines from all over France and beyond, meaning the best restaurants in Paris should nicely represent the best cuisine of the whole country.
This is, to a large extent, owing to France's 19th century railroad. Upon its construction, Paris was put at the center of the rail network, meaning it was a migrational focus point for natives from all over France who would bring with them their favorite regional dishes and, over time, integrate them into the kitchens of the best restaurants in Paris.
This culinary playground has been the backdrop to some of the most important culinary milestones in history. Paris was the birthplace of Haute cuisine - a concept entailing the artful creation of elaborate, complex dishes meant for high-dining - which was considerably developed by French chef Georges Auguste Escoffier. Some highly progressive concepts also have their roots and best restaurants in Paris, such as that of molecular gastronomy, a forward-thinking way of approaching food preparation scientifically for maximum enjoyment and visual effect.
That's not to say that Paris cuisine only is only looking forward, or to the most complicated or fancy of cuisines. Those wanting truly traditional French food are often referring to the bona fide classics of rural France, which typically consist of beef, rich game meats, thick sauces, cream, wine, seafood, and a fair amount of garlic and herbs all served with some of the best bread there is. Think Cassoulet, duck confit, beef bourguignon, Foie gras, Rillettes (braised pork paté) and Escargots de Bourgogne (snails baked in their shells with parsley butter) served with baguette and finished with Crêpes or Crème brûlée and washed down with a good wine or French cider; you can surely expect these classics to appear on many menus of the best restaurants in Paris today.
Cheese and wine are crucial to a discussion about French cuisine, and thanks to a strong farming culture and a climate that allows for world-class vineyards, both will most likely always be plentiful and available in the best restaurants in Paris. In fact, the city is also known for having superb shops selling such specialist French fare, such as the famous Androüet, the shop with over 200 types of cheese, and wine stores literally in the hundreds (for a more modern, trendy wine shop, try Wine by One, which offers self-service tasting stations for over 100 wines).
A final fun fact: French fries are (most likely) not a French creation. Their birth place is thought to be Spain or Belgium, but as Thomas Jefferson came across the snack in France in the 18th century and famously reported home about it, the name 'French fries' stuck. They are, however, still a firm favorite in France and can be found on the menus of some of the best restaurants in Paris (well, in the bistros and brasseries at least).
Parisian Dining Culture
Good food and decent wine are an important part of life for people of all socioeconomic levels and backgrounds in France, making the act of dining together with others almost like something like a national unifier. Far from having a fast-food or convenience-eating culture, the authentic Parisian dining experience is all about socializing and relaxing over long, drawn-out dinners (that often run late into the night) in a pleasant atmosphere. The conversation and company are as important as the food itself, and a certain level of good service and inviting atmosphere are expected to make the experience complete, whether in a simple bistro or one of the very best restaurants in Pairs.
Of course, there is the terribly fancy side of the dining culture in Pairs - the one it is most known for worldwide. The city, in addition to being the backdrop for the creation of Haute cuisine, is also the birthplace of the Michelin guide, which is the most revered culinary rating system in the world and concerns itself with restaurants, food, and wine of only the very finest quality. If the up-market scene is for you, then these kinds of establishment are quite obviously in the running for the best restaurants in Paris.
But then, there is the other side of the gastronomic scene, which one could argue is actually more authentically French, seeing as it's derived the from local culinary traditions of rural France. Meals that are hearty, filling, delicious and actually relatively simple are still enjoyed in bistros and brasseries all over town. Completely unpretentious and laid-back, these kinds of venues are the best restaurants in Paris to head to if you want something wholesome, warming, and humbly uncomplicated.
Finally, the food scene in Paris today is rounded of nicely with a fair helping of Asian food, world cuisine, and street food. Head to the 13th arrondissement to experience the offerings in China Town or to the Asian Quarter, which includes communities around Bellevile and near Rue au Maire in the 3rd arrondissement. This diversity and scope of what is on offer is why it's hard to define the best restaurants in Paris - to do so, it'd best to break them down into categories.
What are the Best Restaurants in Paris?
The Best Restaurants in Paris That are Michelin-Starred (or even Three-Starred)
Eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant can definitely be called an authentic Parisian experience, not least because the city is actually the birthplace of the Micheline guide. The Michelin system was first published in 1900 by Andres Michelin. Having grown from what was initially a basic tourist travel guide, the Michelin culinary guide is now the most respected in the world. It was in 1933 that it first adopted the three-star system - the fact that there are only 75-80 three-starred restaurants in the whole world makes it even more impressive that Paris is home to ten, which could by default be named the best restaurants in Paris.
The oldest three-starred Michelin Restaurant in the city is L'Ambroisie, for which founder Bernard Pacaud obtained the three stars in 1988. The restaurant's classic, restrained style of the cooking means it's one of the most esteemed restaurants in the country. Guy Savoy, Paris, is, according to the Michelin guide, possibly the best the city has to offer food wise, with its a la carte and fixed course menu option (the latter being a specialty of the chef). Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee is one of the most lauded dining experiences in Paris, thanks to its elegant take on classic food, and Taillevent (despite the fact it lost its third Michelin star in 2007) is still a favorite and offers a tasting menu to let guests try out just the highlights of one of the best restaurants in Paris.
The Best Restaurants in Paris for a Typical French Kitchen
Looking again to the no-frills (yet heavenly) dishes of rural France, Paris has a lot to offer in terms of traditional and authentically French cuisine alongside its international and more progressive options. This food - normally served in bistros, taverns or brasseries - is thought of as the standard ABCs of French cooking and, having been developed by the farmers and peasant folk of the French countryside, is hearty, warming and filling. While they may not be thought of as the best restaurants in Paris, the ones serving classic French food may at least be the most authentic.
Located at the top of the hill of the trendy, bohemian Montmatre district, Le Coq Rico serves up delectable roasted chicken dishes in a cozy, mountain-chalet-style setting. In addition to your meal, you can expect a lovely assortment of amuse-bouches, such as toast spread with truffle butter served with a boiled egg. La Pulpéria has a menu that changes daily, but its incredible meat dishes always takes center stage (with Argentinean chef Fernando Di Tomaso throwing in some classic South-American classics like cerviche).
Considered by some to be the perfect bistro, Volnay delights both tourists and Parisians alike with its well-stocked wine cellar, 1930s-style bar, art-deco interior, and a menu that honors traditional cuisine as well as contemporary ideas. Found in the Latin Quarter, Les Papilles is a great choice for people who are serious about their wine. Not only does this bistro have an impressive wine cellar but it also doubles up as a wine shop. It serves up hearty and (mostly) traditionally French food in four courses which are finished with dessert and cheese (the menu changes daily, but there is no variation to what is on offer, so it's maybe not the best place for fussy eaters).
The Best Restaurants in Paris for Budget Eats and Asian Street Food
Food and dining are for everyone in France, and those trying to explore the city on a budget will not be left out of discovering some of the best restaurants in Paris. The multicultural mix of people now residing in the French capital means that the food scene has diversified over the years and there is now a fantastic offering of authentic, tasty, and affordable Asian street food.
Soul Kitchen is a delightful, quirky canteen in Montmatre offering good creamy coffee and an ever-changing menu of delicious homecooked meals and light lunches. This is also a good spot to stop and rest for a while or to spend some time on the laptop. The whimsical concept of Café Balls is sure to make its guests smile as they fill their stomachs. Here, you can choose between five different types of tasty meatball (vegetarian options also available) for which you then select a yoghurt or garnish - these filling dishes can also be bought as part of a menu with a drink and side all for under 13 euros - if not one of the best restaurants in Paris, definitely one of the most fun.
At the Li Ka Fo restaurant in China Town, you can enjoy massive plates of tasty Asian food for a very fair price, and the restaurant is very popular with local Chinese families. For a unique streetfood experience, be ready to queue with locals to be served at the tiny Franco-Korean canteen Ma Kitche, offering Korean food in cardboard takeout boxes and their specialty dish, bibimbap.
Hotel Restaurants: Some of the Best Restaurants in Paris
Paris being a hub for travelers and tourism in the 19th century also encouraged the springing up of many hotels in the city, many of which also boasted premium eateries of their own - L'Hotel, for example, was famously the last home of Oscar Wilde and still boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant today.
In the very center of town, the Restaurant Bachaumont at the Bachaumont hotel serves gourmet food in a beautifully sophisticated setting which matches the hotel's comfortable, luxury vintage charm. The Le Lumiere restaurant of the Scribe Paris Opera Hotel is an award-winning eatery directed by famous chef Sébastien Crison, who serves up daringly modern as well as classic cuisine française in a splendid venue which is historically significant for having played a part in the invention of cinema. You will also find some of the best cocktails in town in the hotel's bar.
Located in the fashionable, once-bohemian-now-chic district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés is the Pont Royal hotel, which is home to the fine French restaurant L' Atelier De Joel Robuchon. Joël Robuchon is the head chef of this contemporary restaurant, in which guests have the option to create their own multi-course menu.
People wanting to discover the hip and alternative side of Paris tend to head to the eastern side of the city and especially to the arty district of Montmatre, where you'll find hidden restaurants, cabaret venues and bars galore. As a place that claims to offer the key to Montmartre's secrets, Terrass" Hotel, this is one of the best restaurants in Paris for those really wanting explore the district. And thanks to Montmatre's hill-top location, the Terrass Restaurant offers amazing views of the city.
As a city of people who don't eat to live but who live to eat, wining and dining is an important part of any trip to the French capital. After doing a little research, identifying your ideal Parisian eats, and trying out a few hot spots, you are likely to find your own personal favorites among the best restaurants in Pairs.