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Paris - Dinner Tips

Top 10 best restaurants in Paris + updated 2018

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Paris - Dinner Tips Top 10 best restaurants in Paris + updated 2018

In a city with a reputation like that of Paris, how the hell do you choose where to eat?

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From classic bistro fare to high concept tasting menus, Paris is up there with the best in the world in every category.

If it's your first time in the city, no doubt you'll be looking for some steak-frites or duck confit; if it's your second (third, fourth...millionth) time, you'll already know there's lots more to discover than that.

Best Restaurants in Paris

Below, we've handpicked the best restaurants for dinner across the lover's capital. It ranges from pizza and traditional Parisian food to some of the world's hippest and most forward-thinking restaurants.

In other words, we've got something for everyone. Just like Paris.

1. Septime Restaurant

What's the best restaurant for dinner in Paris? Ask a foodie, a professional restaurant critic, or even just a Parisian who knows what's up, and you won't find anybody who doesn't put Septime in their top three.

In fact, you'll struggle to find an expert who doesn't put it first.

And with good reason. Septime's no hidden gem - its reputation, within Paris and internationally - is longstanding and well-known.

So well-known that, unless you're organized enough to call exactly three weeks before you want to visit and make a reservation, you're not getting in.

Not that that's a guarantee, either. It's so popular that you're going to struggle to get a table.

Septime's tasting menu is legendary and (which is incredible given the quality of the food) less than €100.

If the price is too steep, you're in luck: Septime has a near-monopoly on Parisian cool, with its sister restaurant Clamato just down the street and its superb wine bar, Septime La Cave, around the corner as well.

The restaurant is also in the heart of the coolest strip of land in Paris these days: the Rue de Charonne, in the 11th arrondissement.

You'll be finding lots of dinner restaurants in the 11th on this list: because it's the only place to be.

2. Grand Couer

If Septime is the height of contemporary cool, Grand Couer is the sophisticated symbol of old Parisian class: a class that, in recent years, has seen a much-celebrated revival.

Grand Coeur is arguably the best brasserie in Paris. Nestled in Le Marais, Grand Coeur is a restaurant of marble tables and burnished wood, all framed by a long window looking out onto an old courtyard.

From braised beef cheek to bean and fish stew, Grand Couer combines traditional brasserie flavors with the likes of shellfish lasagne and burrata with yacon. And, like every great brasserie, it has a reasonably priced wine list.

3. Les Papilles

Back in 2003, down in Paris' Latin Quarter, Bertrand Bluy opened Les Papilles.

The rest is history. Surprisingly well hidden, Les Papilles is a sort of wine-shop-cum-restaurant, where the menu changes daily but where at dinner only one thing is served: the 'fresh market' menu of the day.

And it is good. Very good. Les Papilles serves excellent food, at a much cheaper price than it would be elsewhere because they've simplified the menu; its wines are extensive and excellent and you can take home whatever you don't drink.

4. Astier

Another gem in the 11th. Astier, which opens at 7 pm in the evening, is a traditional-style bistro that may not look like much but packs a real punch.

If it's your first time in Paris, Astier is a must: its decor is quintessential, from its red-rimmed plates to the branded napkins.

With an a la carte meal costing around €35-40, it's also very reasonable, and the food is succulent.

Astier is particularly famous for its cheese plate: it's quite literally a huge plate of all manner of cheeses, which they place on your table and let you go crazy on. Take what you want. As much as you want.

5. Clamato

We mentioned Clamato already, in the same breath as its big brother Septime. But it's one hundred percent worth its own entry.

This restaurant, which doesn't take reservations, is named after the American drink of the same name: a blend of reconstituted tomato juice concentrate, clam broth, and sugar.

Yes, it's as unpleasant as it sounds. No, Clamato doesn't sell it. Maybe, the name is a stroke of genius. Because Clamato's stock in trade is seafood.

With each dish made for sharing, it's perfect for a casual dinner for two or for bigger groups.

Plus, you know, you can actually get a table. So in one sense, it's streets ahead of Septime.

6. Fulgurances

Not only is Fulgurances one of the best new restaurants for dinner in the city, it also gives plenty of new chefs the breaks they're looking for, launching them to stardom.

Because that's the thing about Fulgurances: you'll go for an excellent dinner but, if you go twice in a year, it'll be styled, planned and cooked by two different chefs.

Says the restaurant: “Fulgurances acts as an incubator, welcoming young chefs to take over the kitchen in order to find and refine their identity, test their ideas, and learn how to manage a team, before setting off to open their own restaurant."

Right now (April 2018), you'll enjoy food from Raphaël Calisto a chef who came to the craft via study of architecture in Portugal. He made a name for himself working in various restaurants in Portugal, before settling at Kobe Desramaults' renowned restaurants in Belgium.

By all accounts, Calisto's food is excellent: combining his Portuguese roots with the styles he learned in Belgium and the culture he's soaking up in Paris.

7. Bistrot Melac

Maybe the ultimate old-school bistro but with fewer crowds (and, admittedly, less of a reputation) than well-known spots like Bistrot Paul Bert.

That doesn't discount Bistrot Melac (didn't we put it on the list?), with its excellent location a few streets away from the iconic Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Bistrot Melac is on a quiet little corner, and its homey, family run feel - it's been run by the same family since 1938 -  makes it perfect for an early dinner. The owner even grows his own grapes and makes wine from them, so be sure to take a glass or two.

And don't miss out on the aligot, a beautiful blend of cheese and mashed potato that makes red wine taste out of this world.

8. Les Grand Verres

Combine art with food. Les Grand Verres is one of the most exciting restaurants in Paris, partly because its situated in the Palais de Tokyo. This gallery, dedicated to modern and contemporary art, is in the 16th arrondissement: that is, one of the swankiest areas in Paris.

Les Grand Verres just made it swankier. Renowned Paris architecture firm Lina Ghotmeh designed the space, and Preston Miller - with successful restaurants in Seattle and Boston under his belt - heads up the kitchen, offering something closer to Mediterranean cuisine than French.

What's more, the company behind the restaurant, Quixotic Projects, have a good track record: Candelaria, one of the hippest spots in Paris and also its first Mexican taqueria, is also one of theirs.

The interior is beautiful and the food - from duck breast to watercress bucatini - is delicious.

It's also popular, so remember to book.

9. Louie Louie

Okay, this might seem like a come down after the restaurants above but Louie Louie serves pizza, and pizza only.

It's also perfectly situated on a corner of Rue de Charonne, just around the corner from some of the 11th's best bars. And it serves one of the best pizzas you'll ever eat. Really.

It's also cheap, trendy and easy going. If you've already blown your budget on Septime, Fulgurances and Les Grand Verres, head to Louie Louie for something different but maybe just as good.

10. Frenchie

Run by Gregory Marchan, Frenchie takes its name from the moniker given to Marchan by Jamie Oliver when the former worked for the latter.

Marchan has outgrown Mr Oliver, though, and Frenchie Restaurant (with its companions Frenchie to Go, French Wine Bar, and Caviste) has won the hearts and minds of the people at the top of the Parisian food scene.

The food at Frenchie has its basis in - you guessed it - French cuisine but twists it into something international.

You'll be well taken care of. The 5-course dinner menu is €78, or €125 with wine.

Trust us: take the wine.

11. Astrance

Last but certainly not least, we give you Astrance.

Not far from the Eiffel Tower, in the 16th arrondissement, Astrance has three stars from Michelin. So, clearly, you're in for a treat.

What makes Astrance particularly special, though, is that it's reasonably low priced (for a Michelin-starred restaurant, anyway) and has no menu at all.

Every day, Pascal Barbot decides what to cook and serves it. No questions, no substitutions.

No problem. The food is revered across the world: there's a reason that Astrance got its first Micheline star after just one year (in 2001) and had all three by 2007.

 

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