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Best Paris Restaurants

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Paris’s gastronomic reputation precedes itself, so you've probably guessed that eating in Paris generally doesn't come cheap.

There are ways to keep the costs down, however. Most of the best Paris restaurants offer fixed-price menus, usually with a choice of several dishes for each course. These always work out cheaper than ordering à la carte, often considerably. Prices are also often significantly cheaper at lunch than at dinner, even at really ritzy places. So if you want to try out some great restaurants without breaking your budget, book for lunch instead. If you don't want to buy bottled water, ask for une carafe d'eau (a free carafe of tap water). Bear in mind too that French wait staff earn career wages and a 15% service charge is built into the bill, so there's no additional tip (for really outstanding service you might leave a few euros, proportional to the size of the check, but it's not required or expected).

Other cultural differences worth noting: a plat or main course in France is what's known as an entrée in the US, while an “entrée” in France is a US appetizer. (The price descriptions in our reviews refer to the average price of a US entrée, ie French main course, at dinner.) In France it's impolite if staff bring you the check before you've asked for it, so you could be waiting a l-o-n-g time if you don't. Asking for a box/doggie bag isn't part of French dining culture, as appreciating the chef's work (and modest serving sizes most places) means leftovers aren't an issue.

Opening hours and days vary from place to place and from season to season, so it's worth confirming places will be open, and booking as far ahead as possible, especially for high-end and hip addresses.

From seafood to salads, delicious fresh breads and cheeses to exquisite desserts, you'll   find delicious cuisine to satiate any appetite at all the best Paris restaurants - whether you are looking to splurge at an expensive high-end eatery or are looking for a wallet-friendly lunch-on-the-go dining in the City of Light is sure to please.

Guy Savoy

Neighborhood: Western right bank Price: Expensive

The best Paris restaurants are some of the world’s best restaurants. Paris counts 10 triple Michelin-starred restaurants, but if you're only going to dine in only one, this is the place.

In fact, the venue itself is slated to change: Paris is buzzing with the news that as of late 2011, Savoy is shifting his operations to the left bank's monumental former mint, the Hôtel de la Monnaie (11 quai de Conti, 6e), which will house both his gastronomic flagship as well as a less formal space, the Metal Café.

In the meantime, you'll find Savoy at his refined right bank premises, preparing seasonal creations and such perennials as his legendary artichoke soup with black truffle- and wild mushroom-layered brioche. Also legendary is Savoy's theatrical presentation, such as a shroud of vapor that lifts to reveal steamed Breton lobster. Add to that Champagne from Savoy's own vineyards, carts laden with a mouthwatering choice of fresh breads (try the chestnut) and France's finest cheeses, along with impeccable service, and this is the pinnacle of haute cuisine.

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Passage 53

Neighborhood: Central right bank Price: Expensive

In a tiled shop in Paris’s oldest glass-roofed arcade, this little jewel is now one of the best Paris restaurants as it recently picked up its first Michelin star for its delicate cuisine combining elements of its Japanese and French pedigree. The result is seasonal dishes like pea velouté as velvety as its name, roasted foie gras in strawberry and rhubarb soup, tempura artichokes with apples, oysters and sea onion foam, and its signature lightly grilled squid with shaved cauliflower, along with exquisite desserts like lychee panna cotta. The best way to sample its flavors is the no-choice dégustation (tasting) menu. If you're sitting next to the floor-to-ceiling shop windows it can feel a bit like dining in a goldfish bowl, but on the other hand, you get to look out at the passing parade.

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Passage 53  

Les Ombres

Neighborhood: Western left bank Price: Moderate

If you're looking wholly and solely for gourmet gratification, this top Paris restaurant choice at the Musée du quai Branly may not be for you. For an only-in-Paris experience, though, the setting is the stuff memories are made of.

Both the restaurant and museum—which showcases indigenous art and artifacts from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas—were designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel. Surprisingly, the menu only hints at flavors from the continents the museum represents (such as salmon with green mango and shiso), while mostly sticking to French dishes. Surprisingly too, not all continents are represented on the wine list.

But the biggest and by far the best surprise is the view of the Eiffel Tower, a few hundred yards away, which is rarely seen from this angle (Les Ombres' latticed metal-and-glass roof reflects the tower's fretwork). Time an evening stroll on the terrace when it glitters on the hour.

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Le Hide

Neighborhood: Western right bank Price: Moderate

Hidden just two blocks behind the Arc de Triomphe, Le Hide is in fact named for its owner/chef Hide Kobayashi (aka Koba). In-the-know Parisians and those savvy about Paris travel seek out this sparingly decorated but smart little bistro for Koba's creative regional French flavors and, especially, his prices, which in this upscale part of town are an absolute steal - making it one of the top Paris restaurants for travelers and residents.

For a tour de France, you could begin with a starter like Provençal frogs legs, move on to Normande-braised veal with apples flambéed in calvados, then finish off with two of the pastoral Auvergne's lushest cheeses: semi-hard, slightly tangy Cantal and silky-soft St-Nectaire. The only problem with this plan is missing out on Koba's desserts, which are his forte—to try a couple, order the café gourmand (coffee with miniature desserts, which might include chocolate mousse and a divine little crème brûlée).

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Le Relais Gascon

Neighborhood: Northern right bank Price: Moderate

Sure, you can find places in Montmartre that are hipper, like Le Miroir (94 rue des Martyrs), and/or swisher, like Le Moulin de la Galette (83 rue Lepic), both of which we recommend. But Le Relais Gascon is still our favorite place to dine in Montmartre, and the value for money makes it one of the best places to eat in Paris.

This cozy, clattering spot serves up southwest-of-France cuisine including its signature salades géantes (giant salads). Salads come topped with sliver-thin garlic-sautéed potatoes; pick one with southwestern flavors like the salade gascon that has smoked duck and foie gras, or salade du béarnais, with warm goats cheese and bacon.

A salad makes a meal in itself (you're doing well if you're able to finish one), but hearty main plats include herb-grilled half-chicken, entrecôte (rib steak) with parsley butter, and, if you're feeling adventurous, andouillette (tripe sausage). The wine list also showcases the southwest, with Cahors and full-bodied St-Émilion among its vintages.

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Le Relais Gascon  

Hôtel du Nord

Neighborhood: Northeastern Paris Price: Moderate

Fans of classic French films might recognize this sage-green facade on the banks of Canal St-Martin, which inspired Eugène Dabit's 1920s novel ‘Hôtel du Nord’ and in turn Marcel Carnés 1930s movie, which features exterior shots of the building.

Dabit lived here when it was a working-class hotel run by his parents and while it no longer rents rooms, it's now a heritage-listed bar/bistro lined with mosaic mural tiles, shelves full of books and deep sofas.

You can just drop by the zinc bar for an apéro or nightcap, but it's an enchanting, slightly bohemian setting to dine on its French-with-an-international-accent menu that includes excellent seafood (foil-wrapped cod, St-Jacques scallops in orange butter) along with mainstays like its crunchy Asian salad, and gourmet cheeseburger, all served by down-to-earth staff.

Glowing candles make it especially seductive at night but if things are tight, the lunchtime plat du jour and coffee just about fits into budget territory.

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Frenchie

Neighborhood: Central right bank Price: Moderate

Even when you do find this tucked-away neighborhood bistro, on a cobbled lane off rue Petite Carreaux (the northern extension of lively market street rue Montorgueil), the faded name imprinted on the wooden facade is easy to miss, despite Frenchie having opened its doors fairly recently. Inside, the bare tables, exposed brick and beamed ceilings reflect the surrounding garment-making district.

The not-particularly-French-sounding (or rather too-French-to-be-true-sounding) name was French owner/chef Gregory Marchand's nickname when he worked with Jamie Oliver in London. Marchand's market-driven menu consists of just a couple of choices for each course. Depending on the season, you might find house-smoked trout with asparagus (seafood of any sort is reliably superb), followed by guinea fowl with parsnip purée with kumquats, and puff pastry Napoleon with honey and chili.

The snug dining room and skeleton staff (hence the bargain prices) means you'll need to call around two weeks ahead during mealtimes to stitch up a table as those in the know about eating in Paris have discovered the place.

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Frenchie  

Chez Marianne

Neighborhood: Eastern right bank Price: Moderate

Actually, this can work as a budget option for a take-out falafel sandwich (or non-vegetarian version with beef), served in onion pita and drizzled in tahini sauce (order and pay at the cashier first). And before you ask, yes, Chez Marianne's sandwiches are at least as good as its famous neighbor, L'As du Fallafel (34 rue des Rosiers, 4e)—and the lines are shorter.

Better yet, though, is dining deli-style on Chez Marianne's assiettes composés (mezze platters) inside this Claret-colored, vine-clad corner building amid black-and-white tiles and walls lined with wine bottles. Choose from four, five or (if you're ravenous) six ingredients such as rice-filled vine leaves, humus, grilled eggplant, sliced pastrami, olive tapanade, marinated mushrooms and much more. If there are two of you, go for the 10-ingredient platter to share. Finish off with one of its Middle Eastern desserts like pistachio balls, strudel slices and sticky-sweet baklava.

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Cuisine de Bar

Neighborhood: Central left bank Price: Budget

Strictly speaking, only a few choices at this airy tartine bar fall into the budget category. But before you think wonder what could possibly be lunch in this place let's be clear that these aren't your average tartines.

For a start, all are served on Paris’s famous Poilâne bread from the original 1932-opened Poilâne bakery (still run by the same family) next door. And all come with a salad dressed in tangy mustard-grain vinaigrette.

Tartines that do slip under the budget bar include sardines with wine vinegar and chives, but just a few euros more widen your choices to deluxe toppings like St-Marcellin cheese and Bayonne ham, or foie gras and fig. And a budget-friendly lunchtime deal includes a tartine, salad, wine and coffee for just 12.50 euros.

If it's still pushing your limit, pick up a quarter-loaf of Poilâne bread and a bag of Poilâne's “Punitions” (crispy-thin, scalloped-edged butter cookies) from the bakery along with some camembert and a rosé from the supermarket for a gourmet picnic instead.

Chez Nicos

Neighborhood: Eastern left bank
Price: Budget

Paris has a plethora of cozy Breton crêperies serving sit-down meals. But for crêpes to go, Nicos's little shop on cobbled rue Mouffetard—with a dozen-or-so stools clustered around an L-shaped bench—is hands-down the city's best.

Nicos treats each freshly made crêpe as a one-off work of art, individually adding ingredients (like halal mince, eggplant, mozzarella, tomato, lettuce and onion in his La Crêpe Nicos) and presenting you with a hefty two-handed affair. Plentiful vegetarian options include feta instead of meat. Sweet varieties such as banana and stewed apple or Nutella, coconut and Grand Marnier make for perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-ups.

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