Je Mange Paris, N’est ce Pas?

I must warn you that I’m typing while eating a pear tart and it’s making my computer keys sticky so excuse me one moment. There that’s better.

Delicious Pear Tart

Delicious Pear Tart


Now where was I? Oh yes, food.

Food is everywhere in Paris. As long as you have a little money—you don’t even need a lot—it’s possible to eat well in Paris. You can buy a baguette at a bakery, a peach at a market, perhaps some cheese and voila–un picqnique. There are cafes, bistros, brasseries, Salon du The, and restaurants on every block. Vendors sell gelato, glace, hot dogs, and sandwiches in pedestrian areas like Les Halles. Now that I’m rushing to class at 9:00, I prefer to grab a quick café au lait and croissant on my way to Lutece, And on my way back to the apartment after class, I‘ve discovered a French secret: when they’re in a hurry, they grab lunch at panini stands.

These small cramped spaces have a window on the street displaying stacks of sandwiches, rows of tarts, salads of every variety and incredible paninis. You’ll find a line for the most popular shops snaking around the block. The food is incredibly fresh, delicious and inexpensive (relatively speaking compared to a sit down meal.) Today I purchased a chicken, goat cheese and tomatoe panini with a pear tart (giant slice enough to feed two people) for 8 Euros. The sandwich is one foot long but picture a baguette compressed on a machine to make it flat. It may have the same calories as if you ate a sandwich on a big fluffy baguette but the compression makes it less filling and you can easily (if you are a good eater like me) eat the whole thing. Other delicacies I’ve had at these stands are a jambon et gruyere panini, champignon crepes, crab pasta salad and a raspberry tart.

chicken panini

chicken panini


It would easy to spend a fortune on food in Paris with so many excellent restaurants. Bookstores are filled with restaurant guides to provide information that will help make the decision easier. For dinner, estranged husband (and boyfriend) and I have discovered a way to eliminate many restaurants. We never (jamais) eat where the cool people eat. We eat at the corner café, a neighborhood brasserie, a local café—and we have never seen a cool person at these restaurants. Au contraire, we are eating with local Paris people at their favorite small neighborhood restaurants and we have had the most incredible food and experiences. The most we have spent on a dinner for two with wine has been 70 Euros. (We have spent 35-70 Euros).

Definitions: Bistro is a small casual restaurant, many originally family owned with a small menu. Recently, bistro has been expanded to include creative chef-owned restaurants, some are part of a large restaurant empire. Although still casual, some may need a reservation. Brasserie is French for brewery and most have an Alsatian origin. Beer as well as wine is popular and most have specialties such as oyster and shellfish platters, choucroute, steaks. They are generally large, noisy, informal, open late and one doesn’t need a reservation. Cool people are beautiful people who eat only at five star establishments.

One lesson Julia Child taught us is to demand fresh ingredients. Even the panini stand vendors know this. At one of our favorite cafes–Café St. Honore,–this is how they turned a simple salad into a work of art. Maybe it was because we were ravenous, or maybe it was because it was the best salad ever, but the Italian Salad with the fresh ingredients. mozzarella, tomatoes and prosciutto on greens— tasted like the chef went out back to a garden, picked some lettuce and tomatoes, stopped by the deli for fresh prosciutto and then drained the curds off the mozzarella he’d been making.

A free range chicken also tasted so fresh that the chef may have just…we won’t go there.

Free Range Chicken

Free Range Chicken


Other dishes to die for:
Gnocchi with truffle oil
Fried Calamari with sardines, olives and zucchini
Steak frites with creamy peppercorn sauce
Taglatelle Carbonara with a fresh egg plopped right on top
Pork Ribs cooked in honey
And of course the French Onion Soup( to name only a few of the dishes that stand out in my mind)

Once in college I was showing off to my friends by ordering our meal in French and we received a giant platter of green beans—just green beans—for our dinner. On this trip, my pathetic command of the language has served us well with only one mistake. I ordered what I thought was a green salad and it arrived covered in octopus. I am not fond of octopus but e-husband enjoyed it very much.

Bistro L'Eustache

Bistro L'Eustache


We stumbled upon an unpretentious bistro in Les Halles area—we stopped because we like the menu and the look of the place—located across from the magnificent E’ustache Cathedral, it was called Bistro L’Eustache. From the moment we sat down , we loved the ambiance, the food and our host—a jolly Frenchman who looked like Gerard Depardieux. We had smoked salmon on toast points with a chive sauce, ribs cooked in honey (so incredible delicious and unlike anything we’ve eaten that we’ve gone back twice.) and an incredible encrote (flank steak) with au gratin potatoes. When we came back to the apartment, we went to the internet to see what we could learn about the bistro and we found it was the favorite of other travelers at Eat In Paris

Patrick and his staff are wonderful. Went there to pass some time waiting for a nearby restaurant to open. Had the best time. Went back once more that trip and visited again 3 times on my next trip.
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This is my favourite bistro in all of Paris. Good food and wine, especially champagne, friendly staff, welcoming atmosphere.
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A little Parisian restaurant you just don’t find anymore! Good familial cuisine, nice welcome and beautiful view of the St Eustache church. A little unknown jewel.

Other favorites are:
Bistro St. Eustache
Cafe St. Honore
Livingstone (Thai)
Le Louchebem
Les Fontaines St. Honore

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