Jikoni, I always put my money on Frommers. We found the best out of the way places that even locals don't know about - nightlife, etc. (As you click on the name of each restaurant, he gives a full detailed description.)
All I can say is Ooo La La.
Tips on Dining
Paris's Range of Restaurants
Paris boasts a surplus of restaurants and cafes. Ultraexpensive temples of gastronomy
include Alain Ducasse, L'Astor, Taillevent, Pierre Gagnaire, Lasserre, Jacques Cagna, Le Grand Véfour, and La Tour d'Argent. Savvy diners confine their trips to luxe
places for special occasions. An array of other choices awaits, including simpler restaurants dispensing cuisines from every province of France and from former colonies like Morocco and Algeria.
Paris has hundreds of restaurants serving exotic international fare,
reflecting the changing complexion of Paris itself and the city's increasing appreciation for food from other cultures. Your most memorable meal in Paris may turn out to be Vietnamese or West African.
You'll also find hundreds of bistros, brasseries, and cafes. In modern times their designations and roles have become almost meaningless. Traditionally, a bistro
was a small restaurant, often with Mom at the cash register and Pop in the kitchen. Menus are most often handwritten or mimeographed, and the selection of dishes tends to be small. They can be chic and elegant, sometimes heavily Mediterranean, and often dispensing gutsy fare, including the pot-au-feu
(beef simmered with vegetables) the chef's grandmother prepared for him as a kid.
French for "brewery," most brasseries
have an Alsatian connection, and that means lots of beer, although Alsatian wines are also featured. They are almost always brightly lit and open 24 hours. Both snacks and full meals are available. The Alsatian establishments serve sauerkraut with an array of pork products.
is a French institution. Not just places for an aperitif, a café au lait, or a croissant, many serve rib-sticking fare as well, certainly entrecôte with french fries but often classics like blanquette de veau
(veal in white sauce).
More attention in the late 1990s focused on the wine bar,
a host of which we recommend in chapter 11, "Paris After Dark." Originally, wine bars concentrated on their lists of wines, featuring many esoteric choices and ignoring the food except for some charcuterie
(cold cuts) and cheeses. Today, you're likely to be offered various daily specials, from homemade foie gras to boeuf à la mode
(marinated beef braised with red wine and served with vegetables).
Paris prices may seem extravagant to visitors from other parts of the world, particularly those who don't live in big cities, but there has been an emergence of moderately priced informal restaurants
here, and we recommend several.
Although they're not as fashionable as they were, still around are baby bistros,
reasonably priced spinoffs from deluxe restaurants where you can get a taste of a famous chef's cuisine without breaking the bank. We cover the best of them.
Three-star dining remains quite expensive, with appetizers sometimes priced at 50€ ($65) and dinners easily costing 175€ to 200€ ($228-$260) per person in the top dining rooms of celebrated chefs. But you can get around that high price tag in many places by dining at lunch
(when prices are always cheaper) or ordering a prix fixe meal at lunch or dinner.
The prix fixe (fixed-price) menu
or le menu
is a set meal that the chef prepares that day. It is most often fresh and promptly served, and represents a greater bargain than dining a la carte. Of course, it's limited, so you'll have to like the choices provided. Sometimes there are one to three menus, beginning with the less expensive and going up for a more elaborate meal. A lot depends on your pocketbook and appetite.
In France, lunch
(as well as dinner) tends to be a full-course meal with meat, vegetables, salad, bread, cheese, dessert, wine, and coffee. It may be difficult to find a restaurant that serves the type of light lunch North Americans usually eat. Cafes, however, offer sandwiches, soup, and salads in a relaxed setting.
in France is served after the meal and carries an extra charge. The French consider it barbaric to drink coffee during the meal and, unless you order it with milk (au lait),
it'll be served black. In more conscientious places, it's prepared as the traditional café filtre,
a slow but rewarding java draw.
In years gone by, no man would consider dining out, even at the neighborhood bistro, without a suit and tie, and no woman would be seen without a smart dress or suit. That dress code
is more relaxed now, except in first-class and luxe
establishments. Relaxed doesn't mean sloppy jeans and jogging attire, however. Parisians still value style, even when dressing informally.
Sometimes service is added to your tab -- usually 12% to 15%. If not, look for the words service non compris
on your bill. That means that the cost of service was not added, and you'll be expected to leave a tip.
Don't Leave Home Without Them
No matter how long you stay in Paris, we suggest you indulge in at least one break-the-bank French meal at a fabulous restaurant. It will be a memory you'll treasure long after you've recovered from paying the tab. However, to get a table at one of these places, you must reserve far in advance
-- at least a day or two ahead, sometimes even a few weeks or months ahead! We suggest you look over these listings and call for reservations before you leave or at least as soon as you get into town.
Can You Dine Badly in Paris?
The answer is an emphatic yes. Our mailbox fills with complaints from readers who've encountered haughty service and paid outrageous prices for swill. Often, these complaints are about restaurants catering to tourists. Avoid them by following our suggestions or looking in nontouristy areas for new discoveries. If you ask Parisians for recommendations, specify that you're looking for restaurants where they'd
dine, not where they think you, as a tourist, would dine.