Paris is a food lover’s dream, and with a little research, any traveler, on any budget, can enjoy the culinary delights that are in abundance. No matter how big your budget is, plan on splurging for at least one meal at a high end spot. I’ve compiled a list of the best restaurants in Paris you can find, whether you want to take a break from exploring and grab a bite, or plan a romantic meal in a fancy setting.
Breakfast and brunch
Breakfast in France, when eaten at home, is a small meal of breads and jams, juice, and coffee.
Sometimes breakfast includes cold meats and cheeses. Coffee at breakfast time is generally served with milk and in a larger portion than espresso.
On the cheap
Kozy Salon Urbain – The price is right and the food is delicious at this small spot in the 7th arrondissement. Choose from pastries, breads (sweet and savory), a selection of quiches and don’t forget the coffee. They offer a wide selection of coffees many find to be some of the best in Paris.
The wait staff is incredibly friendly and whether or not you speak French you will feel welcomed and like you’re among family. Kozy Salon Urbain also has free Wi-Fi if you want to check in before starting your day. Tip: Arrive early for the best selection. If you love their coffee (everyone does), you can buy the beans to bring back home as a reminder of your trip!
Prohibido – Found in the hillier, bohemian Montmartre section of Paris, Prohibido boasts an excellent cheap brunch when you want to fill up after sleeping in. Soups, salads, cheeses, pizzas… there is a huge variety of excellent food and outdoor sitting where you can take your time and enjoy with your fellow travelers.
Montmartre is a beautiful, often missed, section of Paris all travelers should visit. Tip: This is a popular spot and the wait can be fierce. Go early or plan on having someone in line (or working in shifts).
Ble Sucre – For amazing, heavy on the butter but light on texture pastries hit up this Montmartre favorite and prepare yourself to visit flavor heaven. While open all day, the most notable meals are breakfast and brunch, but stop in at any time of day and try a croissant – you’ll never want to eat one anywhere else again.
Another favorite from this spot are the baguettes. With all of the open air markets in Paris (like Rue Moufftarde, which is a must visit) picking up a baguette here is the perfect idea to compliment a spread for lunch.
Claus – In the center of the town, and the center of activity, you’ll find the clean café Claus. Besides light breakfast fare there are breakfast meal options suitable for a more filling breakfast or brunch.
The deals include several options for main plates, bread and jams, muesli or other cold cereals, juice, coffee drinks and sweet pastry. When sightseeing in the first arrondissement, be sure to stop here for a morning meal. Tables turn over quickly or make a reservation if you’re on a timeline.
Le Cinq – Sometimes you have to splurge on breakfast. Sure, a dinner splurge is great but there are certain places that are known for breakfast and do it with such flair it just can’t be missed. Le Cinq is one of those places. Located in the 8th arrondissement, not far from the Champs-Elysses, Le Cinq offers fixed price and a la carte dining options from their impressive menu.
Le Cinq is a three star Michelin restaurant and your meal will prove it. That said, it is definitely a splurge, even for breakfast. With a mix of both traditional French and other styles of breakfasts, you’re sure to find something to please your palate – consider going full on French, though, for the richest experience.
Le Restaurant – Located in the 6th arrondissement, Le Restaurant is another breakfast splurge, although at not quite the same price as Le Cinq. Still, it offers an excellent selection of breakfast items and, unlike Le Cinq, a buffet style breakfast allowing you to get the most for your money. While the menu looks sparing, the food is perfectly prepared and delicious and provides an opportunity to eat at a place you might not be able to swing by for dinner.
On the cheap
L’as du Fallafel – Take everyone’s word for it and eat lunch here. Located in the Marais, or 4th arrondissement, it is what can likely be the world’s greatest falafel sandwich. Even Lenny Kravitz thinks so. Order at the window, be sure to ask for the hot sauce, and eat on the street.
If you want to have a sit down meal with other things besides your falafel sandwich (but I’m telling you you don’t need to, the sandwich on the street will be one of the best moments of your life) the waiter service is also excellent. And everything on the menu is great. But the falafel sandwich… Yeah, it’s wonderful. Be sure to get at least one while in the city.
Bahn Mi – Head to the 3rd arrondissement a little early and enjoy a cheap, hot bahn mi sandwich from this local shop. A literal hole in the wall with no sign outside, Parisians and regular visitors know that this is THE spot for amazing Vietnamese.
Like L’as du Fallafel this is no fancy place but it’s definitely worth a stop on your trip. The shop only stays open until the food runs out, so it might take a few tries if you don’t plan it right. Also, at least for the first time you order: get the pork!
L’avant Comptoir – A favorite spot in the 6th arrondissement and you’ll see why upon arriving at this tapas and wine bar for a lunch that is made up of a few snacks shared among you and your fellow travelers. The menu hangs from the ceiling and often boasts new options.
The best part is that because the food is served tapas style, you can get a taste of many French delights at a smaller portion and more reasonable price than in many spots, allowing you to understand the fuss over foie gras and other pates, eat a fried croquette and munch on a macaron for dessert. The wine selection is one of the most impressive in the city with unique bottles offered.
West Country Girl – While the staff mostly speaks French, and the menu is only available in French, it won’t matter if you don’t speak it, because you’re going to love what you get here. And, follow the trend, stick to the crepes. The savory crepes are some of the favorites in Paris and the laid back atmosphere allows for a relaxing, tasty lunch. The beer selection is lacking so stick to other drinks.
Also, if you have food allergies, learn how to explain this in French or bring someone who speaks French well enough to make sure you don’t eat something that will land you in the emergency room.
Guy Savoy – Another Michelin rated restaurant where you can get an amazing meal at lunchtime for about a third of the price you would pay for dinner. Take heed, though, you must book well in advance in order to lunch here – reservations are full at least a month out.
Go with the three course tasting menu and prepare to take your time. This is French cuisine at its best. The service is impeccable, waiters are fun and, amazingly, the chef loves to meet travelers and will even pose with guests for pictures.
You cannot go wrong with lunch here.
On the cheap
Le Cambodge – The trick to eating great cheap food in Paris, especially at dinner time, is one known by college student: stick to ethnic food. This Cambodian gem in the 10th arrondissement is a perfect spot.
Besides excellent food (try the Nems!), the staff is exceptionally attentive and friendly and will help out those who can’t read the menu (there is only one version in French). Portions are significant and great for sharing. There is patio seating as well as indoor seating and a decent wine selection.
Chez Mamane – Even with limited options, Chez Mamane still draws large crowds of faithful devotees and newbies who have discovered this spot through word of mouth. The Mediterranean restaurant offers about 6 variations of couscous from a board on the wall but don’t let that fool you – the food is exceptional.
The meat is perfectly spiced, tender and grilled and makes a great accompaniment to the couscous. Table waits can be around an hour but it’s worth it. Also, consider sharing – portions are huge.
Saveurs Veget’Halles – Probably my favorite veg spot in Paris and it’s located in the first arrondissement. Even hardcore carnivores will love this place – especially if they go with a seitan dish. A friend of mine discovered it years ago, and suggested it for me when I was in Paris. At the time I was a vegetarian and she knew how tough it was to find veg eats in the city. My husband and I loved it and it’s on our regular Paris rotation.
While we hate having a go to spot in foreign cities (it’s more fun to try new places), there is something about this spot that cannot be beaten. Staff speaks little to no English but the menus are great (lots of pictures). It is completely vegetarian, so unless you have a food intolerance or allergy you should be safe (I cannot digest soy so I had to learn how to make sure to communicate no tofu, etc). Portions are perfect and the outside seating is quiet and charming.
Tapas Nocturnes – Another personal favorite, this spot in the 18th arrondissement (Montmartre) is a taste of Spain in the hills of North Paris. The wine list is exceptional, indoor space dark and inviting and there is sidewalk seating I highly recommend. It’s a perfect spot to take a break from walking to enjoy a glass or two of wine while sharing a few bites.
Their patatas bravas are delicious and if you want something decadent don’t skip the ham croquettes. Anything with manchego is also a safe choice – they know how to use it brilliantly.
The Jules Verne – This is the place where you want to splurge. And it is one of the three best dining experiences of my life. My husband and I happened to be in Paris on the fifth anniversary of our first date and had planned a stellar day and evening, ending with dinner here. Make your reservations early and put aside the entire evening.
From the moment you approach the private elevator to the restaurant which is located in the Eiffel Tower; you know you’re in for a treat. The experience is impeccable, from the balance between attentive and focus on staff remaining in the background, to the decadent food. As a vegetarian I was still treated to a stellar meal and the restaurant was accommodating.
The Jules Verne staff understands the importance of a slow pace to truly enjoy dinner. We began with champagne and enjoyed several excellent wines throughout our courses – the sommelier and staff work together on pairings. From the first sip of champagne to the last bite of dessert and sip of coffee this meal was exceptional. Reservations should be made in advance and be forewarned that you will spend a good deal on dinner – it’s worth every penny.
Epicure – Located in the 8th arrondissement, Epicure is a true culinary experience. It regularly makes it onto the lists of the best restaurants, but not only that, it also tops them, and diners rave, consistently, about any version of their stuffed macaroni and cheese (with things like truffle oil and foie gras). This elegant spot includes touches like a harp player.
Consider going with the seasonal menu, as you will get the freshest dishes that are specially prepared by the chef based on season and availability. Of course, anything you order at this Michelin 3-star restaurant is going to be an excellent choice. Like any top restaurant, you should set aside an evening or make it the last stop in your day and make your reservation far in advance.
No matter your taste or budget, there are restaurants in Paris that will work for you. Be sure to save money for at least one splurge. If you’re on a shoestring, make it a lunch splurge, but if possible, have one exceptional meal for dinner – it will be an experience you’ll remember forever.