French food: It’s fresh, it’s delicious, and it’s memorable. I remember meals I ate in France almost a decade ago. My aunt Becky visited in 1994 and still remembers very clearly the meals she enjoyed in Paris. Classic and modern French cuisine are amazing, and I’m happy to have enjoyed a lot of it. But Sean and I also ate some food from other cultures and found our non-French meals to be just as delicious as the French ones – a testament to Paris’s awesome diversity.
Every single meal was simply fantastic. My favorite breakfast was a croissant from the local bakery, fresh figs from the farmers market, and a shot of espresso. Before deciding to break pretty much all of my diet restrictions, I stuck with rice cakes, fresh avocado, and almonds. That was tasty and all, but by Wednesday I caved. Gluten and dairy became mainstays in my diet for the rest of the week, and I even indulged in some sugar a couple times, most notably with the rich, dense, dark chocolate mousse cake at the wedding. My new rule: no gluten, no sugar, no dairy…unless I’m in France.
I tried to remember to take pictures of my meals, but sometimes I forgot (or sometimes I preferred to fit in a little better with Parisians, who don’t regularly photograph their meals like Thai people do!). I also tried to take a business card from every restaurant so I can remember where to go next time. Oh yes, there WILL be a next time. There has to be a next time.
For those of you planning a trip to the City of Lights one day, here is a list of the restaurants we visited, in case you need some ideas!
1. Godjo Restaurant: 8 rue de l’École Polytechnique (Métro: Maubert Mutualité) / Ethiopian food at the freshest and finest I’ve ever had it — rivals LA’s Little Ethiopia and restaurants I’ve tried in Oakland and Piedmont….and that’s saying a lot! Large, thin, spongy and sour injera bread topped with roasted brussel sprouts, lentils, beet salad, and much more. We had the vegetarian platter and highly recommend it!
2. Le Pas-sage Obligé: 29 rue Bourg Tibourg (4éme/Marais; Métro: Hotel de Ville) / Both traditional and vegetarian French cuisine. Wide menu with great wines too. I had a platter with lots of tasty things to mix and match. Nice staff who speak English.
3. Macéo: 15 rue des Petits-Champs (1éme; Métro: Pyramides) / Macéo was the perfect spot for a romantic night out. It’s very close to the Louvre, so after dinner Sean and I walked into the plaza to see the pyramids and the lit-up Eiffel Tower in the distance. The restaurant seemed classy, but not stuffy. It had great red decor against white walls and hardwood floors with splashes of green from indoor plants. The food was delicious. I had a lovely salad with figs and hazelnut oil; Sean had bulgur wheat and veggie ragout of sorts; and we split a salad with salmon sashimi and green beans. This place is a little on the fancy side, so dress up a bit!
4. Café Pinson: 6 rue du Forez (Métro: Republique) / Most of my photos are from Pinson because I went there twice — once on my own and once with Sean. The cafe is trendy and full of natural light. The staff are young and friendly. The food is fresh, organic, vegan, gluten-free, and tasty! They do freshly squeezed juices, almond milk lattes, and diet-restriction-friendly desserts.
5. Tienhiang: 14 rue Bichat (Métro: Goncourt) / We were actually trying to go to Helmut Newcake (at 36 rue Bichat) in hope of my finding gluten-free croissants. Unfortunately for me, who really just wanted a GF bread of some kind, but fortunately for Parisian celiac sufferers with a sweet tooth, Helmut mainly has just eclairs and sweet pastries. Along the same street, however, we found Tienhiang, a vegetarian Chinese restaurant that serves some excellent food. We had a Thai soup with faux shrimp (Sean, who is allergic to shrimp, was excited to partake), a yummy stir-fry with lots of veggies and tofu, stuffed rice noodle dumplings, and some egg rolls. A pleasant surprise after a tiny bit of disappointment.
6. Jeanne B (61 rue Lepic; Métro: Montmartre + a bit of a walk) and Jeanne A (42 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud; Métro: Oberkampf + a moderate walk OR Paramentier — depending on what line you’re on) / After a nice stroll around the artsy, hilly, and scenic neighborhood of Montmartre, Sean and I ended up on rue Lepic where we discovered Jeanne B. Our waitress was very sweet, and she served us some crisp white wine and an entree to share: stuffed mini-zucchinis with smoked mozzarella and veggies with pesto. Our mouths still water at the memory. It was simply perfect — sitting outside on the little terrace, sipping wine, and indulging in some out-of-this-world food. That night, our apartment family of nine wanted to go out to dinner together, but you try, at 7:30PM, to find a restaurant with available seating for nine on a Friday night in Paris! Luckily, Google helped us through this one. I simply searched “restaurants for large groups in Paris”, and guess what popped up: none other than Jeanne B’s sister, Jeanne A. We called, they had space (because Google said they would!), and the nine of us piled into the back room of this quaint bistro. That night was actually the only night when we all ate together. It was also the only time I went for the fixed price deal. For 23 Euro I got Scottish smoked salmon with toasted French bread (though I suppose they just call it bread there…) as a starter and a torte des legumes for my entree. Both items were fantastic. Sean and his cousin, Tori, each got an artichoke, which was fun for me as a Californian who grew up eating those thistly monsters. I had a great time explaining and demonstrating how to tackle it the right way. I even showed them how to get to the heart without spraying white and purple fuzz all over the table — my dad, who was always in charge of this important job at my family’s dinner table, would be so proud!
P.S. I don’t actually know how to pronounce ‘Jeanne’ in French, so I inevitably call it ‘Jeanne’ like my big sister’s name (jean-y)!
Establishments I did not mention because I do not know their names or specific locations include bakeries, cafes, and a creperie. You’ll just have to go and taste around!