Ballon et Coquillages
Take a seat at the small, ceramic tile-covered bar of this intimate restaurant to feast on Parisian fast food, like oysters and other shellfish. Perfect if you’re alone, and there’s a terrific selection of wines by the glass. Note that if you call to make a reservation, you will reach Ballon de Termes, the sister restaurant next door, as Ballon et Coquillages doesn’t have it’s own number. Open daily. Métro: Porte Maillot.
Organic, or bio, as they say in French, has become a big thing in Paris, and this simple restaurant off the Rue St.-Honoré focuses on organic Italian cuisine. Using the freshest possible market ingredients, the chef prepares daily specials that emphasize the purity of the product’s taste. Penne with eggplant and tomato, spinach gnocchi or tagliatelle with cèpes will delight organic purists as well as Italian food snobs, which is why this has become a watering hole for the super-fashionable despite its bare bones decor.
Run by restaurateur Frederic Hubig Schall, who at least one renowned Paris-based critic has compared to New York’s Danny Meyer, this small wine bar and restaurant is a great addition to the ever-more-exciting 11th arrondissement. Hubig Schall calls this congenial place an épicerie à manger (a grocery store in which you can eat), and indeed, like Simone & Nicola, the setting is one that is all about food: a large meat counter with jambon and charcuterie up front and the small tables surrounded by shelves lined with delicacies like pickled vegetables and mustards.
The well-edited wine list is written on a large blackboard, as are the small-plate dishes that are meant to be shared. Everything, from the silky salted butter to authentic jambon de Paris is sourced from Paris’ best addresses (I dare anyone to resist the exceptional, juicy bread from Pain du Quartier). The young, good-looking staff is friendly and helpful, the crowd stylish and mostly Parisian, and the cool foodie vibe is one that would not be out of place in Brooklyn. Bigger appetites should start with a drink here and then head to beloved bistro Astier, which is located next door. Jeanne A is open on Sunday and Monday, notoriously difficult evenings for a good meal. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
La Régalade St. Honoré
Chef Bruno Doucet runs this small dining room that was big news when it opened in 2010. The place itself is not much to look at: on Rue St. Honoré before it gets scenic, there’s a no-frills dining room with a small bar and simple tables. The food, however, has quickly developed a local following (to be expected, since devotees used to trek deep in the 14th for this menu). The €32 menu, including appetizer, entrée and dessert, changes frequently and depending on what’s in season. The delicious food is simply prepared, allowing the top ingredients to shine. La Régalade is one of the best deals in town and predictably busy; book in advance. Closed Saturday & Sunday.
Le Chapeau Melon
Wendy Lyn, the foodie founder of the Paris Kitchen counts this among her favorite wine bars. It’s off-the-beaten-path, meaning you won’t be seeing a lot of other tourists, and expertly run by the co-founder of local darling Le Baratin. Says Lyn: “I’m enchanted with this casual little spot—it is a special local place I can count on for great food and wine, complete with super nice staff, and a chef-owner who sincerely hopes that what they are doing will please diners enough to come back again soon. The proof is in the pudding honey, I make a future reservation every time I leave.”
Les Fines Gueules
This sweet bistro near Place des Victoires is a great choice for lunch while shopping in the 1st arrondissement. The corner location makes for a light-filled dining room, the daily specials are written on a blackboard and the food focuses on seasonal ingredients and straightforward preparation. Open daily.
This restaurant, around the corner from the Café de Flore, is a winner for everyone who likes great steak and fries…it is extremely popular with lines every night. (Lines start forming at 8:00pm, but move very quickly.) They have one menu only…green salad, entrecôte with a delicious secret sauce and home-made fries. Their house red works well. All types of people end up at this spot, locals and tourists alike, but is a lot of fun. By the way, it is reasonably priced as well.
Helmed by two young chefs (an American and an Italian) who earned their stripes at well-known Parisian restaurants including Le Chateaubriand, Roseval serves market-inspired dishes with sophisticated flourishes in the form of foams or veloutés. Well worth the hike up to Belleville, the four-course prix-fixe features a changing menu of surprising seasonal pairings (thinks: baby peas with raspberries; or cabillaud with cucumber gazpacho) that are consistently delicious.
Chef Pierre Jancou has long been at the forefront of championing “natural wines,” made in small quantities by independent producers working on low-yielding vineyards and with organic grapes. Gourmets were heartbroken when he sold his successful restaurant Racines, in the Passage Panoramas arcade, to move to the Drôme with his family. Now he’s back in Paris with Vivant, a congenial bistro featuring a focused menu, well-edited wine list and food prepared without “chi-chi.” Closed Saturday and Sunday.