You better learn to eat in Paris like a local! Paris is one of the world’s best food cities, but finding a good restaurant there can be overwhelming. How do you avoid desultory tourist traps serving reheated frozen meals? Why are all the other diners speaking English? Here are my suggestions for places Parisians frequent, whether they’re hipsters, bourgeois, or blue collar. I can’t promise you won’t hear other English-speakers (we are everywhere) but I can guarantee an honest and true meal: good food and good wine, prepared in-house, with care.
To me, there’s no place more warm and welcoming than this café in the 20th arrondissement, a neighborhood institution opened in 1954 that retains its classic zinc bar, chalkboard menus propped up on wooden chairs, and red pleather banquettes. Like many Parisian café owners, the proprietors—brothers Didier and Alain Miquel—hail from Aveyron, a remote area in south central France. As a result, the menu pays homage to their region with Aveyronnais charcuterie and wine, steaks of Aubrac beef, and aligot, a potato purée beaten with melted cheese until it flows like molten lava. (401 rue des Pyrénées, 20th arr.; 33-1-46-36-98-20).
At first glance, this wine bar looks like a ramshackle leftover of the 1950s, with its crooked counter and scuffed wooden floors. But the wine list offers an exciting and modern selection of affordable bottles from small, independent French producers that are difficult to find elsewhere. I love to gather a group of friends, order up a bottle or two and a series of inventive small plates from the regularly changing menu (house-made pâté de campagne, or burrata cheese topped with shaved bottarga and sharp olive oil), and sip, eat, and chat late into the night. Unlike many Parisian restaurants, the atmosphere here is hot, loud, and friendly. (1 bis Passage de Saint-Sébastien, 11th arr.; 33-1-43-55-07-52).