Café des Musées – MatinSoir
For Parisians, lunch is where it’s at. Breakfast usually consists of coffee and cigarettes (and maybe a tartine), and weekday dinners are often simple affairs as well. But lunch is the moment when many kick back and enjoy every last second before returning to the office. Weekday lunches can extend to 1.5 hours and weekend lunches are nearly interminable. Both often involve wine, philosophizing, and simultaneously savoring / complaining about life (a finely tuned Parisian art). But unlike dinner, you then have all afternoon to walk, nap, or work it off. In case you couldn’t tell: I am a fan of lunch.
Le Miroir – Maggie Battista
More importantly, lunch is also the best time to sample some of Paris’ best cuisine at reasonable prices, as many restaurants offer a prix-fixe lunch menu that highlights the day’s specials. While your options are limited, they will likely feature the freshest, most seasonal ingredients. So kick back and relax, knowing that you are in gastronomically capable hands. My top 5 picks are as follows.
1. Robert et Louise—Lunch deal of the century! For just 12€, you can select from a variety of entrées and the one or two featured plats of the day. Vegetarians beware: this place is all about meat, meat, and more meat (cooked on a fire right in front of you). This homey spot is the perfect place to curl up for a rainy day feast followed by an afternoon stroll (or, better yet, nap). 64, Rue Vieille du Temple, 3ème. Tel: 01 42 78 55 89. Metro: Saint Paul (Line 1) or Hotel de Ville (Lines 1 and 11).
Café des Musées – Matinsoir
2. Café des Musées—14€ will get you the specified entrée and plat of the day. When I last went, this included a warm lentil salad with fresh greens, followed by a serious coq au vin. We rounded it out with a carafe of nice house red. The waitstaff here is friendly and accommodating, and the resto’s location in the heart of the Marais makes it a great stop in between museums, galleris, or boutiques. 49, rue de Turenne, 3ème. Tel: 01 42 72 96 17. Metro: St. Paul (Line 1) or Chemin Vert (Line 8).
3. Café Constant—One of acclaimed chef Christian Constant’s institutions, this low-key spot is bustling with locals, visitors, and good vibes. Last time I went, the 16€ prix-fixe included frog’s legs (relax, they’re good) and duck with saffron rice. The wine list includes an interesting selection available by the glass, pichet (small pitcher), or bottle. 139, rue Saint-Dominique, 7ème. Tel:09 75 82 08 07. Metro: Ecole Militaire (Line 8).
Le Miroir – Maggie Battista
4. Le Miroir—A HIP favorite in Montmartre. The staff is friendly and helpful, and theprix-fixe includes a variety of options. For 18€, you get a plat, a glass of wine (expertly paired with your dish), and a scrumptious café gourmand which is the perfect way to round out the meal. 94, rue des Martyrs, 18ème. Tel: 01 46 06 50 73. Metro: Abbesses (Line 12) or Pigalle (Lines 2 and 12).
5. Glou—Hip, modern, and pricey (some might say over-priced) at night, this is a cool-but-not-pretentious lunch spot. You’ll have a few choices and can opt for menus of 16€ or 20€. Going on the early side ensures they won’t run out of anything! 101, rue Vieille du Temple, 18ème. Tel: 01 42 74 44 32. Metro: Saint Sebastien-Froissart (Line 8 ) or Arts et Metiers (Lines 3 and 11).
Café des Musées – Jean-Michel Volat
So there you have it. Now do you understand why I love lunch so much? Any great spots we missed? Let us know!
Note: It’s always smart to reserve ahead of time, especially during tourist season (April – October).