An American friend once told me that when he spent his semester abroad in Paris, he was starving the entire time. It’s true that portions in France are generally smaller than those in America (hence the svelte population), and those who are accustomed to an all-you-can-eat, 2-for-1, super-sized food culture might feel a bit of culinary shock upon arriving in Paris, the land of moderation. But there’s no reason to be nervous, guys. I promise there is plenty of fabulous food to go around. Some restaurants do better than others when it comes to satisfying the “rugged American appetite” that some guys bring to the table, but it’s just a question of knowing where to go—and what to order once you’re there. Luckily, we’ve eaten our way through this city and tackled our share of man-sized meals. Our top picks:
Chez l’Ami Jean. Helmed by superstar chef Stéphane Jégo, this resto dishes up rustic southwestern cuisine (that’s the southwest of France) in a casual setting that’s part neo-bistro, part Rugby-den. While there are plenty of à la carte options, the three-course menu (35 EUR) is where it’s at if you’re looking for value. I went for an American friend’s birthday dinner, and he thought he had died and gone to meat heaven. The highlights were various terrines de campagne, a steak for two, and a seriously decadent riz au lait (rice pudding) with the restaurant’s signature caramel sauce. I normally don’t enjoy slipping into an after-dinner coma, but this one was well worth it. 27, rue Malar, 7eme. Tel: o1 47 05 86 89. Metro: La Tour-Maubourg (Line 8).
Relais de l’Entrecote. This restaurant has become an institution in Paris. There’s no menu; it’s just steak or… steak. You can order it medium-rare (à point) or very rare (saignant, which translates to “bleeding.” Yum.). Don’t even try to ask for well-done unless you want to be laughed (or, rather, scowled) out of France. The steak is served with a “secret” sauce and accompanied by green salad and great fries. They don’t take reservations and the wait can be long on weekend nights, but it makes an excellent standby for steak lovers. Vegetarians need not apply. 20 bis, rue Saint-Benoît, 6eme. Tel: 01 45 49 16 00. Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Pres (Line 4). Click link above for other locations.
Robert et Louise. This discreet spot might just be the coziest restaurant in Paris. Tucked away in the heart of the Marais, the bistro’s warm ambiance will make you feel like you’ve come home—even as a first-time visitor. The menu is meat-heavy and features traditional French dishes (cassoulet and lots of sausage), many of which are cooked on the crackling fireplace located in the upstairs dining room. The steak for two is a can’t-go-wrong option, but you’re also likely to be tempted by the specials that change daily. When I last went, my confit de canard was breathtaking… I kid you not. And if you’re on a tight budget, the 12-Euro lunch is one of Paris’ best deals. 64, rue Vieille du Temple, 3eme. Tel: 01 42 78 55 89. Metro: Rambuteau (Line 11) or St. Paul (Line 1).
La Cave de l’Os à Moëlle. For diners who like to get off the beaten path, this restaurant / wine shop provides a great opportunity to experience French “home cooking,” while mixing it up with your fellow diners. This is the less expensive table d’hote (family-style restaurant) served by the same kitchen as the well-known L’Os à Moëlle, located just across the street. For 20 Euros, you’ll partake in the night’s buffet-style offerings, helping yourself to hors d’oeuvres, soup, the plat (main course) of the evening, a cheese course, and a variety of desserts. You can select reasonably-priced bottles from the extensive wine selection displayed on the wall in the front area. There are just a few tables—most of which are communal—so prepare to make friends with the affable and international crowd that frequents the place. When I went with four female friends, our waiter gave us complimentary wine while we waited and then seated us at a table with four cute French guys. Clearly, these folks know what they’re doing. 181, rue de Lourmel, 15eme. Tel: 01 45 57 28 28. Metro: Lourmel (Line 8).
To hear what other bloggers think of our picks, check out these related links:
- Food Snob digs in at l’Ami Jean
- I Prefer Paris tucks in at Robert et Louise
- French Revolution discovers La Cave de l’Os à Moëlle
- Mark Bittman checks on Paris’ best steak-frites
What do you think, readers? Any other suggestions for Parisian places that can handle even the most voracious of appetites?