Restaurant Reviews

Candelaria: Tacos and Clandestine Cocktails in Paris

by Tory Hoen

We are in love, here at the HiP Paris blog, with Candelaria. The tacos, the laid-back Brooklyn-like vibe, the secret back door… If you haven’t been yet, it’s high time you stopped by. Tory reports. -Geneviève

When I lived in Paris full-time, I experienced the occasional bout of FFF (French Food Fatigue). My friends and I re-energized our taste buds with falafel, ramen and freakishly cheap dumplings in Belleville, but we all agreed that Paris needed a low-key Mexican spot.

Enter Candelaria, perhaps the buzziest opening of the spring. Less than two months old, this tucked-away spot in the haut Marais packs a double punch. The front section of the restaurant is a sparsely-decorated taco stand, which leads to a sultry cocktail den that you could easily overlook if you weren’t paying attention.

So pay attention! Tacos up front, booze in the back. I highly recommend sticking around for both, as I did when I visited.

The taqueria dining experience is decidedly casual. Grab a seat at the counter if you want to observe the action in the tiny kitchen, or if you’re with a group, you can try to claim the restaurant’s only table. Regardless, prepare to battle the crowds: when it comes to seating, demand far outweighs supply at this point.

But if you time it right (they’re open from noon-11pm, Tuesday-Sunday), you will not be disappointed. First of all, chef Luis Rendon is a Mexico City transplant, and he takes a simple but precise approach to his native cuisine. The concise menu includes reasonably priced meat and vegetarian classics like rajas con queso (sauteed peppers with melted cheese), tacos de carnitas (roasted pork), tostadas with stewed chicken or crumbly queso fresco (it’s the real deal). Items on the menu range from 2-5 Euros, and pair perfectly with the Mexican bottled beer available for 4-5 Euros.

Once you fill up on Mexican edibles, the real fun begins. Slipping into the hidden bar at the back of the restaurant feels like entering an alternate universe that’s part surfer hangout, part urban oasis, and part classic Parisian cave. The white walls of the taqueria suddenly give way to a modern, candle-lit space, where the original stone walls have been updated with modern wooden finishes and colorful mosaics.

We barely knew where to begin with the extensive and enticing cocktail menu. Larger groups might be tempted by the punch for 4-6 people (cachaca, sloe gin, lemon, grapefruit and champagne) for 48 Euros. But we decided to try out an array of drinks (at 12 Euros each):

  • The Santa Margarita: Tequila, agave, hibiscus, vanilla, lime
  • Pisco Disco: Pisco, aperol, house-made orgeat, lime, bitters
  • Love by the Moon: Green tea-infused vodka, house-made citrus syrup, lime and house-made grenadine

Owner Adam Tsou swung by to chat and personally recommended the Pisco Disco, which comes adorned with edible glitter. Born in Connecticut and a graduate of New York University, Adam opened Candelaria along with his wife, Carina Tsou, and their partner Josh Fontaine (also a Connecticut-born NYU grad). All three met in Paris, where they worked at local watering holes such as Experimental Cocktail Club and The Moose.

It seems they combined the best of those environments, creating a sexy (but pretension-free) space that offers up some of the best cocktails in Paris. Many of the ingredients used to flavor and sweeten the drinks are made in-house, demonstrating the bartenders’ commitment to doing things right. And while Paris hasn’t always been a cocktail-y town, joints like Candelaria are swiftly putting it on the global mixology map.

I guess you can have your cocktail and drink it too. And while you’re at it, stay for tacos.


Candelaria
52, rue de Saintonge, 75003
+33 (0)1.42.74.41.28
Métro: Filles du Calvaire
Open: Restaurant: Sun – Wed, 12.30pm – 11pm, Thur – Sat, 12.30pm – 00, Bar: every day, 7pm – 02am

Further reading on this go-to spot:

Written by Tory Hoen for the HiP Paris Blog. All images by Julien Hausherr. Julien Hausherr is a photographer based in Paris, specializing in architecture, still-life and reporting. Contact: [email protected]. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Written By

Tory Hoen

After attending Brown University and spending two years in New York, Tory bought a one-way ticket to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer (and of drinking wine at lunch). During her time in the City of Light, she chronicled the euphoric highs and the laughable lows of ex-pat life on her blog, A Moveable Beast. Though she's now based in New York, she travels frequently to Montreal and Brazil, and she'll use just about any excuse to jet to Paris ("I ran out of fleur de sel"). A regular contributor to Hip Paris, Tory also writes for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and she is a co-author of Gradspot.com's Guide To Life After College. View Website

14 comments on “Candelaria: Tacos and Clandestine Cocktails in Paris

[…] also tried out a Mexican restaurant in the Marais called Candelaria. I’d read about it on HiP Paris (the blog to read if you are planing a trip!) and Sofy had […]

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[…] in the city, but I wanted to find something different. Fortunately, the bloggers over at the HiP Paris Blog pointed me to Candelaria. This little place is actually bigger than it first seems. Just walk past […]

[…] of the 3rd arrondissement. Finish off your night with my favorite northern Marais cocktail spot, Candelaria (52 rue de Saintonge) where you can grab a delicious taco from the taco joint in the front of the […]

[…] closely since it’s not that big of a place. I’ve never actually been inside this talked about mexican restaurant during day and “secret” (aparently amaazing) cocktail bar during […]

Great photos. We recently reviewed this place and LOVED it… all. The authenticity of the tacos, the hidden bar and the delicious cocktails. Got stung by la Guêpe Verte, several times, figuratively speaking of course.

I just loved the Pisco Disco! A small tip : Aperol is now available @ Nicolas & Monoprix.

[…] Today I dressed as if I was from Spanish Harlem and ate tacos in Paris at Candelaria. […]

That sounds like fun 😀 And I adore your photos, so lively and colourful!

Yay! So happy to hear there is finally a place in Paris to get good Mexican food and a real-sized margarita. I’ll never forget visiting the city years ago and ordering a margarita at a restaurant. What I really got was a $13 drink the size of my thumb. Ha ha. I’ll have to check out Candelaria next time I am in town.

Cheers,
Kristina

THIS is exactly why I need to move to Paris!!!

Definitivamente esta es una ciudad para enamorar, un destino romántico y apetecible no sólo para un buen plan de pareja sino además para todos aquellos que quieran disfrutar del arte y de la elegancia, acá les dejo algo al respecto http://mundoviajes.portalmundos.com/paris-mon-amour/

mmm…making me hungry! i really like the tacos (and drinks) here. I second that “bonne adresse”

Was just there last night – at both bar and restaurant – and I totally concur:

This is a Bonne Adresse! We closed the place.

Run, don’t walk, to Candelaria!

And, PS, I’m a Mexican food snob.

Sarah

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