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Found: Authentic Mexican Cuisine in Paris

HiP Paris Blog, Best Mexican Restaurants, Casey Hatfield, Candelaria TacosCandelaria

When I spent a semester abroad in London in college, I desperately missed Mexican food. I remember asking a local if you could get it anywhere in the city. He replied “You mean like Doritos?” Obviously Mexican food was a long ways from catching on. Even though that was over 10 years ago, when I moved to Paris this year I came fully prepared to pine away for chunky guacamole flavored with lime and cilantro, tender pulled pork tacos and mouth-prickling margaritas. To my delight, and surprise, I’ve been able to find all this and more.

HiP Paris Blog, Best Mexican Restaurants, Casey Hatfield, Candelaria MenuCandelaria

There is a delicious and thriving Mexican food scene currently in Paris. While Parisians have been aware of so-called Tex-Mex for a while, the current crop of restaurants are serving more authentic Mexican-style street food and many are owned by people from Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Mil Amores Tortilleria, owned by a woman from Cancun and two partners, makes fresh corn tortillas daily and supplies many of the city’s best Mexican restaurants. You can even buy black beans at Bio c’bon. So the next time you get a hankering for carne asada or citrusy ceviche, don’t despair; try one of these restaurants.

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Posted in Food | 3 Comments »

Vegetarian-friendly Paris: Successfully Navigating the Dining Scene

EverJean

Being vegetarian anywhere requires extra effort and planning when it comes to dining out. Being a vegetarian in a place that eats pigeon, adores offal, and extols a head to tail philosophy (that is, Paris) requires Napoleonic strategizing.

At least it used to. In recent years, the dining scene in the City of Light has been opening up to alternative styles and menus, making it easier than ever to go veg (although you can still expect the occasional eye-roll from a waiter who simply doesn’t understand les végétariens). But whether you chalk it up to Anglo and ethnic infiltration, acceptance of new ingredients and spices, or simple ennui with traditional French cooking, it’s a great time to embrace your inner green goddess and take this meat-eating city by storm. Here are four delicious strategies to help.

Merce and the Muse (Julien Hausherr)

Strategy 1: Eat a big lunch

When Rose Carrarini (who’s British) and her French husband Jean-Charles opened Rose Bakery in 2002, their focus on fresh market salads—think: grilled tofu and tomatoes, and artichokes mixed with millet and chickpeas—was shockingly different from the staple of steak frites that many Parisians ate for lunch. Ten years and two additional outposts later, it’s hard to imagine Paris without Rose’s organic market salads, fresh quiches and famous carrot and pound cakes.

Similarly, when Marc Grossman opened Bob’s Juice Bar in 2006, the smoothies and bagel sandwiches the native New Yorker served up were wildly novel. Since then Grossman has not only spawned another café, Bob’s Kitchen, which serves additional goodies like pancakes and muesli, but a whole wave of casual cantines have followed suit. Hypercool concept stores Merci and Colette both have veg-friendly subterranean eateries; take-out lunch spots like Lemoni and Cojean always offer beautiful soups, sandwiches and salads; and lovely little cafes and bakeries such as SuperNature, Merce and the Muse, Tartes Kluger and Bread and Roses all offer outstanding veg fare.

Chez Omar (Roboppy)

Strategy 2: Eat ethnic

Another way to sate yourself without a bite of bifteck is by taking advantage of Paris’ ethnic restaurants. In the first arrondissement, Rue Saint-Anne is an oasis of Japanese dining options including hearty udon soups (try Kunitoraya or Higuma) and “okonomiyaki,” Japanese pancakes made of flour, grated yam, water or dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage. Or you can get stuffed on Indian lentils and curries (Saravanna Bhavan, Krishna Bhavan) and Moroccan couscous and tagines (Chez Omar). Decent pizza (Pizza Chic, La Briciola), and Italian (Caffe dei Cioppi, Olio Pane Vino) abounds and, with last year’s arrival of Candelaria, Mexican is firmly on the ethnic eating map of Paris. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 11 Comments »

Candelaria: Tacos and Clandestine Cocktails in Paris

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. Continue Reading »

Posted in Food, Restaurant Reviews | 12 Comments »

I Know I’m in Paris When…

Zdenko Zivkovic

When I arrive in Paris, it never hits me all at once. Rather, the realization that I’ve returned to my city-of-choice creeps up on me via small encounters, random observations and chance interactions. And when I finally realize where I am—Paris!—I begin to wonder, “Why did I ever leave?”

We’ll leave that question for another time, but for now, here’s how I know I’ve arrived.

1. I forget how to tell time, and relinquish the notion of scheduling. On my most recent visit, it took me a full 36 hours to realize that daylight savings had occurred. It didn’t help that when I had arrived a few days earlier and asked my boyfriend, “Where’s your clock?,” his response was: “There is no clock. I’m your clock.” Well, it turns out he’s a very unreliable clock—albeit a handsome one.

2. Everyone is buzzing about the same new spot.

Candelaria storefront on the rue Saintonge (Lost in Cheeseland)

Of course, this happens in every city, but in New York, the buzz is more liberally distributed. Paris’ slower rate of restaurant turnover means you can literally watch the swarm of foodies descend on the newest (and hopefully well-prepared) hot spots. This time around, it was all about Candelaria, which is to restaurants what the mullet is to haircuts: simple up front, hidden party in the back.

Delicious tacos at Candelaria (Lost in Cheeseland)

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Posted in Food, Parisian Living, Restaurant Reviews | 16 Comments »