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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 »

Top Six Non-French Food Obsessions in Paris

MB-falafelMaggie Battista – Falafel

France is the land where food dreams come true—all HiP readers know that by now. But for those of us lucky enough to spend extended periods in Paris, there comes a moment (astonishing as it may sound) when both the body and the palette reach butter overload, and the arteries cry out to be spared the cheese course… please, just this once.

On these occasions, Paris provides a wealth of non-French food options that—if you’re not careful—can easily become addictions in and of themselves. Last time I left New York for Paris, a friend sent me off with explicit instructions to eat a fallafel for him. And when I got sick during the same trip, I secretly loved turning my attention to spicy Asian soups for the better part of a week.

So next time your taste buds start craving variety (or your children balk at the sight of escargots), consider venturing into new culinary territory. Don’t worry; it’s not gastronomic sacrilege—unless you go to McDonald’s.

Here are our top six non-French food obsessions in Paris:

1. Falafel. The Marais’ Rue des Rosiers is famous for its warring falafel purveyors. L’As du Falafel (34, rue des Rosiers, 3eme. Métro: St. Paul) has long reigned supreme, perhaps due to the attention it has gotten from the New York Times, but the place directly across from it is not too shabby, and there a number of nearby spots worth sampling as well. The jury’s still out on this one.

Continue Reading »

Posted in Food | 8 Comments »