Who says Paris is just for lovers? With world-class museums, jaw-dropping architecture and monuments galore, exploring the City of Light alone can be fun, freeing and fulfilling.
But the one thing that can still strike fear into the solo traveler heart is the phrase: “table for one.” The easiest way around this dilemma is to skip the table all together and head straight for the counter seating at one of these picks from some of the city’s latest hotspots.
For a leisurely lunch for one, check out Caillebotte, the latest from the team behind popular le Pantruche. Tucked away on a quiet corner in trendy SoPi, sit at the tiny counter to watch the busy kitchen turn out seasonal and fresh dishes like foam-topped skate, pumpkin soup with chestnut cream or tarragon ice cream desserts.
White marble, light wood, plenty of mirrors and windows lend the small space an open and airy feel. The place is always packed so food may take a little time to arrive, but genuine and friendly service make the wait more enjoyable. And, the plat du jour is a great value for the quality, making it easy to spoil yourself without spending too much.
Caillebotte. 8, rue Hippolyte Lebas, 75009. +33 1 53 20 88 70
Fans of locally sourced products should try the newest Terroir Parisien. Following the buzz of the original restaurant of the same name, Michelin starred chef, Yannick Alléno, opened the Bourse location, which continues to serve updated French classics made with ingredients from the Ile de France area.
Located in the Palais Brongniart (formerly the Paris stock exchange), Alléno’s latest is an ambitiously spacious restaurant where he has no problem filling the many seats. Solo diners can comfortably settle in at the large counter for a perfectly cooked piece de boeuf. Not sure what to drink with it? The staff is adept at suggesting just the right glass of wine to accompany a dish. Be sure to leave enough room to finish with their generous selection of cheeses.
Terroir Parisien, au Palais Brongniart. 28, place de la Bourse, 75002. +33 1 83 92 20 30.
To get a taste of neo-bistro food without attitude, make your way out to the laid back Roca. While the location is a bit off the beaten path, the reputation of Chef Alexandre Giesbert, formerly of le Richer, pulls in hungry foodies from farther afield to sample the short but sweet menu.
Stone walls, big windows and a clean design give this little location a cozy but modern feel. Grab one of the five counter stools and enjoy pretty little plates of market fresh fare like scallops with a celery and nut puree or creamy Burrata with Kalamata olive cream. All of this at nice prices with even nicer service.
Roca. 31, rue, Guillaume Tell, 75017. +33 1 47 64 86 04 (closed on weekends)
Enjoy food from feted chef Eric Frechon without paying Michelin prices on a visit to Lazare. This updated brasserie has brought something new and shiny to Europe’s second busiest railway station. High ceilings, natural light and bright white walls make a welcome contrast to the somewhat shabby surroundings. Lazare exudes a fun and frenetic energy that can only be found in a location that sees nearly a half a million people transiting through on a daily basis.
Although the resto is housed in a train station, the service unfortunately doesn’t always run like clockwork. While the service may falter, the food doesn’t fail to impress. Solo counter dining may just be the best option here, where it can be easier to command attention from harried staff. So head straight to the freestanding brass bar for dishes like tempura-fried prawns served in tiny fry baskets or a bright mackerel starters, served whole with onions, carrots and homemade horseradish sauce
Lazare. Parvis de la Gare Saint-Lazare, Rue Intérieure, 75008. +33 1 44 90 80 80
And finally, step into the Maison F to get a feel for the city’s nightlife scene without having to hit the bar stag. The main restaurant is upstairs, but you can snag a seat at the downstairs cocktail bar to order from the full menu or make a meal of their gourmet fries.
Their selection of chic frites includes options like upscale potatoes sprinkled with herbs, deep-fried risotto sticks, or polenta fries served with several homemade sauces. Order up a few cocktails while enjoying your meal, chat up the cute bar staff (formerly of the well-known ECC bar Beefclub), and listen to the occasional DJ set.
Maison F. 3 rue Rougemont, 75 009, +33 1 42 46 23 16
Written by Forest Collins for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.