Left: A board leans against the tiled wall of Bistro Paul Bert in Paris. The specials for the day are written on it, including tartare de thon rouge (red tuna tartare), filet de boeuf and côte de boeuf, Right: An empty table is set and ready for dinner time at Bistro Paul Bert
Top & Above: Bistro Paul BertDiana Liu

Here at HIP Paris, we know so many of our readers are longing to visit the City of Light. The next best thing, in our opinion, is re-creating your favorite bistro dishes at home. When we set out to do a round-up of the best bistro cookbooks, there were simply too many to fit in one post. So, we’ve saved some of our most beloved for this installment!

Left: A freshly made martini with a lemon slice sits atop a napkin, printed with the name of the restaurant, Balthazar, on it, Right: A delicious plate of dessert at Balthazar restaurant in NYC. topped with powdered sugar, blueberries and a sprig of mint

Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells

Left: The cover of Patricia Wells' cookbook, Bistro Cooking, Right: Diners are packed into a bistro at lunchtime in Paris, drinking and chatting before their meals (photo taken before COVID-19)
Patricia Wells / Diana Liu

Growing up in the States, I always thought French food = fancy food. Bistro Cooking dispels this myth. Capturing its warmth, simplicity, and heartiness. Patricia Wells has compiled over 200 delectable bistro recipes. They are light and quick to make, adapted to the way people cook today. Notes and sidebars evoke life in bistro kitchens. Warm Poached Sausage with Potato Salad, Pied de Cochon’s Onion Soup, Guy Savoy’s Leg of Lamb, Beef Stew with Wild Mushrooms and Orange, Chicken Basquaise, L’Ami Louis’ Potato Cake, Provencal Roast Tomatoes, Pears in Red Wine, and Golden Cream and Apple tart are just a few of the mouth-watering dishes included in this most cherished cookbook. 

Left: An empty table is set and ready for dinner time at Bistro Paul Bert, Right: A waitress stands behind the bar counter at the Bistro Paul Bert
Bistro Paul BertDiana Liu

The Balthazar Cookbook by Keith McNally, Riad Nasr, and Lee Hanson; forward by Robert Hughes

Included in Restaurant Magazine’s list of the ‘’World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” Balthazar quickly became one of the hottest eatery’s in the U.S. after it opened in 1997. Star-studded clientele, locals and visitors alike, flock to this beautiful restaurant in New York’s chic SoHo neighborhood. The Balthazar Cookbook includes some of its most popular and accessible dishes: Moules à la Marinière, Bouillabaisse, Coq au Vin, Cassoulet, Blanquette de Veau, the perfect French fries, heart-warming Macaroni Gratin, finished off with classic desserts like Crème Brûlée and Chocolate Pot de Crème. You might not be able to make it there in person, but you can still discover the recipes that have made the likes of Nigella Lawson, Martha Stewart, Daniel Boulud, and Alice Waters rave about this New York institution.

Left: A shot from the outside looking into the Bistro Paul Bert, where two waiters can be seen bustling around, Right: Empty tables line the outside seating area of the Bistro Paul Bert, set with white table clothes and napkins
Bistro Paul BertDiana Liu

Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking by Anthony Bourdain

Left: The title page of one of Anthony Bourdain's cookbooks, the Les Halles Cookbook, Right: The front of the late Les Halles restaurant in New York City
Anthony Bourdain / James and Karla Murray

This cookbook, perhaps unjustly overlooked amongst the late chef’s oeuvre, has all of the hallmarks of Bourdain’s style: funny, unpretentious, sarcastic, and full of great recipes. These were the signature dishes from the now-defunct Les Halles, the French bistro in NYC where Bourdain began his career. The restaurant’s no-nonsense style was a perfect fit for Bourdain. The book adeptly transcribes restaurant cooking for the home cook. Bourdain gives you simple steps to realize recipes like Roasted Veal Short Ribs, Steak Frites, Escargots aux Noix, and Foie Gras au Pruneaux. Practical, entertaining, and full of charm and bravado, this book is a must-have for foodies, Francophiles, and Bourdain fans everywhere.

Left: Keith McNally, one of the authors of the Balthazar cookbook, seated at a booth in a restaurant, and looks straight into camera with his head resting on his hand, Right: Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson, co-authors of the Balthazar Cookbook, sit next to each other on barstools in a restaurant and smile at the camera
Keith McNally by Benjamin Norman / Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson by Stephen Speranza

Café Boulud Cookbook: French-American Recipes for the Home Cook by Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan

Left: A portrait of chef Daniel Boulud, wearing his chef's coat and smiling at the camera, Right: A portrait of Dorie Greenspan smiling in her New York City home kitchen
Daniel Boulud / Dorie Greenspan

Co-written by one of our favorite food writers, Dorie Greenspan, Boulud’s cooking expertise is brought to the comfort of your home in this accessible book. The 150 recipes include a basic collection of dishes found at Café Boulud. They are simultaneously delicious, healthy, and easy. The book centers around four themes: French tradition, seasonal foodstuffs, international flavors, and the kitchen garden. Lamb and Bean Casserole, Bay Scallop and Tomato Gratin, Sea Bass en Croute, and Chestnut-Crusted Loin of Venison are some of the ambitious dishes on offer. Boulud also provides a list of trusted suppliers so you can re-create the classic Café Boulud dishes, down to the same ingredients. 

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HiP Paris

HiP Paris is a lifestyle website about everything Paris and beyond. We enlighten and entertain our community, and share tips and recommendations. We believe in respect for French culture, timeless luxury, being comfortable in your skin, and the simple beauty of French life. Started in 2008, HIP Paris has evolved into a hub for expats and Francophiles. We have been featured in the New York Times, Business Insider, Bloomberg, Buzzfeed, Eater, Bon Appetit, Refinery29 and many other publications.


  1. So nice to hear people are still discovering Patricia Wells’ Bistro Cookbook. I live in Toronto, Canada et j’adore tout ce que est Français! Patricia’s recipes have been a staple in my kitchen from the moment the book was published over 30 years ago.
    Although my cookbook collection includes the best of Daniel, Jean-George, Dori, Jean-François, Paul, Hélène, Anne-Sophie and Joël, Alain and many others, Patricia is my GO-TO for heartwarming comfort food… from Potel’s Gougère to M Henri’s roast lamb. Bonne Cuisine!

  2. I love this post!!
    Please kindly note the spelling of Light.
    Paris is often referred to as the ‘City of Light’ (La Ville Lumière), both because of its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment and more literally because Paris was one of the first large European cities to use gas street lighting on a grand scale on its boulevards and monuments.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org › wiki
    Very kind regards!

  3. OMG, this is just amazingly co-incidental. I live in Cape Town South Africa, where we had a very stringent lock-down for nearly 5 months. Restaurants only opened a couple of weeks ago and we are now allowed to buy alcohol from Monday to Thursday since a week or so ago. During that time we were also not allowed to socialize at all. Times were really grim and I decided that we needed something to look forward to. So I started cooking us Bistro eat-in meals from Patricia Wells’ book Bistro Cooking and do a keep a little blog about it for family and friends. I only started following your blog about six weeks ago and now you are featuring her book. So fabulous!

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