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  • Writer's pictureFelicia Moursalien

16 Sexy, Frenchy and Authentic Restaurants in Paris

Updated: Jun 1

After 4 years of living (and dating) in Paris, here is my very picky list of French style restaurants I go to personally, and recommend to visiting friends. It’s curated for authenticity, ambiance, & epicurean pursuits. These are my precious spots, so please share only with people you like!



Musee Carnavalet Terasse
Best terrasse in Paris

Contents : Best French Restaurants in Paris

Introduction: Secret to the Best French Food (essay)

  1. Romantic / Hot Date Worthy

Cozy & Intimate

  1. Traditional French Cuisine and/or Affordable Bistros

Introduction : It took me years to figure it out

Only after I dared date a non-Parisian did France’s best kept secret reveal itself to me: the best food experience in France isn't from a Michelin star restaurant but from the Southwest of France (fight me). It was after tapping into that village privilege (and breaking out of my own social bubbles..vertical tourism?) that I understood something profound.


When I met his pops Jean-Jacques, I was welcomed into the family’s meat atelier, a whole new world. The walls were lined with mason jars stuffed with pickled veggies and their own garden-grown ratatouille. Further in, boiling cauldrons for meat sterilization, long knives for needling flesh, and the artistic finish hung on the walls: a row of sausages forming a meat curtain. This was their home grown charcuterie operation .


I felt my city mouse mouth and my soul fly away in ebullience. In the Pyrenees quality and time were inextricable from eating. And the food was sublime! Garden fresh, rich, full of life force being procured close to the source. DIY in the villages was not a hashtag for millennial kombucha hobbies or Gen Z #Tradlife trends, but a deeply embedded way of life.


For a lot of the French, I’m raving banalities. Quality food is just a French way of life. But you have to understand that I grew up in North America, on a mix of fried West Indian foods and frozen fish sticks of a single parent household. It is a real privilege to have access to quality produce in North America. I was dazzled by a different richness here in the sun kissed mid-Pyrenees, one built on simplicity and dedication to traditions. I also felt a bit cheated by the dismissive Parisian adage of “il y a paris, et le reste 🤷‍♀️ (there’s Paris, and the rest). It is not true! Explore!


Sexy Delicious Rare

But after 4 years here post MBA and 10 years in Asia, I saw that what Paris gets right is the marriage of classic French quality and Parisian specific ambiance. When you eat at a good restaurant in Paris you feel like the most f*ckable girl at the party - sexy, delicious, rare.  That full body feeling of walking into a place where the lighting makes your soul wavy, clinks of fine wine glasses tingles your ttis, and that buttery resistance cutting through the perfect cuisson of magret de canard, you can’t help melt into the delicious secret that is Paris.


When you eat at a good restaurant in Paris you feel like the most f*ckable girl at the party - sexy, delicious, rare.  


Can’t Have it All at the Eyeball Market

I use the word ‘secret’ intentionally. If you don’t speak French or ain’t got connections, good luck swinging into town and finding delectable delights that aren’t teeming with tourists. I blame influencer culture. Paris, home of luxury, attracts the most vain.


And marketing savvy restaurants know that. They exploit the saturation of content producers and trade a free meal for eyeballs. This exchange is fine, if influencers were honest with their coverage, but in proper marketing etiquette, honesty is not the best policy. If you've just enjoyed 200 euros worth of food and drinks, you're not going to talk smack about the quality of that food or mediocre sauce Roquefort. You'll likely focus on the positives like ambiance and decor. The resulting effect on business can be distortionary, where aesthetics are inscrutable from quality. This sucks for Mom and Pop shops, or more traditional restaurants because they lose the marketing battle.


This exchange is fine, if influencers were honest with their coverage, but in proper marketing etiquette, honesty is not the best policy.


Don’t dispair, travellers! There are ways out of the social media vortex or distruction. One may opt for using the New Yorker for more refined recommendations, but if you're a last minute planner like I am, fat chance getting a reservation that has appeared on the New York Times. Especially with the Paris Olympics coming up. Plus, unless you’re loaded, you need a good portfolio of fancy and relaxed places for a good stay.


Meat curtain of Jean Jacques’s Atelier


Our Secret

To avoid duck lip selfies, my best advice is to follow local advice. This can be a friend who lives there or has visited. I know not everyone has access to local folks, so it can mean asking your hotel/air bnb host, or finding a cafe near where you're staying and striking up a conversation with the staff. This is one of my favorute ways to explore a place, talking to locals, soaking up their light and bursting it outwards. And I get it, you might just not have time, so that's where my recommendations (tada!) can fill your holes.


It took me years of trial and error, and mainly word of mouth recommendations to curate this list below. The target is for people visiting Paris, 25-45 years old looking for that combo of beauty, value and yummy French dining experiences. This list isn’t exhaustive, but just your training wheels for your own discovery!


Anyways, at the risk of losing my own secrets, I hope to make your culinary experience in Paris a tiny bit more sexy and authentic! All I ask is if this post is helpful to you, you share with good people in hopes to preserve the spots from tourist invasions! Our secret!



1. Romantic Restaurants in Paris

A collection of addresses that are either romantic or chic, great for dates but don't worry they are not too cheesy so it is friend/family-approved as well.



Caché


Caché, meaning 'hidden' lives up to its name. This is my favorite terrace in the city and where I go to impress visiting friends with its secret garden vibes, impressive wine selection and even more impressive sommeliers, plus its seafood. The 20eme is also my favourite neighborhood because it is green, calm and not overrun by tourists. I recommend the blue lobster, and 100 euro orange wine Epitre No 1898 Grenache Blanc 2014 if you agree that money is best spent on epicurean pursuits.




Faubourg Daimant (Vegan French)


Finally vegan has grown up in Paris. This rare restaurant brings French elegance and quality to French vegan cuisine. It is an ideal place for a date or intimate conversations, with its candlelight glow, high ceilings and small plates perfect for sharing. And unlike a typical French restaurants, the servers are warm. I went with a dear friend and the server brought out gluten free bread without him having to ask for it. I didn't get to try as much as I wanted to but I do recommend the Broccoli guacamole.


Gorgeously served Broccoli Guacamole at Faubourg Daimant 

Bouche


In one of the trendy understated neighborhoods of the 11eme arrondissement, Bouche serves great cocktails and a seasonal menu in a New York or Berlin vibe. I came here on a date and it was the perfect ambiance for intimate jokes , though I don't remember what I ate. I recommend taking a drink in the neighborhood before, you will not be parched for choice. RSVP in advance!



Hôtel Particulier


Another secret garden, this one down the private alleys of Montmartre and a fav of mine to bring my North American friends and watch their jaw drop at the splendor of this wonderful city. The stone buildings are lined with green, the vines absorbing the world's words giving the feeling of being in a beautiful secret. While they serve food, you can go for drinks as well. Perfect place to take pictures for your mom. I cannot gaurantee there will not be tourists now, probably because of Emily in Paris. Still worth it.


Amatxi


This is a new discovery thanks to a wonderful walk around the 11eme arrondissement on a sunny day. It’s in front of a beautiful park with old trees and the vibe inside just screams hot date. I haven’t tried yet , but two homies separately gave their thumbs up. Apparently the bar tender has magic hands. Whatever that means!


Eunoé


On the same discovery tour as above, we settled on this restaurant near the Square Gardette. No expectations, we were blown away by a) the divine wine glasses , b) the divine wine sommelier with an exclusive selection of bottles that can’t be found in shops, and c) the fine dining experience for reasonable prices with super creative plates with Japanese inspiration. The chef is acclaimed with a star, and the patio and staff are wonderful. Classy day date or parent friendly vibes!


Lurking behind the beef tartare ice cream cone at Eunoé. Everything was sublime!


2. Charming and intimate dining spots in the heart of Paris

Where I go for a casual drink or dining experience with great taste and understated French ambiance to give my friends a view of daily life as a Parisian.


Le Petit Keller


Delicious food with good veggie discoveries. A place to order a bottle and catch up with old friends or for a casual date. You won't find tourists here as it's nestled on a small street in the trendy yet understated 11th arrondissement. A local favorite.


L’Orillion, Bar du Quartier


35 Rue de l'Orillon, 75011

I have finished many bottles here at night. On the outside it looks like any local bar. What you don’t see is future version of yourself in ecstasy. A trusted mouth recommended this place for lunch. Small, understated, small street and 2 mains on the menu? I was sold. I ate a tuna burrata starter and the saucisse and mash main and I was very pleased indeed. It took French classics and added its own spin. For example, adding mustard seeds to the sauce added a great texture and a small burst of of flavour that was unconventional for me. Prices were super reasonable at 17 euros for a main dish.

It’s called the bar of the quarter, and it seems to be the case! I’ve walked by at night at it was packed with good vibes! Concluding that it must be nice for a drink as well in #belleville #couronne area!


La Caserne (Vegetarian)


A vegetarian restaurant in an historical fire station restored with a massive open air plan and beautiful decor. I've come here for vegetarian snacks after ecstatic dance on Tuesday nights with girl friends. Previously they have hosted brunches on its gorgeous patio but do check if that is available. Overall, love the idea of breathing new life into old buildings, this one is hosted by an organization that is an ethical business incubator.


Source: La Caserne


3. Traditional French Cuisine and/or Affordable Bistros

When all they want is good French cuisine, hearty and meaty, here are a few options but to be frank, you can rarely go wrong in France for good food so if you feel the good vibes of a place near your Airbnb, support your local business and give it a try.


Aux Bons Crus

54 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac, 75011 Paris


Loved this meat fest with large portions made for truckers and the perfect place to bring old school mates for traditional and hearty French food. You can try a whole range of French classics like Beef Bourguignon . A great plan for a non-touristy and heart filling bro time. It’s probably where I would take my dad if visited !


Le 28 Gourmand

27 Bd des Batignolles, 75008 Paris


I hesitate to recommend this place because the owner can be exceptionally awful to tourists , forgetting to serve you, but it's some of my favorite duck to eat in the city. A bit pricy and nothing fancy in terms of decor, but delish. I take all my visitors for the magret de canard. And it's food from the Southwest of France so you can get a taste of what I get when I visit my old dude's village.


Le Potager du Père Thierry


The French have different words for garden: Potager refers specifically to a vegetable garden. This restaurant is worth it for its fresh ingredients and local plates like rabbit and duck confit. Go here for feel-good French food for a good price and bucolic ambiance. While it is in the popular Montmartre area, its nondescript exterior keeps it a hidden gem.


Chez Loulou

Imagine eating at your quirky uncle’s place who is a magnificent chef. If you go without expectations of being in a normal restaurant, you can love it here. The food was excellent and great abnormal date idea as you sit in the middle of a kind of antique shop. We waited a while for the service but the chef was delightful and we had a great time. Prices were excellent for the quality of food. You have to reserve in advance, and if you’re lucky he will let you in. He doesn’t seem to have a capitalist bone in his body given the amount of people he locked out.


Au Pied de Fouet


Unpretentious and affordable, making it a rare find  in the heart of the ritzy 7eme arrondissement for traditional French food like duck confit. This spot has been around since I was an undergrad at the neighboring university, making it somewhat of an institution that has withstood the test of time (I'm old).


Le Bouillon


I'm not proud of this recommendation, it is super popular, but mainly popular among the French of all demographics, with long lines and 40 minute waits. Its popularity lies in its above average quality food but most importantly its prices are almost unheard of. If you don't have a lot of money to dole out for a family outing but want to get a good variety of French tastes like French Onion Soup, Foie Gras etc, this is the place to do it. They don't take reservations, so be prepared to wait in line, but it is worth it. I wish I took my mother here to try French cuisine instead of a fancy place where she wasted it! Multiple locations but the one around Montparnasse is pretty.



La Patisserie Cyril Lignac

24 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 Paris


Amazing pastries from a famous chef from the south of France. Try their Equinox cake, its cream is so fine with a crunchy cookie bottom that makes babies in my mouth. And if I'm being transparent, I prefer French baking to any of its food. Go nuts.



How did I do? Also, if you got tips, share! Comments Validate my existence. Thanks for letting me know!



@felicia_notfrench on insta for daily frenching around.

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