I don’t care if it makes me a cliche, I freaking love Paris. It’s not about the shopping or crazy-fancy restaurants (actually, the first couple of times I visited I was a poor backpacker and still had an incredible time).
When I travel, I like to spend my days walking everywhere, if possible and eating the best of everything — luckily the two go perfectly together in Paris.
I also like to make sure I get my fair share of fresh fruits and vegetables so I seek out vegetarian-friendly lunch spots and try to hit up a few markets to grab fruit for breakfasts.
Below are my favorite spots for good food and drinks in this gorgeous city.
28 Rue Henry Monnier, 75009
When talented American chef Jody Williams decided on the bold move to open a French food restaurant in Paris she got it spot on (there’s a twin Buvette in New York, too). This super cozy Pigalle bistro’s atmosphere is welcoming and timeless — and pretty much exactly what I look for in a restaurant. Cocktails and wine are on point. The menu consists of homey classics done beautifully: coq au vin, ratatouille tartine, croque-monsieur, shaved Brussels sprouts salad. It’s the stuff you want to eat while in Paris. And their chocolate mousse is badass. They don’t take reservations so unlike Parisians, we showed up early. We took our time having a drink and eased into dinner with a preemo spot as the place filled up.
46, rue des Martyrs, 75009
When we ducked into this little bakery for lunch mid-week I found the the roasted vegetable plate of my dreams. With pumpkin, broccoli, greens, hummus and a side of bread — it was exactly what I needed after croissant and chocolate mousse overload. Their vegetable soups, quiches and risotto of the day all looked wonderful too. You can also grab their English-style cakes and vegetable-packed salads to go.
74 Rue des Gravilliers, 75003
Bob’s in another tiny gem. There are a few locations but I’d recommend Bob’s Kitchen in the 3rd Arrondissement. Seating can be a little squishy, but the the ‘veggie stew’ was a perfectly cooked bowl of vegetables and rice with a delicious coconut curry sauce poured over the top. The mushroom soup was maybe the best I’ve had – warming and hearty on a grey Paris day. Plus, they had a vibrant green juice that gave me the energy top-up I needed for more walking.
53 Avenue Trudaine, 75009
Great coffee with freshly made vegetarian soups and salads, baked goodies, free wi-fi AND great design. It’s a great stop after Rose Bakery, while checking out the South Pigalle neighborhood or for looking like a trendy artist/local.
2 rue de l’Olive (at the corner of 92 rue Riquet), 75018
I just love the concept of this bar/wine shop. You can sample the natural wines kept in large vats in-house (they usually have about 5 available at a time). Pick a couple you like and they’ll fill up a glass bottle for you to take home (you can bring your own or pay a small fee for one of theirs, which you can reuse or return to the shop). I think the most expensive bottle was 8 Euro. We were there during Beaujolais month, which was great for tasting young wines. There’s also a thoughtful selection of already-bottled wines and some good bar nibbles if you want to settle in.
Poilâne/Cuisine de Bar
8 rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006
Poilâne bakery makes some of the city’s greatest hearty loaves of sourdough. Head to the Cuisine de Bar next to the bakery for the lunch special. You get a choice of a tartine (open-faced sandwich) on a big piece of their famous bread along with soup or salad and a glass of wine. My chevre (goat cheese) and tomato tartine and pumpkin soup were killer.
12 rue Véron 75018
Another cozy French bistro nestled in the back streets of Montmartre. Ma Biche (which is totally fun to say) emphasizes quality produce like grass-fed beef and local vegetables. Their menu changes daily, but their burgers are a staple — and spectacular — and great vegetable sides and salads are available.
109-111 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003
You’ll find crepes everywhere in Paris. I’m not opposed to the street cart version, but these buckwheat Breton crepes are the real deal. Crispy at the edges, buttery and delicate, these crepes are worth the wait (if you’re smarter than me, you’ll make a reservation). The menu includes Japanese accents, like green salad with wasabi vinaigrette and some irresistible dessert crepes. For your main, go for something classic like cheese and egg — perfecting the basics is where it’s at. AND you get a bonus butter caramel with your bill, what more do you need to know?
L’as du Fallafel
32-34 Rue des Rosiers, 75004
This is a favorite from the backpacking days. It’s best to grab a packed pita and some extra napkins from the take out window and find a spot to lean on along the cobblestone street. I still dream about this falafel.
Le Grande Epicerie
38 Rue de Sèvres, 75007
If you love food and/or are looking for a unique and tasty gift for someone, go here. It’s a big fancy food hall and market — everything you could imagine is here. My favorite buys: Bordier butter with sea salt, assorted cheeses, and a green vegetable soup we brought back to our apartment for an easy dinner.
Square du Vert-Galant
This little garden at the end of the Île de la Cité near the Pont Neuf is an idyllic spot to picnic by the Seine. Grab some cheese, wine and a baguette and go.
Photo credits: Leah Vanderveldt 2014