Part 2 of my top 20 delves into the fun and casual side of Paris eateries and includes some choices for those seeking a diversity of flavours, which goes hand in hand with fun!
A few tips to start:
- Paris restaurants are rarely open all day, lunch service typically goes from 12pm to 3pm-ish and dinner service from 7:30pm to 11pm+
- Reserve your table. You may have to call because, as you may have noticed from some of the links, not all restaurants have full websites. But, like everything in France, there are exceptions to every rule: some restos don't take reservations and others let you book online. If you're keen to try a certain spot, make sure to check.
- Many restaurants are closed Mondays, others are closed Sunday/Monday and in rare cases, Saturday/Sunday. No rhyme or reason!
9. Ricci There is something in the tomato sauce that makes Ricci’s a cut above any Italian I’ve had in Paris. It's the kind of spot where you tend to order your favourite dish every single time. You want to try something else but you just can’t bring yourself to do it because your favourite is so damn good. Till you do and you realize that the whole menu is as scrumptious. For about a year, I would only order my favourite pizza (napoletana), then one day, I gambled on a pasta and I’ve been trying new things ever since. You can’t go wrong. Starters and desserts are equally delicious and they have some tasty Italian wines to boot (somewhat infrequent in France). The service is friendly, the atmosphere is relaxed and you will definitely want to go back. They also let you linger which can be nice. Fun fact: Ricci’s updates their placemats regularly to reflect current events (sometimes NSFW) and it’s a great conversation starter if you need it. 2 locations in the 17th.
10. Texas Paris BBQ in Paris is a thing! And Texas Paris does it with French flair. You can still get your beef tartare if you want it but they’re also serving some of the best pulled pork and beef ribs. The vibe here is all fun and casual; you’ll find yourself bopping along to your favourite old school hip hop and watching the bartender create delicious cocktails. (They also have a couple of very good mocktails if you happen to be on the wagon.) The plates here are somewhat small so you may find yourself ordering a large selection from the menu - not necessarily a bad thing! The service is fantastic and most servers speak fluent English. Note: the 10th offers a more colourful view of Paris and isn’t usually at the top of a tourist’s list but is worth checking out if you can.
11. Hero is a hip Korean BBQ chicken joint in St. Denis and it is the only spot of its kind in Paris. Their crispy fried chicken is fried twice for extra crispiness and all three flavours will blow your mind: sweet garlic, extra hot, or regular. The sides are great for sharing, or not. My favourites include the pork bun and kimchi mac & cheese; the green apple salad is also refreshing and will help give you the impression that you’ve achieved a healthy balance in your meal. You know the original cocktails are a dream because in 2015, the owners won best best bar in Europe, voted by World’s 50 Best Bars, for Candelaria, another one of their Paris hotspots. Fun fact: Hero encourages you to eat with your hands. There are no utensils save chopsticks, which means you have to pick that double fried chicken up. If you haven’t licked your fingers clean, there’s a communal sink to tidy up. Tip: Hero is small and can get pretty packed and warm on a summer’s eve - book ahead, dress appropriately and keep the cocktails coming!
12. Desi Road on the Left Bank serves up tasty, authentic Indian flavours in a stylish, contemporary space. Their speciality is the Thali plates which give you a taste of everything including a dahl starter, chutneys, raita, a curry of choice, veggie side, rice and dessert. The flavours are rich and complement one another beautifully. If you prefer to share among a bigger group, there is a long list of small plates that will pique your interest. Desi Road is completely unpretentious and the waiters will do their best to help you order according to your palate and, of course to make sure you don’t overeat, which is always my biggest challenge when going for Indian. Note: If you’re in the 3rd, you may want to try MG Road, another Indian restaurant by the same owners, likely just as scrumptious.
13. Café Varenne in the 7th is a casual brasserie with a corner terrasse right in the Left Bank’s shopping district at Rue de Varenne and Rue du Bac. It's also a stone's throw from the Musée d'Orsay. The vibe is casual and the service though relaxed, is excellent. The traditional food is done just right. You can expect to find all your French favourites: ‘bavette’ (steak), foie gras, puys lentils with a poached egg, escargot, duck confit, tuna tartare, steak tartare...the list goes on. All of it is fresh, delicious and will leave you feeling very pleased with yourself. Tip: Unlike many Paris restaurants, Café Varenne is happy for you to sit for a drink, snack, coffee or just dessert. You don’t have to go for a full meal but you probably should!