One thing we take very seriously here in France is good food—it’s practically written into the Declaration of Human Rights!
Sometimes, though, you want a bit more. You don’t just want good food; you want a really great dinner. Whether you’re sharing a romantic meal with your special someone, celebrating a graduation or a business deal, or you just want a really great memory from your vacation in France, here are six spots for an unforgettable dinner in Paris.
Epicure at Le Bristol
First up: Paris fine dining in true belle époque style at Le Bristol’s Epicure restaurant. Think white tablecloths, shiny silverware, marble floors, Louis Seize chairs and three Michelin stars—with prices to match.
Chef Eric Frechon takes traditional French cuisine and spins it around a bit to give it a more modern appeal. Take his signature dish—macaroni stuffed with truffle, artichoke puree and foie gras—which takes classic ingredients and turns them into something completely new.
Flavors here are intense. The trout comes with a lemon verbena butter, for example, which together with the watercress really sings—while not masking the trout’s slightly earthy taste.
And if that all sounds a bit overwhelming, you’ll be glad to find that the staff are friendly and attentive—not at all formal or stiff. Epicure is a seriously high class place, but it’s anything but snooty.
La Dame de Pic
If you’re looking for a less classical, more up-to-the-minute cuisine, try La Dame de Pic.
Anne-Sophie Pic is one of a select few women to have earned three Michelin stars thanks to her bright, innovative cooking. She marinates mackerel in Lapsang Souchong tea, bakes carrots with hazelnuts, steams sea bass over wakame seaweed and pairs candied chestnuts with blackcurrants to contrast the creamy, nutty marrons glacés with the acidity of the fruit—just to name a few.
The staff at La Dame du Pic are warm and friendly. There’s none of the over-the-top “fine dining” service here—just attentiveness and charm.
It’s always worth knowing where chefs like to eat when they’re off duty. In Paris, it’s often at Le Baratin (3 rue Jouye-Rouve), which has been thriving since long before its home turf of Belleville became hip.
The key note of Raquel Carena’s cuisine is authenticity, often drawing on the gastronomy of her native Argentina, though she can be inventive, too. The menu is short: daily specials depend on the spoils brought fresh from the markets that morning. Throw in a list of interesting organic wines, and this tiny bistro can produce a truly great dinner in Paris.
If you fancy something funkier and less traditional, Verjus is the place for you.
The €78 tasting menu is inventive and ever-changing. Chef Braden Perkins—yes, an American in Paris—is self-taught, imaginative, and revolutionary. Anything goes here, from cooking pork belly in carrot juice to poaching egg with three kinds of mushrooms. If Heston Blumenthal is a culinary scientist, Perkins is a poet—or maybe a Zen food monk.
He’s utterly uncompromising, too. When certain ingredients proved hard to come by, Perkins worked with other chefs to source them directly from farmers. Commitment to first class ingredients is what turns his interesting experiments into full-on gourmet experiences.
Honorary mention: Looking for something more low-key? Check out Perkins’ casual diner, Ellsworth, which does great sharing plates—and has fried chicken that would make Colonel Sanders hang his head in shame.
If seafood is what you’re after, you’ll find the best dinner in Paris at Clamato.
The menu changes daily, depending on what has been delivered. You can go for the traditional seafood platter, try the coriander ceviche, or stick to a classic such as sea bass with béarnaise sauce.
In addition to the exciting seafood menu, save room for the maple syrup tart for dessert—the deep sweetness will settle down your tastebuds for the night.
Le Roi du Pot au Feu
This restaurant (34 Rue Vignon) has a classic look with its red checkered tablecloths, and it’s devoted to just one traditional dish. The pot-au-feu—bone marrow, beef, vegetables, all boiled up in a stew—certainly lives up to its name (which translates as “firepot!”).
Le Roi du Pot au Feu has the friendly feeling of a family restaurant in a small village. If you want to understand what down-to-earth French peasant cooking and hospitality is like, this is the place to come. Prices are reasonable, particularly considering the location: close to the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores.
The secret, of course, lies in getting the best ingredients. The beef comes from the Rungis market every morning, and is then stewed slowly all day until it’s tender and the broth is thick. There’s no sizzling drama here, just infinite patience. Those who are in the know replicate this patience by carefully leaving the bone marrow—the best part of the pot-au-feu—for last.
While nothing fancy, the old-school charm at this place has won it a battalion of fans. Since it doesn’t take reservations, you might want to get there early.
This final suggestion is ideal if you’re on a budget, but if you want to explore one of France’s other great culinary traditions: Maghrebian cuisine.
The décor of Le Tagine looks straight out of “Arabian Nights,” with mirrors and mosaics and candles burning everywhere. But you’re here for the food, which more than delivers. Their generously portioned “special” couscous includes a mix of different meats and sausages, and the tagine sauce is flavored with dry spices as well as chopped cilantro. And your dinner isn’t over until you’ve had sticky, melting pastries with mint tea for dessert.
Would you rather enjoy dinner in Paris with an intimate group of fellow foodies? Our Paris by Night: Gourmet Food & Wine Tasting Experience is calling your name!