In Paris, life has long revolved around cafe culture.
Lunchtime in Paris evokes the idea of relaxing with a three course meal and a glass of wine on a sunny terrace, not a sandwich quickly gulped down between meetings.
But indeed as Paris has changed, with a new entrepreneurial environment drawing international crowds, waves of immigration from the Middle East and North Africa diversifying the population, and the reluctant acceptance by the French of a slightly faster pace in life, so too has the way we dine.
In recent years, Paris has undergone a street food revolution, of sorts. People line up down the streets to get a taste of a burger sold out of a truck. In the rapidly-gentrifying Belleville, the monthly Le Food Market (held on the third Thursday of every month) showcases the increasing array of street food options.
From kebab to crepes, these seven street food spots are sure to whet your appetite and serve as an introduction to Paris’s burgeoning street food scene.
1. L’As Du Fallafel
Let’s start with the classics. Nestled into one of Paris’s most bustling streets, the Rue des Rosiers, L’As Du Fallafel (the Ace of Falafel) attracts tourists and locals alike at any time of day or night.
Here, the takeout line can be daunting, but the crispy, warm falafel sandwiches brimming with spices and sauces make the wait worth it. If the line at L’As is too long, its neighbor and rival falafel shop Mi-Va-Mi is sure to welcome your business.
2. Le Camion Qui Fume
Co-founded by an American woman, Kristin Frederick, and a Frenchman, Frédéric Fédière, Le Camion Qui Fume (The Smoking Truck) was the first food truck to open in France, way back in 2011.
Now comprising a small fleet of trucks and several brick-and-mortar restaurants, Le Camion Qui Fume has successfully franchised its trademarked, Bourdain-approved burgers. Its revolving menu features classic burgers like the barbecue burger, but also French-American fusions like the tartiflette burger made with Reblochon cheese.
3. La Porteña
Argentina’s Buenos Aires borrowed a lot from the French: the grand boulevards, the cafe culture, the ubiquitous parks. But Frenchies can steal a bite of Argentina back at La Porteña, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Montmartre that whips up delicious empanadas at a bargain price. The space itself is small, so take your empanada to go and climb the steps of Sacre Coeur for one of the best views of Paris.
4. Le Comptoir du Houmous
France and Lebanon’s deep roots go back to the 1920s when the French were assigned to administer the small Middle Eastern country in the wake of the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Due to this history, Lebanese restaurants are everywhere in Paris, but Le Comptoir du Houmous (The Hummus Counter) stands out for its fresh ingredients and convenient location, right next to the quaint, bar-filled neighborhood of Buttes aux Cailles in the 13th arrondissement.
5. Street Bangkok
From its graffiti-styled exterior and neon signs to its grilled specialties, Street Bangkok is as true as can be when it comes to street food. Its three locations cover some of Paris’s hottest spots for going out, including the Canal Saint-Martin and Bastille. The satay sauce alone is worth going to all three to try out.
The bustling Rue Mouffetard area, near the Jardin Des Plantes, is an excellent spot to seek out street food—and Oroyona (36 Rue Mouffetard), a simple crepe stand painted an appealing light blue, is one of the highlights.
Artfully decorated, with a small upstairs, the stand has a wide variety of sweet and savory crepes. Although messy, the ratatouille crepe packs a punch for those looking to explore two classic French foods at once.
7. La Maison de la Poutine
French Canada, we didn’t forget you!
Founded by French chef Erwan Caradec, La Maison de la Poutine (The House of Poutine) is sure to fill your fries, cheese curds and gravy cravings. The hearty North American plate is somewhat of a novelty in France—where North American food is more often scoffed at than consumed—which means that, somewhat counterintuitively, Parisians will line up out the doors for it.
A popular lunch spot, La Maison de la Poutine will not leave your stomach empty. La Bûcheronne, which consists of fries, poutine sauce, bacon, caramelized onions, mustard, and crispy fried onions, just may end up filling you up for the entire day.
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Phineas Rueckert is a freelance writer and master’s student in journalism and international affairs at Sciences Po, in Paris. His writing has been published in Atlas Obscura, Global Citizen, and Frenchly, a site about French culture and affairs. Although he has traveled to France his whole life with his parents, both teachers, he fell in love with the country while teaching English in a high school in Toulouse in 2015-2016.