You’re certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing where to eat in Paris, so you can imagine how difficult it is for me, a local for the last 11 years, to answer the unavoidable question from friends and family about the best new restaurants to try. Well, without further ado, for those of you who are wondering where to eat in Paris right now, here are 11 places that have opened or have welcomed new chefs in the last few months, each with its own spark, and where you can’t go wrong.
Beefbar Paris – a historic restaurant near the Champs Elysées
It’s sleek, it’s got the historic Parisian pazzazz (a jaw-dropping Art Nouveau glass ceiling inherited from its 1898 Fermette Marboeuf restaurant days), and if you're a meat fan, then it won’t let you down.
In true Beefbar fashion (and those who have been to its outposts all over the world will know), it’s the right balance of flashy and laid-back, making it the perfect place for a relaxed business lunch or dinner date.
The food is casual, and peppered with influences from around the world. The starter menu ranges from Spanish hams to smoked Mexican tacos and Japanese Kobe beef gyozas, while the mains are very much steeped in French classics like juicy Chateaubriand and filet mignon.
There’s also steamed sea bream and free-range coquelet (cockerel) as well as creamy black truffle taglionini for diners who prefer to go beef-free. Don’t miss out on the home-made purées – we liked the classic, but there are nine to choose from if you’re feeling adventurous. Make a reservation in advance to nab a table under the glass ceiling.
Beefbar, 5 rue Marbeuf 75008 Paris
Astair – brasserie fare in an Art Nouveau passage
The great thing about eating out in Paris, is that your search for places to dine will take you to all four corners of the city. This next restaurant is tucked away in one of the city’s glorious covered Art Nouveau arcades. Dating back to 1799, today the Passage des Panoramas is a bit of a dining Mecca.
A few doors down from the crew’s other success story, Canard et Champagne (where they serve, you guessed it, duck and champagne), the laid-back Astair comes with a slick contemporary design by star-chitect Tristan Auer (venture downstairs to the toilets for the full shebang).
In the last couple of years, traditional brasserie fare like they used to make it has made a huge comeback, and it's what Astair's all about. Don’t miss the green beans to start. Crunchy and mixed with walnuts, parmesan shavings and fresh shallots topped with a tangy vinaigrette – they’re quite possibly the best green beans you’ll ever have.
Continue with the weird and wonderful delights classic French cuisine has to offer like os à la moëlle (bone marrow), escargots (snails) or veal’s liver. For the less adventurous, there's the comforting Corrèze veal with veggies or mellow buttery sole. Don’t miss out on sides of gratin de coquillettes (tiny shell-shaped pasta) for the full-comfort effect.
Astair is one of those sure bets where you feast on French classics to the sound of uplifting jazz, making the experience one that’s sure to put a spring your step, regardless of how serious your case of winter blues may be.
Astair, 19 Passage des Panoramas, 75002 Paris
Jòia – hearty south-western French food in trendy Sentier
Buzzy and warm, and brimming with plenty of bon vivant spirit, two-star chef Helene Darroze’s laid-back restaurant Jòia (joy in Bearnese dialect) is steeped in her south-western French roots.
But first things first: if you're on a diet, then this isn't the place for you, but then again who comes to Paris for salad? Like in the south, portions are generous, comforting and made to share straight out of the pan.
Downstairs, diners sit at high tables or up at the kitchen counter while upstairs, the space is more intimate with the main feature being the scarlet-red living room carved around a fireplace complete with cozy velvet couches and back-lit bookcases.
Staff in casual jeans or slacks ferry huge steaming pots and pans of roast chicken and beef but also guacamole in huge stone mortars. We started with the latter, which came with a selection of ingredients in tiny bowls so we could mix our own. There's something artisanal about mashing your own guac', which reflects the rustic characteristic of the cuisine here.
Expect full free-range chickens from the Landes region doused in creamy butter and rosemary, just as your grandma might cook it, or Angus beef with crunchy whole carrots for good measure (or at least for your conscience) and polenta that's so creamy, you'll be hooked. Splash with a glass of wine from the list featuring women wine-makers only.
Jòia, 39 rue des Jeuneurs, 75002 Paris
Girafe – where dining comes with killer Eiffel Tower views
If what you want out of your dining experience is good food and a view that will blow your mind, then welcome to Girafe.
Tucked in the left wing of the Trocadero, which arches around the Eiffel Tower, Girafe has one of the most sensational views of the the grande dame. Step out on the open-air terrace (open all year around), and you’ll be taken aback – no matter how many times you’ve been to Paris.
The 1930s interiors, recalling an outdoor patio with Art Deco undertones and 30s French glamour spirit, are by the talented Joseph Dirand, but as beautiful as the interiors are, diners come for the view.
However, that’s not to say that the food isn’t worth the mention. Seafood is Girafe’s signature, with oysters plucked from the country’s best regions from Brittany to Oléron. You’ll also find Sologne caviar, lobster, urchins, crayfish, and even cockles, as well as sashimi, ceviche, and whole fish grilled or roasted. Meat lovers, rest assured, there’s also beef tenderloin and farm-raised chicken.
Whether you’re looking for a place to have a dinner date, an evening with friends, with parents, or even just alone with the Eiffel Tower, Girafe is one of those fail-safe spots that’s handy to keep up your sleeve.
Girafe, Palais de Chaillot, 1 Place du Trocadero, 75016 Paris
L’Abysse – where French and Japanese talent come together near the Champs Elysées
You might not come to Paris to taste some of the most wonderful sushi and sake in the world, but L’Abysse is worth making an exception for. It’s possibly one of the best dining experiences you’ll have and I’m not the only one to vouch for it – last week, the Abysse was awarded a Michelin star (its first of several, is my feeling).
Tucked in the ground-floor salons of the seventeenth-century Pavillon Ledoyen, it’s three-Michelin-star Yannick Alléno’s Japanese haven. Upstairs, you’ll find the celebrated chef’s French restaurant (an experience in itself).
Stepping inside the Pavillon is like stepping back in time, even if L’Abysse’s contemporary interiors take you to a Naoshima fantasy with its undulating walls molded to look like the shell of a giant sea urchin and entrance created with 80,000 wooden baguettes by artist Tadashi Kawamata.
Jean-Baptiste the sake sommelier and Adrien, the Maître d’hôtel do a wonderful job of tying the experience together by imparting their passion for sushi master Yasunari Okazaki’s terrific nigiris and the very best tipple Japan has to offer.
Guests sit alone at the bar or on the velvet banquettes around low tables, but all attention is on the masters at work behind the counter as they slice and fold the rice and fish into mouthfuls of magic.
Start with the artichoke tofu and smoked pike egg with artichoke extraction and kuzu. Continue with a delicate oyster in a sake jelly with syari cream, then the cuttlefish, St Pierre and prawn nigiri with a Yamada junmai sake (traditionally served at weddings in Japan), the vanilla and sesame lobster and melt-in-the-mouth tuna. Finish with a smoking chestnut that comes under a glass bell, and that looks like a celestial sea creature.
It’s the meticulous detail that goes into every stage of Okazaki’s sushi, from the ancestral style of fishing (one of the most respectful techniques), which preserves the taste, as well as the maturation process, and choice of produce in general, teamed with killer premium sakes, that make this experience absolutely otherworldly.
L’Abysse at Pavillon Ledoyen, 8 avenue Dutuit, 75008 Paris
Lasserre – a landmark restaurant next to the Grand Palais museum
A pillar of French gastronomy, Lasserre has tasked a young new chef with the challenge of steering this old ship back in the water. Nicolas le Tirrand, who’s trained with top three-Michelin-star chefs, has spruced up old classics by giving them the lightness that traditional French gastronomy often lacks, giving the menu a fresh new twist.
The interiors have also got a makeover. Lasserre’s yellow-gold dining room, with its rows of white orchids, crisp white tablecloths, channels summer drawing room chic – especially with its roof that still opens to reveal the starry skies.
Originally a casual bistro for travellers come to see the 1937 World Fair, Monsieur René Lasserre turned it into one of the city’s most successful restaurants who counted Salvador Dalí and Audrey Hepburn among its regulars.
When it comes to the menu, Le Tirrand has added lightness to heavy signature dishes, like Lasserre’s truffle macaroni. Don’t miss the heather-stewed grouse, and, of course, crêpes suzette dessert, where the thin delicate pancakes are rustled up in front of guests at their table for the full historic Lasserre treatment.
Lasserre, 17 Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 75008 Paris.
Taillevent – for an off-the-beaten-track business lunch steps from the Arc de Triomphe
Newly arrived chef David Bizet’s going to have to work hard to haul this Michelin-starred Parisian institution back into the three star ranks. And there’s no doubt he will succeed. Bold while still upholding his values, this Norman chef is unrivalled in channelling pure emotion through the natural generosity in his cooking and his mastery of every product, be it from land or sea.
Previously at the George V, where he headed up L’Orangerie, which was awarded a Michelin star just months after he had taken over, he’s flown the nest to partner up with newly-appointed director and wine virtuoso Antoine Petrus, and give Taillevent a new edge.
Don’t miss the delicate langoustine and caviar clusters with a full-flavoured lobster bisque, the too-pretty-to-eat mimosa eggs and young tender leeks cooked in a truffle salt crust, followed by the grouse, heather stewed and served with a beetroot and coffee sauce and dusted with shaved chanterelle mushrooms.
A true master, Bizet’s award-winning cuisine is an ode to French culinary heritage but with an updated, lighter, twist that makes him one of the most promising chefs in Paris right now.
Taillevent, 15 rue Lamennais 75008 Paris
Froufrou – a tranquil spot hidden inside a theatre near Opéra
Hidden inside the Edouard VII theatre on the tucked-away square of the same name, Froufrou is one those intimate spots that’s perfect for a pre- or after-show dinner, but deserves full merit as a destination in its own right too.
A little like dining behind the curtain of a theatre, rich blue velvet drapes line the windowless dining room. Glints of brass reflected in mirrors and plush carpets add to the Parisian twenties glamour aesthetic recalling the 1913 theatre’s soul.
Fourfrou is a cozy spot that serves comforting, well-executed dishes created by young the young cocky Colombian Insta-generation chef Juan Arbelaez (who has several other restaurants in the city). However, his cuisine is a notch more humble, like the buttery seared garlicky cuttlefish or comforting oeuf Meurette with button mushrooms and crispy lardoons, followed by full-flavored slow-cooked lamb shoulder with crunchy fresh vegetables to share, roasted roe or just pasta shells with truffle and ham. Finish with the Paris-Brest to share if you still have room.
A hushed restaurant that makes diners feel like they’ve been let onto a well-kept secret, Froufrou is the perfect combination of buzzy and laid-back, making it a great spot to hide away from cold wintry afternoons.
Froufrou, 10 place Edouard VII, 75009 Paris
Ducasse sur Seine – the best cruise on the River Seine with Eiffel Tower views
Alain Ducasse holds no less than 20 stars for bis 30 restaurants across three continents. The only thing he was missing, really, was a cruise boat – until now.
Launched last fall, Ducasse sur Seine is a restaurant on an electric boat, gliding soundlessly along the River Seine through Paris and blockbuster monuments, from the Grand Palais to the Eiffel Tower.
Jean-Jacques, the Maître d’hôtel does a marvellous job at making diners feel right at home with a touch of humour here, and a warm smile there. With Monsieur Ducasse for years, he spent most of his career perched atop the Eiffel Tower when the chef helmed the Jules Verne restaurant, but he's not far from the grande dame, which he now takes in from a different vantage point.
All courses, prepared by executive chef Francis Fauvel, are executed to perfection, from the chilled lobster to the cook-pot of spelt and purple artichokes, followed by mains of turbot shellfish ‘à la marinière’, and tender roasted free-range corn-fed chicken in herb butter. Dessert was a portion of delicate oven-baked figs with fig tree ice cream. A winner.
With the exceptional views enjoyed soundlessly, teamed with the food, the futuristic-looking steel and glass vessel’s smart interiors, this Paris river cruise is like no other in the city.
Ducasse sur Seine, boarding at Port Debilly, 75116
Piero TT Paris, Pierre Gagnaire
Piero TT – an Italian trattoria in chic Saint-Germain-des-prés
Paris' restaurant scene has come a long way in the last decade, especially when it comes to representing the diverse cultures that coexist in the city. Whereas eating out used to be dominated by brasseries, today, eating out in Paris has got a lot more exciting with chefs throwing in influences they've picked up from all over the globe, including in nearby Italia like at Piero TT, where the light and lovingly made pasta places the bar high.
Three-star chef Pierre Gagnaire's latest venture is Piero TT, a Parisian offshoot of Courchevel palace-hotel Les Airelles' hit-restaurant, it opened just weeks ago in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood.
Inside, the wooden trattoria-style aesthetic is simple and welcoming thanks to Luigi and Gianluca's stellar service. Up the narrow wooden staircase is a cozy, dimly-lit seating area of green banquettes and framed pictures of historic Paris, where time seems to fall away.
In the kitchen, chef Ivan Ferrara rustles up dishes of pure magic. Whether you want to play it safe and go for the Burrata (so creamy you'll need to close your eyes for the full impact) or the Vitello tonato (finely sliced veal with unctuous tuna cream), you'll be "umming" and "ahhing" your way through all the antipasti.
But it gets even better with the mains of handmade pasta, like fresh 'Guitare' pasta with truffle. Light as air, the spaghetti absorbs the truffle sauce, creating an explosion of taste with every mouthful. Extra-hungry diners can follow with Tournedos beef or Vitello à la Milanaise, which also looked incredible. My top tip: ask for a side of heart-warming truffle ('tis the season, afterall) topinambourg (Jerusalem artichokes) doused in the maison's extra virgin olive oil – you won't regret it.
Piero TT, 44 rue du Bac,Paris 75007
George V Four Seasons Hotel
L’Orangerie – a quiet spot inside the palatial George V Hotel near the Champs Elysées
Now that David Bizet’s flown the nest and gone to Taillevent (see above), it leaves room for a new chef to step up to the stage besides three-star chef Christian Le Squer to take the helm of the George V palace-hotel’s Michelin starred L’Orangerie. Enter Alan Taudon.
A bright spark and keen traveller, the young chef from the Morbihan in Brittany, just like Le Squer, draws his inspiration for his light, delicate cuisine from tastes around the world, including Mexico, his wife's birthplace.
Not only is L’Orangerie the perfect setting for Sunday lunch, with sunlight filtering through the glass conservatory that looks onto an open-air courtyard, but Taudon’s cuisine is a gentle surprise at every turn that takes you across the world.
Stand-out dishes include the fermented herb-infused aubergine to start, the seared scallops lightly sprinkled with corn croutons followed by the sea bream with tapioca, cucumber and jalapeño sauce. The light crisp of the skin makes for a beautiful contrast with the fleshy fish, while the jalapeño adds a little kick, balanced out with the cool cucumber freshness. For meat-lovers, the Wagyu beef melts in the mouth, almost as easily as the soufflé nori potatoes it comes with.
However, while every course is expertly executed, one of the most spectacular dishes both visually and to the taste, has to be the delicate vacherin flower meringue with every petal painstakingly made by hand. The perfect note to end a sunny Sunday lunch on, before heading back out into the city.
L’Orangerie, 31 avenue George V, 75008 Paris