If you saw the movie “Paris, je t’aime” then you have seen the inside of this lovely turn of the century café-restaurant located right across the street from the pretty square Trousseau—a perfect view from the heated terrasse. My favorite time to hang out at Le Square Trousseau is during off-hours when there is always a free table on the terrasse (and not too many smokers around) and for l’apéro or breakfast. They serve good coffee and some of the best croissants and pain au chocolats (voted best in Paris) that come from the very popular bakery next door, Blé Sucré.
The restaurant fills up pretty quickly for lunch and dinner so I would recommend making a reservation. If you want to try a dish that makes this restaurant more than worth going back to, try the seven-hour lamb. Oh, and the hamburger looks delicious. Le Square Trousseau restaurant can also accommodate private parties up to 18 people in the restaurant’s adjacent private dining-room. The food is good, the staff is great, the place is very charming, the atmosphere is peaceful, there’s free Wi-Fi and magazines, Le Square Trousseau is always open—it’s a great address.
Le square Trousseau
1 Rue Antoine Vollon
M-Sun: 8am-2pm (lunch/dinner menu from 12pm until 12am non-stop)
If you are looking for Lebanese pastries in Paris, Bistrot Beyrouth is where you want to get them from. Baked to the perfect golden crisp and with the right touch of honey so the sweetness won’t make you hit your sugar wall instantly, the Baklava (layers of fillo pastry and cashew nuts brushed with butter), Bookaj (pyramid-shaped pastry with cashew nut filling in layers of fillo pastry and topped with pistachios) or Lady fingers (crunchy ground cashew nuts tightly rolled into fillo pastry), to name a few, will make you go back and order more. Count 5€ for an assortment of 6 pastries. Also, Bistrot Beyrouth serves an amazing rose-flavored infusion served with fresh mint leaves and aniseeds—it is their version of the traditional Lebanese café blanc (white coffee) and is a perfect hot beverage to accompany the pastries. The food is good (they serve a Lebanese-style burger with homemade French fries that I have to try) and the service is great. The service is non-stop from noon until midnight and the food can be ordered to go.
103 Rue de Charonne
M-Sat: 12pm-2am (Food is served all day until 12am)
Closed on Sunday
When I feel like eating a hamburger I head straight for Café Charlot in the Marais, right across the street from the Marché des Enfants Rouges, on rue de Bretagne. Here it is served with the right kind of bread, a soft sesame seed bun, a perfectly cooked burger (medium-rare by default), with everything it should have inside, and crispy French fries. It’s actually a cheeseburger and it costs €15. For the same price you can also order a delicious, and organic, chicken burger, also served with fries. Among the other gourmet sandwiches are the BLT, the hot sandwich Charlot (cheese, beef and grilled onions served on a french roll) and Café Charlot’s own take on the classic croques: le croque jeune homme and le croque jeune fille.
That’s for the sandwich section, there are also some classic French dishes a la carte such as bavette à l’echalotte or swordfish steak served with green beans. Aside from the food, the service is amicable and fast. If you stand out and like to be noticed you are more likely to be stared at, just as much as you can entertain yourself checking out the very Parisian crowd that itself cries for attention!
Other good places in the neighborhood that I recommend are Rose Bakery (another “trendy” place) and Breizh Café (a refreshing bowl of down-to-earthness!)
38 Rue de Bretagne
Metro: Filles du Calvaire
M-Sun: 7am-2am (Food is served all day until 12am)
Mexi&Co. is located in Paris’ Latin quarter and is definitely the place to visit if in need of canned or dried Mexican goods such as Serrano peppers, tomatillos, masa (cornmeal), nopales (prickly pear cactus pads), dried chili pods, hot sauce, chipotle, and tortilla chips (8€—at least it’s a big bag) or frozen corn tortillas (in a pack of 200). Mexi&Co. has enough on its shelves to help you cook a very decent Mexican meal, which is unquestionably a plus in a city like Paris where good (and cheap) Mexican restaurants are desperately lacking. Mexi&Co. is also a restaurant (I won’t talk about their food since I haven’t eaten there yet) and a catering company. Their menu offers classic items such as chips and salsa, guacamole, quesadillas, nachos and burritos. If you are looking for good tequila such as Patrón while in Paris (and you don’t mind paying twice it’s U.S price!) I know of two places where to find it: Izrael in the Marais and Publicis Drugstore’s Epicerie on the Champs-Elysées.
10 Rue Dante
Metro: Clunny - La Sorbone, Maubert-Mutualité
M-Sun: 9am-11pm (Food is served all day from 12pm-11pm)
This is not a Chinese/Vietnamese/Thai/Laotian restaurant—for those who don’t know it yet, most of the French Asian restaurants are a mix of all of those cuisines! Chine Massena is a Chinese restaurant in Paris, specializing in Cantonese food. It can serve up to 800 people and often hosts weddings, with all the perks that such a place has to offer: a dance floor and a karaoke! When walking in, do not look for the white people there aren’t any—that’s the first sign that you are in the right place. The second sign is the dim sum cart circulating around the tables with the bouchées vapeurs (that’s French for dim sum) made on the premises. The menu offers much more, such as hot pots, soups, rotisseries, barbecue, and fresh seafood from either the salt water tank or the river water one. If you don’t know what such and such dim sum is called in French (i.e: a pork bun is called brioche au porc) and you can’t order in Chinese, just look and point at what you want. At Chine Massena the quality and authenticity of the food is as good as can be found in the San Francisco Bay Area—the best of course being in China.
13, Place de Vénétie
(at the level of 18, Avenue de Choisy)
Metro: Porte de Choisy
You might have seen the restaurant/café Le Rostand in Paris Je t’aime, with Gena Rowlands and Bob Hoskins being served by Gerard Depardieu. When it isn’t used as a movie set Le Rostand has a wonderful terrasse facing the gorgeous Jardin du Luxembourg. Le Rostand is a perfect spot for sipping champagne and eating olives in the afternoon sun, or indulging in a hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream and a sweet crêpe, say for example, after visiting Le Panthéon.
6 place Edmond Rostand
Kunitoraya is a small Japanese restaurant in Paris that specializes in udon noodles—they are made in the traditional way by the owner himself. The udon dishes come in many different variations, hot when in a soup (i.e: Tempura-Udon, 13€) or cold with a sauce on the side (i.e: Kitsune-Udon, 11€). They come in regular or small sizes (count 5€ for the small Udon Wakame.) Aside from the delicious udon dishes I highly recommend the Tonkatsu (fried breaded pork, 9€), the Tentoji (omelette and shrimp tempura, 10€) and the Tempura (veggies and shrimps, 12€). Since the restaurant fills up quickly and doesn’t take reservations, the best time for lunch or dinner is after the regular eating hours.
Kunitoraya restaurant does not take credit cards.
39 Rue Saint-Anne
Located a few blocks away from the Beaubourg Museum, Au Bon Pho restaurant serves authentic and delicious food. The pho (7,50 €) is served with beef and tripe (as is traditional) and while the Asian customers will have it that way, the owner knows that most French people would prefer their soup without tripe and it is perfectly fine to ask for your pho without it. As for the bun bo (7,50 €), never before have I had such a generous portion of meat, and the perfectly cooked vermicelli was particularly enjoyable. Since papaya salad was on the menu we had to order it and it was better than expected: we asked for “really spicy” and that’s what we got, not the toned-down spicy-for-the-French. It also had plenty of that great strong fishy sauce, the kinda-good, kinda-bad fish sauce that Asian people love but westerners tend to frown at in large amounts. At Au Bon Pho restaurant, the cooks are dressed up in lab coats and hairnets, the walls are pink, the Asian customers are rowdy—it’s a lively place. The owner, a charming and talkative Laotian man who’s been living in France for the past 30 years, takes great care of his customers while still figuring out how to manage the growing number of patrons. Au Bon Pho opened in early March 2009, and serves all day seven days a week. For now.
Au Bon Pho
22 Rue au Maire
Metro: Arts et Metiers