Our Fave Food Highlights Of Paris

brunch at Cafe St. Regis in Paris

Ah Paris, home of beautiful breads, buttery pastries, Michelin-starred restaurants, cozy bistros...the list of culinary highlights that the city of lights can lay claim to is endless! We always make a point to seek out memorable dining experiences wherever we travel, but the food in Paris was so good that it deserved its own post separate from the photo-heavy travel recap. If you're planning a trip there soon, be sure to add these spots to your itinerary!

Cafe St. Regis (pictured above)

Skip the crowds of tourists at the overpriced crepe places next to the Notre Dame. Just a short walk away, Cafe St. Regis is an old-school French bistro on the Île Saint-Louis that serves nothing but the classics, and if you're lucky enough to get an outside table, it can't be beat for scenery or for people-watching.

wild strawberry and vanilla ice cream from Berthillon in Paris

Berthillon ice cream

If you only take away one food recommendation from this list, make it Berthillon ice cream, an institution on Île Saint-Louis since 1954 and recommended by no less than the late Anthony Bourdain. On our first visit on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the lineup wrapped down the street and around the corner, full of locals and tourists alike patiently waiting for their cones. Other cafes also sell Berthillon ice cream from glass cases and they have shorter queues (and are open later at night if you want a cone after dinner), but the original location has the best flavour selection.

I opted for wild strawberry and vanilla on our first outing. The wild strawberry was intensely fruity and flavourful, like the distilled essence of perfectly ripe fruit. The little frozen berries exploded like ice candies when I bit into them, while the vanilla was rich and creamy and full of genuine vanilla flavour. We walked around with our cones and were stopped by a French tourist who asked us where we'd gotten the ice cream, which was kind of an awesome unintended compliment! Lawrence loved Berthillon so much, we ended up having their ice cream 4 times over 12 days.

Steak and duck from Le Petit Marche

Le Petit Marché

In a city known for having the best duck confit, Le Petit Marché is especially famous for their caramelized duck breast served with plantains, so does that mean I had the best duck in the world? Whether or not that's the case, it was certainly the best duck I've ever had in my life. There's no skin on the duck breast; instead, it's sliced thinly like a hasselback potato, caramelized and golden-brown on the outside, with a tender pink centre.

Deconstructed egg dish from L'Epi Dupin

L'Epi Dupin

L'Epi Dupin is one of those restaurants that everyone feels is their own little hidden gem. On the rainy evening we went, it was filled almost entirely with locals. There was one other table of tourists—an elegant woman from New York visiting with her nephew—who asked how we'd heard of this place. The atmosphere is hushed, intimate and elegant without feeling stuffy; the menu changes seasonally; and the wine pairings are on point. I loved the deconstructed egg and asparagus appetizer and hazelnut-crusted fish.

Angelina hot chocolate

Angelina hot chocolate

A word to the wise: Do not expect good food at the major tourist attractions like Versailles or the Louvre. You will most likely be choking down a mediocre entree salad just for the sake of not starving during a very full day of sightseeing. That being said, if you're willing to splurge you can elevate the experience by ordering the best hot chocolate in Paris as dessert. It's creamy and rich, and so decadent and delicious that it had Lawrence scraping out the pitcher it came in.

scraping out the pitcher of Angelina hot chocolate
Dining at Les Saisons in Montmartre

Les Saisons

This Montmartre spot does classic, well presented French food with a twist, focusing on local producers. The atmosphere is intimate and unpretentious with upstairs and downstairs seating. Unlike the aforementioned restaurants, this one has a menu in French and English. I loved the seafood bisque and the crispy duck confit. The citrusy dessert at the end of the meal was a revelation.

Citrus dessert at Les Saisons in Montmartre
Spring rolls at Banoi

Banoi

The light, fresh flavours of this Vietnamese restaurant were a welcome break from rich, butter-heavy French food. The small appetizer bowls of fried rice arrived at the table piping hot with that authentic "fresh from a wok" flavour, while the ever-changing selection of salad rolls combines French tastes (like duck confit) with Vietnamese flavours (like cilantro and hoisin). Seating is limited and this place doesn't take reservations, so arrive early to avoid being disappointed. We saw quite a few locals being turned away during dinner rush.

produce at Bastille farmers market

Marché Bastille

Paris boasts a lot of farmers markets, but the one by the Bastille metro station (Thursday and Sunday mornings) is one of the biggest and most popular. Browsing is a treat for the senses, especially if you're a gourmande. All the produce is trimmed, sorted, and stacked beautifully. There are frozen and refrigerated counters for cheese, charcuterie, meats, and fish. The smells of bread and cooked dishes waft through the air. Grab a few essentials for a picnic by the Seine or a leisurely lunch back at your Airbnb. Expect long lines at the roast chicken place.

scallops at Bastille farmers market
roast chicken, strawberries, and potatoes from Bastille farmers market
Toasting with champagne during the gourmet dinner cruise

Bateaux Parisiens Seine River Dinner Cruise

This 3-hour boat cruise was the biggest splurge experience of our trip. I'd paid extra for seats at the front of the boat (where the wraparound glass windows and ceiling gave us 360-degree views) and champagne and wine pairings for every course. Although the sample menus online sounded appetizing, to be honest I didn't have high expectations of the food and thought our money was mostly paying for the touristy experience of the views and being on a cruise. Boy, was I wrong (and in the best way!); the food was spectacular and we ate like feudal lords. There are less expensive boat cruise options, but I'm pretty confident in saying this one has the best food.

Amuse bouche from gourmet dinner cruise
Buckwheat galette crepes

Galette Cafe

The "Foods you must eat while on a French vacation" bucket list includes real croissants, baguettes, macarons...and, I'd argue, buckwheat galette crepes. We stumbled on this place in the Latin Quarter quite by accident and the buckwheat galettes we ordered filled with ham, egg, Emmental cheese, and mushrooms were one of the best things we ate on the trip, hands down.

Dinner at La Rotisserie d'Argent

La Rôtisserie d'Argent

On our last night in Paris, we dined at the casual sister restaurant of the Michelin-starred La Tour d'Argent. La Rôtisserie is known for its roast chicken and duck and a warm, convivial atmosphere. (Think red-and-white checkered tablecloths instead of fine linens.) We sat side-by-side in a banquette looking out at the Seine and watching dusk settle in, and capped off our evening meal with dessert selections from the pastry tray.

Dessert selection at La Rotisserie d'Argent
Holding up a giant Parisian croissant

Honourable mentions

  • Chez Mademoiselle. Cozy, dimly lit spot in Le Marais, great for dinner after a day of shopping. It was so dimly lit inside I had trouble taking a decent photo of our food unfortunately, so I can't really remember what we ordered. But I do remember our waiter being very friendly and, upon learning we were Canadian, telling us how much he loved the wilderness, while the patrons at the next table asked us if we were Celine Dion fans.
  • Aux 2 Anges. This boulangerie/patisserie is no worse and no better than the boulangeries and patisseries you'll find on every block in Paris. That being said, this one was special to us because it was where we began each day with coffee and croissants the size of my face.
  • La Grande Epicerie de Paris. Gourmet food hall. Great place to browse and stock up on fine teas and chocolates to bring home as gifts.
  • Maria Loca. We had the best time having late-night cocktails here on our last night in Paris. The bartender served us two improvised takes on an old-fashioned and we finished the evening doing shots with his friends.
  • Monoprix. Picture the affordable fashion, beauty and home finds you'd expect at Target, but in a store that also sells gourmet groceries at inexpensive prices, and you have Monoprix. Yes, my love of this Parisian retail chain runs deep. You can pick up a baguette, charcuterie, and a selection of cheeses for an affordable picnic or easy meal back at your Airbnb. On our last morning in Paris, we stopped by one last time to stock up on in-flight snacks.
  • Gariguettes. Everywhere we went, we kept noticing strawberries for sale that looked different from North American strawberries. The ones in Paris were smaller and slightly oblong and, as it turns out, much more fragrant and aromatic than their North American counterparts. We spent a small fortune on strawberries during our trip, but they were worth it—so sweet and juicy and flavourful, it was like popping back candies. I bought some at Monoprix for the long flight home, and Lawrence—who rarely gives fruit a second glance—jealously guarded every last one of his from my clutches.

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