I don’t think it’s possible to go to Paris and not have a list of ‘must-eat’ dishes. In fact, the food was one of my top priorities for this trip, and I don’t say that often when I travel.
So if you were curious, here is the list of food that I ate in Paris:
(Pictured above). Rain had started to fall. I ducked under the awning of a nearby café and sat down at an empty table, waiting for the weather to clear up. It was nearly dinnertime, anyway. I might. as well order something. But coffee was out of the question. So I ordered the next best thing – café Viennois, a hot chocolate made with Viennese dark chocolate, and topped with whipped cream. Ah, so decadent.
Restaurant: Café du Mérche
Focaccia Bread + Chicken Curry Sandwich
Across from the fashion department store Galeries Lafayette is their food hall where 5 floors of food is housed (one of them being a grocery store). I wandered aimlessly for a good while, as there were so many vendors to choose from. But I finally settled with a bread vendor tucked at the far corner – Chez Meunier.
There, I picked up two dishes – a chicken curry sandwich (~€5 – pictured left) and a rosemary and tomato focaccia bread (~€4 – pictured right). Such budget friendly dishes, and both made fresh! The American in me was so surprised at these two facts, I honestly felt like I made out like a bandit.
I proceeded to eat the chicken curry sandwich for lunch, and saved the focaccia bread for an early dinner while reading and relaxing at Jardin Tuileries.
This was my first dish in Paris. I had just checked in to my hostel, and found out my passport was missing. The weather was also dreadful.
My mood was down quite terribly, and I was still getting my bearings.
I wandered by this restaurant in Montmartre with all its windows/doors open. All the tables were empty, save for one. I sat down, and ordered this dish I had never heard of before.
Nevertheless, I gobbled it up pretty quickly!
French Crêpe with Strawberry Confiture
In Montmartre, there are plenty of café / restaurants. Just left of the Sacre Coeur is a square full of eateries, and when the sun is shining, it’s also full of artists displaying and selling their artwork. But on this particular gray morning, the square was quite empty, save for a few folks walking around under umbrellas and plastic ponchos.
I took cover under one café with a slight view of the church and ordered a typical breakfast item – a crêpe, lightly dusted with powdered sugar, and a side of strawberry jam. Oh, and café au lait, of course. The scent of fresh rain wafted through the cool morning air as I made my way slowly through breakfast.
Restaurant: La Bohème
Escargot & Crème Brûlée
One night, I decided to get a late dinner. 9ish, I believe, which is hard to believe considering the considerable amount of sunlight apparent in the photo.
I wandered around Montmartre for food, specifically in search of escargot. Many places had it. But this place had it for a more reasonable price (thank goodness for menu displays!). I can’t remember whether it was 6 for €9 or €11, but it was less expensive than the many restaurants I had stopped at during my pursuit.
Even during such a late hour (in my personal experience), many people were still stopping by and sitting down while I was well into my meal. Every table was full and lively, even as the darkness enveloped us and the only light source available were those from the restaurant’s interior. I’m not typically someone who stayed up late to socialize, but I can really picture myself doing it in this atmosphere.
The escargot was lovely, and even lovelier was the waitress who kindly showed me how to properly eat them with utensils! And for dessert, I finished off with some crème brûlée and a cheap glass of rosé.
Okay, obviously this isn’t French. But I passed by an Italian restaurant that was fairly busy, and it had been a difficult day of walking, and my mood in trying to find a French restaurant that was affordable prices had slimmed. I think I was in a part of town where affordable French cuisine was harder to find.
So when I passed by this Italian place, La Sirena, with prices under €15, I was sold. They are primarily a pizza joint, but their menu included plenty of other Italian dishes.
I ordered their Lasagne Bolognese. I don’t normally order bolognese as I am reminded of a quote by the great Anthony Bourdain that I can’t seem to find. But summed up, it basically said don’t eat a bolognese in a restaurant that is empty – the sauce is most likely no longer fresh.
The lasagna was delicious and so, so filling. I barely made it halfway, and trudged slowly through another quarter of the dish before giving up.
One of the most famous and recognizable restaurant in Montmartre is Le Consulat. It’s constantly posted on instagram, but more importantly, it’s a restaurant that has been visited by many famous creative souls in the 1900s. It’s typically busy, but on this particular occasion, not so much. I sat down and eyed their menu for an affordable eats (sensing a pattern here?).
Their croque monsieur was one of the more affordable option, and hey ho, I have yet to try one! Well, unfortunately, it wasn’t a hit for me. The sandwich was fairly dry, and I had to wash it down quite a bit with water…
Is it a rule that you can’t leave Paris without having some macarons? No?
On my bucket list for this trip was having a picnic by the Seine. But the only thing I was hungry for at that time were Lauduree’s macarons. After a long day visiting the Louvre, I exited the building with a bag of macarons (yes, sans box – it’s less expensive!) purchased inside the museum, and walked by the Seine.
I happily sat on the bank of the river, giving my feet a chance to rest, and slowly enjoyed the sweet pastries. Ah, such bliss.
Soup à l’oignon
Twice I’ve tried French onion soup in the States, and both times, it was a disappointment. Was it. the dish that I didn’t like, or was the dish just cooked improperly?
I was hesitant to try it in France, but then again, perhaps, they would know what they’re doing, non?
At the same restaurant that I had the café Viennois, I ordered french onion soup.To perhaps no one’s surprise, the dish was absolutely excellent.
Pain au Chocolat & Café au Lait
Every morning, I perched at a café on the foothill of the Basilica. Every morning, I got the same thing. By the third morning, the waiter knew my order and delivered it with a smile, which was honestly so sweet! This place gets so many tourists, how did he remember?!
My hostel is a block away. For €3, I could get their (rather plain) breakfast buffet. Or, I could spend €5-6 at this restaurant and get a simple yet fresh breakfast with a view.
It was a no brainer.
Restaurant: Le Studio
Chocolate Fondant & Rosé
In a restaurant where their specialty is croque monsieur, I decided to nab inside just for their dessert and wine. I forget why. Maybe I already had dinner and was looking for an excuse to stay outside and soak in the Parisian vibes.
But this restaurant, located in Montmartre, with windows all open and playful decor, spoke to me.
I ordered their chocolate fondant (€6) and a glass of rosé (€4 – like, what?!), and slowly enjoyed writing in my journal. Sometimes, I would catch glimpses of passerbys. But mostly, I enjoyed the warm air that passed through.
There were other dishes that I had that I just didn’t document well enough, like Maison Zhang (pictured above) where each piece is €1-3. But for the most part, this post pretty much documented my whole meals during my trip to Paris this summer.
Something that was important to me was being able to order food in French. For the most part, the Parisian waiters spoke back in French, which made me happy! And they were always nice when they had to switch to English, hehe.
I didn’t eat as much as I wanted to, but I’m really happy with the selection of food I had. And I hope this has convinced you that Paris doesn’t have to be an expensive place to visit, especially when it comes to food.
I’m already planning out a list of food to try for my next trip to France!