The Foodie on a Budget in Paris: The Cutest, Cheapest, Yummiest Spots Off the Tourist Path

Great Mexican in Paris: at the Candelaria
Great Mexican in Paris: at the Candelaria
Great Mexican in Paris: at the Candelaria

To set our readers straight on Parisian dining, Tipsy Pilgrim is delighted to present a guest post today from Kristina Dekens, an American foodie who has lived in Paris for eight years, married a similarly food-obsessed Frenchman, and spent tons of time — but not euros — devouring the best that the city has to offer.

This subject isn’t quite our usual charge (this time, there’ll be no suggestions for Parisian street fucking, amusements or boozing), but here at TPHQ we’re constantly approached for suggestions on “authentic” Paris eats, so we think this will be worth it. Plus, Tina’s advice is quite romantic; if you prefer, dear readers, think of these of as places to put you in the mood before you bonk.

There’s a Google Map of the addresses at the bottom of the post.

Et voilà, Kristina Dekens…

For romantic Paris that maintains a slightly rural feel, head to Montmartre. There’s a fun restaurant for the adventurous, the Refuge des Fondues (17 Rue des Trois Frères, 18th arrondisement, +33 1 42 55 22 65). It is totally tiny and you have to actually climb over a table to worm your way into a spot. For 15 euros you get a before-dinner drink, a baby bottle of wine (yes, with a nipple), little things to eat like pickles, cheese and meat, and then a huge pot of fondue cheese and bread to dip in it. Or, you can get meat and potatoes that you cook in an oil pot. It’s fun, but you may have to roll down the hill afterward because you are so full.

A few doors down there is a cute café called Au Progrès (7 Rue des Trois Frères, 18th arrondisement, +33 1 42 64 07 37). There are also plenty of cute boutiques and food shops on rue des Martyrs, rue Yvonne le Tac, rue des Abbesses, rue Houdon, rue Lepic — just wander around and enjoy.

The best pizza in Paris is hands-down at the AMAZING Pizzeria da Carmine (61 Rue des Martyrs, 9th arrondisement, +33 1 48 78 28 01), just below Montmartre. They change their hours a lot, so call to check before going. I recommend the parma (with parma ham) or the lucania (chorizo), which i get sans oeuf (without the egg).

Nearby, you have La Fourmi (74 Rue des Martyrs, 18th arrondisement, +33 1 42 64 70 35), a cheap, lively, funky bar/cafe.

L’Avant Comptoir (9 Carrefour de l’Odéon, 6th arrondisement, +33 826101087) is a fun place for an apéro (pre-dinner drinks and hors d’oeuvres). If you don’t want to have a drink and eat standing around at a bar, chatting and jostling with others, their neighboring restaurant might be more your style. The New York Times has a good take on this place. While you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to walk down the old, tiny, and charming Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, a little pedestrian street.

My favorite place for a stroll that looks like the “real” Paris is the Rue Montorgueil (2nd arrondisement). Get out at Metro Sentier (line 3) or walk up from Metro Les Halles (line 4). It’s a pedestrian street full of great cafes and shops, and, at the end, the beautiful Saint-Eustache Church. There are markets on Sundays and Thursdays. I love the Italian sandwhich place, Caldo Freddo (34 rue Montorgeuil, 1st arrondisement, +33 1 44 76 04 21). Or, there’s a super yummy Libanese spot, Al Boustan (21 Rue Montorgueil, 1st arrondisement, +33 1 40 41 02 40) across the street, serving beef, chicken or falfel sandwiches for about 5€. A larger (and a little more expensive) menu is a available if you eat at the place. ‎

Near the Opera Garnier at Metro Pyramides (lines 7, 14) is a little gem of a street, the Rue Saint Anne, full of Japenese noodle houses. Aki (11 Rue Sainte-Anne, 1st arrondisement, +33 1 42 97 54 27) specializes in the Japanese regional cuisine of Okonomiyaki — it’s hard to explain but yummy and unique! And for really good ramen soup head to Higuma (32 bis Rue Sainte-Anne, 1st arrondisement, +33 1 47 03 38 59). You can get  a huge bowl of fresh noodles and soup plus 7 Japenese ravioli for 10.50€. These are cheap and fun experiences with open kitchens so you can watch them cook up all kinds of crazy, steaming goodness!

Near the Beaubourg museum is l’Ambassade d’Auvergne (22 Rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare  3rd arrondisement, +33 1 42 72 31 22). Here you can have some traditional French cuisine gastronomique with an evening menu of more than you can could ever eat for 30€.  Duck, aligot (think cheesy mashed potatoes from the gods), lentils, and a homemade chocolate mousse that comes in a HUGE serving bowl —enough for 8 people — and they tell you to finish it all. YUM YUM YUM!!!!

For a little taste of authentic terroir and family-style French cooking hit up the totally delicious and verrrryyy reasonably priced Le Petit Lyon (24 rue de Vintimille, 9th arrondisement, +33 1 45 26 31 19); the plat du jour is 11 euros.

Café Divan (60 Cité de la Roquette, 11th arrondisement, +33 1 48 05 72 36) is totally yummy, with great and cheap open-face toasted sandwiches. In the winter or cooler weather you could also try their pot au feu, a big traditional French stew. For dessert, go for the duo au chocolat — it is KILLER. This little partially baked chocolate masterpiece is filled with the most delicious carmel; it makes you want to cry. (This was recently missing from the menu — if it’s not there, go for the mi-cuit au chocolat, a chocolatey, molten-lava cake.) If you go there at night for drinks they may serve your drink with a little dish of olives and a little plate of homemade potato chips — yum!

On the other side of Bastille there is a tiny, rather hidden bar à vins, Bubar (3 Rue des Tournelles, 4th arrondisement, +33 1 40 29 97 72). It’s open only at night, and there are nibbles at the bar (nuts, olives, peppers) and and good wines from Chile, South Africa and Argentina.

The Marais (4th arrondisement) is Paris’ hip, funky, gay, jewish neighborhood. It’s a sweet place to wander. Be sure to visit the very cute Rue Saint Paul and the village Saint Paul,  a tucked-away area with shops, galleries and restaurants.

On Rue Saint Paul at the corner with Rue Charles V there is an AMAZING, AMAZING restaurant…perhaps my favorite in the city. It’s an Italian place with very haute cuisine called l’Enoteca (25 Rue Charles V, 4th arrondisement, +33 1 42 78 91 44).  Weekdays at lunchtime there is a menu with a first course, main course and wine for just 13 euros.  At night there are menus for 28 and 43 euros with a first course, main course and dessert — the more expensive option includes a wine pairing with each course, which is great as this place is famous for their wine. The atmosphere is lovely and the food is divine.

Anahuacalli (30 Rue des Bernardins, 5th arrondisement, +33 1 43 26 10 20) has really good Aztec/Mexican food. It made NY Times list of top 100 restaurants in the world and was pretty much the only one that cost under 100 euros a plate. A main course is about 14-18 euros. The magahritas are pricey though (9 euros). The hot chocolate is killer. Click over to their site for another location in the 6th arrondisement and their taqueria in the 10th.

Another place I’m really excited about for Mexican food is the Candelaria (52 rue Saintonge, 3rd arrondisement, +33 1 42 74 41 28). There’s a picture of us above enjoying their lunch menu; this is a great place for taquilla and REAL fresh Mexican food.

I love the Rose Bakery, an organic deli with tons of fresh yummy food and a very English feel. Great photos, a review, and addresses for all three locations are here.

Chez Papa (206 Rue la Fayette, 10th arrondisement, +33 1 42 09 53 8) has traditional Southwestern French food. There is a fixed-price menu for 9.95 euros on weekdays. I get the hot goat cheese salad (salade au chevre chaud) and the assiette canatalaise which is potatoes, ham, a mushroom sauce and crazy-good cheese. But the whole menu is great — lots of duck and cheese and potatoes.

In this neighborhood you should stroll along the gorgeous and happening Canal Saint Martin (10th arrondisement). Near the corner of the canal and the Rue Eugene Varlin are two good little French restaurants: Le Valmy (145 Quai de Valmy, 10th arrondisement, +33 1 42 09 93 78) and, just up the street, L’Ecluse Valmy (153 Quai de Valmy, 10th arrondisement, +33 1 42 05 89 16). Both are very reasonably priced and have good food and nice atmospheres. Ecluse Valmy is a little fancier and Le Valmy has more of a fun, cosy café ambience.

If you want to experience Paris’ more high-end eats without breaking the bank, fixed-price lunches are your best bet. The New York Times has a great roundup of top addresses for this.

Mose again, with just a few things to add.

What a list! Looking back, I’ve visited a good number of these over the years, almost all thanks to Tina dragging me to them. These are great, great addresses.

When you’re done eating, David Lebovitz has compiled a list of places for Paris’ best espresso. I’ve tried most of these and generally concur, but he managed to leave off the very best, Terres de Café (32 rue des Blancs Manteaux, 4th arrondisement, +33 1 42 72 33 29; also at three other locations listed on its site).

For falafel, guidebooks direct folks to L’As du Fallafel (34 Rue des Rosiers, 4th arrondisement, +33 1 48 87 63 60) in the Marais. Hoards of tourists dutifully form a line down the block for this, the “authentic” and “best” falafel sandwich, but the neighboring, line-free restaurants are just as great — it’s not a difficult recipe and they’ve copied it exactly.

Finally, Tipsy Pilgrim’s favorite Parisian (non-music venue) dive bar is, without a doubt, Les Pères Populaires (46 Rue de Buzenval, 20th arrondisement, +33 1 43 48 49 22). It’s dirt-cheap, a calm spot to write during the day and a suitably fun and convivial place in the evenings.

And for more listings of cheap, hip Paris Bars, head to the Bituroscope (in French, but mainly just pictures and addresses). Just call to check before going; many now-closed venues are still on their rolls.

Disagree? Feel we’ve missed something important? Let us know in the comments. Bon ap’!

A Google Map of the locations listed above.

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