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Frustrated by food in Paris/looking for recommendations

Where can you go for simple French faire a la carte in Paris? Can anyone recommend anyplace for lunch near Rue Cler/Eiffel?

We are staying on Ile de la Cite in Paris and I have to say I am sooo frustrated by the lack of good restaurants nearby. We've checked out one brasserie (awful awful) and now we are gun shy on all of the touristy brasseries - because even this brasserie got good reviews on different boards - who do you trust?. We are going to Au Bognat tonight nearby, which gets fairly good reviews, but still.. . and then most places have pricey prix fixe menus. We have a 10 year old and a 13 year old, so I'm not going to put down $130 euros for a meal that may or may not be good.

We've been here twice before and had some luck with good restaurants, but those restaurants seem to be eluding us now. Help!

Posted by
985 posts

So sorry to read you are not having good eats. It is probably because you are staying in one of the tourist zones. We will have this problem too so I am already looking for places to eat. I found this site which has several links to apps that I have seen recommended before on this forum. I hope one helps you find what you are looking for.

food apps

Posted by
1080 posts

I've always had good meals at Cafe Du Marche on Rue Cler, I've been to Paris 3 times and the meals there are excellent but you never know a place can get new ownership and change quickly. Another restaurant I love is Chez Bebert, this is a Moroccan restaurant at 71 Boulevard du Montparnasse, the food is wonderful and the people who run it are so nice. If you want to try something a little upscale there is a Michelin one star restaurant called Cobea at 11 Rue Raymond Losserand that is awesome and is affordable. I have not always had good luck with tripadvisor but so far I have always had good meals when using the Rick Steves guide book recommendations. As far as spending 130 euros for a meal, that is way more than I usually spend in Paris for good food, if you don't have a copy of the RS Paris guide book you can download a copy onto you iphone or iPad.

Posted by
11354 posts

Cross the bridge from I'le St-Louis to Left Bank. Right there is Rotisserie Beaujolais , very good food, authentic, filled with locals. We always have meal there when in Paris. I see name recently changed to Rotisserie d'Argent. On 19 Rue de Tournelles, , on Seine.

Posted by
2145 posts

Hi Pam, we had some very good meals at the brasseries and cafes in the Rue Cler/Eiffel Tower area.

For a nice Italian dinner, try Alfio at 43 avenue de la Bourdonnais. We ate there several times last fall and especially enjoyed the spaghetti bolognese and the pizza. It's a small place with a neighborhood feel.

Right next door is the Bistrot Le Champ de Mars. The roasted chicken and hamburgers were very good.

For a great salad with a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower, try Les Ombres at 27 quai Branly. This place is next to the Musee du Quai Branly and has both an outdoor café and a fancier restaurant.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip. Love Paris!

Posted by
9429 posts

I know you said rue Cler area but since you're staying on Ile de la Cité thought I'd mention these...

We like Café Med on Ile St Louis. Simple, good and inexpensive at 77 rue St Louis en l'Ile.

We also liked Sens'o on Ile St Louis. Italian, very close to Café Med at 81 rue St Louis en l'Ile.

Posted by
2466 posts

You can walk across the river to rue Saint Antoine and take your pick - all near Bastille - all cheap:
Paradise des Fruits
Hippopotamus
Pizza MoMo - pizza and pasta
Cerise sur la Pizza

Make your kids drink tap water instead of sodas.

Posted by
8171 posts

Most modestly priced restaurant food and all restaurants which have extensive menus and most cafes are serving airplane food i.e. food prepared in central kitchens and frozen and reheated. They are not carefully basting lamb shanks in the kitchen of the cafe that has them on offer along with 50 other choices. So most food is mediocre. If you want a good meal you go to a small restaurant with a limited menu and lunch service will also be limited to about 12-2:30. They have a daily menu prepared in house. Or a good restaurant with a reputation or small one chef place. Again these places will have a limited menu.

We have occasionally stumbled into cafes and had pleasant lunches -- things like pate and salad, or baked brie and honey and salad or a salad composee. But for dinner it is not easy. We recently had an excellent dinner at L'Initial but the offering there is either a 4 or 7 course menu with some slight choice for the meat course, not a la carte. The choice when we were there was only on the meat course and was between sweetbreads, rack of lamb and pigeon; we had the first two and the people at the table next to us seemed to be enjoying their beautifully prepared pigeon. We have had good menus at L'Agrume in the 5th particularly their lunch menu, la Cordonnerie in the first, and Le Bistro du Maquis in the 18th -- all of them chef driven with limited menu choices. All of them reasonably priced. All of them need to be reserved in advance. La Cordonnerie didn't have a menu but everything was a la carte from a limited card.

Posted by
2466 posts

But the OP said that she didn't want to spend a fortune - particularly on things her kids won't eat.
ParisByMouth is a good website, but the prices might not suit her budget or her kids' tastes.
Just look on the menus posted outside any cafe or restaurant and check prices and type of food.
If the OP's kids like Asian, Greek or Indian food, that's easy to find - and cheap.

Edit: No food compares to the food in New Orleans. That's why you're missing it so much...

Posted by
12172 posts

I feel your pain. I've had too many meals that I would have traded for a sandwich from a Monoprix. I haven't divined the secret yet, so I can't give you good advice.

I've found good places (and bad) in the Marais and 6th, but I haven't yet discovered how to only get the good. In Burgundy, I decided the rule is if you don't need reservations, it's probably not good.

Posted by
26 posts

Thanks everyone for your replies. We had a decent meal at Au Bognat, but had a really good breakfast on Ile St. Louis - at the Saint Regis - the atmosphere helped there! And yes, Chexbres, the fact that we are from New Orleans really sets the food bar high - I don't go anywhere in the U.S. expected to be wowed by the food, but this is Paris!! We had a wonderful meal later in our trip in Annecy, but overall, France was a bust for food. We definitely need to do more research before our next trip.

Posted by
8171 posts

We have rarely had a bad meal in the countryside usually at small restaurants associated with hotels. Often people come for miles around to these dining rooms. We have had very good meals in very bad hotels including several last fall as we made our way from Paris to the Dordogne and then from the Ardeche back to Paris. At nicer hotels, often the restaurant is of note and the first actually excellent meal we ever had in France was at a hotel restaurant in Domme. A couple years later we found a hotel in Montignac that had such a fabulous table that we have dined there 4 times over the years and never been disappointed. The cost is a fraction of a mediocre meal in Paris which is what we can generally afford. To get a good meal in Paris you have to do your homework; there are some modestly priced treasures but they tend to come and go. Our favorite, closed after 4 years -- hard to make a buck with good food modestly priced anywhere in the world.

Posted by
489 posts

aw, just take your kids to Le Mac Donald for a Royal with cheese! really, a friend of mine travels with kids and always books a meal on the 2nd floor of the Tower Eiffel. I would feed them a very good lunch and picnic for dinner in a park or by the Seine .... Food is so over rated.... Time with love ones is what you make it... live, love and experience adventure!

Posted by
8293 posts

Because the Ringis wholesale food market is at la Villette, in the 19th, there are, so I have read, some excellent restaurants, so if your kids would enjoy the Science Museum at la Villette (lots of interactive stuff) you could have a nice meal afterwards. See TripAdvisor for the 10 best restaurants in the 19th.

Posted by
10298 posts

Indeed, La Villette used to be a large slaughterhouse until 1974, but it opened as the museum and park complex you see today in 1985, whereas Rungis is down next to Orly Airport, having taken the place of Les Halles in the center of Paris. Did you mean that you read about good restaurants still in the La Villette area due to the former slaughterhouse? There are restaurants at Rungis, serving hearty food--breakfast at midnight when things begin, lunch at 4 am or so and dinner around noon. Then off to bed.

Posted by
8293 posts

Bets, thank you for the correction. I really did think that Rungis was at La Villette. Sorry about that.

Posted by
919 posts

For moderate Italian:
Gusto d'Italia on Rue Grenelle (7th Rue Cler area)
La Campagnola on Avenue du Maine (Montparnasse)
Both seemed to attract locals in addition to travelers. Yes, neither are french bistros, but I thought the food was good!

Posted by
2466 posts

Next time, you should really go to Lyon.
That's pure heaven, food-wise - and a close comparison to New Orleans, where I'm from.
Only about 2 hours by train from Paris.
Le St Regis was a good choice - first cafe I ever went to..."my waiter" is still there, going strong for 35 years.