Food in Paris?

Can someone tell me how the food is in Paris? The menus I have looked at seem to be about brains, livers, and red meat. Are there options for the faint of heart? Its it all really over the top? Share your meals with me please!

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4248 posts

Every restaurant, bistro & café has a menu posted on the door or window so you can certainly see what is on offer for your faint heart before you venture inside. You will find chicken, duck, fish, mussels, salads, omelets, pasta, couscous, soups, vegetables, cheeses, etc. ... much like restaurants all over America. What menus have you been looking at?

Posted by Tom
2876 posts

TripAdvisor has reviews on literally 8,997 restaurants in Paris, and you can search by type of cuisine. There are 54 vegetarian, 78 seafood, and 628 Italian restaurants, just for example.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4317 posts

If you are looking for brains, livers, or red meat, you can find it. But if you are looking to avoid these things, it's not hard in Paris. Paris has all kinds of restaurants (French, Italian, Thai, Japanese, Greek, etc), at all kinds of prices, serving all kinds of food. You won't have any problems finding anything you want - or avoiding anything you don't want. Lyon, on the other hand, does feature a lot of "interesting" food on its menus - calf's head, beef snout, tripe sausage, etc. But even there, I had no problem finding other foods to eat. And even there, I don't recall brains (I'm sure they're served somewhere). Some words to watch out for (partial list): Rognons - kidneys Cerveau - brains Tete de veau - calf's head Andouiette - tripe sausage
Foie - liver Chicken is often featured on menus. Or go to the "Jewish" places in the Marais, where felafel is a main feature. And there's lots of sandwiches for sale at lunchtime, all over the city. When I was there last (a few years ago), sushi was everywhere; I don't know if that's helpful for you or not <g>. And, contrary to the stereotype, I have found Paris waitstaff to be very accommodating. For instance, while Rick is always talking about the cheese course, I don't have it (lactose intolerant), and no server has ever batted an eye at my refusal. I rarely have wine, but often have a Coke Zero instead; again, never a problem. So don't worry that you aren't ordering the "correct" thing; if it's on the menu, you can get it. If there's any particular food you're looking for (or looking to avoid, besides the ones you already mentioned), post it here, so people can point you in the right direction.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8573 posts

I very surprised that you found menus with only "brains , livers and red meat". I have spent alot of time in Paris and found most restaurants /cafes/ bistros in Paris have basically many choices for the "faint of heart". Roast chicken is extremely common, as is beef stew( I am not sure if you are saying you don't eat red meat). Pork dishes and fish are common also, but not fish and chip fish , all coated with batter,but usually nice sauteed fish. Pasta and pizza are extremely easy to find in Paris also, many Italian type places to eat. I have taken my kids to Paris , one when she was 11, and my son when he was 13( two seperate trips) and neither of them had to eat any form of brains, kidneys, livers, etc. I love the salad compossees for lunches, basically big meal salads with an assortment of cold veggies on top, maybe hard boiled eggs etc. I personally do not like eating steak in Paris as the cheaper ones tend to be tough . I tend to stick to pork , chicken and fish dishes. What sorts of food are you wanting to eat.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8573 posts

Ps. I have had calfs brain, its not as bad as you would think. lol

Posted by Diana
Rockville, Virginia, United States
5 posts

Thanks everyone. I'm particularly going for the bakeries so am hoping to try every dessert possible! I'm staying in the latin quarter but would love some reccmendations from you.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8573 posts

Diane, by law, all restaurants, cafes, and bistros must display their menu outside their establishment.. so just wander around and read menus, thats what most of us do to be sure we find something on menu we are interested in ,and to make sure prices are inline with what we want to pay. In the Latin Quarter there are probaly hundreds of places to eat, its a large area really, so you will have no problem finding a place to eat, I personally tend to avoid some of 3 courses for 12 euros type places as the food is usually pretty , er , cheap,, but you will have no problem eating well for under 20-25 euros for dinner( not including alcohol)Many places will have a nightly special on a board, this is called "le Menu" ( what we call a menu is called "la carte" in french ) it may consist of 1-3 set courses for a set price and is often the best choice. Sodas can cost more then house wine, careful. Tap water is free and very tasty.. bottled water is expensive I rarely order it.
Coffees are served after dinner, often even after dessert,, they do not understand drinking coffee with your meal and often will just not bring it till the end. As for specific restaurant recommendations, what budget are you looking for?

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3634 posts

We like Cafe Med on Ile St. Louis, on the main street. Good food, good atmosphere, 3 course dinners for under $20. If you walk along that same main street, you'll see lots of good places to eat, filled with locals. We also like eating at cafes, not next to big sites though (too expensive). As others have said, just read the menu first, then look to see if it looks like locals are also eating there. Our favorite cafe is on the western tip of Ile St. Louis by the pedestrian bridge, with a view of the back of Notre Dame, called La Flore en l'Ile. Great food and great people watching if you sit outside, but it's not budget.

Posted by Cary
Hayden, Idaho, USA
120 posts

Ile St Louis: Le Relais de l'Isle, 37 Rue Saint-Louis---small, intimate,piano jazz, friendly staff

Posted by Les
Divide, Colorado, USA
78 posts

I agree with Susan. We enjoyed Cafe Med so much we went again for a second meal. Be sure to buy a crepe hot off the griddle in the Latin quarter.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
4598 posts

I eat only vegetarian food and have never ever been hungry in Paris.

Posted by Christopher
26 posts

let me add to all this, you can get high quality up market French food petty much anywhere in the world if your willing to pay for it. But, for lack of a better term, French blue collar food or café style, you can only really find it there and maybe a place here and there in New York and London. That is the real gem of the experience of eating in Paris in my judgment.

Posted by Bets
2635 posts

I think what Christopher means is homestyle cooking, and he's right.

Posted by Irv
Beverly Hills, MI
458 posts

I do not know what your budget is but since you are staying in the Latin Quarter, if you want to keep expenses under control there are a number of tourist type restaurants on Rue de la Harpe and Rue Saint Severin. Yes some folks like to look down on them as tourist traps but we have noticed they are patronized by locals too. The food is good, indeed better than some of what we have had more well known restaurants. You can easily eat well in Paris whatever your desires.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2530 posts

A neighbor is an experienced traveler, and she gave me the name of her favorite restaurant in the World. When in Paris, we went by the restaurant and just didn't find anything on the menu to be very appetizingespecially for very high prices. We also dined with a close friend living in Paris, and went to his neighborhood restaurants. There again, the offerings didn't match our taste. But there's always ethnic foods from all over the world in Paris. Later we got two 9" pizzas and 2 beers, and it was 50 euros. Heck, that's just an average nightly bill for "common Parisian food." Parisians throw around 50 euro bills for meals like we throw around $20 bills. And like they say, "drink the wine."

Posted by Rick
Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
4 posts

I've had heart and brains and I love them! And no, I'm not a zombie. As for liver I have never tasted any that I like. However I've told my wife that when we go to Europe this Summer I will eat anything they bring me. I figured we only live once as I may as well experience more than less. My last time in Paris (1986 and very young) I was more concerned about getting drunk and chasing girls. Now that I am older and wiser (and married) I'll pass on the girls and go easy on the booze.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3030 posts

I have several meal options for Paris, depending on my mood: 1) Bakery individual quiches, sandwiches, or pizzas. 2) Chinese "delis" where you point at what you want in the cold case and they will charge by the kilo and heat it for you so you can eat there. 3) The "plat du jour" at many cafes and simpler restaurants (and at the Chinese delis). You may have a choice of items in the plat. This is usually the most inexpensive way to have a sit-down meal in Paris. Sometimes a drink is included at an additional 1-2 euros. 4) Dessert at an Amarino gelato shop. Not real inexpensive, but very satisfying. Actually, I usually have my gelato between meals. I sometimes (often) buy flan at the bakery on rue Cler.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4248 posts

David (above) says he spent €50 in Paris for two small pizzas and 2 beers. I have been to Paris numerous times and have never paid such a ridiculous sum for a pizza, so please don't get the idea that it is the norm The restaurant in a high-end hotel may gouge that way but not ordinary places. Prices are always posted outside the resto anyway, so if you see that a small pizza is 20 euro, think of David and walk on by.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4317 posts

Ditto Norma - menus with prices are posted outside every restaurant, so you need never be gouged, and can see before going in if a place has something you want to eat at a price you want to pay.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1085 posts

My husband has got to be one of the pickiest eaters I know. Italian (pizza and pasta) are always good, but you can only eat so much of that. We were near the Pantheon in PAris and had a nice sit down meal of chicken (but it was thigh and leg - not nice white breast like hubby is used and frites (french fries)...was delish and prob about 30euro. We passed by a few restaurants after checking out the posted menus. When all else fails, grab a ham and cheese baguette, some potato chips, a drink, and head for the nearest bench with a view and enjoy! You won't starve - there are tons of options...just know some basic French words for food (take an index card with words for food you like and want to avoid so no mix ups occur...we are lucky here in Canada as all our packaging is in French and English, so it's easier for us to know what some of the food words are.)

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
1104 posts

Find a nice boulangerie ,pattisserie , charcuterie , and wine shop and head for one of the many beautiful parks all over town . If the weather or season doesn't permit , your hotel room is an alternative .

Posted by Lo
1210 posts

You might want to check David Lebovitz's blog for information on restaurants and eating in Paris. Be sure to scan all the way to the bottom of the page for other food-related helpful links. I also use(d) TripAdvisor's reviews and Googled specific places to get a hint of the potential costs and the menus. I made a list of places we'd like to go from that research, but we also did a lot of spontaneous menu reading combined with "I can't walk another step without nourishment" whining that led to some great meals and experiences. Have a great time and eat, eat, eat.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3634 posts

You can't get a good pizza in SF or county where I live across the GG Bridge (Marin) for less than $18. In Paris you can get good ones for less than here. I never understand why some people say food in Paris is expensive. In my experience it is the opposite.

Posted by Debbie
Gilbert, AZ, USA
13 posts

I went to Paris with my daughter and neither of us are 'foodie' type of people. We were more interested in cheap and quick so we could visit sites. We found hamburgers, pizza, pasta and even Gyros that were great. We did what Rick's says and ate at places that were busy with locals. In fact we even used the book to find a small place Rick recommended for pizza. The owner was so proud he had pictures of the Rick book on the door. The problem we found with the menus on the doors was they were not in English and we don't speak or read French. No problem we just walked on down the street and looked in windows.

Posted by Alexander
Beijing, CHINA
320 posts

Whenever people complain about the price of food in Paris, I'm always convinced that they went to the first place possible. No pizza should be more than 12 EUR (maybe a pescatore pizza)