Just a few decades ago, the stars of the Parisian dining scene were predominantly French male chefs who stuck to a script of culinary conservatism: starched linen tablecloths, shiny silverware, crystal goblets and haute French cuisine.
But the borderless world of the Internet, social media and the passage of international chefs have ushered in a new era in Paris’ restaurant landscape — which has traditionally resisted change.
Some of the hottest dining destinations in the city today include restaurants helmed by immigrant chefs from Colombia, Japan and Argentina; or a Lebanese chef who once lived on the streets of Paris; and the youngest female chef in France to obtain a Michelin star.
However, there will always be a place for classic bistros, brasseries and Michelin-grade fine dining. In fact, some of the most exciting new openings in recent months are restaurants that boast centuries’ worth of history and have been given a second life.
From upscale to casual, classic and contemporary, to French and international, here’s a list of some of the most exciting and dynamic dining experiences to be had in Paris, right now.
Dining at Baieta is sitting down to the future of French cuisine. Because steering the kitchen is Chef Julia Sedefdjian, who rose to fame in recent years after claiming the title of youngest female chef in France to hold a Michelin star.
The Nice native unlocked her first star in 2016 at the age of 21 while at Les Fables de la Fontaine in Paris. Fast forward to 2018, and the young chef is running her own restaurant Baieta, which means “kiss” in the Niçois dialect.
In early 2019, less than a year after opening, Sedefdjian earned another Michelin star — this time for her own restaurant — at the tender age of 24. One of the signature dishes on the menu is Bouillabaieta, a bouillabaisse with fish and shellfish nesting in a creamy, thickened fish stock, served with crispy toast and rouille on the side.
Baieta, 5 rue de Pontoise, Paris, France, 75005; +33 01 42 02 59 19
To dine at the recently restored and reopened Lapérouse restaurant, which dates back to 1766, is to dine with the ghosts of some of the most influential thinkers, artists, writers and politicians of the last few centuries: think Marcel Proust, Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Sarah Bernhardt, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill and Orson Welles.
Most recently, within weeks of reopening in June, the restaurant snagged international headlines for hosting actress Zoë Kravitz and Karl Glusman’s wedding rehearsal dinner in the company of Kravitz’s “Big Little Lies” co-stars Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley.
For its 21st century renaissance, the restaurant is hoping to earn back its reputation as a gastronomic destination: Lapérouse was one of the first restaurants in the world to earn three Michelin stars back in 1933, a designation it held until 1969.
In the kitchen, Chef Jean-Pierre Vigato (formerly of the Michelin-starred Apicius) oversees a menu of revisited French classics like frogs in garlic and parsley; pigeon served with foie gras and truffles; and whole roasted chicken.
Local celebrity pastry chef Christophe Michalak is in charge of the dessert menu, resuscitating old classics like the vacherin, made with strawberries, meringue and mousse, and adding an unexpected twist of passion fruit and caramel to traditional French millefeuilles (layers of puff pastry and custard).
Lapérouse, 51 Quai des Grands Augustins, Paris, France, 75006; +33 01 43 26 68 04
Theater-goers in Paris recently got a new dining option with the opening of Froufrou. Set next to the historic Edouard VII Theater — an Anglo-friendly venue where shows are subtitled in English — Froufrou is helmed by one of the city’s top rising young chefs, Colombian transplant Juan Arbelaez.
Known to TV audiences in France as a competitor on the French version of “Top Chef,” Arbelaez has created a menu that encourages sharing, with family-style dishes like braised lamb shank for two or a pan of calamari with chorizo and chives, also for two.
In the spirit of its milieu, the restaurant’s décor is also theatrical with heavy, velvet midnight blue curtains which set off brass details and mirrored walls, in a nod to the Belle Époque when the theater was born.
Froufrou, 10 place Édouard VII, Paris, France, 75009; +33 01 47 42 92 55
Located not far from one of Paris’s top outdoor farmer’s markets, Marché d’Aligre, Virtus is helmed by a Japanese and Argentinian couple, chefs Chiho Kanzaki and Marcelo Martin Di Giacomo.
Disciples of chef Mauro Colagreco and the French Riviera restaurant Mirazur — the current titleholder of the World’s Best Restaurant — the couple’s culinary philosophy focuses on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients and the harmony of flavors, rather than bold, brash confrontation.
The menu changes every day, but can include everything from local duck in cherry sauce; Monkfish in a watercress, curry and coconut sauce; or crab and spinach ravioli. In early 2019, Virtus unlocked their first Michelin star.
Virtus, 29 rue de Cotte, Paris, 750012; +33 (0)9 80 68 08 08
Restaurant Alan Geaam
Lebanese chef Alan Geaam’s life trajectory is, perhaps, one of France’s favorite modern rags to riches tales. When he arrived from Lebanon to Paris 20 years ago, he had nothing but a seven-day visa and 200 Francs in his pocket (equal to about 40 euros today).
He slept in the park near the Eiffel Tower, painted houses and washed dishes to get by. When the chef at the Lebanese restaurant where he was a dishwasher fell ill, Geaam, who had served as a cook in the Lebanese military, stepped in.
As they say, the rest is history. In 2018, less than a year after opening, Geaam’s eponymously named, Franco-Lebanese restaurant received its first Michelin star for giving Middle Eastern dishes and ingredients like Kefta, halloumi, labneh and falafels the haute gastronomy treatment.
Alan Geaam, 19 Rue Lauriston, Paris, France, 75016; +33 01 45 01 72 97
Vegetarians may want to look away now. Because as its name suggests, Beefbar was designed to be a high temple for carnivores.
Set in a restored 19th century atrium, just off the Champs-Élysées, the Paris outpost of the Beefbar empire (other locations include Monaco, Hong Kong, Dubai, Cannes and Mykonos), preserves its original Art Nouveau heritage with its mirrored walls and fairy goddess mural paintings.
Marble and brass details and a rich green and bronze color palette bring the décor to the 21st century. Meanwhile, under a soaring glass ceiling, Wagyu, Kobe and Black Angus beef from Japan, Australia, the US and France fill everything from burgers, tacos, bao buns, and kebabs.
Purists can also tuck into filet mignon and Chateaubriand steak from the grill, be it barbecue or Teppanyaki. Moreover, the bright, airy dining space and jaw-dropping setting is also the place to see, and be seen, in Paris right now.
Beefbar Paris, 5 Rue Marbeuf, Paris, France, 75008; +33 01 44 31 40 00
La Brasserie du Louvre-Bocuse
After a two-year renovation, the Hôtel du Louvre re-opened this summer with a star gastronomic attraction for the city: the first Paul Bocuse-branded restaurant in Paris. Despite being a giant in the gastronomic world, the late Bocuse — who has been called everything from the “pope of French gastronomy” to the “chef of the century” — had never operated a restaurant in the French capital.
The opening of Paris’s first “Brasserie Bocuse” comes about a year and a half after the chef’s death. Equidistant from the Jardin du Palais Royale and the Louvre museum, the restaurant menu pays homage to Bocuse’s Lyonnaise roots with classic dishes like Bresse chicken in cream sauce with mushrooms, pike quenelle and onion soup.
La Brasserie du Louvre-Bocuse, Hôtel du Louvre, Place André Malraux, Paris, France, 75001; +33 01 73 11 12 34
Japanese chef Taku Sekine gained acceptance among the gastronomic glitterati of the Parisian dining scene thanks to his Franco-Japanese restaurant Dersou, where each course of the tasting menu is paired with a craft cocktail.
When Sekine announced plans to open a casual, family-friendly restaurant in the 19th arrondissement, far from the city center near the eastern edge of Paris, the news stirred up quite the Parisian chatter.
Described as the “antithesis” of Dersou, Cheval d’Or (which translates to golden horse in French) opened in the spring of 2019 as a relaxed, French-Asian canteen, where the menu is divided into categories like raw, fried, steamed, sides, noodles and rice. Dishes like scallops and yuzu; black vinegar farm chicken; and steamed bream with ginger draw inspiration from the flavors and fragrances of Chinese, Thai and Japanese cuisines.
Cheval d’Or, 21 rue de la Villette, 75019 Paris Tel: +33 09 54 12 21 77
If you’re open to experimental dining and youthful, creative ideas, you’ll want to add Fulgurances — a launching pad for some of Paris’s hottest new chefs — to your itinerary. Opened by a French food magazine of the same name as an incubator for young chefs looking to branch out on their own, the concept restaurant gives emerging new talent their own stage with a kitchen, staff and dining room.
Fulgurances, which translates to “brilliance” in French, is where restless passion and emerging talent collide happily with carte blanche. The rotating list of chefs include sous chefs, entry-level chefs and alumni from some of the most illustrious addresses in Paris and around the world, including Septime, L’Agapé and L’Astrance in Paris, along with Pujol in Mexico City, Mugaritz and the defunct elBulli in Spain.
Resident and guest chefs have gone on to make names for themselves or open new restaurants of their own. Currently steering the kitchen is Franco-Japanese chef Akané Monavon, who has worked alongside star Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez and triple Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn in San Francisco.
Fulgurances, 10 rue Alexandre Dumas, Paris, France, 75011; +33 01 43 48 14 59
At Café Pouchkine, guests get a taste of Russian finery and flavors in the heart of Paris.
Just as the décor marries the gold-gilded aesthetic of French and Russian opulence — Moscovite crafts meet French antiques to furnish the four salons — Russian dishes like borscht, beef stroganoff, blini and Russian stacking doll “Matriochka” cakes are made with locally sourced farm fresh eggs and beef from the Aubrac region of France. Meanwhile, the café has a strong French connection.
In 1964, French singer-songwriter Gilbert Bécaud released a song about his tour guide “Nathalie” after returning from a trip to Moscow, singing about a fictional Café Pouchkine. The song topped the charts in France, but left disappointed French visitors to Moscow looking in vain for the café. Franco-Russian restaurateur Andrei Dellos opened the original Café Pushkin (get it, Pouchkine?) in Moscow in 1999 to pay homage in part to the French song, and to the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin; Dellos opened this Paris location in 2017.
Café Pouchkine, 16 place de la Madeleine, Paris, France, 75008; +33 (0)1 53 43 81 60