The 15 Best Bistros in Paris

Those who argue that the French basically invented cuisine as we know it would point out the fact that so many of the words we use around the topic are actually French. Cuisine (which can mean cuisine, cooking, or kitchen),  menu (menu), chef (which means “boss” in French), restaurant (restaurant) which comes from the French word restaurer (to restore oneself), and of course the word bistro (bistro). While there is no agreement on the origin of the word, most definitions include adjectives like small, informal, or unpretentious. In short, bistros tend to be cozy places where we feel comfortably enveloped in an ambiance fueled by good food and wine. Frenchly has rounded up some of the best bistros in Paris, based on their food, prices, ambiance, and city views.

The 15 Best Bistros in Paris (According to Frenchly)

1. Chez Vous

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The historic cobbled rue des Martyrs, once the main road leading to Montmartre, is one of the most foodie-friendly streets in Paris. (I make a nearly weekly pilgrimage to Rose Bakery for their awesome prepared dishes.)  Just off rue des Martyrs and down the block from the not-to-miss Au Pain Retrouvé (“bread rediscovered”), we discovered Chez Vous, an ideal bistro for brunch. Frequented by neighborhood locals, the food here is superb, and the prices are as friendly as the patrons and staff. The impressively large menu features tapas-sized portions that allow you to enjoy a wide variety of dishes, such as fried padrón peppers, mushroom risotto, roasted sea bream with parsnip purée, celery soup with watercress purée, French fries with smoked cheddar cheese sauce, and halloumi a la plancha with sautéed spinach topped with slivered almonds and maple syrup (my favorite).

Address: 15 Rue Choron, Paris 75009

Pricing: Lunch prix-fixe, 29€; main dishes, 14€-19€; desserts, 9€

2. Allard

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Restaurant Allard’s classic bistro interior.

Since 1932, Allard has been serving traditional, local cuisine, and even now that internationally renowned chef Alain Ducasse owns the place, nothing has changed. The Saint-Germain-des-Près mainstay retains the authentic recipes that Marthe Allard used to start the restaurant, including standards like cassoulet and coq au vin, with a respectful amount of updating from Ducasse.

Address: 41 rue Saint-André des Arts, Paris 75006

Pricing: Appetizers, 24€-38€; main dishes, 46€-50€; desserts, 14€

3. Le Bon Georges

The picturesque Le Bon Georges gave chef Benoît Duval-Arnould the chance to move from Campbell’s Soup to his own kitchen, where he does traditional bistro fare that features some of the freshest produce available, including Lorraine beef and locally sourced vegetables. You’ll find a new menu nearly every day, which makes its utter reliability even more astounding.

Address: 45 rue Saint-Georges, Paris 75009

Pricing: Appetizers, 19€-26€; main dishes, 38€-52€; desserts, 14€

4. Le Trumilou

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Bistro staple Céleri rémoulade at Le Trumilou. Photo: P. Ruskin

Be sure to grab a booth by the window overlooking the Seine and the Île Saint-Louis at this authentic bistro featuring classic dishes from the Auvergne region of France. The last time I ate at Le Trumliou I was not disappointed by the Pot-au-feu, which David Lebovitz recommended on his blog. This is the place to order céleri rémoulade, the tangy celery root salad that is one of the most authentic bistro dishes to be had in France.

Address: 84 Quai de l’Hôtel de Ville, Paris 75004

Pricing: Prix fixe lunch, 15.50-20€; main dishes, 16€-28.50€; desserts, 7.50-10€

5. Les Arlots

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It certainly speaks volumes about a place when two top editors at Frenchly rave about the same bistro, just a short walk from the Gare du Nord. Caitlin Shetterly entitled one of her Le Weekend newsletters, in which she gushes about Les Arlots, “Life-changing mashed potatoes in Paris”.  Meanwhile Catherine Rickman said up front in her Midweek Distractions newsletter that this 30-seat bistro in the hip 10th Arrondissement “blew [her] out of the water.” Shetterly was so transported by the food that she confesses, “If I could have, I would have gotten onto that plate of mashed potatoes and rolled around in them as I ate them.” After a filling repast with a wide range of exceptional dishes from their ever-changing chalkboard menu, Rickman noted that “it was so good we couldn’t skip dessert, poached plums and pieces of almond crumble cake on a bed of fresh cheese called Faisselle.” And she pointed out the “bizarre taxidermied animals posed throughout the bistro.” They don’t take reservations more than ten days out, and are (understandably) so busy that getting through can be challenging. My suggestion is to call when dinner service is winding down, around 11pm Paris time (5pm EST, 2pm Pacific, Phone number: +33 1 42 82 92 01).

Address: 136 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière

Pricing: Appetizers, 10-14€, main dishes, 20-30€, desserts, 9€

6. Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes

Intimate and routinely excellent, Auberge Pyrénées Cévennes has some of the best service in the city—a convivial atmosphere pervades the place, trickling down from the genial owner to all of the employees. The prix fixe menu at this classic Parisian bistro is dependable and affordable, and the cassoulet and veal selections are diabolical.

Address: 106 rue de la Folie Mericourt, Paris 75011

Pricing: Appetizers, 9€-30€€; main dishes, 17€-75€; desserts, 12€

7. Restaurant Le Maquis

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Terrine of hearty French onion soup with mini ravioli to share.

The zinc bar and banquette seating at the cozy no-frills Restaurant Le Maquis belies the magnificent casual fine-dining meal you’re in for from Chef-owners Paul Boudier and Albert Touton, formerly of the Michelin-selected fine dining restaurant, Le Chateaubriand. At this gem on the deceptively quiet Rue des Cloÿs near Montmartre, the blackboard displays the daily seven course menu priced at sixty-five Euros, making it one of the best quality-for-price choices I’ve come across. On the night we went, the elevated bistro dishes included scallops with pork jowl, a brioche slice with anchovy and horseradish, French onion soup with pecorino raviolis, and wild bass in Jura wine hollandaise, to name a few.  It’s easy to understand why reservations are a must at this bistro.

Address: 53 Rue des Cloÿs, Paris 75018 [Note: there is another restaurant in the 18th, but on another street, with “Maquis” in the name.]

Pricing: Prix Fixe seven-course menu for 65€

8. Joséphine “Chez Dumonet”

A gem of the Belle-Epoque, Joséphine will start you out with a terrine de foie gras that defies comparison, and finish you off with a boeuf bourguignon that would stop an army in its tracks. A welcoming staff and such a stellar menu of traditional French food comes at a steep price, of course, but any sticker shock at ordering the duck will be allayed by the dish itself.

Address: 117 rue du Cherche-Midi, Paris 75006

Pricing: Appetizers, 12€-28€; main dishes, 29€-44€; desserts, 18€

9. Bouillon des Vignes

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Fantastic frites at Bouillon des Vignes. Photo: P. Ruskin

Our friends David and Simone discovered this fun and funky bistro in Batignolles, where you can savor satisfying bistro dishes at staggeringly reasonable prices. Mussels for 13.50€, butterfly chicken with almonds, capers and lemon for 12€, or grilled sausage with Emmental spinach for 11€.  The frites (French fries), which are cooked to crispy perfection, are the real deal! The food at Bouillon des Vignes is good and the décor is fun, featuring oversized Bande Dessinée (comic) art on the walls of this bustling little gem.

Address: 45 Rue des Moines, Paris 75017

Pricing: Appetizers, 3.50€-7€; main dishes, 12€-28€; desserts, 4€-5.50€

10. Bistrot du Peintre

With a bright red exterior and a dining room decked out in tile and woodwork, Bistro du Peintre has nearly round-the-clock service and a menu of tasty traditional dishes at very manageable prices, from confit de canard to escargots—and even a few southwestern flavors.

Address: 116 avenue Ledru-Rollin, Paris 75011

Pricing: Appetizers, 4.90€-14€; main dishes, 15€-28.50; desserts, 5.50€-8€

11. Le Petit Pantoise

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Photo: P.Ruskin

This delightful diminutive bistro is hidden in plain sight on the rue de Pontoise between Boulevard Saint Germain and the left bank of the Seine River. The décor of Le Petit Pantoise feels somewhere between a small-town bistro and a favorite aunt’s house. It’s worth noting the wonderful vegetarian options such as home-made mushroom ravioli baked in Parmesan, honey and almond crusted baked camembert, and the multi-layered artichoke tatin.

Address: 9 Rue de Pontoise, Paris 75005

Pricing: Lunch prix-fixe, 29€; appetizers, 12€-24€; main dishes, 26€-41€

12. Le Cochon a l’Oreille

Le Cochon a l’Oreille may be the most visually charming of the traditional bistros on this list, and its small size makes it immediately personable to patrons. The menu doesn’t go as far out as the décor does, though, and a faithful slow-cooked pork belly can be enjoyed there alongside hearty, traditional bistro fare like confit de canard.

Address: 15 rue Montmartre, Paris 75001

Pricing: Appetizers, 7€-23€; main dishes, 21€-38€; desserts, 10€-13€

13. Le Loir dans la Théière

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Poster-lined walls of Le Loir dans la Théière. Photo: P. Ruskin

Located in the heart of the Marais district, Le Loir dans la Théière (yet another extraordinary recommendation from my French cousin Sarah) immediately became one of our favorite bistros in Paris. Savoring delicious home cooked French food in this cozy bistro, with its jumble of eclectic furniture and vintage art gallery and theater poster lined walls, is the very definition of comfort. The showstopper is unquestionably the collection of cakes and pies displayed on the marble counter in the middle of this appealing eatery. (I challenge anyone to find a more staggeringly thick key-lime pie!)

Address: 3 Rue des Rosiers, Paris 75004

Pricing: Prix Fixe brunch, 18.50€; main dishes, 13 €; desserts, 9€

14.  Le Baratin

Great prices and classic French food that smacks of home cooking combine to make for one of Belleville’s best traditional bistros, with Le Baratin augmenting their advantage with a sensational wine list and a welcoming, white-walled atmosphere in their charming dining room.

Address: 3 rue Jouye-Rouve, Paris 75020

Pricing: Appetizers, 11€-16€; main dishes, 22€-36€

15. Villalys

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Villalys seating in Palais Royal garden. Photo: P. Ruskin

Villalys is one of the rare Paris bistros that isn’t on a street, but rather tucked in one of the most beautiful gardens of Paris,the Jardin du Palais Royal. French bistro staples share the menu with Middle Eastern-influenced dishes at very reasonable prices. (The chicken couscous is my go-to dish here.) While people-watching on the sidewalk terraces of Paris is wonderful, enjoying a bistro meal under a canopy of trees and watching people strolling or playing pétanque is glorious. After lunch (or dinner), you should definitely go window shopping at the eclectic boutiques and art galleries that line the covered arcade that frames this 17th century garden.

Address: 30 Rue de Montpensier, Paris 1st

Pricing: Main dishes, 15€-24€

What is the difference between a Bistro and a Brasserie in Paris?

Bistros tend to be small, more intimate restaurants typically serving lunch and dinner, while brasseries tend to be larger and open long hours. The Brasserie (brewery) has its origin in German and Alsatian beerhalls and often offers the same hearty cooking from early morning to very late at night.

Are bistros French?

It’s generally agreed that bistros originated in Paris, however there’s no consensus on the origin of the word.  Different theories attribute it to derivatives of words for “innkeeper,” for “little servant,” and even a word for “cheap liquor.”  Some say it comes from the Russian word for “quickly,” which the Russian troops who briefly occupied Paris after the Napoleonic wars in 1814 may have shouted to get faster service while sitting at these small eateries.

What kind of food do bistros serve?

Bistros typically serve traditional French food that we’d consider “comfort food,” like French onion soup, steak au poivre, steak tartare, boeuf bourguignon, foie gras, roast chicken, coq au vin (chicken in wine), steak frites (steak with French fries), duck confit, mashed potatoes, escargots with garlic butter, tart fine aux pommes (thin apple pie), chocolate mousse, to name a few. But you may also find more old school dishes like tête de veau, roast pigeon, blanquette de veau, or stuffed cabbage. Dishes are usually made with seasonal produce and listed on a chalkboard menu. And of course, all bistros in Paris offer a wine menu to accompany their dishes.

Eating at one of the best bistros in Paris is a sure way to enjoy authentic French food while experiencing a real French vibe on your next trip to the City of Lights.

Our recommendations come courtesy of Philip Ruskin and P.A. Hipp.

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