It’s easy to get lost in the sometimes-overwhelming Paris food scene. The embarrassment of riches its restaurants, wine bars, and bistros offer quickly becomes both blessing and curse. We all have our favorite places, of course — classics we return to again and again. But when we want to branch out, we quickly find ourselves paralyzed by an overabundance of choices and an underabundance of trustworthy and up-to-date information and opinions. Thankfully, however, a fleet of in-the-know American-born, Paris-based bloggers are here to help, tracking the scene in real time to bring us easy-to-digest reports of what’s worth our time and money — and, even more important — what’s not. We turned to three of our favorites to get the inside scoop on what’s in right now.
NAME: ALEXANDER LOBRANO
BIO: Longtime European correspondent for the dearly departed Gourmet magazine and author of Hungry for Paris: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 102 Best Restaurants.
IN PARIS SINCE: 1986
THE BLOG: alexanderlobrano.com
One of the most important dining trends Lobrano notes concerns the city’s notoriously stuffy dining scene. These days, says the writer, Paris is loosening up: “For years, dining out in Paris meant sitting down at a table and eating a three-course meal. Now the city has an amazing variety of new-format eating opportunities.” As evidence, Lobrano sites the boom in food trucks, like the hamburger-focused Le Camion Qui Fume (location variable; 011-33-1-8416-3375; lecamionquifume.com), as well as the influx of cocktail bars that also serve light bites — a favorite being the super-hip Le Mary Celeste (1 rue Commines; lemaryceleste.com). Then there’s what he calls “counter-culture small-plates places” like the Asian-accented Pierre Sang (55 rue Oberkampf; pierresangboyer.com), as well as popular “new-style sandwich shops” including Chez Aline (85 rue de la Roquette; 011-33-1-4371-9075) and Le Pointe du Grouin (8 rue de Belzunce).
NAME: MEG ZIMBECK
BIO: Kansas-born writer and founder and editor-in-chief of Paris by Mouth, which includes original foodie content, super-helpful venue listings, and a digest of relevant reviews.
IN PARIS SINCE 2004
THE BLOG: parisbymouth.com
Zimbeck reports a recent shift toward lighter-eating options — especially notable in a city better known for its butter, baguettes, and béchamel. “It’s a generational thing,” she says. “Younger people travel more, and they see that people aren’t always eating heavy, long-braised stews and three-course lunches.” At the top of this trend are a host of vegan restaurants; not least of all three locations is the stylish Franco-Japanese Nanashi (nanashi.fr), plus Café Pinson (6 Rue du Forez; 011-33-9-8382-5353; cafepinson.fr), in the northern Marais. Then there’s Bob’s Juice Bar (15 rue Lucien Sampaix; 011-33-9-5006-3618; bobsjuicebar.com), with its various satellites: a bakery and a café. In terms of gluten-free options, you’ve got the aptly named Noglu (16 Passage des Panoramas; 011-33-1-4026-4124; noglu.fr), where lines of fashionistas form out the door at lunch time, and the sweets-spot Helmut Newcake (36 rue Bichat; 011-33-9-8259-0039; helmutnewcake.com).
NAME: DAVID LEBOVITZ
BIO: Author, pastry expert, and, for more than a decade, a top toque at Alice Waters’ famed Berkeley, California, restaurant, Chez Panisse.
IN PARIS SINCE: 2004
THE BLOG: davidlebovitz.com
"While cupcakes enjoyed some recent popularity in Paris,” says Lebovitz, “the newest wave is in éclairs and pâte à choux — aka cream puffs.” These days, he indulges in the latter at La Maison du Chou (7 rue de Furstenberg; 011-33-9-5475-0605), which fills each puff to order, using a light cream flavored with coffee, chocolate, or tangy fromage blanc. As for éclairs, he prefers the dainty, finger-sized ones at L’Éclair de Génie (14 rue Pavée; 011-33-1-4277-85-11; leclairdegenie.com); there, you can make your own collection of the uniquely designed delights — overflowing with fillings from Cuban chocolate to caramelized pecans — by ordering a box of four, six, or 10. For an even smaller bite, Lebovitz recommends the icing-topped mini-puffs in flavors like salted butter caramel, rose-raspberry, and Grand Marnier at Popelini (29 rue de Debelleyme; 011-33-1-4461-3144; popelini.com).