The French do it better – 9 must-visit bars and restaurants for your next trip to Paris

Josh Ong - 06/12/2022

The City of Lights is consistently one of the most-searched destinations on 50 Best Discovery and it’s at its resplendent, glittering best in the cold, bright light of winter. Whether it’s fine dining restaurants or age-old cocktail institutions you’re looking for, grab your biggest scarf, pop your collar and get ready explore the best Paris has to offer through this essential guide

Restaurant A.T., 5th arrondissement

Must order: the long tasting menu

Consistently considered one of Paris’ most underrated chefs, Atsushi Tanaka, after whom the restaurant is named, boasts serious credentials. Born in Japan before moving to France and studying under the legendary Pierre Gagnaire, Tanaka’s food melds together the cuisines of his home and adopted home. Seafood is the name of the game here, with dishes like hand-dived Norwegian scallops with rose pesto and pickled ramson flowers fusing Japanese gastronomic minimalism with French produce-driven cooking and presentation. Everything within its limewashed walls, even the tableware, is a visual marvel. Order the long tasting menu for $165 to witness the full breadth of Tanaka's creativity.

4bis Rue du Cardinal Lemoine, Paris, 75005

Le Syndicat, 10th arrondissement

Must order: But First, Coffee, a short but strong concoction of calvados, coffee-spiked vermouth, green cardamom and peated whisky

Strolling through the upcoming and stylish (read: achingly hipster) 10th, you may very well walk past this understated bar, marked only by multicoloured gig posters plastered onto its exterior wall. While Paris has a history of hidden drinking spots, Le Syndicat is no normal speakeasy. Within, its team is built on electric-paced energy, utilising all the creativity of a bar firmly planted in the 21st century both in terms of technique, ideas and design. Its latest menu blurs lines of gastronomy and mixology, created in collaboration with six French chefs, each reflecting their culinary journeys through cocktails. Expect masterfully whimsical libations like the Pica Pica, a spritz of Haute-Garonne wine and violet jam, topped with sheep’s cheese foam, made to mirror chef Michel Sarran’s Toulousain roots. Want something to drink back at the hotel? Make sure to grab a can of its Candy Negroni, made by féfé, which is the bar’s hard seltzer brand that is taking France by storm.

51 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 10th arrondissement, Paris, 75010 Paris

, 11th arrondissement

Must order: the tasting menu with wine flight of French vintages

With an interior accented by dark wood and mismatched furniture, Septime is an effortlessly chic and relaxed neo-bistro, flourishing in a city with a history of fine dining traditionalism and very much the embodiment of modern French cuisine. Sat within the buzzing gastronomic 11th arrondissement, Septime has managed to carve its reputation as one of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants through chef Bertrand Grébaut’s produce-driven tasting menus. At just $65 for five courses, including dishes like honey and hay-infused squash consommé and marinated sardines with sour cream and cubes of mezcal jelly, it is frankly astonishing value for money. The only real complication with this restaurant is securing a table – and do bear in mind that it is closed on Saturdays.

80 Rue de Charonne, 11th arrondissement, Paris, 75011 Paris

Moonshiner, 11th arrondissement

Must order: Saint Malo, made with bourbon, a strawberry and roasted buckwheat shrub, verjus and cider

Designed to avoid the gaze of prying eyes, the entrance to this Prohibition-era speakeasy is perfectly obscured. Hidden within a pizza parlour, you’ll have to stroll through the walk-in fridge door to access Moonshiner’s dimly lit bar, adorned with era-appropriate aesthetic accoutrement. The bar boasts a range of creative and affordable cocktails, like La Ciotat made with thyme liqueur, basil and orange syrup, verjus, white vermouth and Mediterranean bitters, alongside a comprehensive whisky selection. You’re destined for a fun night at Moonshiner, if you can find it.

5 Rue Sedaine, Bastille, Paris, Île-de-France, 75011

Maison by Sota Atsumi, 11th arrondissement

Must order: the tasting menu at either four or seven dishes long

After making a name for himself in the city at Clown Bar, Sota Atsumi’s first solo venture quickly became one of the city’s hottest seats after opening in late 2019. Its dining room is both open and intimate, illuminated by a warming glow of the wood fire reflecting off the tiling that covers its enclosing walls. Its set lunch and dinner menus are dictated entirely by the best produce available at the market that morning. So as not speak over the ingredients, each dish is a simple treatment: think bonito tuna confit in lardo in a peppercorn and chervil sauce, or slices of a rustic loaf enhanced by chestnut flour and decadent French butter. At just 40 seats, reservations can be hard to come by. Book at least a month in advance.

3 Rue Saint-Hubert, 11th Arrondissement, Paris, 75011

Danico, 2nd arrondissement

Must order: the Café Moutarde Banane, with black mustard seed distillate, coffee liqueur, espresso and banana water

Lightning may not strike in the same place twice, but it’s certainly an odd coincidence that two of Paris’s best bars are hidden within pizza parlours. Danico, also tucked away inside an Italian restaurant within the former Jean Paul Gaultier flagship store, delivers a luxurious modern speakeasy experience. Created by Nico De Soto, the mastermind behind New York’s highly lauded Mace, Danico is a regular in The World’s 50 Best Bars extended list through its astute drinks offering that is known for skilfully blending savoury and sweet flavours inspired by de Soto’s extensive travels. Its menu, comprising just 12 cocktails, is bold, as demonstrated the Peanut Butter; a concoction of white rum, peanut butter, coconut milk, stout syrup and egg. Come for the pizza, stay for the cocktails.

6 Rue Vivienne, Saint Germain, Paris, 75002

Shabour, 2nd arrondissement

Must order: the tasting menu of the day

With its U-shaped seating centred entirely around its small brigade of busy chefs, Shabour takes the open-kitchen concept to the next level. There is no menu proffered on arrival, meaning the only way you’ll know what food is coming is by taking a quick peek at what the chefs are up to right in front of you. Each dining experience here will be unique as ingredients are sourced on the day, but refined Israeli dishes tied together with Mediterranean touches are staples destined to please, such as carrots with egg, tahini foam, salmon caviar and tzimmes (traditional Ashkenazi stew of root vegetables and dried fruits). Enter without expectation and relinquish control to the adjacent chefs – they will do the ordering for you. Reservations are only available three weeks in advance, so keep a close eye on their release.

19 Rue Saint-Sauveur, Sentier, Paris, 75002

Little Red Door, 3rd arrondissement

Must order: the Raspberry, made with raspbery vermouth, fruit liqueur and Gewürztraminer Grappa

Few in Paris, or even the world, can say they take crafting cocktails as seriously as Little Red Door. A stalwart of The World’s 50 Best Bars annual list, ranking No.5 in 2022 and picking up the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award in the process, access to this highly lauded bar is only available, perhaps unsurprisingly, via an unassuming, diminutive red entrance. Within, the bar is a temple to the whole process of cocktail creation, with framed pictures of the producers that supply the bar proudly placed on its walls. Drinks on its current menu, Flourish, are greater than the sum of their parts, like the Rhubarb, a simple concoction of house-made rhubarb bitters, white wine and fennel. One of Paris’ premier cocktail destinations, Little Red Door is not to be missed. The bar does not take reservations but is opening its diary for select sittings in February 2023.

60 Rue Charlot, 3rd arrondissement, Paris, 75003

Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen, 8th arrondissementalleno-food_INCOPY

Must order: the tasting menu, available in both seven or 10 "emotions" long

If it’s a classic Parisian luxury experience you seek, look no further than this dining institution. Sat within a historic mansion overlooking the gardens of the Champs-Élysées, everything about Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen asserts opulence. The food, an exceptional navigation of neo-French cuisine enhanced by touches of modernity, is as picture-perfect as its surroundings. The dishes within its tasting menu, such as its turbot flavoured with orange blossom and decorated with jasmine, play jovially with colour and flavour partnerships. Paired with the astute traditional service one expects of Parisian fine dining, Yannick Alléno’s restaurant remains a culinary tour de force.

8 Avenue Dutuit, Champs-Élysées, Paris, 75008 Paris

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