In 1789, an uprising of working-class Parisians at Bastille brought the French monarchy to its knees. Today, the area is a bustling, dynamic neighbourhood where upper-crust dining coexists peaceably alongside simpler French home cooking. Culture Trip has picked the best restaurants in Bastille to try on your next visit.
Choose Le Chardenoux for a Bastille restaurant helmed by a celebrity chef
In France, chef Cyril Lignac is a household name and is known for his on-screen charisma in shows like Top Chef and Le Meilleur Pâtissier (France’s equivalent of The Great British Bake Off). Lignac has even been described as the French Jamie Oliver. The chef has a portfolio of gourmet pastry shops and restaurants including Le Chardenoux, a century-old bistro that he took over around a decade ago. After a year of renovations, Le Chardenoux 2.0 reopened in January 2019 to strong reviews, thanks to a fresh coat of paint and a Japanese-influenced, seafood-heavy menu that includes scallops with caramelised miso and sea urchin in bonito broth.
For a glimpse of authentic bistro life in Paris, check out Le Bistrot du Peintre, a neighbourhood restaurant where the staff know the regulars by name and vice versa. The carefully restored Art Nouveau decor (the restaurant opened in 1902 and is officially a Historic Monument) and inviting outdoor terrace may attract curious passers-by, but it’s the restaurant’s classic French menu and surprisingly modest prices that often seal the deal. Dishes aren’t fancy, but they’re hearty and authentic, and include everything from croque-monsieur (French grilled cheese) sandwiches and leeks vinaigrette to beef tartare and duck confit with roasted potatoes.
Minimalists, look away now. Inside the Gare de Lyon train station, hidden behind a benign-looking facade, lies an over-the-top interior that evokes the splendour of the Palace of Versailles with its gold-gilded ceiling and walls, chandeliers, paintings and belle époqueexcess. In October 2018, the restaurant launched a reinvig orated menu co-developed with Michelin-star chef Michel Rostang. The result is a renewed focus on stews, sauces and dishes rich in broths and stocks, and one of the best places to eat in Bastille. The menu also brings back a bit of theatre to the new dining experience with table-side meat carving and flaming chartreuse-soaked desserts.
Since opening in 2011, Septime has managed to maintain its standing as one of the top contemporary dining destinations among Paris’s gastronomic elite, thanks to chef Bertrand Grébaut’s wizardry with vegetables. His plant-based menu and eco-friendly kitchen philosophy helped the restaurant earn the title of Sustainable Restaurant of the Year from the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ group in 2017. So what does sustainable haute cuisine taste like? Think salsify glazed in a mushroom reduction, served with a cured egg yolk, shaved truffles and hazelnuts. It’s best to reserve a table at least three weeks in advance.
Try Sando Club for a Japanese take on the humble sandwich
Cafe, Japanese, Fusion
The signature Torikatsu fried chicken cutlet sandwich at Sando Club, Paris. | Vivian Song
The country that gave the world the baguette has never fully embraced sliced American white bread. But at Sando Club, a Japanese variant called Hokkaido milk bread filled with ingredients such as juicy fried chicken katsu cutlet and shredded red cabbage and carrots, has made Parisians enthusiastic converts. Because sometimes, just sometimes, soft, light, fluffy, pillowy white bread is a welcome change from crusty, chewy baguette sticks. Other fillings include omelettes spiked with sriracha and braised beef with hoisin sauce.
With a tradition that stretches back more than 150 years, Bofinger is a local institution that transports the flavours of the French–German border to Paris. In a belle époque setting featuring brass railings, tufted leather banquettes and mirrored walls, diners can tuck into classic dishes like French onion soup, snails and duck foie gras, or the house speciality, Alsatian sauerkraut perfumed with juniper berries, coriander and cumin. Sauerkraut toppings include either generous portions of pork (white sausage, smoked bacon and pork belly) or seafood, such as langoustine, cod and salmon.
A small, intimate bakery and lunch spot helmed by Japanese–Lebanese couple Moko Hirayama and Omar Koreitem, Mokonuts has endeared itself to Parisians with its unique, earnest Franco-Japanese and Middle Eastern offerings. Helming the savoury side of things is husband Omar, who will top toast with sea urchin and serve it with persillade (parsley and garlic pesto) and white onion velouté one day, and combine labneh (a kind of thick, tangy yogurt cheese) with roasted beets and zaatar another. Moko has also earned a following for her unexpected desserts that include hazelnut and kumquat galette and fennel seed and lemon confit cookies. For those wondering where to eat in Bastille, Mokonuts is well worth considering.