Seven Reasons to Love Paris Bistros


1. Le Buisson Ardent. Since Jean-Thomas Lopez took over this vintage Latin Quarter restaurant a few months ago, it has become one of the best bistros on the Left Bank. His outstanding chalkboard menu includes dishes like free-range pork with orange, fresh sauerkraut and pickled turnips, and guineau hen in shellfish sauce.

2. Le Quincy. Jovial Michel Bosshard, or "Bobosse," as he's known to regulars, is one of the last of the old-time aubergistes, and this cozy bistro near the Gare de Lyon offers a bona fide fly-in-amber experiences of pre-war Paris, including an excellent menu of old-fashioned dishes like terrine de campagne with cabbage salad and rabbit cooked with shallots in white wine.

3. Chez Georges. A much-loved local institution, this is a bistro that Parisians go to when they want serious old-fashioned cooking. The long narrow dining room, just off the Place des Victoires, has the patina of good times enjoyed over half of a century, and the menu is a veritable anthology of bistro classics: Salmon in sorrel sauce, grilled veal kidneys, and ice-cream stuffed profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce.

4. Chez Dumonet-Josephine. This Belle Epoque, vintage-bistro comes with sepia-toned walls, beveled glass partitions, and a big zinc bar that makes it a much-loved institution on the Left Bank. Don't miss the seared duck foie gras cooked with white grapes and served with creamy mashed potatoes, the crunchy golden confit de canard, and the delicious desserts, including a superb Grand Marnier soufflè.

5. Chez Michel. Among the new generation of bistros that first came on the scene 10 years ago, chef Thierry Breton's crowded, popular, homey place near the Gare du Nord is the one that's never gone out of style. Breton's cooking is as fresh, imaginative, and delicious today as ever, and his regularly changing chalkboard menu promises such outstanding dishes as marinated salmon with potato salad and rabbit braised with Swiss chard and rosemary. Breton also does the best Paris-Brest (choux pastry filled with hazelnut cream) in town.

6. Le Comptoir du Relais. Ever since bistro wizard Yves Camdeborde opened this Thirties-era dining room in the heart of Saint Germain, it's been packed to the rafters with an international crowd who've reserved the requisite month in advance. The prix-fixe single dinner menu changes regularly but runs to dishes like deboned, breaded pig's trotter, chicken soup with vin jaune and mousseron mushrooms, and saddle of lamb with Basque style raviolis.

7. Le Paul Bert. With flea-market decor of old plaques and posters, this bistro, tucked away in a tiny residential street in the 11th Arrondissement, has become a favorite of late. Service is relaxed and friendly, the wine list is outstanding, and the chalkboard menu offers some perfectly cooked renditions of such bistro fare as roast cod with mashed potatoes, steak frites (the frites are homemade and absolutely delicious), roast shoulder of suckling pig, and a sublime ile flottante.

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