Paris may sometimes seem like an overwhelming – and overpriced – destination to budget-conscious foodies. Luckily, locals don’t like breaking the bank either. Whether authentically French or influenced by Paris’s international flare, the spots on this list all guarantee one thing: a delicious, affordable food experience.
There is such a thing as eating “on the cheap” in Paris restaurants. With a pinch of picnics, a dash of foreign tastes, and some well-priced classics, this list is designed to help plan a delicious, inexpensive trip to Paris, with restaurants catering to various tastes and a modest budget.
In the trendy Oberkampf area of Paris, La Pharmacie is a pharmacy-turned bistro that proves cheap eats in Paris don’t necessarily come from stalls, stands, or holes-in-the-wall. The turquoise doors front a cozy interior with an emphasis on rustic simplicity: hardwood floors and tables, and red chairs to match the vast wine collection. The cozy atmosphere is matched by its meaty menu, which is truly French in the way it’s based on the seasonality of produce. Warm up in the winter over a bowl of gratinée à l’oignon (French onion soup), or opt for perfectly seasoned slow-roasted meat in the summer (likely served in its own personal cocotte, or heatproof covered dish).
22 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011
Du Pain et des Idées
“Best croissant in Paris” is likely something you’ve searched during your trip planning process. For one of the city’s best, head to the local favorite Du Pain et des Idées. Try classics like un croissant, un pain au chocolat, or un escargot (a spiraled pastry filled with flavors tucked in-between layers). Daring idées, are a bit more adventurous: Matcha croissants or cocoa-based bread. While there’s no shame in making a meal out of baked goods (calories don’t count on vacation), choose one or two treats, then pop into other specialty stores nearby – like La Crémerie and Viande et Chef both on Rue de Lancry – for more picnic fixings.
34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris
L’As du Fallafel
Strolling through the galleries and boutiques of the Marais is recommended by every Paris travel book. So too is a pit stop lunch at L’As du Fallafel. But as any local will tell you, this grab-and-go bite is worth the tourist hype. Hop into the fast-moving line, step up to the window, and watch as a man systematically dresses your falafel with a pool of tahini and other toppings. Pay a couple of euros, and find a bench at the Place des Vosges to enjoy your inexpensive holdover ‘til dinner. If you’re not in a line-waiting mood and give in to one of L’As du Fallafel’s many nearby competitors, the price will likely be the same. But just know: standing in line at this hyped joint is a Paris rite-of-passage.
34 Rue des Rosiers, 75004
Maison de Gyro
On the subject of grab-and-go, a true Parisian knows which areas have the best cafés. It’s true at Saint-Michel, the Notre Dame Cathedral métro stop known as the home of another sacred experience: eating a Latin Quarter gyro. While there are many apt stalls to choose from, Maison de Gyro has proven to be infallible. Opt for a Pita Grecque, with freshly-carved lamb, lettuce, tomatoes, sauces, and, of course, French fries. Local tip: for the best bite, try to get the juicy center lamb meat instead of the often drier outside shavings.
26 Rue de la Huchette, 75005
A crêpe is to France what a slice of Pizza is to New York: You’re allowing yourself this little indulgence, and you don’t want to be disappointed by a cold, stale mess from the wrong hole-in-the-wall vendor. Bring in Breizh. This growing chain – in both France and Japan – is a local’s secret for a trusty crêpe. Grab a galette (the buckwheat-based savory version) or a crêpe filled with combos like lemon and sugar, or the ever-popular Nutella and banana. Local tip: if you do cave and buy a sub-par €6 street crêpe near the Eiffel Tower or in Montmartre, make sure it’s made fresh in front of you. Nothing disappoints like a premade crêpe taken from a stack.
109 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003
It’s easy to fall victim to an everyday café’s croque monsieur; those made on white sandwich bread pale in comparison to ones on the best bread in town. At Le Nemrod, you get classic Parisian atmosphere plus a dish that’s an improved twist on the bar classic – the croque monsieur is served open-faced on one long slice of the famous Poîlane miche bread. This method ensures a bubbly crust of cheese that’ll crackle when cut into it. Served simply with a salad and condiments on the side – go easy on the mustard if you’re not accustomed to its kick – this dish encompasses Le Nemrod’s whole m.o. of being a trusty neighborhood café with good food to eat in the company of good friends.
Leave it to the French to take a basic American dish and dress it up to be gourmet. Big Fernand is a burger chain that’s figured out pairings, an ordering process, and a price that keeps local Parisians coming back. A flannel-donned usher will guide the unfamiliar through the menu. “Le Big Fernand” is the standard, with boeuf, Tomme cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and their house sauce. Be it house barbecue sauce on a beef burger, blue cheese on a veal patty or a mushroom-based veggie burger, few will miss those grey American patties. Touché, la France.
Nothing could stop the all-powerful taco from making its début in Paris, and while the city is still in the early stages of adopting authentic versions, Distrito Francés is setting the standard. The restaurant is influenced by the vibrant energy of Mexico, resulting in a welcoming space and colorful dishes. The tacos are inspired by family recipes, but all have modern twists: the King Kunta presents crispy carnitas with a tamarind sauce topped with pickled veggies and crunchy garnishes; Dani Satisfaction introduces a wonderful vegan mushroom chorizo.
10 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, 75010
A taste of the West Coast can brighten any grey Paris day. That’s what two French expats living in Los Angeles thought when they decided to bring the taste of Hawaii back to Paris in the form of Ono Poké. Their goal is to change the perspective of what take-out lunch can look like in Paris, and with eight poké bowl designs to choose from – plus the option to create your own – Ono is well on its way. Each creation includes fresh fish and imported toppings like avocado and pineapple. (Tropical and out-of-season fruits and veggies at an affordable price in Paris, you say? Mais oui!)
167 Rue Saint-Jacques, 75005
No frills restaurants often offer two things: authenticity and affordability. Going meatless is an easy way to cut costs on a meal, and food-lovers agree that there are few places doing vegan in Paris better than Tien Hiang. Based on cuisines from Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Thailand, southern China and Malaysia, the menu boasts many Asian favorites but with a vegan soy-based protein twist and without beefed-up prices. Among worthwhile basics like curries, skewers, and spring rolls, are Peking “duck” over rice and sticky rice with “chicken” in a lotus leaf.
14 rue Bichat, 75010
A tried-and-true way to get the most bang for your buck is the wine bar set up. Wait for a spot to clear at the crowded bar, and be sure to stake out your territory. Dishes are ever-changing but trusty; fritters are little indulgences, and savory versions of sweets like mousse and cookies will keep you entertained throughout your meal.
54 Rue de Seine, 75006
Don’t feel guilty about wanting something a bit lighter after a few days in Paris – we’ve all been there. For a midday bite, Bob’s is best. This health-focused joint revives and energizes ahead of the afternoon with healthy juices, smoothies, soups, salads and their ultimate veggie stew. You can even grab something for your sweet tooth, like granola or pancakes. Blend in with the local hip folk of the Marais at Bob’s Kitchen, and if your wanders take you north, you can make pit stops and Bob’s Juicebar and Bake Shop for a mid-afternoon revival.
74 Rue de Gravilliers, 75003