Like many others, Paris is my favorite food city in the entire world. That said, it’s easy to develop a soft spot after a decade of visiting and living in the city. When I’m away for too long, my restless thoughts often drift to the warm baguettes I purchase in the early evening around the corner from my family’s apartment. However, my favorite meal of the day is lunch. It’s unlike the rushed pastries eaten on the street for breakfast, or dinners that can stretch far into the night. A Parisian lunch can be the best of both worlds; excellent, affordable food you don’t have to get dressed up for to enjoy.
Don’t let the size of this small lunch spot (or the line of hungry office workers snaking down the street) deter you. Situated on rue de Vaugirard in the 6th arrondissement, Le Petit Lux is a restaurant-bakery combo that never fails to please. For a quick lunch on the go, grab a baguette sandwich or a slice of quiche from the bakery side. (The chicken sandwich is excellent. The salmon, otherworldly.) The wait is more than worth it, especially with the delicious eye candy of perfectly coiffed pastries and desserts lined up on the other side of large window that fronts the establishment. If you can resist digging right in, the Luxembourg garden is a five-minute stroll away for a picnic. There truly is nothing better on a warm spring day than grabbing a few friends, a bottle of rosé, and watching the afternoon unfold.
Situated on the famous pedestrian street from which it takes its name, Le Petit Cler is a neighborhood staple among locals and tourists alike. In the warmer months, patrons sit en terrasse elbow-to-elbow; exchanging news of the day and tucking into some affordably delicious food. Most entrees (not to be confused with entrée, the French word for appetizer) will run you between €12 to €15. The beef tartare is a personal favorite. For an even more budget-friendly option, consider ordering an omelette. For €8,50, it comes customizable with ham, cheese, mushrooms, or chives, and is easily a full meal. (Why we Americans limit this dish to breakfast, I will never know.) For €5,50, the oeufs mayonnaise is another solid option. Think deviled eggs with the volume turned up to eleven. Only a 15-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower, it’s the perfect pit stop before or after your visit.
Buvette was originally conceived as an ode to the European neighborhood bistro. After finding immense success in New York, chef Judy Williams opened a sister restaurant in Paris’ 9th arrondissement in 2012. Situated just ten minutes from the legendary Moulin Rouge, the restaurant prides itself on its use of local ingredients and comittment to the ideal that first inspired its existence. The atmosphere is notably intimate, with a classic tin-tiled ceiling and wooden bar that stretches the length of the dining room. Portions are filling, and with all dishes costing less than €15, it’s easy on the wallet too. The croque madame, topped a fried egg and prosciutto, is legendary.
Located just south of where Avenue Rapp meets the Seine, Su Misura is a mere five-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. Since French cuisine can occasionally require an adventurous palate, this Italian eatery offers flavors a little more familiar to American tastebuds. Pasta dishes and a plethora of (very sharable) pizzas form the backbone of the menu. A personal favorite is the pizza “Regina,” a tasty combination of mozzarella, Parisian ham, and mushrooms. The restaurant also offers takeaway if you happen to be staying at one of the hotels in the neighborhood, and want to spend the night in. Either way, every one is made with lots of love.
If Americans can open French restaurants, why not the other way around? Situated on Rue Grenelle in the city’s 7th arrondissement, Marlon specializes in, of all things, Californian cuisine. The light, airy dining room, combined with a Southwest-influenced menu, truly hit the nail on the head. The use of very Californian ingredient, avocado, is a common thread in many dishes. It serves as the creamy foundation in the tuna poke, stars in the restaurant’s take on “authentic” guacamole, and can even be ordered on its own as a side. It’s easy to forget that one of Paris’ most iconic monuments, Les Invalides, is just down the street.