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Quirky restaurants

Time Out's favourite restaurants for dinners with a difference

© Alexandre Duguer

For dishes that are talking points in themselves, or décor with a difference, these restaurants go out of their way to stand out from the crowd. Dinner in the pitch black? Aphrodisiac menu? Cats on your lap through teatime? Penis-shaped bread? It's all here, and more. Think we've missed a great themed restaurant? Let us know in the comments box below.

Le café des chats

Inspired by similar 'neko' cafés in Japan, Paris's first cat café, installed in the trendy Marais, offers a relaxed environment where you to enjoy your coffee and pastries in the company of felines, without the worry of litter boxes and vet's bills. The café is set over two floors with lots of comfortable sofas and a grand piano in the basement, and serves a range of cakes and pastries. Staff are young and slightly disorganised, but since everyone is really there for the cat therapy, it's fine...

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3rd arrondissement

Le Wagon Bleu

The gloriously nostalgic ‘Blue Wagon’ in the 17th arrodissement is set inside a 1920s carriage from the legendary Orient Express. Cherrywood panelled walls and rich royal blue banquettes, set either side of neat wooden tables, look just as they did 90 years ago – even the original overhead luggage rack remains. On the menu, expect a mix of French classics like steak frites alongside Corsican dishes like figatellu rôti (roasted Corsican sausage)...

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17th arrondissement

Chez Ramona

Critics' choice

The alleys of Belleville are a delightful mishmash, a labyrinth of little streets full of cafés that welcome night owls and lost souls. Among these there is Chez Ramona, the grand old lady of rue Ramponeau, and her restaurant is a local legend. The place has the air of a mini-market, with shelves and shelves crammed with ingredients and Spanish specialities...

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La Cantine Russe

A hundred yards along the Seine, just up from the flame memorial that marks where Princess Diana died, is a rather sober building that houses the grandly-named Sergei Rachmaninoff Russian Conservatory of Paris. This august establishment opposite the Eiffel Tower was founded in 1923, and continues to train budding musicians in French and Russian. But when the school closes up for the day, a more intriguing locale, La Cantine Russe, opens up in the basement...

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8th arrondissement


Critics' choice

As the name (which basically means ‘chicken and mashed potatoes’) and faux-rustic décor would suggest, the menu is made up entirely of chicken and potato dishes, with the exception of one vegetarian lasagna. The simplest dishes are best, especially the buttery mashed potatoes...

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Legay Choc

Run by two brothers (one gay, one straight) whose surname just happens to be Legay, this Marais boulangerie and pâtisserie is very popular. The pastries are delightful, and the lunch-hour sandwiches are generous, so expect lengthy queues. A satellite store, serving only sandwiches, is at 17 rue des Archives ( For that special occasion, try their penis-shaped loaf...

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The Marais

Dans Le Noir

Even if your loved one is gorgeous, total darkness is quite possibly the best way to discover (or rediscover) your partner over dinner. Revive your sense of touch, smell and of course taste, in Dans le Noir’s quirky darkened dining room, inspired by a blind charity...

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4th arrondissement


Derrière restaurant on the edge of Paris’ Marais district is a clandestine restaurant that is one of the hottest meals in town. First, locate the unmarked door between the 404 restaurant and Andy Wahloo that leads into a courtyard and from there into eccentric Derrière. Dining at Derrière is like dining in a restaurant and also in a friend’s boho-chic home. You choose if you’d like to sit in the living room with the live ping-pong table, the bedroom with the mosaic mirrored ceiling...

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3rd arrondissement

Le Dépanneur Pigalle

All too often, 'Mexican' cuisine abroad is a byword for Americanised fast food. Not so at Le Dépanneur Pigalle. By the time you've taken a seat at one of the elegant wooden tables adorned with cacti, you'll already have forgotten you're in Paris. The menu sustains the illusion. We tucked into a starter of homemade tortillas stuffed with stewed pork shoulder, chipotle sauce, coriander and black beans, accompanied by a delectable cocktail...

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Critics' choice

If you're looking for a simple culinary concept well executed, come to Balls, the canteen that makes a great ballyhoo about blob-shaped food. Every dish served here is small and spherical, yet the chefs get an impressive amount of mileage out of the traditional meatball. You're presented with five recipes: beef (with persil and onion), chicken (estragon and lemon), lamb (coriander, cumin and pine kernels), pork (fennel and paprika) and veggie (aubergine and chick peas)...

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Eastern Paris
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