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The best African restaurants

Where to taste the finest African food in Paris…

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Fancy some spice and exoticism on your plate? Try one of these hand-picked restaurants. Whether you’re hankering after a chicken tagine, a spicy merguez couscous, succulent strips of biltong or tangy Ethiopian pancakes, sustenance is nigh with our list of the best African restaurants in Paris…

Where to eat North African

Chez Omar

The once-fashionable Omar doesn't take reservations, and the queue can stretch the length of the zinc bar and through the door. Everyone is waiting for the same thing: couscous. Prices range from €11 (vegetarian) to €24 (royale); there are no tagines or other traditional Maghreb mains, only a handful of French classics (duck, fish, steak). Overstretched waiters slip through the crowds with mounds of semolina, vats of vegetable-laden broth and steel platters heaving with meat, including the stellar merguez. Even on packed nights, there's an offer of seconds - gratis - to encourage you to stay a little while longer.

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The Marais

Le Souk

Potted olive trees mark the entrance to this lively den of Moroccan cuisine. Start with savoury b'stilla, a pasty stuffed with duck, raisins and nuts, flavoured with orange-blossom water and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Don't fill up, though, as the first-rate tagines and couscous are enormous. The tagine canette (duckling stewed with honey, onions, apricots, figs and cinnamon, then showered with toasted almonds) is terrific. For dessert, try the excellent millefeuille with fresh figs, while sweet mint tea is poured in a long stream by a djellaba-clad waiter.

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Eastern Paris

Les Caves du Petit Thouars

This micro-bar in the heart of the Temple area stands in stark contrast with the trendy dives that crowd the Marais. Despite the influx of hipsters, the Formica tables haven’t moved, the prices haven’t soared, and the menu hasn’t changed. You can still drink beers at union prices (€2.50) and some excellent wines by the glass (€2.50 to €3.50), or by the pichet (small carafe). Food is homemade dishes like marinated chicken skewers, tender rump steak with pepper sauce, or grilled lamb chops: good, simple and plentiful, it only costs around €10 for lunch or dinner (an extraordinary feat), and comes with thick-cut chips and homemade sauces. The Berber family who run the place also put on couscous dishes for lunch. Locals who have quickly adopted Les Caves du Petit Thouars, enjoying its patio on the pavement of a leafy street, the perfect place to enjoy the last rays of afternoon sunshine with a cocktail. The waiters are relaxed and friendly, all adding to the charms of this unpretentious little bar.

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The Marais

La Médina du Marais

Traditional eastern cosiness characterises La Medina du Marais, a rather romantic North African restaurant on Rue des Gravilliers between Etienne Marcel and Arts et Metiers Metro stations in the hip Marais area of central Paris. Wood beam ceiling, stone walls filled with oriental objects, candles on each table – it’s a seductive, laidback scene. La Medina du Marais’ menu is built around classic, earthy Moroccan dishes like fresh lamb cous cous and rich, tasty tagines, matched with decent Algerian and Moroccan wines. Steak with béarnaise sauce, and confit de canard feature among a handful of French staples. Finish with a fresh mint tea and the dessert of the day.

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3rd arrondissement

Le 404

404 restaurant in Paris' supercool Marais exhibits all the vibrant flavours and colours of North Africa. Retrofitted into a 16th century building, 404's interior is all Berber, with pouf seating, exposed beams and stones, tooled leather and authentic artifacts. It's got the air of a charming dive with smiling waiters and culinary treats awaiting. The menu features well-executed dishes like couscous, tagines, and grilled meats. The wine list also offers some unusual (and rather good) Mahgrebi bottles. Grab a drink at Andy Wahloo's, the sibling bar next door - everybody does, and 'everybody' includes celebrities.

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3rd arrondissement

Le Petit Bleu

A well-kept little gem of a secret: Le Petit Bleu doesn't look like much, but it is absolutely delightful. A Moroccan canteen tucked away in a Montmartre back street, they serve perfect couscous, tagines and grills in enormous portions – it would be difficult to find better in the city. Above all, the value for money is incredible, with couscous dishes at around €10. It’s open until 1am, but the space is tiny, so be prepared to queue or to get your couscous to go (one will easily feed two hungry men). This restaurant serves one of Time Out's 50 best dishes in Paris. Click here to see the full list.

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Montmartre

L'Homme Bleu

L'Homme Bleu's simple, welcoming ambiance is the perfect background for the restaurant's superior Maghreb cooking. Here, cooks busy themselves in the kitchen while the meat grills slowly on the fire and regulars jostle for space – it might not look like much from the outside, but the full tables tell you all you need to know.We ate a plate of couscous mined with grilled lamb brochettes and merguez sauasage (€18) and a chicken tagine (€15). To balance it all out, a dish of crisp vegetables and preserved lemon, all washed down with a couple of glasses of Boulaouane Moroccan wine. The grains are fine and light, the sauces scented and full of flavour, the meats are the real deal – and if you have room afterwards, you can snack on sweet pastries (€2.50 each) from the neighbouring bakery, La Bague de Kenza. Overall, a warming, authentic shot of Maghrebian warmth in Oberkampf.

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Oberkampf

L'Alcôve

This former butcher's has lost none of its carnivorous appetite: since its conversion into a restaurant back in 2010, L'Alcôve has been serving a saliva-inducing range of Maghrebian grills to locals in the know. The venue itself, innocuously squeezed between a sushi place and a grocer's, is more kebab joint than restaurant proper; but one glance at the menu of tajines and grilled meat dishes will convince you to stay. The couscous is as fine as desert sand, the meats themselves as succulent as anything you'll get for this price (count around €13–€18 per main) – special mention goes to the exquisitely tender beef skewers and merguez sausages. The meal is rounded out by a salmagundi of salads, vegetables and condiments, and a very decent bottle of organic wine (€20). We'll be back.

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Plaisance

Where to eat West African

Waly Fay

The venue is elegantly simple, the lighting is moody and the hi-fi is set on 'world music'. Welcome to Waly Fay, where those in the know come to dine on dishes from across West Africa and the Antilles. Regulars navigate the menu of accra, boudin, mafé, thiep, yassa and n'dole cuisines with ease, while newbies are guided along by the helpful staff.Falling squarely in the latter category, we played it safe by first ordering the trademark dish of West Africa, aloco: fried plantain served with fish dumplings and a citrus-tomato sauce. The plantain was as succulent as it was copious, serving as the perfect accompaniment to the main courses: grilled sea bream seasoned with tomato and persil and served with rice (sublime), and chicken served with pecan nuts, coleslaw and sweet potato chips. Unable to make room for dessert, we instead ordered some wine (the only course that doesn't have its roots in Africa) and ended up with a decent bottle of chardonnay – a lovely grace note to a throughly enjoyable meal (€65 for two).

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Charonne

Where to eat East African

Godjo

With its tiny, jolly, shabby ground floor dining room and basement full of cushioned lounge seats and low tables, Ethiopian restaurant Godjo has the air of a well-kept secret – although the secret has been out for some time, and there are queues down the street on weekend evenings. People flock here to squeeze in elbow-to-elbow with their neighbours and devour the huge platters of spongy injera flatbread with spicy meat and vegetables with their hands, washed down with cheap quaffable wine and followed by huge bowls of fresh fruit for around €20 a head or less. The staff are smiley and endlessly patient despite the crowds, and the food is wonderful. We chose the Ye Feseg, a selection of four meat and vegetable dishes piled onto one huge injera: things like Key Wot (spicy chicken), Te Beg Tebs (lamb with onions) and juicy, fragrant lentils. This is comfort food par excellence, without being stodgy – rather, it's warming, spicy and full of diverse flavours and seasonings. Come early (or very late – they stay open until 2), come on a rainy Tuesday, or be prepared to wait outside even if you have a reservation. But definitely come – you'll be heartened, cheered and extremely well fed.

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5th arrondissement

Where to eat South African

My Food

The clutter of big game figurines, tribal wall hangings and piles of biltong on the bar make South African restaurant My Food an unusual escape from the drab Montreuil pavements outside. Genial, bearded, barbecue-savvy owner Kobus Botha serves up huge plates of expertly grilled meat, homemade chips and traditional recipes. Start off with an apéro accompanied by bowls of biltong and droëwors (a sausage snack flavoured with coriander). Then move on to the bobotie (oven-baked spiced minced beef with turmeric and bay leaves, served with raisin-studded rice, banana, lemon and vegetables), vetkoek (open sandwiches with pulled pork, beef or vegetables), an enormous burger or a plate of barbecue, cooked to order. While principally South Africa, the menu draws on a mishmash of other influences – you'll find touches of Portuguese, Mozambican or even British cooking.The daily set menu at €12 is a serious proposition; on our visit, a bobotie with a side of barbecued salmon and chicken, served with chips, salad and cooked veg. Overall, the good, homely cooking, served by sweet, attentive staff and overseen by the charismatic chef make this a genuine find. On Saturdays, the brunch menu looks pretty weighty, but if you don't happen to live nearby, bear in mind that Chef Botha and his enormous mobile barbecue take up residence on the roof of the Cité de la Mode et du Design or on the banks of the Canal de l'Ourcq every Sunday. Check their Facebook page for updates.

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Montreuil

Where to get brunch

Comptoir Général

Eclectic, easy-going venues like this are more common in Barcelona than in Paris, but here in an old 600 square-metre barn is this offbeat, shabby chic bar, touched with colonial stylings in its black and white tiled floors, stylish chandeliers, red carpets and African souvenirs piled up in every corner. As you walk in, the size of the space blows you away – two enormous, shadowy rooms connected by a smoking area formed from a tropical garden in an enormous greenhouse that creates a well of light in the centre of the venue. In another corner sits a cabinet of curiosities, full of neat rows of skeletons, rare bird feathers and stuffed animals.   Hipsters, boho-chic types and families are all tumbled in together here – a varied but very Parisian mix. We love the atmosphere of the place and its amazing setting, with its odd assortment of armchairs, affordable cocktails, blues and jazz soundtrack and menu of inexpensive Asian dishes. On the downside, a battle for seating rages in the evenings, and the queue outside that builds from 8pm can stretch waiting times into hours. To be sure of enjoying the venue – hidden behind a block of houses on the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin – come as early as possible. On weekends, a Franco-African brunch is on offer at €16, but try and reserve, as it’s often full.

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Canal Saint Martin

Still hungry? Why not try some…

Chinese

Book ahead to celebrate the Year of the Horse in one of our best Chinese restaurants this Chinese New Year (January 31). Paris has two main areas for Asian eating: Belleville and Chinatown in the 13th arrondissement, where you can sample excellent Thai, Vietnamese and other South East Asian specialities. Also check out our selection of Vietnamese restaurants in Paris – their Têt Nguyên Dán falls on the same day. Belleville Au Poivre du Szechuan Sichuan chilli is a fiery, lemony spice used in west China, Japan and Tibet, which has happily found its way to a laid-back, lime-green restaurant in Belleville, with a menu that stands out from the area's jazz standards of bo buns and egg rolls. Among innumerable dishes, we loved the crunchy caramelised pork, lamb with cumin, beef hotpot with chilli oil and wu xiang pork. Less so the spiced chicken, which was all bones,a and the make-your-own wok option, which had an excellent bouillon base, but the strange water-lily roots and fish balls lacked flavour. A shame, as overall the cooking is light and subtly flavoured, if not cheap (€8-€15 a dish). Watch out for the chilli – you’ll be offered strong, medium or weak, and even the medium strength will blow your head off. Don’t be too brave and risk ruining your meal. Wen Zhou The second Chinatown in Paris is in Belleville where, as in the 13th arrondissement, it’s difficult to know where to get a good Chinese meal rather than. So note this one down in your smartphone: Wen Zhou, just before

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Indian

Not always famed for its selection of restaurants offering spicy delicacies, Paris nevertheless hosts a healthy range of Indian restaurants to cure curry cravings. Try out our selection below, and let us know in the comments box if you think we've missed any out. Restaurants Saravana Bhavan A veritable institution, this 80 seat restaurant is in an entirely different class from the rest; a chain with branches in more than 10 countries, specialising in vegetarian dishes from Southern India. But this isn’t a curried version of McDonald’s, rather the squeaky clean surroundings and fresh ingredients put Saravanaa Bhavan above the neighbourhood’s collection of greasy spoons. The attractive space is done out in design sofas, black tables and big windows, giving more of a Japanese vibe than anything else, though the metal drinking cups and flock of busy waiters feel more authentic... Muniyandi Vilas From the outside, there’s nothing that sets Muniyandi Vilas apart from the scores of other Indian restaurants crowded around the Gare du Nord. It’s small, a bit tatty, and the aroma wafting in from the kitchen a tad overpowering. Yet once you’re sat at one of the cramped tables, the place begins to work its modest charm on you: smiling waiters, eccentric murals, cute metal cups. And by the time the dishes arrive, generous and succulent, you’ll be glad you chose this place over the others. For a fistful of euros, you can order yourself a veritable feast: an impeccable cheese parotta (a sor

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Japanese

Whether it's sushi, bento boxes or ramen noodles, Paris has an abundance of quality Japanese restaurants to choose from. From slick and stylish restaurants to traditional Osaka-style eateries, you can find great Japanese food across the capital. Check out some of our favourites below... Fine dining Asia Tee Kenji Asia Tee is just one small room and a few tables, with Japanese chef Kenji running a one-man show in the open kitchen and his welcoming family helping out front of house. Plus a small dog in his basket, who’s part of the décor. Kenji cooks a homely Japanese menu that changes with the seaons, but with refined touches that he learnt at the Hôtel Impérial de Tokyo and working with Michelin-starred French chefs like Michel Rostang.Each dish is available in small and large, and there's a selection of set menus. For €45 you get three amuse bouche, three main plates (choose from six fish and three meat), soup, rice and dessert. We loved the perfectly roasted slices of lamb flanked by an interesting puree of green pepper and yuzu, with chips of lotus root, and the succulent sashimi exceed all expectations. You can also reserve in advance for a vegetarian version. The bigger hitter is the omakase menu at €78 (in Japanese, it means ‘I leave it up to you’). Everyone at the table needs to agree to the menu in advance and give their preferences, then Kenji prepares an assortment of 10 small dishes per person. Asia Tee is full for dinner every night, so make sure you book ahea

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By: Time Out editors

Middle Eastern

Any feature on 'Middle Eastern cuisine' has to begin by confronting that problematic term. To the newbie, the cuisines of Morocco, Lebanon and Kurdistan all too easily merge into one aromatic morass of mezze and grilled meat. But in reality, they differ – at times subtly, at times blatantly – on everything from taste in condiments to table etiquette. To make matters simple, we've decided to split our fave Middle Eastern joints into three broad categories: North African, Asian, and 'street food'. If there's one thing they all share, it's a convivial emphasis on sharing and socialising – in our eyes, an essential ingredient to a damn good meal. So call up your mates and get ready to discover the best Levantine nosh and Maghrebian grub that Paris has to offer. Moroccan, Tunisian and Algerian L'Homme Bleu L'Homme Bleu's simple, welcoming ambiance is the perfect background for the restaurant's superior Maghreb cooking. Here, cooks busy themselves in the kitchen while the meat grills slowly on the fire and regulars jostle for space – it might not look like much from the outside, but the full tables tell you all you need to know.We ate a plate of couscous mined with grilled lamb brochettes and merguez sauasage (€18) and a chicken tagine (€15). To balance it all out, a dish of crisp vegetables and preserved lemon, all washed down with a couple of glasses of Boulaouane Moroccan wine. The grains are fine and light, the sauces scented and full of flavour, the meats are the real deal – a

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