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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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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17e arrondissement

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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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 (01.48.87.24.61). For that special occasion, try their penis-shaped loaf...

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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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4e arrondissement

Derrière

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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3e arrondissement

Helmut Newcake

Opened at the end of 2011, Helmut Newcake was the first place for 100% certified gluten-free pastries in Paris, and is the reference for the new generation of bakeries opening up around town. The location by the trendy Canal St-Martin is nestled among a slew of new eateries and coffee shops that are worth a visit. But those looking to enjoy authentic French pastry, like classic éclairs and lemon meringue tarts, can stop in and take a seat in the modern, yet cozy loft-style shop for a cup of coffee... 

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10e arrondissement

La Coupole

La Coupole in Montparnasse is the grandest of grand Parisian brasseries. An Art Deco triumph on an extraordinary scale, its famously vast dining room was once regularly graced by the top tiers of the artistic Rive Gauche set like Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. People still come here from all over the world, to marvel at its splendour - all 1000 square metres and 33 pillars of it – and to people watch, a timeless La Coupole pastime...

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15e arrondissement

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... 

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L'Est de Paris

Au Pied de Cochon

Au Pied de Cochon is a Parisian institution, whose neon lights haven’t been switched off since 1947: it serves evry part of the pig you can think of, around the clock. Favourite haunt of hungry late-night drinkers, there's comething fortifying in the old-style brasserie décor as well as the hearty dishes. Among imitation leather banquettes, Belle Epoque lamps and paintings, white tablecloths and waiters in penguin suits, kitsch little details show a sense of humour... 

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4e arrondissement
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