One of the greatest myths about dining out in Paris is that you have to spend a lot to eat well. Even classic French cuisine is built on brilliant basics: seasonal ingredients, good-quality produce and the same menus served day in, day out.
If you know where to look, it’s still totally possible to find big brasserie lunches for around €15, and a life-affirmingly good jambon-beurre for little more than €5. (Let’s be honest, is there anything more appealing than a fresh baguette slathered with salty butter – even if you later find crumbs in unexpected places?)
Some of our latest faves show how the city’s culinary scene is changing, both in wine bars that are swapping rillettes or planches for pizzette and in a growing range of true-to-the-source restaurants and delis serving everything from Israeli to Sichuan cuisine untempered for European palates.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Paris
Best cheap eats in Paris
What’s the deal? You can’t go wrong with any of the street food-style traders at Ground Control. But if you want to support a kitchen with a mission, head for La Résidence. Run in collaboration with the UNHCR-backed Refugee Food Festival, the project showcases a rotating roster of refugee chefs, giving them a platform to build a profile in Paris and share their country’s cuisine.
What should I order? Whatever’s new on the menu, from heavily laden Ethiopian injera to Syrian mezze.
Where? 81 Rue du Charolais, 12th
What’s the deal? Skip the queues on the Rue des Rosiers and head to the Canal Saint-Martin to get your falafel fix at Miznon’s eastern outpost instead. Their whole baked cauliflower (€6.50) is the stuff of Parisian legend. Service is simple, and you stand in line to order, but there’s always a fun-loving vibe.
What should I order? Call us controversial, but we like steak in our fluffy, Israeli-style pitta.
Where? 37 Quai de Valmy, 10th
What’s the deal? Bouillon Julien wins points not just for being the only bouillon where you can actually book a table but also for its gorgeous sea-green Art Nouveau interior. Forget fine dining: this is where everyone actually heads for dinner midweek. Confit de canard and a glass of red will set you back less than €15, and you’ll feel all kinds of fancy sitting beneath the mirrored walls and flower-bedecked glass panels.
What should I order? Their version of chicken ‘n’ chips: the demi-coquelet grillé with sauce diable and fries (€12).
Where? 16 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 10th
What’s the deal? All baguettes are not created equal. Despite its diminutive size, lunchtime and midweek-only sandwich shop CheZaline is revered above all others. Its baguettes are simply served in colourful plastic baskets, or you can get one paper-wrapped to go. There’s no fuss here, just first-rate ingredients.
What should I order? The jambon-beurre with Prince de Paris ham.
Where? 85 Rue de la Roquette, 11th
What’s the deal? Just about the only place spice-starved Parisians can come to scare their taste buds into submission, this small but mighty Sichuanese restaurant has a winning concept. Sip a beer, order as many dishes as you can fit on the table and choose just how hot you dare to go on their heat scale – from 0.5/5 to 5/5.
What should I order? Mapo tofu with spicy cabbage on the side.
Where? 33 Rue Saint-Sébastien, 11th
What’s the deal? When a market stall clocks up nearly 50,000 social media followers and spawns a bricks-and-mortar restaurant around the corner, you know you’re on to a good thing. Alain is one of the Marché des Enfants Rouges’ original street food vendors and has a serious fan club clamouring for his salad-stuffed galettes and sandwiches, made with almost exclusively organic ingredients.
What should I order? An oozy yet crispy onion, ham and cheese galette.
Where? Marché des Enfants Rouges, 3rd
What’s the deal? Handily located for dinner after a stroll around the Bassin de la Villette, La Cantine Bretonne is well worth the schlep to the edges of the 19th. What the over-touristed crêperies in central Paris lack in contemporary style, this bright, modern and spacious restaurant makes up for in spades. Even better, galettes start at less than €10.
What should I order? Mix and match new-school with traditional: perhaps the wakame topped with gravlax and a goats’ cheese-yuzu cream, and to drink, a kir Breton made with cider rather than white wine.
Where? 22bis Rue de l’Ourcq, 19th
What’s the deal? Very few spots that claim to be real restaurants du quartier actually deliver from sunrise to sunset. Café du Coin is different. Turn up at 8am for an espresso at the bar with the pre-work crowd, order the superb set menu at lunch, or settle in for an apéro hour that lasts well into the night.
What should I order? An unusual bottle of natural wine and inventive pizzette (from around €5), perhaps topped with za’atar, ’nduja or simply tomato and mozzarella.
Where? 9 Rue Camille-Desmoulins, 11th
What’s the deal? Urfa Dürüm’s Kurdish wrap-style sandwiches are served from dinky joint in one of the few genuinely multicultural quartiers in Paris. The dürüm dough is handmade practically on the spot and the meat is sizzled on the grill moments before being served. On sunny days, there’s space to perch outside.
What should I order? The lahmacun or a juicy lamb dürüm with tomatoes, red onion and salad.
Where? 58 Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis, 10th
What’s the deal? Why go in search of Neapolitan pizza in Paris when you can have flammekueche? This Alsacian speciality ticks all the same boxes with its thin, crispy dough and moreish toppings. A buzzer alerts you to collect orders from the kitchen when they’re ready. Flammekueches start at €10 and you can get an excellent bottle of biodynamic Riesling for €25.
What should I order? Two to share: the classic flammekueche (topped with crème fraîche, onions and lardons) and a veggie option (with tomatoes, mushrooms and emmental instead of the pork).
Where? 6 Rue Saint-Bon, 4th
What’s the deal? Mokonuts’ baby sibling is just as perfectly conceived as Moko and Omar’s first restaurant. To call it a quick lunch stop does it a serious disservice. Other than the fact that it’s open only during the day, Mokoloco couldn’t be further from dreary déjeuner territory. Combos like organic short-rib katsu with an anchovy dressing on brioche set the tone.
What should I order? Their latest creation. Perhaps an octopus, tahini and confit lemon sandwich, then one of their famous cookies for dessert.
Where? 74 Rue de Charonne, 11th
What’s the deal? Vegan restaurants are finally starting to make inroads in Paris – but thankfully only a few evangelise fads over great food. The veggie and vegan Caribbean-influenced dishes at Jah Jah By Le Tricycle are anything but faux-virtuous, and come served in enormous portions in an airy, almost canteen-style space. The soundtrack’s just as good as you’d expect, too.
What should I order? The vegan mushroom burger and BBQ cauliflower wings.
Where? 11 Rue des Petites Écuries, 10th
What’s the deal? Dieters need not apply when it comes to the big, bold Basque cooking served on red-checked tablecloths at Chez Gladines in village-y Buttes-aux-Cailles. Salads are heavy with goats’ cheese and lardons, foie gras and charcuterie have their own sections on the menu, and even duck breast comes smothered in roquefort sauce.
What should I order? The 1kg côte de bœuf to share (and a taxi home).
Where? 30 Rue des Cinq Diamants, 13th
What’s the deal? Better known as Chez Alex, this restaurant has been a fixture in the 20th arrondissement since it opened in the ’90s. As Rue de Belleville slowly gentrifies (for better or worse), their specialities remain unchanged. Come for traditional Zhejiang dishes and dumplings that need no reinvention.
What should I order? Start with 10 pork and ginger dumplings to share for €5.90.
Where? 24 Rue de Belleville, 20th