City Snapshot – A Street Food Guide to Paris

Paris is often lauded for its restaurants and higher-end eateries, but I appreciate the fruit of footpaths, the pleasures of “les places”, and the riches of “les rues” as much as fine French dining. As a visitor in the city, the more travelled, touristy areas that are dead-zones for good restaurants often offer great street options.

Here’s a guide to the best types of Parisian street food and where you can find the best of it:

Crêpes  

About as traditionally French as you can get, these amazing thin pancakes present endless possibilities for passerby. Sure, you can find great sit-down establishments to munch on crepes but some of my favorite spots are street-side in the Quartier Latin.

Here’s a couple spots to look out for:

 

  • Nondescript miniscule joint affixed to a shop selling touristy goods next to a “MacDo” (pictured above)

Location: 5th Arr., near intersection of St. Germain and St. Michel

My personal favorite is this tiny shop serving locals and tourists alike. You can get any combo of egg, cheese, shrooms, and ham you like. The generous portion of cheese envelops the other ingredients and when wrapped together all the components ooze out this rich, buttery, fragrant juiciness that coats the whole inside of the creation and dominates your last few amazing bites. Beautiful. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try the heart-attack provoking “hot dog double avec fromage”: 4 hot dogs wrapped in melted cheese and inserted into a Dijon-coated baguette.

  • Rue Mouffetard, 5th Arr.

This beautiful small walking street is lined with eateries and small shops serving all manner of great French goods. There are also a couple good crepe joints along the way as well. My fav. Is a Greek-run spot that serves up mega-sized crepes that can be stuffed with a huge selection of options.

Sandwich Turc/Sandwich Grec

I developed my love for gyro sandwiches while studying abroad in Paris. It started as a quick, cheap option to sustain myself and developed into a sort of passion. The best part is, nearly every neighborhood in the city has it’s token Sandwich Turc/ Sandwich Grec shop.

Usually served with fries on the side (or stuffed into the sandwich) these delicacies typically include some combination of meat shaved off a rotating log of lamb, chicken, or other mystery meat, lettuce, tomato, and a tzatziki-like sauce. Can be packed into a pita, sub roll, or baguette. Perfection.

The Two-Step Guide To Selecting a Good Sandwich Turc/Sandwich Grec Shop:

1.       Inspect the Rotating Meat Log. What you want here is a thick, juicy-looking log that has some texture to it and actually looks like ‘layers’ of meat stacked upon each other rather than a single-shaded smooth grey cone. The more you can clearly distinguish what type of meat it is the better. You still may not actually know, but inspecting the meat log is the most important part.

2.       Know the Area. The best sandwich shops from my experience are in the more touristy or highly-travelled parts of the city. The more foot traffic in the area, the better chances of a good meat log. Better not to go for a shady dimly-lit spot in some random sketchy neighborhood.

Falafel Sandwiches from the Marais

Visitors tend to flock to the Marais for it’s beautiful ambiance, small boutiques, cafés and shops, however the big draw for me is a good falafel sandwich from a Jewish-owned joint.

Pretty much any spot selling falafel sandwiches in the area will impress you. Just the most moist falafel balls, red cabbage, pickles, and other goodness stuffed into a soft pita. I like mine with a little hot sauce.

 

The excellent French foodie guide, www.lefooding.com recommends L’as du Falafel but the lines can be huge here compared to other spots that will be comparable.

Lebanese Food

Paris has the best Lebanese food I’ve had anywhere. Great cooking and nearly anything you order at these places will be outstanding. The shawarma, kafta, and kibbeh sandwiches tend to be excellent however you’ll find all kinds of good options.

 

 

Neighborhoods for good Lebanese:

  • Rue St. Andre Des Arts, 5ieme
  • Les Halles environs, 2ieme
  • Rue Mouffetard, 5ieme

Marchés Alimentaires de Paris

Anyone who knows anything about Paris will direct you to check out the many great fresh food markets throughout the city. This is a quintessentially French experience and you’ll find some of the best food in the city here.

One of my favorite markets is the Marché Maubert, however you can get the locales and hours for a range of Parisian markets right here on an interactive map: http://marches.equipements.paris.fr/

So, on your next trip to Paris consider some of these options for a quick lunch, easy dinner, or delightful snack. You’ll avoid big prices, reservations, and your stomach will thank you.

Bon appétit,

Nicholas

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