Dining in Paris: Five dishes to try before you leave town

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Steak tartare is just one of many classic dishes you should taste during your Paris eating adventures. Photo: Ricky Thakrar
Steak tartare is just one of many classic dishes you should taste during your Paris eating adventures. Photo: Ricky Thakrar

I hate writing about food. Suggesting someone a restaurant or a café is like trying to suggest a favorite color to someone. Just because I like a place, doesn’t mean you will, even if the food is stellar or the service above par. I’ll leave you all to battle it out on TripAdvisor.

Instead, let’s discuss knowing which dishes are worth trying in Paris, no matter what restaurant you choose. Sushi, pizza and burgers abound in Paris, but here are five dishes that you may not get back home quite as easily. Look for them on the menu and give these classics a try!

Duck Confit

Duck confit served with potatoes fried in duck fat. Plus, a green salad for good measure. Photo: Su-Lin

1. Duck confit

Duck leg cooked in its own fat? Done. You can thank the fat-loving southwest of France for this dish. Usually served up with roasted potatoes, this is a staple of many Parisian bistros and cafés, and it’s hard not to love. Even the cheapest ones are pretty good. Look for confit de canard on the menu.

Escargot

Escargot (snails) with garlic and parsley dished up in a restaurant in Montmartre. Photo: Fabio Sola Penna

2. Escargot

These slimy little buggers are made entirely appetizing with some butter and maybe some garlic and parsley. They are much easier to eat than Julia Roberts would have us think in Pretty Woman. While seemingly kitsch, snails are still something to try when in Paris as a starter, just to see what all the fuss is about.

beef bourguignon

Beef bourguignon is a rich stew that pairs perfectly with a glass of French wine. Photo: Marc Ben Fatma

3. Beef bourguignon

Your mother may have made Julia Child’s version of this iconic beef stew. While Amy Adams tried so desperately to recreate the dish in the movie about Child, the real thing isn’t quite as tricky to make. You’ll find versions of it on menus all across town, so leave any preconceived notions at home.

Steak Tartare

Steak tartare and pommes frites at Hotel Amour in Montmartre, Paris. Photo: Chris Goldberg

4. Steak tartare

Instead of getting cooked beef, why not just get the fresher version? Steak tartare is raw ground beef mixed with various seasonings and a raw egg. Sounds gross but that doesn’t stop people from ordering it—though I wouldn’t suggest getting it at just any café since quality ingredients are important for a raw dish like this one. Many tourists gripe about not being able to get meat well-done, so why even bother? Just go with the flow on this one.

Foie Gras

Foei gras with toasted bread for lunch in Paris. Photo: Ethan H.

5. Foie gras

If you’re from California, you might feel like you’re breaking the law, but foie gras is still very much appreciated in Paris. Fatty duck or goose liver may not be grown in the most humane way (what really is force-feeding anyway?) but the result is divine. Served with toast, maybe a bit of jam and some coarse salt, it’s the perfect way to start a meal or to indulge with a glass of wine. Just don’t think too much about it.

About the author

Bryan Pirolli

About the author: With his college diploma fresh off the press, Bryan Pirolli headed for Paris and four years later he’s still there. A journalist and a tour guide, his main M.O. is pursuing a doctorate degree in communications at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Bryan regularly travels on a budget, experiencing the best of European culture while still trying to make rent.  So far, so good. You can follow his adventures on his blog: www.bryanpirolli.com.

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3 thoughts on “Dining in Paris: Five dishes to try before you leave town”

  1. Mark Landmann

    Hi Heather – but whether people eat factory farmed animals or not, they should think carefully about their choices and be knowledgeable about the suffering they may (or may not) be causing. It’s not the foie gras itself but the recommendation just not to think too much about it that bugs me, even though I know it was just a little joke he tossed in at the end of the piece.

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  2. Mark, all animals that you eat suffer. I don’t know why foie gras is singled out. There are worse things done to factory farm animals than forcing them to eat more corn. :-(

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  3. Mark Landmann

    I know I’m being humourless, but “just don’t think too much about it” sucks. Does your advice apply when causing human suffering too, or just for animals?

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