Paris Dining: Tasty (and cheap) meals from other cultures
By Liz Webber in Paris–
Just like any modern metropole, Paris is a vibrant blend of cultures and people. Along with other immigrant groups, those from the former French colonies of Algeria and Vietnam have made their mark on the capital, creating new communities in their adopted home.
One (rather tasty) way that Cheapos can discover these elements of Parisian life is through the numerous restaurants in Paris devoted to non-French cuisines. Sometimes such places are even less expensive than traditional French fare.
Tea and couscous at the Mosquée de Paris
The Paris Mosque (pictured above) was constructed after World War I as a tribute to the North African soldiers who fought alongside the French. Today, the religious site is largely financed—and frequented—by Algerians.
Visitors can feast on North African cuisine at the mosque’s restaurant, which serves up heaping portions of couscous, grilled specialties, and tagines (a stew-like dish with meat and vegetables). In the summer months, the interior courtyard is the perfect backdrop for spending a couple of hours over a delicious meal. (Just watch out for the restaurant’s other visitors, the fearless sparrows who swoop down to peck at unprotected plates—even if you aren’t finished eating!)
For a lighter gustatory experience, head over to the salon du thé, where refreshing glasses of mint tea cost just €2. There’s also an assortment of sticky pastries like baklava, although regulars know to opt for the intriguing mint tea and honey ice cream combo. It’s a bit pricey, but definitely worth the €6!
The mosque is located at 39, Rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire in the 5th Arrondissement. The restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner; opening hours for the tearoom are 9:00 AM to 11:30 PM daily.
Low-cost fare à la Vietnamese
The neighborhood of Belleville in the 19th and 20th arrondissements is home to a large Asian population. While the area may be best-known for its Chinese community, it is also home to many Vietnamese immigrants, and is thus a great place to find delicious, and Cheapo-friendly, Vietnamese food.
It’s easy to walk right past Chez Yu, located at 40, Rue de Belleville; the tiny hole-in-the-wall establishment is so small that it doesn’t even have a bathroom for customers. However, the cheap fare is also darn tasty.
Start out the meal with refreshing spring rolls, which for the Vietnamese means vermicelli noodles, shrimp and greens wrapped in rice paper. Traditional main courses like Bo Bun, a noodle dish with beef and vegetables, range from €7 to €9.
Your dining tips: Have you been to either of these establishments? Do you have a favorite spot in Paris for tasty and affordable non-traditional French cuisine? Tell us about it!
Want more suggestions for cheap eats? Here’s a post on 6 cheap restaurants in the Abbesses neighborhood.