By Bryan Pirolli in Paris—
I don’t want to be one of those American expats who shuns his country because he lives in Paris and American culture is just so, oh you know, gauche. I love America and, I admit, I get a little misty-eyed when I walk by the US embassy and see “Old Glory” flying high above. No shame, but that also doesn’t mean that I’m going to be running off to an expat grocery store to spend a mind-boggling amount of money on a bottle of Hershey’s syrup.
So when the urge for a bottomless cup of coffee and a chocolate chip cookie hits, I know where to get my fix without spending a fortune. And, even though I’m a secret fan, I’m not going to invoke the “S-word” (think Seattle-based coffee corporation) in my list , because even though their prices aren’t outrageous, I feel like I’d lose some, if not all, credibility.
Here’s my “short list” of restaurants, bakeries and cafés to consider when you’re feeling homesick for an American meal in Paris:
Bagels and cupcakes
For a quick pastry or bagel, Le Village (25 rue Bouchardon, 75010) near the Marché St-Martin in the 10th arrondissement, is an adorable little joint owned by a Frenchman and his American partner. A fun array of cakes (with fun names, like the “Lady Gaga”) are lined up right next to cannoli, cupcakes and some killer chewy chocolate chip cookies.
The owner is a Broadway fan, so you’ll find the “Hairspray” next to the “Chicago” pastries. They also do pancakes and serve up tasty homemade bagels at tiny tables decked with American condiment bottles. Check out the grocery section for an assortment of British and American goods that won’t break the bank.
For a classic American breakfast, both locations of Breakfast in America never fail to please. Their all-day breakfast, €2.50 bottomless cups of coffee and diner-chic décor are enough to warm the hearts of any expat. The food’s not half bad either. It helps that there’s an American at the helm of it all. (Two locations, Latin Quarter: 17 rue des Ecoles, 75005; Marais: 4 rue Malher, 75004, Web site)
The French-owned rival, HD Diners, is worth a look for their 50s-era inspiration, but I haven’t ventured as far as tasting their food yet. I remain patriotic when it comes to diners and stick with “B.I.A.” (Two locations, Latin Quarter: 25 rue Francisque Gay, 75006; Marais: 6/8 Square Ste-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004, Web site)
A new favorite on the scene is the recently opened Katz Deli (3 rue Mouffetard, 75005) in the Latin Quarter. A throwback to the New York institution of the same name, Katz’s offers traditional New York-style deli food and a cheap student lunch menu (hamburger, fries and a drink for just €7.90). New York-style cheesecake is not to be missed, either.
Another newcomer, just down the block from Katz’s is Sugar Plum (68 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 75005, Web site), a birthday and wedding cake bakery that also bakes up a nice spread of American pastries at reasonable prices. Their banana bread is a tasty family tradition; try to get a €2 piece before it’s all gone. Indulge in a “Hello Dolly” for just €2.50 – it’s a mix of nuts, chocolate, coconut and other sweets in one scrumptious brownie-like form. If you’re like me, you’ll be back in the store within ten minutes. The American and Canadian staff is super friendly, which is always a plus.
I have a cookie here, a bagel there, I listen to the “Star Spangled Banner” once (or five times), and then it’s back to succulent steak frites and creamy goat cheese on fresh warm baguettes. Hey, I never implied that French cuisine was lacking, did I?
Your favorite tastes of home?
Do you have a favorite place in Paris to find a taste of America? Tell us about it in the comments section.