How to plan a food- and drink-fueled visit
A version of this post originally appeared on September 24, 2022, in Stephanie Wu’s newsletter, “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world. Read the archives and subscribe now.
If there’s one city I could visit over and over again, it would be Paris. After studying abroad there many years ago, I’ve returned repeatedly, marveling at how the city changes each time I visit yet manages to stay familiar and comfortable.
What I love most after visiting a place repeatedly is how after the second or third trip, there’s no pressure to do it all and see it all, to brave the lines at the Louvre or stuff yourself silly with 15-course meals. And even after so many trips, I’m still learning something new. Here are the tips I picked up this time around.
Breakfast is a sleeper hit
I’m used to grabbing breakfast on the go so I can get a head start while the rest of the city is waking up — and Paris makes that really easy with boulangeries selling jambon beurre and patisseries on every corner. But on this trip, we purposely made two breakfast stops that were highly recommended, and I loved the slower pace and being able to plan my day over coffee. We ordered everything on the menu at Mokonuts, the tiny but mighty space turning out small dishes like pesto egg toast and grape buckwheat scones. Everything was so deceptively simple but packed with flavor. On another morning, we went to Holybelly 5, an Aussie cafe serving flat whites and pancakes. I can’t say I’ve ever eaten pancakes in Paris before, but they were a revelation. So good, so homey, and a reminder that the best meals are often the ones that surprise you.
Hotel bars are a fun way to see a different side of the city
With a kid in tow, we spent less time at bars then we typically would. But I really wanted to make a stop at the renovated Rosewood Hôtel de Crillon, which had reopened since my last trip. The Bar Les Ambassadeurs was absolutely stunning, with a fun cocktail menu inspired by street art around the city. It was a taste of fancy gilded Paris, even just for a few hours.
Don’t overlook takeout options
I tend not to seek out Chinese food when I travel, but on one rainy night, takeout dumplings and soup from Raviolis Chinois Nord-Est, on the Eater 38 list, seemed like just the right thing. It reminded me of being a student and looking for the cheapest, most filling meal, and was so satisfying.
Paris has embraced the cold beverage
Boba has truly arrived in Paris. I don’t remember seeing any tea shops in the past, and now they’re on every corner, including a few locations of Taiwan-based chain Xing Fu Tang. Also, I used to have a hard time finding takeout iced coffee in Paris, but now it seems every place has a cold brew or iced coffee on the menu. A welcome change!
Always leave room for a surprise meal
In a city like Paris, I plan out all the meals that I know require a reservation, since I don’t want to be disappointed by not getting in somewhere. This trip was long enough that we had some open meal slots, and decided to line up for Clamato, the walk-in-only seafood and wine bar from the Septime team. From the raw oysters to the summery tomato salad, the food was pitch-perfect and delicious, but was also a casual, quick lunch. It’s a meal I’ll be dreaming of for a long time.