When you think of eating out in Paris, I’m sure you’re thinking croissants, baguettes, snails, and French onion soup. You’re not wrong in thinking that because Paris is home to these famous French foods. In fact, you’ll pretty much find a boulangerie selling baguettes and pastries on every corner. But, over the past few decades Paris has become home to about 4 million people who are either immigrants or have at least one immigrant parent and slowly internationally-inspired restaurants have popped up all over Paris giving the classic French cuisine a little competition.
While I love an almond croissant as much as the next person, going to Paris and missing out on their international food scene is a big mistake. So we've created this 12-hour guide for anyone who has either already eaten pain au chocolat and steak frites to their heart’s content or who maybe just wants to explore Paris’ not-so-secret international food scene in general. I was inspired to do this post after my step-dad gave me 111 Tastes of Paris, a book of the best Parisian restaurants without the Michelin-star restaurants and where real Parisians are going to eat and buy food. It’s chock full of hole-in-the-wall, mom & pop, and classic Parisian places that Not So Secret and any authentic traveler would love. So, I picked a few of the best looking international places out of the book and booked a ticket to Paris.
Soon after, Not So Secret and a team of world class eaters (me and two of my foodie friends) took to Paris for the day to try some of Paris’ best internationally inspired foods. This guide is also friendly to vegetarians and vegans because it just so happened that our team of foodies consisted of one carnivore, a vegetarian, and a vegan so these restaurants will have something for everyone. Keep reading for a drool-worthy not-so French food guide to this French city.
1. Aki Boulanger
Our day started early with a 7:35am bus to Paris from Rouen which got us into the city right after 9am and already craving our first meal of the day. Our first stop was Aki Boulanger, a Japenese-French bakery home to some pretty amazing baked goods. Say goodbye almond croissant and hello matcha melon cream bun. Au revoir chocolate eclair and bonjour yuzu eclair. And sayonara baguette with butter and ohayo onigiri (Japanese rice balls wrapped in seaweed and stuffed with various fillings).
This place is the perfect mix of French/Japanese tradition. You’ll walk in and still see the typical French baguettes lining the back wall of the boulangerie like you would in any other French bakery, but it’s inside Aki’s glass cases that you’ll find the Japanese-inspired treasures. You’ll find a lot of your favorite French baked goods like a mille-feuille, éclair, and Paris-Brest, but with a Japanese twist with flavors like azuki (red mung bean), matcha, and yuzu, a sour Japanese citrus fruit. There are also numerous savory options like bento-boxes and onigiri.
We would definitely suggest the umé onigiri (filled with salted prune paste) which is weirdly delicious, the matcha melon cream bun which is to die for, and an iced matcha latte. If you have food allergies or a specific food diet, Aki is also great because all allergens are listed on the product’s name tag. You’ll know where to find me the next time I need breakfast in Paris!
16 rue Sainte-Anne,
Open Monday-Saturday 7:30am to 8:30pm
2. La Pause Libanaise
After breakfast we took advantage of being in the Opéra neighborhood to head to Galleries Lafayette which has one of the best (and free!) views of Paris on it’s rooftop. If you’ve never climbed up to the top you should definitely give it a go while you’re in the neighborhood.
After doing a little window-shopping we worked up an appetite for our next stop: falafels! Le Marais is a neighborhood in the 4eme arrondissement of Paris, not only famous for being one of Paris’s trendiest neighborhoods, but also being home to Paris’ jewish community who happen to serve up some of the best falafels. Unfortunately, we got much too excited before we realized every Jewish falafel restaurant in Le Marais was closed on Saturdays (hello, Shabbat) so we headed to get falafels from a different part of the world, Lebanon (and a different part of Paris, back to Opéra ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
When you walk into La Pause Libanaise, a small, glass-windowed restaurant, you may not expect much, but this Lebanese place is one of the best rated Lebanese places in Paris for its fresh, fast and flavorful food. Me and my friends each got a plate of a lot of different Lebanese dishes (falafel, hummus, tabouleh, baba ganoush, raheb, and spinach/feta pastry) with the option to add meat like beef and lamb. The whole plate, except for the pastry and the meat is cold so if you’re hiding from the cold Parisian winds in the winter this may not be the warming meal your looking for, but they have a couple hot appetizers and mint tea that could keep you warm! But it’s definitely a great place to go to in the hotter months and even so, we got our food quickly, the service was good, and we enjoyed every bite!
La Pause Libanaise
8 Rue de l’Isly,
Open Monday to Saturday, 12pm to 4:30pm and 6:30pm to 10pm
3. Wild & the Moon
While it’s hard to pin-point a specific country that the health-care trend emerged from, this café serving up smoothie-bowls, chaga hot chocolate, and gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and dairy-free desserts is definitely not your classic French café. This place has been one of my favorite spots in Paris since I moved to France. Their creators are committed to making home-made products made with vegetables, fruits and herbs that are organic, local and ethically sourced. You won’t find any refined sugar, additives, preservatives or GMOs in their cold-pressed juices, non-dairy lattes, smoothies, soups, salads and desserts which is something I love about this place.
It’s definitely going to cost you more than a coffee en terrace elsewhere in Paris, but to me it's worth it to pay a little extra to go to places like Wild & the Moon that are committed to bettering the environment and its customers by providing healthy, environmentally friendly meals.
There are six Wild and the Moon locations so check out their site here for more info: https://www.wildandthemoon.fr/en/restaurants
4. BMK Paris-Bamako
Our last stop might have been my favorite place of the day. This African restaurant has dishes inspired from all over Africa like Senegal, Ethiopia, and Congo. For apps we tried the fries and the alloco (fried plantains!!) which were both delicious. For our entrées we had the Yassa, the Mafé, and the Durban Vegan Bowl, but I think the Mafé (rice with a peanut-based sauce) was my favorite! What’s cool about this place is that it offers a lot of its dishes in a vegan form so anybody can try the usually meat-based African cuisine. We didn’t end up getting dessert because we were so full, but the “cooki-huètes” (peanut butter cookies) and the sweet potato cake sounded really good. Honestly would go back for just the alloco alone, but I would definitely recommend a whole meal to anyone!
14, Rue de la Fidélité
Open Tuesday to Thursday 12:00pm to 10:30pm
and Friday to Saturday 12:00pm to 11:00pm
Hope you enjoyed this little tour of Paris' international food scene! Comment if you have any more suggestions :)