It would take several lifetimes to find all the neighborhood treasures in Paris. The only way to really get to know where they are in any quartier is to live, work, or attend school in the area. I am lucky enough to have friends who have done the hunting for me, and found Les Parigots, which literally translates to “The Parisians”, near Place de la République.
This warm comfortable café is what most Americans think of when imagining a meal among the neighborhood natives. For those of you who want to eat in a classic casual place away from tourists, Les Parigots has two added incentives for Anglophone visitors: they serve food all afternoon, without a mid afternoon break between lunch and dinner; and they have an English menu printed on the reverse of their French one. Even with the restaurant completely full, I did not hear one word of English, so I’m not sure why they had the translated menu, perhaps having it printed avoided having the servers trying to explain the menu to any non French speakers. The menu choices include enough variety for vegetarians, meat lovers, and fish eaters, all very reasonably priced for quality ingredients.
The front room has views of the street, and behind the bar, there is a back area for larger groups. We opted for sidewalk view and ordered 4 kirs to start and a 46 ml carafe of red Samur to share with our meal, totaling about 40 Euros or $50 USD for all our drinks for the four of us.
Two of my friends ordered the mushroom risotto, made with shiitakes, served with a side arugula salad and confit walnuts for 16 Euros, or about $18 USD. I found the rice needed salt, but since a salt cellar was on the table alongside a pepper grinder, it was no problem to add it.
I ordered the hand cut beef tartare, which came with crispy excellent fries, and a nicely dressed side salad for 16 Euros, or about $18 USD. Condiments were offered on the side, including Worcestershire, tabasco, mustard, and ketchup, so I happily mixed my tartare to my taste. The meat was tender, lightened by bits of Granny Smith apple, and although I appreciate cheese, I picked out the cubes in the tartare to eat with my salad rather than my tartare.
The other meat lover at lunch ordered the steak for 25 Euros or $30 USD which she requested bleu (very rare) but warm. It came bleu but not warm, and it was such a large piece of meat that it took her 30 minutes more than the rest of us to finish her meal.
Since everything is made in house, the desserts were creations that allowed the chef to be fanciful, like this grapefruit “pie” on a cookie crust,
and this “soup” of clementines with cardamon and bits of meringue; both desserts were 8 Euros or $9 USD, and both were refreshingly light ways to end a meal.
The best part of any meal is the company