Dining Out Well in Paris on a Dime (or Two)
The annual Chinese New Year Parade in Le Marais got washed out thanks to the rain, rain, rain, but at least we had great Chinese food before discovering that our plans had been thwarted!
There’s a little-known Chinese community in the Haut Marais near the Arts et Métiers Métro where rues Volta and au Maire converge on newly recobblestoned/paved streets that are filled with lots of great little ‘restos.’ One in particular, which has recently mildly changed its name but not its good food, is “New Art du Ravioli” — the name a combination of English, French and Italian — but the food very, very Chinese — at number 33 rue au Maire (3rd arrondissement).
Four of us stuffed our faces on ‘delish’ raviolis, “liseron d’eau sautés” (morning glory or ong choy), “chou fleurs plaque chauffante pimenté” (sautéed Chinese cabbage in a sizzling pot) and “crevettes sautées sel et poivres” (shrimp sautéed in a wok with salt and pepper) — crispy in their shells that a seasoned seafood eater like me adores. There are 11 different types of raviolis from which to choose, each better than the next, each dozen of them at the ridiculous price of a whopping 5€ or 5.50€, so there’s no way to break the bank. Four of us ate for 12€ each with wine and tea and way too much. Patty “Paris-on-a-Dime” Sadauskas is maneuvering the City of Light on a tight budget and agrees that this is one of her favorite spots, we discovered together, for quality and value.
Some people come to Paris and make a point of ‘collecting stars’ — meaning going from one Michelin star restaurant to another to see how many ‘stars’ they can add to their bulging belt and then boast about it to their friends back home. Others are looking for the serious bargains since Paris is not the world’s least expensive vacation spot. And then there are others that just want to eat well at any price.
You’ve heard me talk about it before: I eat out twice a day (and yes, it’s tough to keep my ‘girlish’ figure) and therefore I fall somewhere in the middle. Or course I’m always looking for a bargain, but not if quality suffers. (Why waste a centime on bad food?) I am not one of those who eats to live, but lives to eat, just like most New Orleanians who are talking about their next meal while sitting and enjoying one. (One New Orleans friend who has lived in France before and is just as food crazy as any of us, regularly sends me photos of his latest New Orleans culinary find just to torture me!)
The ethnic restaurants in Paris tend to perform well on the quality vs price issue, but as a traveler you have to be willing to give up dining on French cuisine while in France to do that. When we were tourists here for only a week, we wouldn’t have thought of going to anything but French restaurants, but things have changed and there’s more to life than French cuisine…especially now in France! Thanks to immigration and the entrepreneurial spirit, one can get just about any type of authentic cuisine in Paris. The only one that seems to lack compared to the U.S. is really good Japanese/sushi. While the sushi restaurants are plentiful, they are more often than not run by the Chinese and popping out cookie-cutter slices of fish on sticky rice that are photogenic in their glossy menus, but not all that tasty. For this reason when Stateside, I run for the sushi restaurants, particularly in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Friday night I was introduced to a new Argentinian steakhouse at 24, rue des Tournelles in the 4th arrondissement close to Place de la Bastille. Simply served tender steaks with salad and potatoes, the beef is tender and juicy as you would expect…and not too expensive, about 37€ per person with wine. If you’re a serious carnivore, then you will enjoy it.
Saturday night after several attempts to get a table without a reservation, we landed in a tiny Brazilian restaurant of which I was familiar — Carajas, at 24, Rue des Trois Frères, in the 18th arrondissement in the heart of Montmartre. It’s tiny and ‘funky,’ delicious and inexpensive. Our meal was less than 25€ each with a 50cl carafe of wine, dessert and coffee.
Every year I tally my restaurant meals on a massive spreadsheet and analyze the average cost of dining out. Surprisingly, in 2015, the average expense was $25.72 for a meal consisting of one or two courses, wine and coffee. That’s reasonable considering the quality and the inclusion of tax and tip. All this started as long ago as 1996 when like Patty, I was looking for dining out on a dime in Paris and wrote the first online electronic restaurant guide to Paris — the “Leeds Good Value Guide to Paris Restaurants.”
The basic principles still apply: how to dine out well in Paris on a budget? Eat ethnic, that’s how!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group
(Photo by Patty Sadauskas)
P.S. The Adrian Leeds Group will be hosting another free financial seminar with Brian Dunhill on April 21, 2016. I will be his guest speaker on “Financing a French Property.” Keep an eye on our Events & Conferences page for more details coming soon!.