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One Down and 9000 to Go: Dining Out in Paris

New Orleanians have the habit of talking about where they’re going to have their next meal while they’re in the midst of one. So, it’s no wonder that from the very beginning, this particular New Orleanian made a point of ferreting out Paris’ best restaurant finds – not the trendy spots that get written up in the New York Times or make the Michelin Star grade, but the ones the locals go to like their “cantines” where they can have a great meal without breaking the bank.

I eat out twice a day: lunch and dinner. The transition from ‘moderately great cook’ to ‘never turning on the stove’ happened here in Paris once my daughter had gone off to college. Cooking for one in the style to which I had become accustomed was way more work than it was worth. The little refrigerator/freezer is large enough to hold the essentials: milk, juice, wine, champagne, pickles, etc., but when it comes to fresh food, it just gets forgotten and goes rotten. So, what’s the point?

Fortunately, Paris is teeming with dining spots of all shapes, sizes and types, for all kinds of budgets and tastes. Do a search in the Yellow Pages of Paris and 9009 entries come up…not including cafés and brasseries (Pages Jaunes). That’s an awful lot to try out in a lifetime.

Let’s see: 365 days a year, two meals a day — that’s 12 years worth of dining out.

When you’re dining out twice a day, how much you spend really counts (unless you’re independently wealthy!). Fortunately, this is my primary vice, as it’s easy to leave expensive clothing to the “fashionistas,” prestigious cars to those who don’t like public transportation and haut de gamme dining to those who collect Michelin Stars. In fact, the little mom-pop bistrots in the ‘off-the-beaten-track’ spots are often the best.

Every year I keep track of the meals and the cost (two-to-three courses plus wine and coffee). Believe it or not, the average meal has hovered between $25 and $30 depending on the rate of exchange. Not bad, huh?

The restaurants written-up in the international media, and particularly in the American media, can prove to be great finds…but one mention in an important publication is all it takes to turn them into touristy spots where those who want to ‘see and be seen’ land, leading to difficulty getting reservations and increasing prices. That need to be hip went out the door when I left life in L.A. and with the ‘been-there-done-that’ experience!

Like most people who dine out often, I tend to end up in many of the same restaurants in close proximity that make the grade. In my ‘hood’ (Le Marais), you might find me most often at Chez Omar (best steak with pepper sauce), Le Petit Marché (best lunch deal in the city), Le Coude Fou (great wine list and rich sauces), L’Ange 20 (amazing for a stupidly low price), Pramil (sweet atmosphere and large portion of “gateau de choux fleur”) and Café Charlot (where everything is delicious and service is available all day long every day).

Now, here’s the thing – if I tell you about ALL my favorite mom-pop bistrots (or at least 100 of them), then they risk ending up spoiled like the rest, but luckily, we’re just a little ‘insider’ publication that doesn’t (yet) rival the New York Times, so the risk isn’t so great. If you don’t already have it, then for a mere $2.99 you can download the Adrian Leeds Top 100 Cheap Insider Paris Restaurants from Tapbooks Publishing on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch…or a pdf version to print and take with you while wandering the streets of Paris and wondering: “Now, where would Adrian eat?”

Click here to learn more and start your own trend of dining out more for less (you could end up with a clean refrigerator like mine!): Adrian’s Resto Guide

A la prochaine… 

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

(with Mimi Chiang during the filming of House Hunter’s International)

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P.S. Special Note about past author, Hazel Rowley:

You may remember that biographer, Hazel Rowley, died suddenly in New York this past March – a close friend and part-time resident of Paris who brought us insight into the lives of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sarte in her book, Tête-à-Tête, the best book of literary nonfiction published in France in 2006.

In honor of Ms. Rowley and her work, a literary fund has been established in her name and events are being organized in Australia, USA and France. If you are fortunate enough to be in Australia, this coming November 19th at the University of Adelaide, the “Lives of Hazel Rowley” conference will be held from 9 a.m. through a commemorative dinner.

You can also help to continue Hazel’s legacy and contribution to biography by making a donation to either the Australian or the USA Fund.

Visit Hazel Rowley Fellowship for more information and to learn more about the legacy of Hazel Rowley or be added to the mailing list, email Della Rowley at dellarow[email protected]

P.P.S. Stay tuned for ANOTHER House Hunter’s International Episode! Starting Over in Paris, France: While spending the summer in Paris as a law student, Mimi Chiang told her daughter Georgi she’d one day like to own a piece of this romantic city. Ten years later, her wish was still unfulfilled. But a tough battle with cancer and the death of her husband renewed Mimi’s lease on life. She’d no longer wait for Paris to come to her. But once she arrives with her two kids, real estate professional Adrian Leeds has a message that could threaten 10 years of dreaming. Homes in her 1 million budget are scarce. And most likely, they will need some work, especially if she wants the classic French style. As Mimi and Georgi see what Paris has to offer, their eyes are opened. Will they settle for small or give up on the classic French style? Or will Mimi risk everything and spend thousands over her budget to create the vision she’s clung to for years? Find out when House Hunters International walks the romantic streets of Paris, France. Tune in October 28, 2011, 10:00 p.m. EST/PST or October 28, 2011, 1:00 a.m. EST/PST. For more information, visit House Hunters International

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