This and the rest of the wonderful illustrations are by Lauren Tamaki and the recommendations come from Lucky Peach #14: The Obsession Issue. I was thrilled to be asked to chime in with Five Great Places to Eat in Paris because 1) I love Lucky Peach; 2) I love Paris; and yes, 3) I’m obsessed with Paris food.
To state the obvious, it wasn’t easy to narrow my favorites down to three – David Chang got the other two – but once I decided to write about a Sunday in Paris, life became simpler. Here are my choice from Lucky Peach:
GILLES VEROT, 3, rue Notre-Dame des Champs, Paris.
Like any food-obsessed American in Paris, I’ll cross the city for anything delicious—and do. I’ll go to Du Pain et des Idées for a hunk of their pain des amis, a bread the size of my table, with a sturdy crust and a holey crumb that stretches like string cheese. I’ll climb the streets of Montmartre to shop at Gontran Cherrier’s for a loaf cake or a savory tart, the crust’s thinness rivaling that of a pizza from Roberta’s in Bushwick. And, of course, I’ll go anywhere for a good dinner, which is why my taxi bills are so high. (Thank goodness a steak frites at the Bistrot Paul Bert is only a bus ride away.)
As a part-time Parisian, I do most of my shopping the way my neighbors do: on foot and in the ‘hood. That I live in an area that others travel to for food just makes it better. Every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday, I pull my cart to the open market on the Boulevard Raspail and bypass the vendors selling charcuterie because, no matter how good they are, they aren’t better than Gilles Verot, whose shop is just a couple blocks away. Verot became famous in the U.S. when Daniel Boulud put his pâtés on the menu at Bar Boulud. But the Parisians who wait patiently to be served don’t know about this and wouldn’t care if they did—they’re there for the head cheese, the classic Lyonnaise sausage (traditionally served warm with boiled potatoes), and the saucissons (to be nibbled with aperitifs). Two particular favorites of mine: his rabbit terrine with carrots and the tongue-and-pistachio terrine, a slab of which could pass as a medieval checkerboard.
PIERRE HERME, 72 rue Bonaparte, Paris.
Midway home from the market is Pierre Hermé’s pâtisserie. Of course I stop—I stop there almost every day, sometimes just to pick up my husband’s favorites, a mini kugelhopf or a kouign-amann. Kouign-amann—the cult breakfast pastry sold at many shops but done well at very few—are thick knots of yeasted dough that get layered with sugar. It’s easy to caramelize the outside and make them look great, but it takes care and precision to bake the innards all the way through.
I’ve known Pierre for ages, but still I marvel at his limitless creativity and his capacity for consistency—so appreciated when you’re a steady customer. His macarons are like no one else’s—because of their flavors, of course, but also because of the proportion of filling to shell. In a mac chez Hermé, the filling is the same thickness as the cookies, making the little pastries taller, heavier, and more fun to eat (the vanilla is a marvel, ditto the passion fruit-milk chocolate, the olive oil, and everything in his new Jardins collection). For years, Hermé’s best-known—and most widely imitated—creation was the Ispahan, based on a flavor trinity that he created: rose, raspberry, and lychee. Like the crowds that line up daily outside the shop, I’m an Ispahanite, but what I return for often is Pierre’s Plénitude, a cake that combines bitter chocolate and crackly salted caramel.
HUITERIE REGIS, 3, rue Monfaucon, Paris.
And then, just before I hit home, there’s the small, mightily white Huîtrerie Régis—part oyster restaurant, part oyster takeaway, and perhaps the most reliable place in Paris for oysters. Seating is so scarce in Régis’s place that I only ever go early or late. The bar is more for service than for slurping, so standing and having a few oysters and a glass of crisp white wine—which I rank as one of life’s great pleasures and luxuries, even if it’s not all that more expensive than having a café crème and a couple of macarons in a mediocre tea salon—is not always possible, but there are always oysters to take out. Gorgeous oysters. If you can’t get a seat and you don’t have a place to take your oysters to, think about walking a few steps to the Marché Saint-Germain and asking Georges at Bacchus et Ariane, the market’s wine shop, if you can buy a bottle of wine and slurp your oysters there.
And if you’d like to see David Chang’s recommendations – of course you would! – they’re here.