The streets of Paris thrum with bistros serving tourists and locals traditional and contemporary delights at a wide variety of prices. Our readers help sort the gougères from the crépes
Winning tip: Jaja
Just behind the hustle and bustle of the Marais is a hidden little entrance to Jaja, a cosy little alfresco parcel of peace. Not your stereotypical Parisian bistro, Jaja is Pariss modern alternative. Pick a table in the jungle-like courtyard (if its raining, it has a lovely conservatory) and enjoy this hidden gem. The food is gorgeous, and even has vegetarian options, which is rare in the city. All its wines are from independent French vineyards.
3 rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, +33 1 42 74 7152, jaja-resto.com
West Country Girl
On the way out or back from Pre Lachaise cemetery, hop off at St Maur metro station to visit this nearby indie bistro specialising in food with a Breton twist. Named after a Nick Cave song about PJ Harvey (whom he was dating at the time) on 1997 album The Boatmans Call, this really is, as the lyrics say, something to look forward to. The savoury crpes Montbliard sausage with cheese or, if you are vegetarian, sauted leek and melted cheese are to die for (therefore unavailable to those interred in the cemetery), washed down with cider. It is scuffed and retro – you could imagine Nick Cave and PJ Harvey sitting in here.
6 passage Saint-Ambroise, +33 1 47 00 7254, westcountrygirl.com
Effortlessly laid-back, while still maintaining the busy hustle of a popular bistro, Mascotte Montmartre, 10 minutes walk from the Sacr-Coeur, makes for a great Parisian evening out. It specialises in fresh seafood portions of the excellent moules-frites are wonderfully generous and the service is attentive, but not pushy. The best bit, though, is just watching the rest of the world pass by along one of Montmartres liveliest streets.
52 rue des Abbesses, +33 1 46 06 2815, la-mascotte-montmartre.com
Caf St Regis
Whether it has been an early morning coffee and eggs Benedict, steak tartare at lunch, or lounging at dinner with a cocktail and perfectly seasoned escargots, Caf St Regis offers charm, courteous staff, delicious French staples and a taste of French bistro life that keeps me returning for repeat visits during my trips to the city. It has cosy booths and traditional black-and-white tiled floors and its setting on the Ile Saint-Louis helps sets it apart.
6 rue Jean du Bellay, +33 1 43 54 5941, cafesaintregisparis.com
A stones throw from Place de la Rpublique, this friendly, intimate bistro is in a beautiful, wood-panelled turn-of-the-century pharmacy. Traditional dishes are cooked with modern flair the salmon gravlax is served with a delicious passion fruit and saffron cream (10). The venison fillet is coupled with butternut squash pure and mouth-watering creamy peppered gravy (20). Among the 9 puddings is an exquisite salted caramel fondant with crme anglaise, which oozes warm caramel. With an extensive and reasonably priced wine list, this is an affordable find in an area that is generally swamped by overpriced touristy restaurants.
22 rue Jean Pierre Timbaud, +33 1 73 20 2269, restaurant-lapharmacie.fr
Small, affordable and atmospheric, this bistro is owned by Michelin-starred chef Christian Constant and just 10 minutes walk east of the Eiffel Tower. It has a zinc-topped bar, tiny tables squeezed close together, a lively fun atmosphere, friendly waiters, and a mix of locals and tourists. Prices are reasonable 16 for a main dish such as beef stew or chicken and everything is home-cooked. Among the desserts are enormous ice-cream-filled profiteroles, generously poured with chocolate sauce sensational!
39 rue Saint-Dominique, +33 1 47 53 7334, maisonconstant.com/cafe-constant
Bagel Baget Caf
Walking past this bistros black exterior and modern decor, you may not be instantly attracted, but take the risk. The light-hearted waiters talk you through an abundance of bagels and a wide variety of fresh fillings. The friendly service continues to the coffee, served with a heart-shaped cocoa topping. Make room after the scrumptious bagel for some amazing desserts including Nutella muffins.
91 rue de la Verrerie, +33 9 82 29 07 32, on Facebook
LEscargot Bistro and Bar
In a quiet street in the 19th arrondissement close to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, this bistro was a star find. Our party chose pigs cheeks, beef steaks, kangaroo, lamb shanks with rosemary and escargots followed by some beautifully presented desserts. The bill for six was just 120 including wine. The decor inside is unassuming, but dont let that put you off honest is a better description, for this is a real Paris bistro bar and there is nothing contrived about its appearance. On the way out, we noticed a little glass display box with models of disturbing, gory scenes I dont know why!
50 rue de la Villette, +33 1 42 06 0396
Aux Arts et Sciences Runis
This wonderful little bistro has links to the carpenters guild, whose illustrations form the basis of the decor. The menu is composed of simple but well-executed traditional dishes, with the duck a particular highlight. The lack of English reviews online points to it being a locals restaurant, but the staff were very welcoming; when our waiter noticed that I had finished my wine while my friend was still a long way off finishing hers he brought me another glass on the house which, if nothing else, guarantees a return visit.
161 avenue Jean Jaurs, +33 1 42 40 5318, on Facebook
This is actually a duplicate of its older New York sibling of the same name, complete with tin ceiling and marble bar. The waiters are friendly, flitting effortlessly between tables, and between French and English. Buvette serves medium-sized sharing plates and everything was excellent. The creamy dauphinoise potatoes provided the culinary comfort we were searching for given that this was the week after the Paris attacks. The generous chocolate mousse was so good, I started laughing and then actually cried! The bill for two came to 56 including a glass of red wine (7) and a champagne negroni cocktail (11).
28 rue Henry Monnier, +33 01 44 63 4171, paris.ilovebuvette.com
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