It is hard to pick just a few favorite restaurants while studying abroad in Paris, as the entire city is a labyrinth of boulangeries that spew buttery pastries by the dozen and perfectly cooked filet mignons by the herd, where one is becomes intoxicated by the sights, sounds, and smells of a truly incredible gastronomic metropolis. Having said that, here are a few of my favorite places and dished that I’ve frequented that you probably won’t read about in guidebooks.
We visit the Algerian place next door to our apartment called 3FC, so much that my roommates and I are now on a friendly first name basis with the whole staff. The hearty Algerian food is great, but the lentils or couscous with freshly grilled steak, chicken, lamb, or sausage kebabs (and a side plate of dangerously salty French fries) is life altering.
Another one of our local favorites in the 12th is Chez Lee, an authentic place with lots of décor. I recommend starting your meal with Lee's famous spring rolls, which come complimented by the chef's special duck sauce. If the spring rolls aren't fried enough for you, I suggest Lee's potato and chicken dumplings. Not only are these dumplings delicious, they are presented in a vintage bamboo birdcage. Mr. Lee operates his establishment with grace and class, making it the place to be for Chinese food enthusiasts on a budget.
Chez l’Ami Jean is a modern style Basque restaurant with a great tasting menu and huge selection of wines near the Eiffel Tower. While the roast pork was fantastic in its own right, the rice pudding really put this meal over the top, and the fact that it is served out of what seems to be a large salad bowl is bad news for all potential dieters.
While I’ve only been to Brasserie Balzar once, my experience was so great that it was worth noting. The classy interior creates a unique old world ambiance that was highlighted by our server’s captivating mustache, but the food quickly stole my attention. The smoked herring was incredible, and the veal was the best I’ve had on either side of the Atlantic.
These restaurants, although a large part of my life, are a just one drop in the Parisian sea of culinary competency I am lucky enough to inhabit. In my mind, the heart of Parisian dining lies in the quiet coffee shops and hidden brasseries that present themselves to only the most deserving of diners.
Special thanks to culinary correspondent Matt Benavente for his outstanding work in the field.
Adam Joseph is the CEA MOJO in Paris for the Spring. He is currently a third year at the University of Virginia studying Global Development and French.
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