Paris has more restaurants per square foot than you can muster. When you're on a budget and can't afford to fork out a fortune for a meal in a high gastronomic establishment, it can be a challenge to sift through Paris' many mediocre kitchens and find a spot where quality and budget are compatible. These ten budget French restaurants offer a la carte and menu options at reasonable prices while managing to retain the savoir-faire and attention to detail you'd expect from French cuisine.
This legendary Belle Epoque restaurant draws constant crowds for its elegant turn-of-the-century dining room (seating over 300 people), gregarious wait staff (who scrawl orders out on white paper tablecloths), and, above all, the inexpensive, traditional, and decent fare. The menu is classic (beef bourguignon, sauerkraut, sea bream, etc.). Sides are as low as 2 Euros/approximately $2.70, main dishes are about $8-$10, and three courses can be enjoyed for approximately $20-$30. Arrive early: this one's very popular with tourists and locals.
Address: 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre
Metro: Grands Boulevards L8 L9
This relaxed and always-bustling kitchen in Paris' village-like Butte aux Cailles neighborhood offers quality French Basque-style meals for around $10-$20. Hearty dishes like potatoes with ham and cantal cheese, enormous mixed salads, or cassoulet await. Two caveats: neither reservations nor credit cards are accepted, so arrive early and bring cash.
Address: 30 Rue des cinq Diamants
This gastronomic kitchen specialized in southwestern French cuisine offers authentic and budget-friendly lunch menus. A fixed menu with a starter, main course, and dessert is 25 Euros (approximately $30.50). Dinner menus are a bit steeper, but great value as well.
Address: 3 Rue Beccaria, 12th arrondissement
Known as one of the city's prime spots for la bonne vieille cuisine française (good old French cuisine) at modest sums, this restaurant offers classic Paris brasserie ambiance. Near the Parc Andre Citroen, Le Bistrot d'Andre's decor is awash in automobile nostalgia.
Specialties include hearty classics like duck confit or cassoulet. Expect to pay 12-20 Euros/approximately $16-$27 for plats du jour. Lunch menus will set you back approximately $20.
Address: 232 Rue Saint-Charles, 15th arrondissement
This is a legendary Paris bistro where luminaries like Hemingway and Andre Gide once occupied the tables. Open since the mid-19th century, this is one of the rare places in the overpriced Odeon area where one can find solid traditional cuisine that's not exorbitant. Lunch menus available for 9 or 18 Euros (approximately $12-$24). Polidor's homemade pumpkin soup, tarts, and cakes are especially recommended. Credit cards not accepted.
Address: 41 Rue Monsieur le Prince, 6th arrondissement
RER: Luxembourg (Line B)
Chez Papa has several addresses around the city and is nearly always packed and boisterous. Known as one of the city's best spots for copious French-southwest style salads and main courses, one can feast on delicacies such as magret de canard (duck breast) with leeks, or pan-seared foie gras with gingerbread crumbs for under $25. Lunch menus are a better value still at approximately $15. Wine by the glass is budget-compatible, too, at under $5.
This unpretentious family kitchen in the generally-posh 7th district offers up simple, classic dishes like gratin dauphinois, pork with lentils, or herring with potatoes in a laid-back, intimate setting. No frills here, but French bistro favorites that won't compromise your budget. There is a set menu at 14 Euros/approximately $18.60 that includes starter, main course, and dessert. Portions are generous, and the service is reputed to be friendly.
Address: 30 Rue Pierre Leroux, 7th arrondissement