If you're traveling to and/or from Paris by Eurostar, you may wonder where to grab lunch or dinner before boarding; perhaps you're itching for a good pre-train cocktail or gourmet coffee. Whether you're traveling from London St. Pancras station to Paris' Gare du Nord or the inverse, there are, fortunately enough, plenty of decent options around for a light bite, snack or full sit-down meal. Some of these picks — 5 for each station in Paris and London, respectively — are located inside the train stations themselves, while others are situated just a block or two away. This makes it easy to stop in for a good-quality breakfast, lunch or dinner before your exciting journey under the English Channel and through the feat of engineering known as the "chunnel". We've also thrown in a couple of options for excellent drinks at each station, in case you're in the mood for a relaxed glass of wine or bubbly. We've also indicated rough price points for each restaurant or snack bar ($-$$$$). Finally, the vegetarians and vegans among you should be pleased to find suggestions for veggie options at both stations.
Opened by celebrated French chef Thierry Marx in early 2017, L'étoile du Nord is a gastronomic brasserie with a retro-cool design reminiscent of the 1960s. Its transparent glass exterior, soft, sparkling lights and cheerful white and red dining area allows plenty of space for your luggage. The menu, while not the most budget-friendly, gives you a chance to sample some of the capital's best brasserie-style classics before catching your train. It's also a good potential option if you're starved when arriving from London around lunch or dinnertime and would prefer avoiding the hassle of finding a restaurant outside the station.
The fare is simple, but has a focus on high-quality ingredients and creative reimaginings of brasserie classics. Main dishes include red label pork loin with celery semolina and honey-roasted carrots; fish n'chips; classic roast chicken and mashed potatoes; and roasted sea bream with lemon jam, braised fennel and artichoke mousseline. There's also a daily special. The tasty, well-presented desserts include chocolate and lemon tarts and a quality French cheese board.
The daily lunch menu offers better value than a la carte options; you can choose between a starter and main dish or a starter, main dish and dessert.
For good-quality wines and cocktails, the stylish upstairs bar is a good choice — and the views over the station from the large glass windows are exemplary of a certain retro travel aesthetic that's popular today.
Finally, if you're in a rush, there's a branded bakery window situated to the right of the main entrance that serves good-quality sandwiches, quiches, and desserts for much lower prices than in the main dining room.
There are numerous traditional brasseries around Gare du Nord, but some are rather mediocre. This pleasant restaurant and cafe just a block from the main entrance to the train station boasts a full terrace and ample seating inside; the free wi-fi and space for luggage is for travelers looking for a spot to perch for two or three hours before catching the Eurostar. There are only a couple of outlets for computer plugs or phone chargers, though, so if you want to snag one you should avoid peak times.
Lunch and dinner options focus on French classics — think duck confit, poached egg salad, and lamb basted in honey and served with sweet potato puree. There are usually one or two vegetarian and vegan options, too: salads, omelettes or pasta dishes are the most likely. Prices are moderate here, the quality is good, and the restaurant also offers a full drinks and cocktail menu, as well as a selection of tapas. Breakfast is served between 7 a.m. and 11:30 am.
This coffee and snacks chain, already popular in the UK and starting to present some formidable competition for Starbucks in France, has a location on the mezzanine level at Gare du Nord — if you have trouble finding it, consult the station map or GPS to direct you. The espresso-based drinks are strong and high-quality at Costa, and there's also a selection of decent sandwiches, wraps, pastries, juices and other quick, inexpensive meal options available. Limited vegetarian options are generally available, but vegans shouldn't count on finding much to eat here.
Gare du Nord: South Indian & Sri Lankan Specialities Nearby
If you're bored with the predictable prospect of sandwiches or classic French brasserie fare, the Rue du Faubourg St Denis just adjacent to the main entrance at Gare du Nord is lined with restaurants specializing in quick, inexpensive and delicious South Indian and Sri-Lankan fare. From curries to mango lassis and long crepe-like dishes called dosas, filled with vegetables, potatoes, spices and other goodies, there's an abundance of choice at these casual eateries. You can opt for a snack or a large meal, depending on your appetite. Even stopping in for a cup of hot, sweet chai served in a metal cup can be a pleasant way to pass the time while waiting for your train.
There are many options along the strip, but the best choice might be to simply stroll along and compare before settling into one. A few of our favorites include:
- New Pondicherry
- Bombay Palace
- Saravana Bhavan (exclusively vegetarian)
Gare du Nord: EXKI (inside Eurostar Terminal)
This Belgian-owned fast-food chain focuses on fresh, healthier options, such as lentil and halloumi salads, chicken and avocado wraps, smoothies and sandwiches made with whole-grain breads. You'll have to go through security upstairs at Gare du Nord to dine here — and lines are often long during crunch hours. Still, the quality-price ratio for this trendy chhttps://www.exki.com/ain is very good, and the vegetarian and even vegan options are abundant; that's noteworthy in a city that caters primarily to carnivores. The chain also offer free wi-fi, an international newsstand and a pleasant seating area.
When you're looking for a decent breakfast or lunch, this full restaurant and bar, part of a chain of Italian restaurants across London, is a good choice. Carluccio's recently opened in the upstairs mezzanine level of St Pancras, and offers romantic views over the train platforms, as well as good views of the intricate old station's architectural fine points.
While this isn't the cheapest option at St Pancras, it offers a nice place to sit and relax while waiting for your train, and it is brighter and more pleasant than some of the underground-level eateries. The menu offers abundant options for light bites or full three-course meals. Choose from focaccia, specialty bruschetta platters and flavorful daily soups, as well as pastas, salads, meat dishes, and tasty Italian-style desserts such as panna cotta and tiramisu. The restaurant also has a decent wine list and a kid's menu. Breakfast is popular at Carlucci's; for something light, pastries or traditional Italian pannetone bread with butter, accompanied by coffee, will do the trick; for something heartier, try the Eggs Florentine or Eggs Benedict.
Next to Carluccio's is the grandiose Renaissance Hotel, a romantic spot that oozes old-world elegance and intrigue. The Gilbert Scott restaurant and cocktail bar offers an excellent choice for a fine meal or drink, whether before hopping on the Eurostar for Paris or after arriving in London.
The menu, which changes frequently, is focused on classic British fare with globally-inspired twists — think roasted quail with kimchi, sweet corn and cornbread; and Dorset crab with nectarine, cucumber and sesame. The main meat dishes are of very good quality, and Sunday roasts, an English tradition, are also a favorite. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.
The grandiose, 19th-century dining room will make train travel feel luxurious as it once was meant to — the elaborate wooden panels, gilded and marbled columns, sumptuous furniture and warm lighting at the bar are straight out of an old film noir from Billy Wilder or Orson Welles.
The set menus are surprisingly reasonable: for around 30 British pounds, enjoy a starter, main course and dessert. A la carte options will set you back a bit further. (Please note that prices may change at any time).
Also make sure to peek into the bright, high-ceilinged lounge just next door. If you don't have time or the funds to eat at the restaurant, you can enjoy tea, coffee or a light meal in the graceful room — it's a popular film location.
Location: London St Pancras International station, Pancras Road (accessible by ascending the escalators to the mezzanine level, or accessible from entrance on Pancras Road)
This beloved Belgian bakery and brunch specialist also offers excellent salads, coffee and healthy, whole-foods choices. The comfortable dining room near the Eurostar check-in area gives weary travelers space to perch while waiting for the train, and it offers free wi-fi.
Breakfast options include pastry and bread platters complete with the chain's signature sweet spreads and jam, omelettes and muesli with yogurt and fruit. Lunch options include salads; tartines (bread slices) with salmon, ricotta and cucumber; and quiches. There's a takeaway window for sandwiches and desserts if you're in a rush to catch the train.
St. Pancras: Pret a Manger
While it's true that Pret à Manger is so ubiquitous in London that it's largely overshadowed older chains like McDonald's, the fresh sandwiches, wraps, salads and other items served here are noticeably fresher and more flavorful than many competitors'. This explains, at least in part, the chain's wild success. Lines are long during lunchtime and dinnertime, but the service is generally quick and friendly. A stop here can be a good option when you have limited time before boarding the Eurostar-- especially since onboard sandwiches and other fare served in the train's bar are generally more expensive, and often of a lower quality. Pret also makes perfectly decent organic coffee drinks, and serves breakfast options such as muesli and yogurt pots, pastries and egg sandwiches.
Another formal dining option just a block away from St Pancras is this charming and trendy restaurant at the Great Northern Hotel, a familiar and retro landmark next to the station. The restaurant, which in fact has several locations throughout the city, focuses on simple seasonal British fare, presented thoughtfully throughout.
The numerous menus include a la carte options for lunch and dinner, breakfast and a popular weekend brunch menu. Main dishes such as roast wood pigeon with savoy cabbage and smoked bacon and scallops with ratatouille will please those looking for solid tradition; vegetarian options include potato dumplings with sage butter, pumpkin and chanterelle mushrooms. Reservations are recommended.