You’ve checked off everything on your list: croissants (a lot of them), the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Coeur. But now you want to pop on that beret, light a cigarette and slink into the authentic Paris you know exists but isn’t in your guidebook. Here, five restaurants that are so tricky to find, they’re almost entirely sans tourists (except you, of course).
BOUCHERIE LES PROVINCES
The communal tables and hours-long waits can be intense at this butcher shop, but the steak tartare, homemade terrines and delicious chops cooked to perfection are so worth it. To track down this industry favorite (you know it’s good when chefs and winemakers are dining across the table from you), you’ll have to find it behind the Aligre farmers’ market stalls. But if there’s a will, there’s a way.
Oh, that right there? Just an inconspicuous coffee shop on a little Parisian side street. There’s no way there’s a back staircase that takes you down to a vaulted 16th-century stone cavern with hanging candelabras and Jimmy Henrdix music blasting. On second thought: Of course there is. This coffee shop transforms into a rock-and-roll cocktail haven at night, and it just so happens to serve some really great food, too. (We’ve also heard it’s the place to get an old fashioned.)
Meaning “the bird’s perch,” it’s no surprise this rooftop spot offers incredible views of the City of Light. The only problem? Getting up there. The 100-person limit likely means there’ll be a wait. And if the bouncer deems you cool enough, a ride up a tiny elevator to the seventh floor. If you get this far, it will be worth the adventure for the seasonal fare (think: crispy roast chicken and pumpkin soup with seared foie gras).
You’ll probably read about Le Comptoir du Relais Saint-Germain bistro in your guidebook, but celebrity chef Yves Camdeborde has another little tapas bar that’s much less touristy. That might be because it’s hidden behind a crepe stand. So how do you get in? Pull back the plastic curtain with the pig painted on it, and you’ll be chowing down on impossibly delicious croquettes and other bar food (which, in Paris, includes artichoke-and-cured-ham waffles).
Knock on the door to gain entrance to this old-school joint. It might seem a bit intimidating, but by the time you leave, you’ll be exchanging numbers with the diners sitting next to you. While the Parisian bistro fare will leave you feeling sated and happy, it’s the warm atmosphere with a sprinkling—OK, big ole’ scoop—of 1940s nostalgia that will make you never want to say au revoir.