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Bistros of Paris

Bistros of Paris

4.5 2
by Robert Hamburger

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Now fully revised and updated, this popular guide and compendium of good eating captures the true character and flavor of the most intimate and affordable eating establishments Paris has to offer. Classified as either traditional or modern, these bistros and wine bars are located by arrondisement (neighborhood) and rated for their quality and reliability.



Now fully revised and updated, this popular guide and compendium of good eating captures the true character and flavor of the most intimate and affordable eating establishments Paris has to offer. Classified as either traditional or modern, these bistros and wine bars are located by arrondisement (neighborhood) and rated for their quality and reliability.

The guide is organized into three parts. The first section contains individual listings that describe the unique characteristics of each bistro. It includes special dishes, wines, and places of interest in the vicinity. The second section offers a glossary of dishes and menu terms, and descriptions of ingredients and preparations frequently encountered, and a few suggestions on wine selection. The third section provides a cross-reference to locate a particular dish at the bistro that prepares it best.

Bistros of Paris is an essential reference for the food-conscious traveler intent on discovering the unadorned pleasures of traditional French cuisine.

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Paris is a fascinating city offering the visitor a neverending array of pleasures. One of the most irresistible enticements is the cuisine. There is an age-old commitment to culinary excellence. Celebrated chefs and illustrious restaurants have made the city synonymous with fine food and wine, but it is the bistro that gives Paris its heart and soul.

Always sensitive to current social and economic trends, France's gastronomic reputation is based on constant change. Not long ago, the restaurant world was transformed by a whole new generation of gifted young chefs who, having been classically trained in some of the most prestigious kitchens, began challenging the culinary orthodoxy of French cuisine. Venturing out on their own, many of these chefs chose to open bistros instead of luxury restaurants. These are the places where the most innovative cooking is taking place today, where a new kind of bistro has evolved.

Taking their inspiration from France's diverse regional heritage, these young chefs are bringing refinement and imagination to classic bistro fare by integrating the best products of the countryside with exotic ingredients and global flavors, enhancing basic bourgeois food with the stylish flourish of contemporary haute cuisine. To keep prices down, expensive products are used as garnishes, and time-consuming preparations are abandoned. Menus are determined by the season and market availability, allowing not only maximum freshness but a minimum of waste. To showcase the special talent of the chef, the menu-carte was introduced. This is a greatly expanded version of the prix-fixe menu and offers the diner numerous choices fromamong the top specialties of the particular bistro at a significant saving. Yet there is nothing "budget" about these stylish modern bistros, and the idiom continues to attract other young chefs, resulting in a continual flowering of new addresses.

Meanwhile, the traditional bistros of the city remain firmly entrenched in the hearts of Parisians. Impervious to changing fashions, these legendary places continue to thrive precisely because they maintain and produce the familiar dishes that are the essence of French cuisine. While seasonal and special dishes may be presented, it is the classic preparations that bring a highly critical and discerning clientele back year in and year out.

There are the sausages of the Lyonnaise, the gigots de prés-salés of Brittany, the gratins of the Dauphiné, the brandades of Provence, the choucroutes of Alsace, the cassoulets of Languedoc, the open tarts and potées of Lorraine, entrecôte from Bordeaux, bouillabaisse from the Riviera, and coq au vin, escargots, and boeuf bourguignon from Burgundy. Less well known are the marmites and andouilles from Normandy, rillettes and matelots from the Loire, truffades and aligots from Auvergne, garbures from the Pyrenees, and poulets au vin jaune from the mountains of the Jura. Traditional bistros take pride in preparing these lusty dishes so central to French identity. They may refine and update them to suit modern tastes, but innovation is always tempered by tradition.

Wine Bistros (bistrots-&a-vins) gained a foothold in Paris many years ago and have become a special part of the bistro scene. In the beginning most were dimly lit, smoke ridden haunts patronized by the owners' wine-loving cronies. in some places such a description is still pretty accurate, but in others you will find a substantial range of fine food and wine in a tasteful setting. There is nothing excessive in the way of gastronomy; but if you want to lunch well but quickly or dine early in a congenial atmosphere, the wine bistro is ideal.

Today it is not easy to discover a comparatively unknown bistro. Any place serving consistently good food soon becomes popular. We have designated a handful of places as "discoveries," bistros patronized by a discerning Parisian clientele but as yet relatively unexplored by foreign visitors. We have pinpointed these restaurants as worth special consideration for the more adventurous traveler.

This guide is organized around the arrondissement plan and divided into two parts. Part One contains individual listings, which describe the characteristics that make each establishment unique; it includes special dishes, wines, and places of interest in the area. Part Two provides a cross-reference to locate the particular dish you want at the place that prepares it best; and a list of bistros open on Sunday. Finally, there is an alphabetical index of all the listed establishments.

Today the Bistro reigns supreme. Both traditional and modern bistros are widely popular, so advance reservations are necessary. You should also be warned that between the time this guide was written and your visit, a restaurant may change (closing dates are especially variable), so be sure to telephone to check whether the information in this guide is still valid. In the fall of 2000, the currency rate of exchange was 7.5 francs to the dollar.

There is a persistent fiction that one can eat well almost anywhere in Paris. The fact is that many places are surprisingly mediocre. We hope this highly selective guide will lead you to some of the enjoyable experiences bistro dining has given us.

Bistros of Paris. Copyright © by Robert Hamburger. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Robert and Barbara Hamburger, born and raised in New York City, have vacationed in France for the past thirty years, where they developed a special interest in food and wine. Robert is a private art dealer.
Barbara Hamburger is the author of Zooming In.

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Bistros of Paris 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don¿t go to Paris without it! This book is a goldmine for anyone who likes to eat. I¿ve spent many weeks in Paris on business and on holiday over the last twenty years. I used the previous edition of the Hamburger¿s book to select places to take my Parisian clients! They were impressed and surprised. The new book has some real finds; places favored by neighborhood residents or in-the-know foodies. One of my favorites is La Grille, a tiny place on an out of the way street where madam runs the front and monsieur is in the kitchen. I crave the turbot with beurre blanc sauce as I write this. The authors¿ knowledge of French cooking is extensive, covering the regional specialties. A nice thing about the way the book is written is that you don¿t have to be an expert on French food to understand it. Thanks to the clear and good descriptions of the food, I¿ve tried many delicious dishes that I ordinarily would not have had the courage to order. The evaluations have always been on the mark. There are good descriptions of the décor and ambiance as well as of the food, so it is possible to select bistros to fit the occasion. The recommendations do not seem to be influenced by what¿s ¿in¿ at the moment, but only by what¿s good to eat. After reading this book it is inconceivable to me to wander about Paris blindly picking restaurants or asking the hotel desk clerk for a recommendation The layout of the book, listing places by arrondissement, makes it possible to choose a dinner spot near where I¿ve spent the day. I also discovered that many bistro owners are aware of the book and are delighted when I tell them I learned about them from this book. Contrary to what some people say, it is possible to get a poor meal in Paris. But thanks to this book, it hasn¿t happened to me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago